To be honest, Taiwan wasn’t high on our bucket list. All I know of Taiwan is that it’s a foodie paradise and it’s the origination of bubble tea.
Plus we’re not much of foodies. We eat because we need to eat and because we are hungry. I was beginning to think that Taiwan is not for us….. until we got out of the city.
Once you are out, the landscape changes. You could be walking up hill full of greenery one moment and next moment, through a marble encased gorge.
Over 3 days we tracked over 40km, took 70 steps and “climbed” 18 floors.
There are proper tracks and alternate trails. And clean! Most places you could push a pram or a wheelchair through, though it’ll be challenging in the night markets.
The walks are relatively easy but long. You could choose break up the trip, and stay near the activities/sights. You also need “comfortable shoes” but seriously all you need to have is a sense of adventure.
So what they don’t tell you about Taiwan is that Taiwan is an East Asian haven for hikers and earthquakes. Okay so maybe natural disasters may bring us closer to heaven, but being there, reminded me of how I loved geography when I was in school - when I came back to the hotel, I started reading up on tectonic plates.
If you have intentions to visit Taiwan, stay for more than a weekend.
We were there for 5 days but we only managed to do 2 day trips as we wanted to also walk around Taipei city.
I’ve included a summary of 5 day itinerary, below. Not going to bore with the history or details because you can easily find them online. So I’ve included links I’ve used and relied on for this trip. We were mostly winging it because of the weather, but am glad that we did what we did.
We took the afternoon flight and arrived late evening. It’s a 4 1/2 hour flight from Singapore to Taipei.
There is no time difference between Singapore and Taipei.
We stayed at the W Taipei which is located in the Xinyi District, which is the seat of the Taipei City government and known as the financial and top chichi shopping district and where the rich resides.
Uber ride from Airport costs roughly SGD40
Train station: Taipei City hall (Bannan Line)
Taipei 101 (10-15 mins walk from the W)
40 mins walk from the W or 38 mins via train
Note there is a 10-20 mins to climb up a steep staircase to the peak. Best time to go: Sunset)
Sun Yat Sen Memorial (8 mins walk from the W)
Raohe St night Market(21 mins walk from the W or 19 mins by train)
Champion Beef Noodle at Breeze
Din Tai Fung at Mitsukoshi
MacDonalds at Eslite basement
Starbuck at Taipei City hall
We did a lightning tour around Taipei City and managed to visit:
Sun Yat Seng Memorial Hall
Red House Theatre
Lunch at Modern Toilet Restaurant
LUNGSHAN TEMPLE, TAIPEI
If you are short on time, a must see is Lungshan Temple and CKS memorial.
We planned our day trips on the 3rd and 4th day, when weather was forecasted to be sunny.
For our first day trip, we did YehLiu GeoPark, followed by Jiufen and Shifen.
All 3 are about 30-45 mins away via Uber from Taipei City (and with each other) and they are located on the northeastern part of Taiwan.
We did consider driving or taking a private tour, but we were too late in booking and it was actually cheaper and easier to UBER although we were almost stuck at Shifen, but thankfully we managed to cab it back to the hotel.
Renting a car NT5400
via My Taiwan Tours (NT8,400 for one car max 3 guest)
via ownrides.com (NT4094 with english driver for a car)
Free & Easy Lightning Tours (via Uber/taxi):
W >> Yehliu NT1300
Yehliu >> Jiufen NT700
Jiufen >> Shifen NT600
Shifen >> W Hotel NT1000 (Cab)
** SHIFEN IS A MUST DO
Located in Hualien which is at the Eastern side of Taiwan.
Driving to Hualien will take 3 hours so we choose to fly in via Uni Air which is a 30 mins flight.
New Taiwan Tour NT6600 per adult 12 hours Includes round trip flight tickets lunch and insurance.
Note: we used Taiwan Tour because they were recommended by the hotel, and the hotel assisted with the last minute booking. Bonus: they accepted credit card payments which is a must for my hubs who collects airmile and points collector. Most of the online tours requires a deposit and cash upon delivery.
Home + Taipei 101
Managed to squeeze in Taipei 101 and the infamous Brown Sugar Bubble Tea.
If we had one extra day, we would have gone to Sun Moon Lake - you can take the High Speed Rail which will take approx an hour to reach Taichung.
Or we would have used New Taiwan Tours which is NT7800 per adult (which includes the train ticket, cruise, gondola ride, lunch, travel insurance)
Other useful Taiwan nuggets
WHAT TO EAT
traditional Taiwanese breakfast. like You Tiao (deep fried sticks of dough), Shao Bing (baked wheat cake stuffed with egg or beef), Dan Bing (egg with scallions and ham), Fan Tuan (rice rolls stuffed with shredded pork) and Soymilk (both savory and sweet).
Tiger Sugar Bubble Tea Northeastern
Cilantro, peanut brittle shaving, and taro/pineapple ice cream wraps: one of my favorite night market snacks.
Mango Shaved Ice
Mini Sky lantern at Shifen Old Street
Hand made post cards
(for the geography nerds) Earthquakes
Taiwan is in a seismically active zone, on the Pacific Ring of Fire, and at the western edge of the Philippine Sea Plate. The island sits between 2 tectonic plates Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate and was formed by a huge earthquake approximately 4 to 5 million years ago at a complex convergent boundary between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate.
most recent earthquake was on 6 February 2018, with a magnitude 6.4 At least 17 deaths were reported, with 285 injured. According to the Central Weather Bureau's earthquake monitoring information between 1900~1990, the average number of earthquakes in Taiwan is approximately 15,000 to 18,000 earthquakes each year, of which 800 to 1,000 are noticed by people 5 natural disasters The five major natural hazards confronting Taiwan are: typhoons, earthquakes,landslides, floods, and debris flow. There are also many active submarine volcanoes in the Taiwan Straits.
The main island is struck by an average of four typhoons in each year.
(For yogis) JADE YOGA MATS
Didn’t do yoga but I bought a yoga mat. :)
I love my Jade Travel Mat, which have been with me since the start of my Yoga Teacher journey in 2014. However it has had its run!
Singapore doesn’t carry Jade mats anymore at point of writing this post. Thankfully found an exclusive distributor in Taipei.
Add: 1F., No.22, Ln. 303, Sec. 3, Nanjing E. Rd., Songshan Dist., Taipei City 105, Taiwan
Hope you enjoy Taiwan as much as we did!! Next, Korea, Hanoi….. ooh can’t wait! x
Ps. Since we couldn’t take a clear picture of the Taipei 101 because of the weather, here’s one for end the post on a good note.