Yilan, a country in the North East of Taiwan is just located a 1.5hour train ride away from Taipei. Take this chance to experience the duo – Taipei HSR and eating the Taiwan Railway Bento on train! It is quite a tranquil country in my opinion. There are a couple of things you can do in Yilan. When you alight at Yilan Station, relieve your memories with Jimmy at the Jimmy Park just infront of the station before making your way to the end of Yilan towards WaiAo beach, characterized by their black sand beach along the shore, then towards Lanyang Museum in the Toucheng District. After which make a trip to JiaoXi for some natural open Hotspring and Wufengchi Waterfalls. After which head back to the Yilan main station and board 260 to National Center for Traditional Arts which is quite an interactive place for learning and experiencing the traditional arts of Yilan. Not forgetting the culture of Taiwan, be it in Taipei or anywhere, you will end your day in a Night Market! For Yilan, the most prominent and well known night market will be Luodong Night Market (Look out for the sharing in the upcoming Taiwan’s Night Market Post). Traveling around Yilan may be time challenging as train arrives at periodic intervals, resulting in a lot of time wastage. Alternatively you can catch the 131 Shuttle Bus which brings you to most of the places i have mentioned above, and one good trick to bear in mind is to know the timing and plan your time well to catch the next bus promptly as the shuttle bus comes only in 20-30 mins interval.
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Tamsui Old Street
Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf is a scenic spot at the western tip of Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan. Its predecessor was the "Tamsui Second Fishing Port" on the right bank of the Tamsui river estuary, an important fishing harbor in the early history of north Taiwan. The Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf is well known by its beautiful sunset and fresh seafood. While having sightseeing and leisure facilities, it still holds its functionality as a harbor for fishing boats.
We decided to go to the Taipei 101 observatory deck which is located inside the mall. Taipei 101 mall is a mall full of high class branded stuffs. Yeah, everything here is branded ! Unfortunately, because it was 31 December the observatory deck was just too full and the queue was too long. Then, we decided to move our observatory deck plan to the next day and decided to look around the mall, get something to eat and buy some snacks before the fireworks begin. It was 11 p.m, we go outside the mall and go to our hot place to watch the firework. When I go outside, there are already bunch of people around, it was getting a little bit crazy! The street was so crowded. They were all waiting for the New Year's Eve. It is all worth our time !!!! One of the best firework I ever see in my life! Additional information for you, the height of Taipei101 is 500 meter high, and from what I’ve heard, it is the highest Observation Tower in the world, even The Bund at Shanghai - which is also beautiful as Taipei101, believe me - is lower than Taipei101 On the 89 floor, you can look how gorgeous Taipei is through the window. When I look through the window for the first time, I felt a little bit dizzy because it is so incredibly high !
Yangmingshan National Park
As you enter the season of Spring, Yangmingshan National Park welcomes you with their captivating pretty cherry blossom bloom. There are a few different pit stops in the whole National Park area. You can start off with Hsiao You Keng (with steaming fogs smelling of rotten eggs due to the presence of sulphur in the area, sulphur crystals deposits and boiling water from the ground); Leng Shui Keng (public hot spring area); Qing Tian Gang (lush greenery grassland with scattered grazing cows); Juan Si Pu Bu (waterfall with fall like thin white threads), Er Zhi Ping (for their magnificant meadows) then to the main Yangmingshan National Park followed by Calla Lily Field (witness the full bloom in the Calla Lily Field during the Calla Lily Festival which is usually held in the March – April period
Shifen Waterfall Walk Area
Shifen waterfall is a scenic waterfall located in Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan, on the upper reaches of the Keelung River. The falls' total height is 20 meters (66 feet) and 40 meters in width, making it the broadest waterfall in Taiwan. It is a cascade waterfall in which the water flows in one direction and the rock is sloped in the opposite. Shifen is also popular for releasing sky lantern. Every year, on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, thousands of people will gather at Pingxi for the annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. People write their wishes on these lanterns, which will then carry their prayers to the sky. Luckily, one need not wait for the annual Lantern Festival to release sky lanterns - it is now a commercialized activity that you can also do it anytime.
Yeh Liu Geo Park
From the bus stop, you need to walk about 15 minutes until you can find the Yeliou Geo park. Yeliou is located near the sea, and you can look around and enjoy the street view while walking to the Geo Park. No need to be bored ! Before entering the Yeliou Geopark, you need to pay for the entrance fee, only for NT 50 per person. Let me tell you a bit about Yeliou Geopark. Yeliou is basically an amazing stone Park where you can find Princess Head, and so on in the area. You’ll find lots of interesting things here. Plus, it is located near the sea, so the place is really beautiful. You can hear the waves flow through your ears ! It is formed by the sea eruption, you can easily feel it by touching the stone.
Last but not least how could you forget about visiting cafes? It seems to be in the trend of cafe hopping or visiting theme restaurants with quirky interesting decorations wherever you go regardless of the country you are in. To me one is for a different experience, like an eye opener, second is like a comfort resting corner, enjoying the ambiance and pace with a cuppa and plate of dessert. But it is always an irony – pretty and adorable cafe are usually photogenic, but food are not stomach worthy; whereas those urbane and poised cafe usually serves a good deal of dessert and coffee for enjoyment. There are quite a good variety of different cafe concept you can spot in Taipei such as branded cafe like Agnes B at Taipei 101; Barbie Cafe in Zhongxiao East Road and Pompompurin Cafe in Songshou Road for the cartoon fanatics; Myowa Cafe in Jinhua Street for the Green Tea lovers; Zenique cafe in Yongkang Street for a touch of japanese zen; Topo+ Cafein Zhongshan N Road; there is just simply too much to mention! But do you know, the best places are usually the ones you come across by chance?Bonus Sharing!1.Accomodation – Good 9 Stay at the Heart of Ximending
Our next destination for today is Maokong Gondola. To get here : MRT Taipei Zoo, about 10 minutes walk. The queue is very very long, it’s about 2km long! But don’t worry, Maokong provide lots of Gondola so we only need to wait for about 1 hour to get inside the Gondola. While waiting at the queue, if you’re lucky enough - like me, haha - , you can watch the Dancing Water show just beside the Maokong Gondola. It is very beautiful, especially at the Twilight here are two cabin types on Maokong. The first one is the ordinary cabin, and the other one is the crystal cabin. The cost of the two cabin is just the same, and the difference is that on crystal cabin, your foot will step on a see-through window ! We choose the ordinary cabin since I am 100% sure that I can’t sit calmly for 20 minutes with a see through window underneath my foot ! I just can’t imagine how scary it is ! The view from Maokong Gondola is just beautiful. Even Taipei101 can be seen from the Gondola.
Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
First thing that we need to buy is the MRT Pass. There are many kinds of MRT Pass, but I suggest you to buy the Easy Card. Why? Because Easy Card can be use for MRT, Bus, Bicycle, and so on. The Easy Card can be bought at the nearest MRT Station. (Another info that I got it is also can be bought at 7-eleven or other convenience store) The price is NT 200, which are 100 as your deposit and 100 usable balance. The card is refundable, so it will give you NT 100 plus the rest of your balance minus NT 20 for the handling fee. I also grab some tourist information and also the MRT map so I won’t get lost ;) The first place that we visited the Chiang Kai Sek Memorial Hall. The place is very huge and so beautiful. You can go downstairs inside the Hall and take a look at the museum and learn about the history.
After we look around and enjoy the view, we got back to our boat and back to Tamsui old street. Then we go to our next destination which is the Modern Toilet Restaurant! :) To get here : MRT Xi Men, it's located near the Kunming street. Some people are having trouble while finding the Modern Toilet Restaurant. Just make sure that you brought a picture of the food (it helps) because Taipei people don't have any idea if you ask them where is the modern toilet restaurant. Modern Toilet Restaurant is a very famous restaurant on the internet.The price of the food is about NT 240, which you already get a main course, beverage, and a dessert. Many tourists come to Taipei to try to eat at this restaurant. The decoration is full about toilets! Very interesting, isn’t it?
The Red House Market For Artists & Designers
After look around and take some rest, we go to the Red House at Xi Men Ding. To get here : MRT Xi Men At the afternoon, Xi Men Ding is not that crowded, and it is better to visit the Red House at the afternoon so you can take a beautiful picture infornt of the Red House :) Red House is basically like a little museum for the artists. It got a lot of unique stuff like an old radio, old telephone, CDs, and so on. You should visit it when you have some time.
Best place for shopping and Local Food This was a memorable place for me. 2 Girls approached me and asked if I could give them a radio interview. They do interviews on foreigners in Taipei. It was nice. I met 2 Expats there from the USA and ending up talking around 1 hour about God. Haha
Zhuzihu Rd. Intersection
Zhuzihu is a farming settlement in Yangmingshan. Its entire expanse is like a green carpet with snow sprinkled on top, the ‘snow’ being large Calla lilies in full bloom spread as far as eyes can see. You can walk through the neighbourhood to watch farmers sell fresh farm produce and sample juicy guavas, peaches, oranges, and tomatoes on the way.STAY: The Tien Lai Resort & Spa (tienlai.com.tw) is set against the backdrop of mountains.
It's called a swallow grotto because it's used to be the swallow's nest. That is why there are lots of holes (you can see it in my picture). These holes are used as a nest by the swallow bird. Unfortunately, because of the climate, the swallow bird have moved away from their nest. It's really an amazing place !
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
To get here : MRT Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. SYS Memorial hall is a very beautiful place. You even can look at the Taipei101 directly. Not only that, it has a lovely garden full of colourful flowers :) Inside the memorial hall, you can find the Honorable Sun Yat Sen statue and you can take a picture there !
After which embark on a uphill trail to Wulai Waterfall via the Lover’s Path. They used to have a Wulai Log Cart which can bring you to the foot of the Wulai waterfall but a portion of it was destroyed in August 2015 typhoon and has yet to be restored. Once you reached the foot of the waterfall, you can choose to take a Gondola up to the head of the Wulai Waterfall and there holds a mini Yunxian Amusement Park with some peddle boats, natural obstacles, natural trails. Alternatively, you can visit any of their Bathing House as Wulai is also a home to natural hot springs. After spending half a day there, when you’re taking the bus back to Xindian, drop by Bitan which is just next to the station. It’s yet another picturesque scenic area with the 200m long Bitan Suspension Bridge over the Xindian River which you will not want to miss. They also have a stretch of cafes overlooking the Xindian River, at times there will be someCarnivals otherwise, photo worthy pictures with colorful vibrant sculptures at the end of the stretch of restaurants. You can hop into a Pedal Boat along Xindian River too.
Quaint old city, with a gorgeous wharf. We walked ALL THE WAY from Danshui Train Station (which you take from central Taipei), when we could have just taken the red bus 26. It was a 1.5 hour walk! But thinking back, it was a good walk because we saw so much of the town. Good thing there were things to see - quaint houses by the sea, people cycling and strolling, little cafes... The Danshui Old Street was great as well. We had delicious Mifen, fishball soup, and beancurd with vermicelli inside which was great.
During the day Taipei has all the hustle and bustle of a modern city. In the evening, the seaside district of Tamsui is a great place to watch the sun set, and has an absolutely stunning beach. The night markets of Taipei are alive and full of color. From street parades celebrating the birth of a deity to betel nut girls (girls in glass booths selling cigarettes and betel nut). And here's the catch, they have to wear skimpy clothes and the skimpier they are the better their business! The food on offer contained many quaint local delicacies, like turtle meat, which was quite good and snake blood, and bile which were, well, indescribable. The markets outside also had some diverse types of foods, snails for example! But apart from this there were a number of delicious seafood options and other foods that wouldn't make a tourist cringe.
Ningxia Night Market
There are just too many night markets all around Taiwan i could name you but do you know some of the different night markets are distinctive by their unique offerings? For instance, Ningxia Night Market is the market full of FOOD! If you need to satisfy your dinner, this is one of the place to go! Remember to join in the queue for their Yam or Salted Egg Yolk Golden Balls and Oyster Omelette! Or one of the bigger Shilin Night Market that spans around a wide perimeter with FOOD (Seafood fiesta, Herbal Duck Soup, Fried Chicken) & SHOPPING (Clothing, Cap, Bags, Laptop Bags, Handphone Accessories)! Another comparable to Shilin Night Market will be Raohe Night Market, though of smaller scale, but the amount of good food (Pan-fried Pepper Bun) and shopping there should not be missed too!
台北漫步旅店 Meander Taipei Hostel
This is the best Hostel I've been to. Its a huge hostel with a common room and also a Kitchen. The rooms were well maintained and the Washrooms were adequate unlike other hostels I met great people here. My room mate, Ting, a Hong Kong guy became a wonderful friend and we still keep in touch and discuss our travel plans.
Shi Men reservoir I am typing this real time on a boat cruise at Shi men reservoir石门水库, where Taipei city gets the water supply from. The reservoir is surrounded by mountains. On this cloudy morning, the silhouette of layers shrouded in mist is like one Chinese ink painting. The captain is a small thin man, tanned by years working here. His teeth are rotten by a beetal chewing habit popular by most boatmen here. Cheeky and flirtatious, he charms the women with his jokes as he steers. Like how he describes these mountains as Double Breasts hill 二奶山, pointing out the valley in between as the career line事业线, a derogatory term used to described women who dressed provocatively to get promoted.