This recess week, I finally took the time off from school and decided to go on an adventure to the land of 面线 (meesua) and 夜市 (night market)! TAIWAN! *Disclaimer: I’m more of a food & sight-seeing kind of traveller hence that would be my focus
If you are more of the “visual” kind of person, take a look at the snippets of the places that I’ve been in the video below
I booked my tickets during Scoot’s Sales and got my tickets at 50% off. Return Trip ticket price: S$287.00. Flight Details: 27 Sep 15 0005hrs ~ 0520hrs, 5 Oct 15, 0105hrs ~ 0550hrs
Day 1 (Sun)
I reached Taiwan with my friend during the morning at the wee hours, and well Taiwan ain’t like Singapore Changi Airport where you have anything available at that time so we just have to wait for most shops to open at 6-ish. Some advice we got previously was to buy the EasyCard (Taiwan’s equivalent of Ez-link card) and top up around NT$1000. From experience, it should be sufficient for a 8 day trip. It is also advisable to get the Sim Card at the airport near the Hi-Life Store! But it only opens at around 6~7ish. I got the 10-day unlimited data plan at NT$500 which proved to be useful later on during my heavy reliance on GoogleMaps.
We took the bus 1819 (国光客运) from the airport to Taipei Main Station. It took around 45mins to reach Taipei Main Station. The metro (捷运) in Taipei is really convenient! Clear directions to understand. So we took the metro to Ximending where our accommodation for the next two days was at.
*Taiwan’s transportation include 捷运 (Metro or MRT in Singapore), 台铁/火车 (Train that goes across different areas e.g. Taipei, Taichung, Kaoshiung), 高铁 (High Speed Rail that goes across different areas e.g. Taipei, Taichung), Bus (different companies operate the buses even in the same area e.g. Taipei), Taxi (by meter)
Our first accommodation was Cheers Hotel (booked thru Agoda). Generally it was clean, convenient and located near many cinemas & convenience stores. We stayed there for two days and paid an average of S$26.55 per person, per day.
We didn’t really do much on the first day because we wanted to chill for the day. We decided to go to a famous Japanese restaurant 二男料理 for dinner. They only opened for business during lunch & dinner time. And the queue is really long so I recommend you go there 30mins before opening hours to secure a spot! Food is really cheap for the quality. A big bowl of sashimi like this cost only NT$520, a portion for two people. There are other nice stuff on the menu but we didn’t really try it ‘cos we came just for the sashimi.
Address for accommodation: Cheers Hotel, 1F., No.2-1, Ln. 74, Sec. 2, Hankou St, Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan 10842
Address for 二男料理: 中和區中山路三段36號, Nearest metro station: 板桥站
Day 2 (Mon)
Last night, it was on the news that a typhoon was expected to hit Taipei today. But nonetheless, we didn’t let it affect us. We visited another famous Japanese street 上引水产 for more sashimi (mmm..yum!). It had many sections e.g. BBQ, Sashimi, Cooked food. What interest us the most was the sashimi (~NT$1023 for both pictures) ! Personally, cost-quality wise, I would prefer the 二男料理 but the food here is fresh too! So if your budget allows, you can try here too!
After the meal, it started raining heavily. Well, the typhoon was here quicker than we thought so we decided to head back to the hotel and rest for the day. On the way back, we got some 葱抓饼 for dinner. We booked our 高铁 tickets to 台中 online @ NT$535 each ‘cos of some promo for University students (supposedly for Taiwan uni students only). You can actually pay for your 高铁 tickets at 7-11 or Hi-life so you won’t have to queue up at the station.
Address for 上引水产:台北市民族東路410巷2弄18號, Nearest metro station 行天宮站, 中山國中站
Day 3 (Tues)
We made our way to 台中 via 高铁. The ride was amazing! But do take note that the train are very on time, so be there early to avoid missing the train.
Our next destination was 日月潭 (Sun Moon Lake). So we had to take the bus from 南投客运 directly to Sun Moon Lake. Go to the basement of 台中高铁站 and ask around, Taiwanese are very friendly. Do take note that the bus only comes once every hour. Queue early to avoid not being able to board the bus! (we thought we were too early so we waited awhile but we couldn’t board the first bus that came).
Sun Moon Lake has settlements on two ends of the lake 水社 & 伊达绍. Your bus will reach 水社 and to get to other side (伊达绍) you either have to take the bus or boat. Our accommodation was at Lakeside Inn II (S$35.52 per person, per day) at 伊达绍. It was a very quiet, calming town that takes you away from all the escapade of a city life. Personally, this was my favourite accommodation for this trip. There were variety of food options such as 猪肉馅饼, 花枝丸, 山猪肉起司卷, 小米面线. Do take note that the shops here close as early as 6-7pm.
Address for accommodation: Lakeside Inn II No.39, Riyue St Sun Moon Lake Nantou, Taiwan 555
Day 4 (Wed)
We continued our tour at Sun Moon Lake. We spent NT$100 each on a ticket for unlimited rides for boat trips. The boat ride was very calming and soothing. The guide was also very funny and interesting. We spent a lot of time walking and eating.
After our tour around the 水社, 玄光寺, 伊达绍, we took our bags and took a bus back to Taichung. We took around 1hrs+ back to Taichung. Halfway through the journey, I realised I left my spectacles back at hotel. Luckily, the owner was kind enough to mail me my spectacles for free to my hotel at Taichung! Thank goodness for kind-hearted people!
Our accommodation at Taichung was at VIP Hotel (S$26.82 per person, per day). It was clean, reception was good and there was free breakfast. It looks very presentable for a 3 star hotel !
Next, we decided to visit Fengjia Night Market! Well it was not bad for the food variety. What was exceptionally good was the GIANT TAKO BALLS that only cost NT$60!!! OMG it was so good that had a second serving before we head back. It was a long tiring day so we decided to rest early for the night.
Address for accommodation: VIP Hotel No.5, Sec. 1, Shuangshi Rd, Central District, Taichung, Taiwan 40046
Day 5 (Thurs)
We woke up early today and had breakfast at the hotel which was from 7 to 9:30am. After which we went to take the bus up to 清境农场. Well, the bus ride was very long (~1hr 45mins) so remember to allocate more time for travelling! We stood for most of the time because the bus was very packed. But it was all worth it when we alighted the bus and was greeted by the cool air the mountain top has to offer.
The sights at 清境 made the long bus ride worth it! There is also a fixed time slot for a horse show or sheep show if you are there at the right time!
After which we visited 小瑞士村花园 which is near but requires a short hike. Although man-made but still beautiful!
At the end of day, we took a cab ride back to Taichung costing us only NT$600 because the driver was heading back too! Lucky us! We took away some 卤肉饭 & 肉羹面 back to the hotel for our dinner. That concludes Day 5.
Day 6 (Fri)
Today is our last day at Taichung and before we conclude our trip at Taichung, we decided to head to the LEGENDARY MUST-GO PLACE FOR ALL STUDENTS IF YOU WANT TO GET GOOD GRADES. 追分成功站. Basically, we took the 台铁 to 追分站 and from there we bought multiple tickets to head to 成功站. That way we will have tickets that write, 追分成功 which means “Success in the pursuit of your grades”. What a confidence booster for our upcoming exams!
GPA 5.0 !!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHA!
We then proceed back to Taichung Main Station and took the 高铁 (original price ticket NT$765 T.T) back to 台北! We decided to stay at Ximending again because it was just so convenient! I met my friend who was on exchange and we visited Babe18, near Taipei 101 area. The only good thing about this club was the free flow of drinks which made the ticket cost (NT$700) worth it if you could really drink! But the conclusion was: CLUBBING IS REALLY NOT MY THING HAHAHA. Well, that kinda concludes for today!
Address for accomodation: Xiemen Relite Hotel, 21 Chung Hwa Road Section 1 Wanhua District Ximending Taipei, Taiwan (S$41.08 per person, per day)
Day 7 (Sat)
Saturday was meant to make up for lost time in Taipei due to the typhoon on Day 2. First, we went to Keelung City and took another bus to the famous Yeliu Geopark. The whole ride took a good 45mins~1hr! When we reach there, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of tourists that were there that day! But we made the effort to travel all the way there, so we felt that we should still go! The entrance ticket was only NT$80 and you can freely explore the place. Generally, if there were fewer people, I would have enjoyed the park. But it takes quite a bit of time to fully explore the nice landmarks and natural rock formations there. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time so I took a quick exploration and left.
We then took a bus back to Keelung City and decided that we want to visit a nice place to have seafood since we are at Keelung City, where it is famous for their seafood in Taiwan. The locals recommended us to 和平岛 which is only a 20-minute bus ride from Keelung Bus Terminal.
Once we reached 和平岛, we began to look for live seafood and hopefully get a good deal and request for some restaurant to help us cook (their usual practice there). Unfortunately, we were too late (~4pm) and all the live catch for the day were all gone 😦 so we went to a restaurant there which also sells fresh seafood. You will be spoilt for choices when you are there as there are so many restaurants there! We went into one that was not so popular online but turned out to be fresh and good. We spent about NT$1020 in total for the below dishes. It was worth it to us because it was seafood, and it made us happy for the day!
We went back to Taipei after that and proceed to visit our next 夜市 – 士林夜市! Generally I don’t really like the feel of 士林夜市 because it is a very touristy place. We got scammed into buying tons of fruits, more than what we could finish and decided to go back to ask for a refund. Generally there are still some nice food there such as 炸饭团, 冰淇淋. But other than that, it is rather overpriced there. There is a shoe shop that sells branded shoes such as Adidas, New Balance and Nike at a bargain though. It is located near the entrance of 士林夜市.
We then ended our night by going back to our accommodation Lio Hotel which is a super awesome place to stay in! (but can be very secluded though). There is a small bathtub you can use there.
Address for accommodation: Lio Hotel Ximen, No.4, Aly. 36, Ln. 25, Kangding Rd., Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan 108 ($56.55 per person, per day)
Day 8 (Sun)
Today is our last day at Taiwan so we decided to do our shopping before we head home later. We checked out of our hotel and left our luggage at the hotel. We then proceed for brunch at 忠孝复兴 for 阿宗面线 which was super satisfying and cheap (which also has a branch at Ximending but we missed it). After which we went to 鼎泰丰 for lunch HAHAHAHA and it was exactly the same as it is in Singapore. We just wanted to test if there is a difference! For the matter of fact there is a slight difference. I don’t know if it’s me but I felt that the service given by the employees here is so much better. Like they served with a smile, making sure that we are having everything we need every now and then. Kudos to the service crew in Taiwan generally!
We went back to Ximending to catch 我的少女时代 which my friend recommended! OMG I’M SO GLAD THAT WE SPENT THAT TIME TO WATCH THIS MOVIE! I thought that it is going to be a Taiwan-only movie so I decided not to miss it. But little did I know, this was actually like a 那些年 kind of movie that is going international, even in Singapore. I enjoyed it so much, I think even better than 那些年. I’m proud to say that it is super awesome to watch a Taiwan-originated movie at Taiwan because the feels you get is so awesome! You can relate yourself to the surroundings and be immersed in the atmosphere.
After the movie, we went to 宁夏夜市. Boy, did I regret it. Regret that I didn’t come here earlier on the first day! It was the best 夜市 we have went yet! The food was cheap and good, and they had so much variety there! 蛋挞, 芒果冰，爆浆芋丸! OMG SO GOOD! We even bought some egg tarts (the pastry is special and different from what we had in Singapore) for our friends to enjoy. Before heading to the airport we went to buy some 太阳饼 as souvenirs and finally heading home after that.
For the whole trip, I spent S$1037.19 which was slightly over my budget of S$1000. I could have easily avoided exceeding the budget by cutting some costs here and there. But hey, this is a holiday so as long the money is well spent, it’s fine! (but still T.T)
Generally Taiwan was easy to get around but can be rather time consuming when you are travelling further distances. I would actually recommend driving around if you are going to places with relatively less developed transport systems such as Taichung. It would be more time-saving and you can explore more sights. It was still a rejuvenating trip and I rested enough to take on my next battle! Next destination: UNKNOWN.