Friday, April 21, 2017

Twenty Something Travel to [Taiwan]


Hi all! I'm back with a travel post to Taiwan!

I have been to Taipei about 8 years ago. This time, my family and I visited Taichung and Taipei. Now I know why Taiwan is everyone's favourite place to travel, especially for Chinese-speaking tourists like us! Taiwanese are so friendly, helpful and nice. We really had a wonderful trip there! I told my mum that I would visit Taiwan over and over again!

Qingjing Farm

Telecommunication


when Xiao Long Bao is bigger than my face

Please get your SIM card at the arrival hall, before the immigration checkpoint. They have a couple of phone service providers there and prices are pretty competitive. We opted for an unlimited data SIM for 8 days without calls and SMS because we agreed that we wouldn't use the call and SMS function in Taiwan anyway. It was around SGD 20 per card. Do note that once you get out of the immigration checkpoint, SIMs are generally slightly more expensive.

Transportation


Feng Jia Night Market

We first touched down at Taoyuan International Airport. Our first destination was Taichung, followed by Taipei. In Taipei, we bought a 3-day unlimited MTR card and travelling couldn't be easier with it. We paid around SGD 18 for a card and it can be used for travelling on their MTRs and public buses. For people who do not want to worry about not being able to find topping up machines and do not want the hassle of carrying coins, this is the way to go! GoogleMaps helped a lot in travelling in city areas like Taipei.

For Taichung, we booked a 4 days 3 nights trip with our driver, Mr. Hwang, because after some research, I realised Taichung's scenic spots are quite far from one another. Attractions are quite spaced out and some can only be reached by car. Some places are so secluded that you may not even get a cab back to your hotel when it's after dawn.

I forgot to mention that you can also rent a car if you have friends, and of course, a valid driving license. It's quite an experience to drive around Taiwan too! We thought that driving around could be quite tiring and so we engaged a driver for a more relaxing trip.

Accommodation


Qingjing Farm
When in Taipei, we stayed at Ximending Go Sleep Hotel (Xining), which is located right in the middle of Taipei's shopping district, Ximending. Staying there made everything so convenient. You have clothes and food shops right at your doorstep! Their free breakfast every day was however, mediocre and slightly disappointing. We preferred eating out and trying Taipei's famous breakfast places.

The room was clean, toilet was spacious. The only downside is that it could get a bit noisy if your neighbours are not considerate because the walls are not exactly soundproof. We contemplated that we wouldn't stay in the hotel for long and it's just for us to rest after a long day, so I would say it's a good choice. Moreover, Ximen MTR station is just 5-minute walk away from our hotel.

Food


Hu Jiao Bing at Rao He Night Market
Street food are GREAT! We ate street food almost every day when in Taipei. For Taichung, because we have a pre-planned itinerary with the driver, so we got to visit some of the famous restaurants around Taichung, which was awesome! 

Mini Crabs at Shi Lin Night Market
Taro Ice at Rao He Night Market
Zhui Ji (Druken Chicken)

Ah Zong Mian Xian at Ximending
This is just a sneak of what we ate! I will do a separate food guide for awesome finds at Taipei and Taichung! Stay tuned for that!

Places

For Taipei, it was more like a free and relaxing kinda trip so we only went shopping and eating. Not much sightseeing though! The highlight of our Taipei trip was probably our hot spring experience at Grandview Resort Beitou. I would highly recommend this hot spring resort if you are looking for a 5-star hot spring experience! They even have hotel rooms with hot spring tub for you to enjoy if you intend to stay overnight. For this resort, you really don't have to bring anything along with you. You will be provided with fresh towels, hair dryer, bathing robes, amenity kit with shampoo, conditioner, hair band etc. Toilet seat is heated as well! After enjoying the hot spring, take a shower, dry your hair and take a sip of your hot tea and savour the home-made pudding which are complimentary. We specifically requested for their Cui Lin room because it has a separate Tatami seating area which we could relax and enjoy after our dip! 

The nearest MTR station is Beitou. Alight at Beitou and look for the Grandview Resort shuttle van to bring you straight to the doorstep of the resort. Do note though, you need to register for the shuttle service back to Beitou station at the concierge if you intend to take the shuttle van back. We weren't informed about this and ended up walking to the Beitou station because the shuttle service was fully booked. We didn't want to take the cab because we are cheapskate like that. 

Our tea and home-made pudding 

Hot spring tub at Grandview Resort

Here's our itinerary for Taichung:

Day 1: Taoyuan International Airport - Gao Mei Wetland (sunset) - Taichung homestay
Day 2: Taichung homestay - Zhong She Flower Market - 18 degrees Chocolate Factory - Qingjing homestay
Day 3: Mount Hehuan (sunrise) - rest - Qing Qing Cao Yuan - Qing Jing Farm - Qingjing homestay
Day 4: Sun Moon Lake - Wen Wu Temple - Pu Li Wine Factory - Taipei hotel 

Gao Mei Wetland at Taichung
Sheep at Qingjing Farm

Qingqing Cao Yuan
Mount Hehuan

Zhong She Flower Market

Zhong She Flower Market

Mao Kong

How did the name "Mao Kong" come about

Mao Kong Tea Garden


Sun Moon Lake 

Not the best shot of Taipei 101

Shi Lin Night Market
Modelling at Qingjing Farm

Weather

We visited Taichung and Taipei in the first week of January. It was supposed to be their winter. According to Mr. Hwang, it was the hottest winter they have experienced so far. Daily temperature was around 23 to 25 degrees Celcius in Taichung and around 24 degrees Celcius in Taipei. Qingjing, was around 15 to 18 degrees Celcius though! Taiwan was not as cold as I wanted it to be (except when we were at Qingjing and Hehuanshan), but the weather was perfect for travelling! There was close to no precipitation and no rainfall during our trip. We got to enjoy every single part of Taichung and Taipei!

Mount Hehuan

Mount Hehuan

Flowers at Zhong She Flower Market

Lavender
The pier at Sun Moon Lake
Mao Kong

Taichung was exceptionally beautiful. Taipei was an incredible city. We love both of these places so much. 

Ending my post with one of my favourite quotes:

"Perfect happiness is a beautiful sunset, the giggle of a grandchild, the first snowfall. It's the little things that make happy moments, not the grand events. Joy comes in sips, not gulps. "

That's the end of my travel post! Do drop me a comment/question if you have any! I will reply as soon as I see it!

See ya!

p/s: if you are interested in engaging Mr. Hwang, you can contact him here