18 things to do in Osaka / Kyoto

Beautiful scenery, rich culture and good food is how I will describe Osaka, Japan. I believe this is on the bucket list of most Asian travellers. Compared to Tokyo, you can say that the cost of living is much less and you will be able to find more affordable items on its menu – though I will say it is still pricey for an Asian country.

I have shortlisted 18 things that I enjoyed so you can consider putting it in your itinerary if you wish to! But first, do take note that the transportation here in Japan is not cheap, and there are a variety of passes that you can purchase to cut down the overall cost of your trip, so this is a trip that you SHOULD plan a more detailed itinerary for.

1. Dotonburi / Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi.png

This is the famous shopping district of Osaka. From sneakers, jeans to even the famous Pablo Cheese Tart, you can find it here. You can literally spend one entire evening walking from one end to the other. And that is not all, it branches out to other shopping streets as well! Fantastic place if you wish to satisfy your shopping desire and shop till you drop.

Nearest station: Namba / Shinsaibashi Station

2. Osaka Aquarium

aquarium

With a mere ¥3,000, you can get a package deal of the entrance ticket of Osaka Aquarium and the Tempozan Ferris Wheel ride. You can find a variety of sea creatures such as manta rays, sharks, mola mola, sea lions, and even penguins. The highlight of the entire aquarium is the giant tank that is surrounded by a spiral walkway where you can slowly enjoy the sights of magnificant sea creatures as you walk down. Occasionally, if you are there at the right time, you will be able to observe divers feeding the animals and cleaning the tank.

Nearest station: Osakako Station

3. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

temponzan

One of the vantage point in the entire Osaka where you can get a nice overview of the entire city. It is relatively quieter than a busy city such as Singapore but nonetheless it has its own charm and feel to it.

Nearest station: Osakako Station

4. Universal Studios Japan

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 2.25.40 AM.png

A fun-filled adventure awaits the entire family at Universal Studios Japan, with all sorts of activities for the entire family. From the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter to the other classics such Jaws and Jurassic Park, you will definitely have a great time with all the exciting shows, thrilling rides that Universal Studios Japan has to offer.

My personal favourite was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you are feeling rich and do not mind spending, purchase a wand there. It was not just a souvenir but the closest experience that you can get being a wizard or a witch. There were other contraptions around that allows you to use your wand and perform spells to make things happen. Now that is some real magic right there!

Nearest station: Universal-City Station

5. The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

momofuku

Located slightly away from Osaka was the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum at Ikeda. This is the place that tells you the history of how instant ramen came about along with some hands-on activity of ¥300. But be warned to reach there before 3pm to avoid disappointment if you wish to make your own cup noodle as the museum closes at 4pm. So be there early!

Nearest station: Ikeda Station (not covered by 1 day unlimited subway pass)

6. Pokemon Centre

pokemon

Pokemon Centre is located at 13F of Daimuru Umeda department store near JR Osaka Station. In there, you can find the latest (and classic) Pokemon merchandise. There are also a couple of game consoles that you can put your hands on if you are a hardcore fan. Be sure to snap a few nice pictures while you are at there with your childhood toys!

Nearest station: Osaka Station, 13F Daimaru Umeda Department Store

7. Osaka Castle

osaka-castle

A place with that is rich with the Japanese war culture back in the Meiji era. For those people who wishes to dwell deeper to how everything went during that period of time, or if you just wish to indulge yourself in a museum and be at the top of a Japanese castle, you can do that for ¥600.

Nearest station: Tanimachi 4-chrome Station

8. Kuromon Market

kkurokuromon

A foodie’s paradise. Fresh sashimi, scallops, snow crabs, oysters, sea urchins, you name it, they have it! Don’t be alarmed by the high average prices of the food over here such as ¥1,000 for a box of salmon sushi or ¥500 for a BBQ butter scallop – let me assure that you are paying what you get. The quality of the seafood here is top notch and for a miser like me, this is the place that I wouldn’t mind spending on. I believe that when you are at a place like Osaka, you definitely should spend good money on good food. Price: Sushi for ¥1000, scallop for ¥500

Nearest station: Nipponbashi Station

9. Umeda Sky Building

umeda-sky-building

Another vantage point located in Osaka, there is a sky garden that is located at the top of the building. I believe that it will be a fantastic place to capture some awesome sunset photos if you wish to. However, I did not enter the top floor of the tower as it costs ¥700 to enter. Enjoying the view from the level below was enough to satisfied without hurting my wallet.

Nearest station: Osaka Station

10. Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto

fushimi

To get to Kyoto, you have to take a train from Osaka station on the JR Kyoto Line. It will cost roughly ¥560 to get from Osaka to Kyoto, after which you have to transfer to Inari Station which costs ¥200. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a famous shrine that is frequently visited by tourists. So beware of the crowd there as it can be pretty tricky if you wish to take some nice photos by yourself because it is hard to find a window to get a clean shot without other people in it.

Nearest station: Inari Station in Kyoto

11. Arashiyama (Bamboo Forest) in Kyoto

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 2.26.38 AM.png

Also in Kyoto, this is known as the Bamboo Forest that you can find *drumroll please* many BAMBOOSSSS! What’s nice about this place is the serenity and calmness that you can find in a forest surrounded by bamboos. Call me mountain turtle but I haven’t been to an entire forest filled with bamboos before.

Nearest station: Saga-Arashiyama Station in Kyoto

12. Fire Ramen in Kyoto

fire-ramen

Fire as in spicy? No. Fire as in Fire. The real deal! If you are in Kyoto, you DEFINITELY have to visit this place. Located near the Nijo Castle, this humble ramen place serves noodles along with a spectacular show of pouring piping hot, flaming oil into your ramen. Coupled with the service of helping you to take pictures and videos for the entire process, ensuring that your clothes are not stained in the process and also providing directions for your next location, this is the must-go place to have lunch if you are in Kyoto. Be warned that there is a queue system and it takes roughly 1h 30mins for your turn. You can just go take a queue ticket at the entrance and come back after that. Price: ¥1250

Nearest Station: Nijo Station in Kyoto

13. Pork Don

pork-don

The interesting thing about Japan is that you can totally order a meal through a vending machine outside their store. This is what I did with the pork don at Shinsaibashi. It comes with a bowl full of pork, rice and a raw egg to mix with it. It is a satisfying meal that you shouldn’t miss! Price: ¥880

Nearest station: Namba / Shinsaibashi Station

14. Sashimi

Haruko.pngHarukoma.png

Sashimi is da bombz at Osaka! One particular place that deserves special mention is Harukoma Sushi located at the Tenjinbashi shopping district. It is a mid-range sushi place that is filled with energy and coziness. If you are looking for a very local place to visit and enjoy sushi which doesn’t hurt your wallet, this is the place to be! Price: around ¥2200

Nearest station: Tenjinbashisuji 6-chrome Station

15. Ramen

Ichiran Ramen

Ichiran.png

Solo tripping? This is the place for you to try out. Not only does the food taste good but the experience is also unique. First you purchase your meal ticket with the vending machines provided. Next you will be escorted to your own cubicle to enjoy your meal. You hand over your meal ticket to the staff and your meal will be served. The entire process can be done without uttering a word! Price: ¥1200

Nearest station: Namba Station

Tsukumen Suzume

tsukemen

Tsukumen is a special kind of ramen served separately from its broth. You just dip your cold noodles into the thick, meaty broth broth to enjoy the combination of flavours. I personally recommend to try the spicy miso at the lowest level of spiciness to have a certain kick to that flavourful broth. Price: ¥780

Nearest station: Yodoyabashi Station

16. Okonomiyaki / Yakisoba

The battery, cabbage snack mixed with meat and seafood and the Japanese-styled fried noodles is the go-to place to enjoy a good teppanyaki kind of meal. One place that I enjoy is Fugetsu. They certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to cooking up a good okonomiyaki! Just check out one of the branches near you because there are just so many branches, there is even one in Myeongdong in Seoul!

17.  BBQ Meat Don

meat-don

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2112.

THIS IS NO JOKE. When I say that I really mean it a lot. This is grilled meat at its finest. And lucky for me, the store offers free upsize to your meat don every 6th, 19th and 29th. The grilled beef that I have was so tender and scrumptious that the only thing that was stopping me from ordering a second bowl was the limited capacity in my tummy. That was how filling that meal was! Price: ¥790

Nearest station: Namba Station

18. Shopping for souvenirs!

Shiroi Koibito

Shiroi.jpg

Aka 白色恋人, this is a famous Japanese snack that you can get at the airport terminal. The other place that you can get it from is a small store in Kuromon Market. It is quite obvious to find because it is the only store in the entire Kuromon Market that sells this. Price: ¥1100

Omoshiroi Koibito

omoshiroi.jpg

The fake version of Shroi Koibito; as puny as the name sounds, this is a totally different kind of snack. But imagine how interesting if you get both snacks with similar names back home and get to tell the story behind both snacks. You can find this at a souvenir shop at Osaka Station. Price: ¥1080

Other tips

Transport

1 day subway pass: ¥550 per pass

IMG_6015.JPG

I bought this subway pass for unlimited subway rides within Osaka. It is worth it as long as you take at least 3 trips per pass to anywhere within Osaka. Highly recommended! You can purchase the tickets at “Kansai Tourist Information Centre”

Exchange rate

I would recommend to change your yen before coming to Osaka because the exchange rate at the airport wasn’t super fantastic. Trust me, every little bit makes a difference, especially so in an expensive country such as Japan.

 

Travel Diaries

“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints”

One of my biggest wishes is to travel around the world for ONE WHOLE YEAR when I can.

Before that can happen, I aim travel to places that I’ve never been to; see more, hear more, feel more. Magical things can happen when you are travelling. Life is an adventure, only if we are willing to take that first step out of our comfort zone. Here is a journal of the baby steps that I will take before I can fulfil my wish of travelling around the world:

Asia

Hong Kong

Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

Batam, Indonesia

Osaka, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

Malaysia

Taiwan

Bangkok, Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

Busan, South Korea

Jeju Island, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Danang, Vietnam

Oceania

Newcastle, Australia

Sydney, Australia

Jeju Island in 5 days

Just began my exchange trip to Seoul, South Korea! Hence, my friends and I decided to take a short trip to Jeju Island – an island south of South Korea! We spent 3 days there but I decided to spend 2 extra days by myself to go for a short dive trip! Here is a summary video for the places that we have went:

And here is another one for my first ever solo dive trip at Seogwipo, Jeju Island!



Date
: 17 Aug 16 (Wed) – 21 Aug 16 (Sun)

Flight details:

T’way, 17 Aug 1300hrs – 1415hrs

T’way, 21 Aug 1800hrs – 1915hrs

S$184.60 per person (everyone else’s was around S$155, mine was slightly pricer due to the different return flight)

Accommodation:

International Hotel Jeju, 70500 won per person x 6 for two rooms for 3 nights

Car:

Sixt, Kia Carens

S$52.20 per person x 6


Day 1 (Wed)

We took a late evening flight to Jeju Island, hence by the time we reach Jeju, it is already nightfall and we didn’t do much today.

But Zzzzzzzz.


Day 2 (Thurs)

First item on our list is to collect our rental car near Jeju International Airport. There was a shuttle bus that brought us to the car rental shop to collect our car. For rental of cars in Jeju you would require a few items 1) Your Singapore driving license with at least 2 years of experience 2) International Driving Permit 3) Passport 4) Credit card for deposit

(2) and (3) applies to all drivers that will be taking the wheel.

First proper stop that we went to was Jeju Gogi-Guksu Noodle Street. It is famous for its Pork Ramen. Hearsay its pork broth is simmered for at least 12 hours and it is highly recommended by the Jeju government. Well it certainly didn’t disappoint!

Jeju Gogi-Guksu Noodle Street

Address: 29 Samseong-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 727-7056

Next, we headed to Hyeopjae Beach. I’m a fan of natural sights, so beaches, mountains, forests and any natural formations will attract me. The black rocks here look real pretty and it is featured in 00:49 of the first video! So check it out!

DCIM100GOPROG0011149.
Hyeopjae Beach

Hyeopjae Beach                                                                                      

Address: 329-10, Hallim-ro, Jeju-si, Jeju-do (Near Halim park)

GPS number entry: 728-7672

After which we went to explore Halim Park. This is one of the more famous tourist spots. It has a wide variety of flora and garden. Visitors can visit Palm Tree Road, Jeju Stone and Bonsai Garden. Also, they have a lot of statues such as those in 01:18 in the first video. Hearsay if you touch the nose of the statue, you will be blessed with a baby boy and if you touch the ears of the statue, you will be blessed with a baby girl.

img_9361
If you want some kids, touch these!

Hallim Park

Address: 300, Hallim-ro, Hallim-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 796-0001

Admission: 10,000 won

Operating hours: 830am – 7pm

Dinner was the famous Jeju Black Pork BBQ at Black Pork Street (01:53)! To be honest, I really can’t tell the difference between Jeju Black Pork and normal pork BBQ. So it was just a very satisfying Korean BBQ meal to me :p

img_9381
Black Porks at Black Pork Street

Black Pork Street – Heuk-Dwaeji Street

Address: Gwandeong-ro 15(sibo)-gil, Jeju-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 724-4050


Day 3 (Fri)

We started our day with Seogwipo 5-day market (02:09), a market that only opens 5 days every month. There are a few other 5-day markets in Jeju Island, and the opening dates are all staggered. For example, Seogwipo 5-day market is only opened on 4th, 9th, 19th, 24th and 29th of every month. It sells a variety of food and other typical stuff that you will usually find in a traditional market such as pails, and other more unusual stuff like old mixtapes that you can’t really find anymore in Singapore.

Seogwipo 5 day Market

Address: 142 Topyeongseo-ro11beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do, South Korea

GPS number entry: 763-0965

Next we drove to O’Sulloc Tea Musuem(02:52), which is also very famous in Jeju. If you are there, you can take the opportunity to purchase its Matcha-flavored merchandise such as Green Tea Spread for bread, Green Tea leaves, etc. You can’t find them easily in Seoul! Other than the museum, there is also a cafe that sells delicious green tea sponge cake and matcha ice cream! Beware though because the cafe can be quite packed and if you might have difficulty finding seats if you are in a very big group. Beside the cafe, there is a very large field with insta-worthy view! So rememeber to snap a pic before you go!

img_9374
We accidentally blocked the good view

O’Sulloc Museum

Address: 15, Sinhwayeoksa-ro, Andeok-myeon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry :794-5312

Admission: Free

Operating Hours: 9am – 6pm

Jeongbang Waterfall (01:37) was on our list next. It is…a nice waterfall. More impressive than Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. But there were just too many tourists. Oh a fun fact is that it is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly into the ocean. Not sure what is the relevance but hey, fun fact!

Jeongbang Waterfall

Address: 37, Chilsimni-ro 214beon-gil, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 733-1530

Admission: 2,000 won

Operating Hours: 8am – 7pm

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall requires you to walk one kilometre in the park before you reach the waterfall. But I must say that the view is pretty good on the way there. There are a few insta-worthy places for you to take pictures so take your time to walk there!

img_9351
Abit senget but good enough (Y)

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall

Address: Namseongjung-ro, Cheonji-dong, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do

GPS number entry: 733-1528

Admission: 2,000 won

Operating hours: Till 11pm (the water illuminates at night)


Day 4 (Sat)

The dive centre that I went with was Big Blue 33. It cost me 130k won for 2 dives. The dive took place at Munson Island. Just a reminder to bring your certification cards if you were previously certified. I was PADI Advanced Open Water certified that time and did not have issues with the dive centre even though it was a dive shop with NAUI certification.

G0021351.JPG
(Scuba) Diver Teo.

Overall it was a fantastic experience because it was the first time that I ever did a dive from a rock (literally a huge rock) and first time putting on booties, hard flippers and a full body wet suit.

The first dive was super cold because I did not expect the water temperature difference to be so different from the surface. They actually provided us with a hood but I did not utilise it on the first dive. I’ve learnt and decided that it would be of my best interest to put on the hood for the second dive.

The second dive was a wall dive and we just swam along the wall with no observable depth. Lil’ scary but super exciting and thrilling! The underwater creatures and flora we see is also very different from what we can see in Tioman. I thoroughly enjoyed myself during this trip! #noregrets

I met 4 new friends here, 3 of them are English teachers from US, London and South Africa teaching in Busan while the last one is an exchange student in Seoul National University from France. We spent the entire day hanging out with each other after that the dive trip and I’m super glad that I have met them!


Day 5 (Sun)

My last day I spent the entire day resting. Took my time to explore the surroundings near my hostel and took an airport bus (5500won) back to the airport from Seogwipo. After which I spent the entire afternoon editing the Jeju Trip video and flew back to Seoul to meet up with the rest. The only regret that I had was not buying Jeju oranges while I still can because apparently Jeju is famous for its oranges 😦 that regret amplified when I saw so many people carrying boxes of fresh Jeju oranges. Sigh pie better luck next time!

Phuket Trip in 4 days

A short getaway to celebrate the end of Year 2 Semester 2 of University life! It’s been a good run this year, joining stuff that I wish to join, trying new stuff and continuing with the old. Exams have never been so relaxing before for the past 3 semesters. I can even say that I prepared the least for this semester’s exams! No guarantees in the results part though~


Total Cost: SGD$525

Date: 4 May 16 (Wed) – 7 May 16 (Sat)

Flight Details:

AirAsia, 4 May 1315hrs (SG) ~ 1400hrs (Phuket) SGD$74

JetStar 7 May 2200hrs (Phuket) ~ 0005hrs (SG) SGD$64

GOPR4200.JPG
Let’s go boys!

Accommodation: 

Patong Studio Apartments SGD$23.50 per pax for 3 nights

Soi Koknam,Patong, Kathu District,Phuket 83150

GOPR4340.JPG
View from our place

Personal opinion here, if you are just looking for a comfortable place to sleep in with air-con, a clean toilet to wash up, a small kitchen to prepare your breakfast. This is the place! There is also a big fridge to use. There is nothing much in the building, no nice view, nothing. But you can take a short 5min walk outside to many eating places, shops, etc.

Car:

Rental Provider: NATIONAL

Nissan Almera, SGD$140

Car condition was good, we enjoyed our ride thoroughly throughout the entire trip because it brought us to places we otherwise would not go without driving there!


Day 1 (Wed)

Highlight of the day is going for the Phuket Simon Cabaret show (Ladyboy show)! We booked our tickets thru BeMyGuest website at a discounted rate. There are also a variety of activities that you can find if you’re interested here! There are 3 time slots for the shows, 1800hrs, 1945hrs and 2130hrs. (~SGD$23)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR4215.
Let’s go boys!

There was a variety of performances in this show that caters to different kinds of people e.g. Chinese, Caucasian, Indians. Their attempt to appeal to different cultures is remarkable. Being exposed to different cultures in Singapore since young definitely played a part in helping us know the different references they had in various scenes!

After the show, we randomly drove around and accidentally found ourselves in Bangla Street, the red light district in Phuket. Apparently, the most crowded time of the week is Wednesday. There were so many people, so many attractions, so many things going on. Utterly impressed by the atmosphere here! But we didn’t really visit the bars / clubs because we were not very interested.

GOPR4222.JPG
Took more videos than pictures here

Day 2 (Thurs)

Our entire day was spent island hopping at Krabi. I had a better impression of Krabi than Phuket my previous time here. So I decided to psycho my friends to do island hopping there instead.

We got our tickets from Phuket Travel Company (~THB 1700), which included the boat ride to Krabi, transfer to a speed boat to various islands, lunch, snorkeling equipment, hotel transfer. I feel that the prices quoted here are reasonable and the owner of this website is very prompt and responsive.

GOPR4230.JPG
Boat Transfer from Phuket to Krabi

GOPR4277.JPGGOPR4298.JPGGOPR4267.JPG

Water at Krabi islands was relatively clearer than Phuket, hence you can see more snorkeling here! This was my favourite part of the entire day!

Day 3 (Fri)

Whitewater rafting was the highlight for today. We booked another package from Phuket Travel Company that included Whitewater rafting, monkey cave visit, Flying fox and Elephant trekking (~THB 999). The price also included hotel transfer and lunch.

GOPR4354.JPG
Monkey Cave
GOPR4678.JPG
Flying Fox
GOPR4633.JPG
Calm before the storm

We took an hour of van ride to the Monkey Cave for a short 20min visit. It was the only part of the itinerary that was out of place and we have no clue why would they plan it like that. After that we proceeded to the camp site for the rest of the activities. There was an optional upgrade for our whitewater rafting from the 5km route to the 7km route. The extra 2km route included the rapid trail which they claimed to be “more exciting”. Since we were there already, we decided to go for the upgrade, being the youngest adventurous souls there.

At night, we decided to go a seafood party. We visited Bang Pae Seafood which was an hour drive away from our accommodation. Take note that it closes at 2030hrs so remember to go there early! My advice is to go before sunset so you can get a nice view while having dinner! We totally missed it because we reach at around 1900hrs. Phuket is not a very nice place to have super nice seafood but Bang Pae is worth the trip in terms of prices, value, and the environment there!

GOPR4688.JPGGOPR4689.JPGGOPR4691.JPG

Day 4 (Sat)

Waking the up at 4am, we began our journey to Fisherman’s Wharf for a breathtaking view of sunrise. Since i’m not a morning person, I just stoned there and slowly waited for the sun to wake up, allowing the mosquitos to feast on their new-found prey.

GOPR4696.JPG
Sunrise View @ Fisherman’s Wharf

After which, we took an hour ride to Old Phuket Town for lunch and sight-seeing. The employee of the place that we had lunch told us that it would be better if we came on Sunday Nights as the streets would be closed and people are free to roam around on the streets. Unfortunately, we would be flying off tonight, better luck next time~

We then slowly made our way to different parts of Phuket that will reward us with a magnificent view. We started with Karon View Point, where there were few tourists. We went to more secluded beaches near Windmill View Point. If you want a more peaceful time with less tourists and more waves, try Nai Harn Beach. We then drove to Windmill View Point which had a fantastic view.

GOPR4712.JPG
Karon View Point
GOPR4717.JPG
Windmill View Point

Finally we ended our trip with Promthep Cape for sunset. When they said that it is a popular tourist spot, they were not joking. But nevertheless, we found a route to a less populated area and treated ourselves with the view.

GOPR4742.JPG

GOPR4741.JPG
One blessing, one rock at a time

Although in the end we didn’t managed to catch sunset as it was a cloudy evening, we were glad that we made the journey to the end of Promthep Cape. There was a tree at the southern end of Promthep Cape and there were many rocks stacked up beside a small Buddha statue. I guess it is a way for the people who were once there to leave their mark or a small blessing for the next person visiting. It was humbling, it was soothing and it was an amazing experience.

Cheers!

十四陆狗 Ep 1 – Trip to Johor Bahru

During the December holidays, my friends and I went over to Johor Bahru, Malaysia for a short day trip. We rented to two cars that day to ferry all of us around and had a blast! The video below summarised our happenings for that day. Though it was a short day trip, it was definitely memorable 🙂

Why 十四陆狗? There were initially 14 of us for the trip, and we thought it kinda rhymes with the famous Taiwanese Variety Show, 食字路口. So kinda parodied the food trip part to make our trip more fun!

Taiwan Trip in 8 days

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.

IMG_7309

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!

IMG_7322

NT$550 sushi set @ 立吞寿司

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.

高铁 ride
高铁 ride

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.

伊达绍码头
伊达绍码头
山猪肉起司卷
山猪肉起司卷

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.

View from 玄光寺
View from 玄光寺

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!

清境农场
清境农场
Awesome view from the top!
Awesome view from the top!

After which we visited 小瑞士村花园 which is near but requires a short hike. Although man-made but still beautiful!

Scenic view at 瑞士村花园
Scenic view at 瑞士村花园
Seize the rainbow!
Seize the rainbow!

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!

追分
追分
成功
成功

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.

Looks like a heart yeah?
Looks like a heart yeah?
Air. Land. Sea
Air. Land. Sea

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!

Fresh prawns (SWEET)
Fresh prawns (SWEET)
Super juicy clams
Super juicy clams
CRABBSSS OMG
CRABBSSS OMG
Eggs with the
Eggs with the “yellow fish” eggs

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.