Taiwan Taipei - jiufen - taroko gorge - hualien

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Trip length: 7 days
  • Budget: 13.200 NT$ (≈10 millions VND). Rate: 760 NT$ = 1000 VND
  • I went on this trip in the beginning of April 2017. So all the reviews/information are applicable during this time, not guarantee for other time ;)
  • Don't expect a detailed instruction on how to do the trip here. Why? That would take away the main fun thing of travelling: Experience & Explore. :) (And I'm lazy to write everything too hehehe). I do, however, give some useful information that you can start your trip with. Get in touch if you need more information.

PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP

  • Apply for VISA: keep yourself up-to-date by visiting this website: http://www.boca.gov.tw. If you from South East Asia, read carefully cause you may be eligible for ROC Travel Authorization Certificate, which means you need only 2 minutes to prepare your entry to Taiwan instead of having to prepare your full-of-money saving account to apply for a VISA.
  • Weather: learn more here. Personally I prefer the cool weather from February - April, it may get freaking cold at night and sometimes unpredictable, during my 7 days stay, the first 3 days were like winter and the rest of the trip was summer...It got hot just after I bought all those warm clothes... So maybe check the weather forecast before you go.
  • Flight: From Vietnam, check on Vanilla Air or VietJet. Want it cheap? keep your eyes on the price, it always go up and down so keep checking everyday (I kept checking 2 months before the trip, got the returned tickets (HCM - Taipei) for 3663 NT$ (≈2.784.000 VND), I think it's quite reasonable).
  • Accommodation: General speaking, the hostels are very nice at a reasonable price (around 400 - 650 NT$). Honestly I'm surprised on how the hostels here manage to make them look super cool and luxurious :)) You should have no trouble booking a good one on Booking.com (or your favorite website). Again, you want it cheap? The strategy is target the good ones and check them everyday, Booking.com have short promotion period everyday for certain hostels so if lucky, you get half the price of the normal one (I did!). (I can share a lot more on how to get your dream price but I'm too lazy to write it :p get in touch if you want to know). The only weird thing I found here is the check-in time for almost every hostels is 3PM, quite late compared to what I'm used to in other countries. But you can always leave your backpacks at the hostel and go on for an adventure if you arrive early.
  • 3G/Wifi in Taiwan: Since Sim card plan is quite expensive for me, I decided not to buy it and actually I don't need it (I got Google offline maps, a Taiwan Lonely Planet book and can also ask people around, they do speak English). But if you're not confident having no connection to the online world, buy the sim card in the airport, they offer different plan with cheaper price in the arrival hall than they do in the city. Another alternative option is the freeeee wifi the Governance give to foreign tourists, learn more here. From my experience, it's not very stable but still sufficient (it's free, better than nothing!)

MY ITINERARY

A brief slideshow of my itinerary, details can be found below the slideshow.

Day 1: Taipei

Dongmen area - Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall - Ximending

Day 2: Taipei

Yangmingshan National Park - Ningxia Night Market

Day 3: Jiufen

Day 4: Hualien

Qixingtan Beach - Hualien Center

Day 5: Hualien

Taroko National Park - Qingshui Cliff

Day 6: Taipei

City wandering - Elephant Mountain - Raohe St. Night Market

Day 7: Taipei

City - Parks - Eating and Go home

Day 1: Taipei

First impression

Taipei is rich in culture. It's a developed city but still got that old-town charm. You can experience everything from modern downtown to historic temples to peaceful parks full of local activities. Every district in Taipei offers some unique things of its own.

Transportation

Super easy. What do we have? Public transportation: Buses, MRT, Ubike. Just get your Easycard and start swiping it everywhere you want (which means it can be used for any public transportation available in the city, and some throughout the country) :))) Taxi is also available but I haven't tried one, no idea on how it is except certainly it'll be more expensive. :p

Cost from Taiwan Taoyuan airport to City center (Taipei Main Station) using MRT: 160 NT$/one way. The new MRT line from the airport to city center has just been opened earlier this year, and it's super fast and convenient compared with other ways to get to the city.

Cost of public transportation for 1 day: 100 NT$ (more or less depends on your laziness).

Walking is not a bad idea either, you'll see a lot more (and they have safe pedestrian walkway, don't be afraid :)) ).

Taipei Districts

Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/File:Map_of_Taipei_districts.png

A short description of all districts can be found here. We mostly went to central districts like Zhongzheng, Wanhua, Daan, Xinyi... and a little bit of Shilin for Yangmingshan national park.

What did we do - Where did we go

Dongmen, Da'an District

We spent the whole morning just to get out of the airport (our flight arrived around 6AM something) and make it to the hostel in Dongmen area. The only reason I chose Dongmen to be our first stop is that it's near the famous National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (walking distance). However, it turned out to be more interesting than it seems.

The Dongmen area around the hostel is very nice, it has a lot of restaurants and milk tea shop. There were not a lot of people, seemed to be mostly locals (btw, I don't trust myself on the ability to distinguish between Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese....). We did met a lovely old lady tried to speak to us even though we couldn't understand a thing. :D

Dongmen, Da’an District. Expect to find good restaurants, lots of milk tea shops, lovely locals. Very peaceful, my favorite area in Taipei.
One of the most famous beef noodles in Taipei - Yong Kang Beef noodles. We were to hungry to wait for it (seriously, look at the queue, only 11AM !!!), so we just gave up and went to another restaurant. We made it on another day by going here at 3PM muahhhhhahaha...
After lunch, we just got our first milk teas: 50 Lan (50嵐) in Taiwan and went back to the hostel for a nap. It was not 3PM yet so we rested in the common area, the hostel's owner later decided that we didn't make the common area prettier so she gave us the room early :)))

Milk tea is probably the most famous and popular drink of Taiwan. So like many many travelers, we couldn't wait for our Taiwan milk tea. But to be honest, we prefer Vietnamese milk tea :))))) We tried almost every brands of milk tea that we could find on the street of Taiwan but nothing can convince us. The best milk tea we had in Taiwan was actually from the small coffee shop on the 1st floor of our hostel (strange enough, it tasted like milk tea of Baozi - the Taiwanese restaurant in Saigon).

So how does the Taiwan milk tea taste? Milk with tea flavor (not so strong though). For a person who wants to be knocked out by the smell of tea leaves in the drink like me, clearly this isn't my favorite; but maybe you like it so just give it a try. The famous drink may surprise you (and tell me if you find a good milk tea shop ;) ).

Coffee (right) and milk tea (left) from 2 Shots - the small coffee shop on 1st floor of our hostel. Best milk tea in Taiwan :))

After our energy is back, we walked to National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in the late afternoon.

National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Walking from the hostel to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in a sunny afternoon was really pleasant. And there were a lot of beautiful dogs :)))

The memorial hall is huge but the surrounding is what make me say "aweeee...".

Around the memorial hall is actually a nice park where locals can enjoy an afternoon like this.
Sit down and enjoy the fresh air right in the city.
It was April but there were still some cherry blossoms in the park.
Taiwanese loveeeee dogs, that's for sure. You will see people put their dogs in baby carriage all around the country (probably in case the dogs are tired of walking...).
The entrance to the hall. There is no fee or whatsoever. Just come and pay the respect to the national leader.

To be continued...

Created By
Tam Nguyen
Appreciate

Credits:

Thuy Le - Tam Nguyen

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