Where: Taipei, Taiwan
Who: Mr & Mrs Wanderlust
When: May 2018
What: 4 Days in Taipei
Taiwan, a country just north of the Philippines, Around 2 hours of flight from Manila, with no time difference, but with a nice cool / sunny weather and good land transport system, connected railways and subway station and honest cab drivers makes getting around Taipei really easy..
May was summer, while a bit sunny and gets hot in the noon, cools down at night and is a very nice temperature to walk around 22C, below are the seasons in Taipei to use for future reference:
Summer (June – August) Summers in Taipei are hot and humid. ...
Fall (September – November) ...
Winter (December – February) ...
Spring (March – May)
Visa Note: Normally, PH passports need to secure a visa, but for promotional purposes, it has been visa-free entry for Filipino passport up to 14 days for vacation/tourism purposes with certain policies/requirement- for more info check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (ROC - Taiwan). To quote their website:
"Starting from Nov. 1, 2017, Philippine nationals are eligible to travel to the Republic of China (Taiwan) completely visa-free for 14 days. The Philippine nationals can visit Taiwan visa-free, just similar to Singapore or Hong Kong. This visa-free initiative shall undergo a 9-month trial period until July 31, 2019 for a further review."
So yeah, this is a not yet permanent thing so make sure you always keep yourself updated.
Getting there from PH is easy as there are more than 10 flights per day from different carriers, and a couple of LCC (Low cost carriers) which makes travelling to Taiwan within reach of our modest budget for travelling.
Tip: It is also advisable to make sure that you have your bookings for accommodation and return flight ready just in case an immigration officer asks for it.
Getting to Taipei City from Airport:
Taxi is easiest option as it is right outside the airport, and drop you right off your booked hotel. Though you might have to pay around 1000-1,500 NTD ($35-40USD). If we have our kid and baby with us, we might have chosen this for a more private and cry proof environment.
An easier and cheaper option is also Express Train at 160NTD + 30 - 50NTD ($8 - $10 USD) depending on your station, but to Taipei Main station from the Airport will cost you around that. Still kid friendly and they even have free WiFi and chargers on board, topped with nice view of the outskirts of Taipei as the train is really above the highways.
Be sure though to plot your hotel address from the exit on your respective stations and google maps offline is your friend.
Getting around the city of Taipei is very easy as they may not have subway as big as Shanghai, but still is comparable to the world class rail stations, being child friendly, disciplined people, well maintained facilities, and not hard to navigate.
Taxis are also preferable for getting around the city on short distances especially if very tired.
Where To Stay:
There are lots of places to stay in Taipei, depending on your budget, and of course the area you want to stay at.
We were looking for a district with lots of night markets, fashion/accessory retail stores, restaurants, street foods, in short we looking for a lively place with many choices to eat, shop, walk around and is of course accessible to transport. We chose Ximending area. - put it this way, it is like the Harajuku of Taipei, also an older area under the district of Wanhua where some of important cultural finds are within the area
For a more upscale/luxury side you can stay at Taipei 101 area with lots of modern buildings, bright skyline, and also has a vibrant night scene.
Regardless on where you stay, Taipei is really well connected with its very modern train/subway system, which connects you from Taoyuan airport to your area in a matter of an hour.
What To Do:
Get the best view of the city at Elephant Mountain
Red line to Xiangshan station, take Exit 2 then there will be street signs for the trail, then you would see the steps going up to the stairs. If going on summer, we avoided noon-afternoon as it would be so hot, we went there almost sunset around 600 steps a fit person can go up in 15-20 minutes.
Once above it you can enjoy the views, and even pose for an nice photo when climbing one of the giant rocks overlooking the city view, some take time to do selfie and even do a pictorial there so we skipped that part.
See the towering Taipei 101
Getting there is always easy as Taipei rail pretty much covers all the places you need to go around the city. As for getting to Taipei 101, it is going to be on the Red line (Taipei101 station)
You can almost always immediately see the tall building when downtown, and could not definitely mistake it because of its unique design which somehow reflects the country's traditional architecture.
The area is upscale where you can see luxury retail shops and restaurants everywhere in the mall just below the tower. This is also where the famous highest Starbucks branch at 35F inside the tower (but be warned, there is 1 day reservation ahead) which is done at the lobby.
The Harajuku of Taipei, just on the exit 6 of the Ximen station (Blue line) you can get to the Youth Shopping District which is composed of different latest fashion shops, shoe stores, hypebeast clothing, cellphone accessories, and of course lots of foods, from streetfoods to themed cafes and trendy restaurants all around this bustling area.
Chiang Kai Shiek & Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Halls
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, also under the same name station, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall station on both Green / Red lines of train. Pretty much easy to get to from the station as long as you go to the correct exit, be prepared though for a bit of a long walk as it has a very spacious square. Dr. Sun Yat Sen on the other hand has more of a museum/gift shop. The memorial halls are also popular for watching marching and changing guards
And we admit, we were not listening to our teacher when we were discussing Asian History, but we definitely learned that Dr. Sun Yat Sen founded the modern Republic of China, overthrew the Qing Dynasty that ruled China since 16th century and established the nationalist revolution. While Chiang Kai Shek was the military and political leader who eventually led the country by being the President of the republic
Yehliu Geo Park
Yehliu Geopark is a premiere tourist spot in northern Taiwan, where islands from afar are either Japan's or China's. The place is home to a lot of geological formations including its famous "Queen's Head".
Light a lantern in Old Shifen Street
The most popular tourist spot in PingXi District, used to be popular for gold mining where the rails were designed for their transport. Eventually became popular to tourists who can purchase a lantern with all their intentions written and matched with certain colors for certain wishes. And of course like with most tourist areas, it is also lined with small shops for souvenirs, restaurant, street foods, and even got firecrackers available.
Mostly comes as daytour included together with Juifen & Yehliu Geo Park, while some with more time try to experience public transport and will arrive to Shifen via train station nearby.
Shop Around Juifen Old Street
An energetic district known for having tight yet long street full of food stalls, souvenir shops, and a lot more to buy and get curious around. Food is limited to your bravery to try new stuff, but as a guide we suggest you try:
Deep Fried Battered Seafood
Glutinous rice cakes
Peanut Ice Cream Rolls
Braised Pork Rice Bowl
And definitely a lot more to try, we even tried a milk tea at a shop that claims to be the birth place of 'bubble milk tea'. Most of all these places to eat and shop around have a nice view behind them as they are a mountain town in the north eastern part of Taiwan.
So do try to hangout a little bit on any of the shops around that offers an amazing view, while some food stores may not have a nice view to offer, but you will observe many people as they probably have very good food - Also tried the Braised Pork Rice Bowl on a restaurant that doesn't have english, just pointed the photo at the cook, handed my 60NTD ($2USD) which is cheap and immediately got a small cup with rice topped with bits of pork, and my we could have sworn that it was one of the best pork rice toppings we had.
Tip: Try to wander off from the shops then to small alleys and streets some are residential while some you will see small town businesses that offer different arts and crafts which are really good finds.
Note: Juifen is usually part of the Day tour together with Shifen, offered from different travel apps, websites, even at the hotel there are many tours offered, and even at the streets taxi driver offer tours.
Night Markets are also part of the vibrant culture of its locals. Taipei is really known for its night markets that opens up in the when it starts to get dark, and the retail that ranges from the latest fashion trends, hypebeast streetwear (both authentic and fake so be careful if buying), lots of shoe stores and apparel, and what they are most popular for which is street foods.
Munchies and more Goodies
No doubt, Taiwan's eats are a spectacle on its own not to be missed. We mean, you can skip McDonalds and try foods from their food courts, small but authentic restaurants around, and even street foods stalls everywhere.
$1 (USD) = 29.90 New Taiwanese Dollar (*As of May 2018)
1 NTD = 1.75 PHP (So as an easy calculation I just multiply the price tag by 2 to have it in Pesos
**All prices below are either US Dollars or PHilippine Pesos)
Transport - Airport Taxi to Taipei - $40 - 50
Transport - Express Train from Airport to Taipei - $10 - $20
Transport - Taxi around Taipei - $10 - $15
Accommodation - High End - $300+++
Accommodation - Mid - $100 - $200
Accommodation - Budget- $50 - $90
Food - Restaurant - $20 - $50 (for two)
Food - budget / street - $2 - $7
Food - Fastfood - $5 - $10
Drinks - Taiwan Beer - $1 - $6 (depending on convenience store or bar)
Drinks - Bottled Water - $1 for 1Liter
Souvenir - T-Shirt -$10 - $15
Souvenir - Magnets / Keychain = $5 - $10
Souvenir - Premium items, Chocolates etc, - $20 - $50
Sit back, Relax, and watch our trip in Taipei, Taiwan
Music by: Jensation - Joystick
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