I was so desperate to make an excuse to get out of the office for a couple of days. So I thought of traveling somewhere. Some of my friends said it’s even cheaper to go to a nearby country than within Japan so I thought of Taiwan having heard that Thai citizens with a valid Japanese visa are exempted from Taiwanese visa. And I can brush up my Chinese, visit new places and EAT all the delicious food there.
I booked a package for H.I.S. – 4 days 3 nights for 30,000 yen with hotel and air tickets included. We got a super great deal. I personally would recommend H.I.S. for international travel package. We picked 自由 (ji-yuu) plan which means no tour is included and we are free to travel by ourselves. Airport pick up and sending are set up by H.I.S. which is very nice. However, with this price, we knew we couldn’t expect the hotel to be Grand Hyatt or anything fancy. The hotel turned out to be quite small but nice room in a nice area so I guess that’s more than enough. But the plane…that’s another story.
Now let’s get to the travel part!
Day 1: Tokyo -> Taipei, Ximending, Shilin night market
We left Tokyo in the morning by an airline called ‘Sccot’ スクート, a low cost airline I’ve just first heard of. My impression with this airline is NOT good at all. They plane was not very stable. It felt as if I was in a roller coaster ride for about 15 minutes when it started flying. After everybody got to sleep, they also woke us up by ringing bells to sell ice cream.
We finally got to Taipei airport in 3 hours. There, we exchanged our money. We thought that the rate would be cheaper there but actually exchanging at Narita airport gives better rate. We exchanged only 15,000 yen for the trip.
Our hotel is located in a shopping district Ximending- Ximen MRT station. They say it’s like Harajuku/Shibuya of Taiwan. We walked around and ate a few things before heading to the famous Shilin night market!
We tried a lot of food at the market and bought a lot of souvenirs. The food was great. We also found so many strange things as well.
And the bubble milk tea, my favorite drink, is so good in Taiwan as it’s the origin of bubble milk tea.
I have to say the MRT is very convenient and it’s quite easy to get around in Taipei. Lucky that we can also speak Chinese so that helps a lot too. If you visit Taipei, Shilin night market is a place you MUST visit. It’s full of interesting food and stuff that you don’t see very often. This picture is an example- a massage using knives at a shop called Alien study center!? It’s actually not as scary as it looks and felt a bit good somehow.
Day 2: Chiang Kai-Shek, Tamsui, Zhonghsan area (mall), Taipei 101
Staring off our day at Ximending since we had to get on the MRT from Ximen station. Everything was still closed at that time. But we found this amazing food on the street. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s made of flour..kind of like Roti (Indian food) and we can order eggs or pork and so many other toppings to add to it. I ordered the original one with eggs. My friend ordered a pork one. It was delicious and very cheap!
After that we went off to Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall (國立中正紀念堂). There, it locates a monument in the memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, former President of China. Next to the monument is a National Theatre and National Concert Hall. The area is surrounded by a big park. We were a bit surprised to see all the teenagers gather to dance and practice their performance at the memorial square. Unfortunately, the memorial hall was under construction. But the whole area was still beautiful. The weather, however, was extremely hot. Bring a hat when you visit this place!
After visiting Chiang Kai-Shek memorial hall, we decided to go to the last station on the red line, Tamsui (actually it is read as ‘Dan-Shui’). It took us around 40 minutes from Taipei city center. It is located by the seaside in Northern Taipei. It is popular for Fisherman’s pier/wharf, the food, water activities, and the outdoors such as clycling.
We went straight to the market for lunch and found so many interesting food. The picter below on the left is fish balls with noodles inside and the right picture is pork…it was our lunch! Other than this, we found interesting food and drinks such as almond drink, black eggs, and so many others. I bought some of them back to Japan. 😉
After lunch, we headed for a walk around the beach. The sea breeze was so refreshing despite the hot weather. Many people were cycling, taking a boat ride and others. I was very impressed with this place locating close to the city and so peacefully lively at the same time.
Even with a full stomach, you can’t go wrong with another cup of bubble milk tea. I recommend this shop with the nuber 50 in the logo. It is a franchaise all over Taiwan. There is another shop I like called Cha Time but I prefer this one more since you can personalize your own cup. You can choose from the jelly or the stuff to put inside, the size of the bubble(pearl?), then the sweetness from 10% to 100% (I personally chose 70% every time). The taste is very good. I personally like the normal size of pearls in the bubble milk tea and the grass jelly is also a very yummy one.
After Tamsui, we went back to the city center. We wanted to rest a little since it was such a hot day so we decided to go to the big mall in Zhongshan area. This area has a feeling of Shinjuku-sanchome. We went to Mitsukoshi mall having heard that it is one of the biggest malls in town.
Then, we headed to Taipei 101! The landmark of Taipei which is a skyscarper with a mall inside. It used to be the tallest building in the world as well. I love the exterior and interior design of the building very much. It is unique and very grand. There are many offices in the building as well.
We got there by shuttle bus from Taipei city hall station. We went to eat first. The food court in the B1 floor is AWESOME. Various choices to choose and not expensive either. We went to the restaurant on the same floor where they have dumplings and real Taiwanese/Chinese style food. The best I’ve ever had!
Then, we went up to the observatory of Taipei 101. Waited in line about 40 minutes till we got to go up. The night view of Taipei city was beautiful. The observatory is wide and organized. We could see the whole city and how it is nicely arranged.
We took a taxi back to our hotel in Ximen that night since we stayed until the building closed and there was no more shuttle bus. Even around 20-30 minutes on a taxi, it only costed us 280 yuan (less than 1,000 yen).
Day 3: Longshan temple, Sun yat sen memorial hall, Taipei 101, Shida night market
Starting off very relaxing on the 3rd day because the flight on the next day was very early. We went to Carrefour supermarket to see some interesting products they sell in Taiwan. I got a lot of instant ramen, snacks, sauces and others.
I couldn’t wake up to have breakfast at the hotel so I went to a convenient store and bought Taiwanese oden. This is the bag they gave me. Reminded me of my art class when I was little.
After a full stomach, we headed to Longshan temple but before we got there, we passed a place which is some kind of a historical center. We couldn’t read all the Chinese explanations so we only knew that the area used to be a school and an important place for ceremonies in the past..also related to the period when Japan colonized Taiwan.
Finally, we got to Longshan temple. Again, it was very hot. We prayed and stayed for a while before another cup of bubble milk tea and lunch at Taipei 101 food court.
After lunch at Taipei 101, we went to Sun Yat Sen memorial hall. It is a memorial hall for Dr. Sun Yat Sen, China’s national father. Inside the hall, Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s life and legacies are displayed there with an enormous monument of him similar to that of USA former president, Abraham Lincoln. There was a small ceremony for changing military officers as well.
Outside the hall is like a square- a multi purpose ground for people to exercise, fly their kites, walk their dogs, etc. The place was lively and sort of bright.
We could see the Taipei 101 building from this place as well. It is only a station away and it is actually within walking distance.
Another great day in Taipei!
Finishing off with Shida night market. I had the best pork bun (?), fried chicken and so many other food at this market. My friend also tried the smelly toufu, too. After eating like it was our last meal, we went back to the hotel and get ready for a 6 AM flight.
The flight was too early. Maybe we should have paid a bit more for them to arrange a better flight. I would definitely do that next time.
We had a great time this trip. So glad to be able to travel again. Taiwan was great and I hope I get to go again someday.
Just FYI – Taipei MRT map
useful blog.. i am planning to Taipei in January… any tips for me ?? 🙂
Just make some plans and enjoy yourself. Taipei is nice and it’s very easy to commute around. 🙂
I assume you don’t speak Mandarin. Is it easy to communicate with English?
I speak a little bit of Mandarin actually (although I forgot most of the things). I think it’d be useful to know Mandarin but it wasn’t a problem for me. I searched things before hand already and I didn’t speak to the local much. The MRT system is very easy to understand too so it was easy to get around.
Great! I am going there in October. I don’t speak Mandarin but looks like I shouldn’t have any problems at all.
Hi there! looks great, we are thinking of going there also a few days..any cheap and good hotel recommendation? did you buy separate tickets for the subway or is there like a daycard?
30K yen for flight + hotel is very cheap, i will travel in Dec-2015, the flight ticket alone costs 35K yen. probably due to exchange rate.