I have been to several countries but this is my first travel blog.
I had several blogs last time but this is my first travel blog.
My intention is to share with the public bits and pieces of my trip so that they will be more informed and will be better prepared for the trip. Just like how some blogs that I have read before my trips have provided me with insights so that almost everything went smoothly during the trip.
So here… a blog post on Taipei. This is my second time in Taipei and my boyfriend and I only had 3 or 4 days there. Though short, it was a good trip as being born in a hot-climate country i.e. Singapore, we have never experienced spring. We were there from 1 Mar 14 to 4 Mar 14. I will recommend people to visit Taiwan during this season because
1. it is a season for cherry blossom viewing
2. cooling weather (it may get quite cold at times, but just wear thicker layers)
However, the bad point is that a lot of the clothes sold in shops are long-sleeved. So if you come from hot-climate countries and wish to buy some clothes back home from Taiwan, it may be better to visit during Summer period (of course trading off with the super hot weather).
We flew by Tigerair as it was cheaper for us. It was a 4 to 5 hours flight. For those who go for budget travel, just choose budget airline. Despite no in-flight entertainment, just bring along your book, tablet etc to keep you entertained.
As for what kind of clothes to pack for the Spring season, bring long-sleeves clothes, jacket, long pants etc. There were a few who were in winter jackets – these are good to keep you very warm but a normal jacket will suffice. For girls who go for a bit of fashion, leggings will be good.
As my bf and I were not sure which place offers more attractive exchange rates, we decided to convert half of the money outside and half in the airport. So here is a lesson I could share with you all. I converted at Arcade (a building at Raffles Place, Singapore) at a rate above 23. At Changi airport, the rate was below 23 (received lesser TWD in exchange for SGD) since most of the money changers are banks – so they usually follow the rates of the banks. Before you convert the currency, you may take a look at this article.
Try not to convert at your local airport as it is likely that the rates you get will be lower. One additional note is that when we reached Taoyuan International Airport, we realised that the rates offered there are almost as competitive as the rates I have seen at Arcade – also above 23 during that time. I know this goes beyond saying but it is important to convert at a good rate so that the things overseas will appear ‘cheaper’ to you.
The good times in Taipei…
Tigerair flew us to Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport. Although the ticket may state that your destination is Taipei, Taoyuan is definitely not in Taipei. They are different counties (county is an administrative division.. you may take it as a region/state if the details do not interest you). So when you reach Taoyuan airport, you must take any of the various transports e.g. train, bus, to bring you to your destination.
From the arrival hall, we took the escalator down to the bus station. There are several bus companies (Kuo-Kuang, FreeGo, Ubus etc). The prices are competitive so I guess the more decisive factor is the timing of the bus. We bought the ticket for the earliest bus possible at TWD145. You can convert into SGD by dividing by 23 (a rough gauge). Quite cheap – about S$6.30. Also, the buses have different drop-off points e.g. hotels, metro station, so you just choose the one that is nearer to the location of your accommodation.
We chose to go back to the hostel – JV’s hostel – we stayed 2 years ago due to the following reasons:
1. It is less than a minute walk to Tonghua Market. For those supper people out there, it is better to stay near night market rather than popular place like Ximending. Hungry? Cheap food is available nearby.
2. The hostel markets that it is near Taipei 101 – but see whether this is of value to you.
3. Near pet street. I have a soft spot for adorable pets. The location of the hostel is such that everytime you want to walk to Liuzhangli metro station, you will walk past the pet street. Seeing the cute puppies and kittens everyday has made my stay there even happier.
Some are not exactly cute but still, interesting to watch them.
As we have been in Taipei before and this trip is more of a weekend getaway during my peak period (you can guess the industry I am working in), our focus this time was mostly just enjoying the food as well as shopping – and of course to see cherry blossoms.
Here are some food that we had in Taipei.
My bf’s favourite – braised pork over rice (滷肉飯). You can find this almost everywhere. Each bowl is around TWD 20 to 30. Pretty affordable – so you can have more than 1 bowl if you want. Though it looks simple, it is definitely tasty.
Shaved ice is also popular in Taiwan. I had this double chocolate shaved ice at Shilin B1 food court.
Also available at Shilin B1 food court – soft shell crabs.
Here is the menu at one of the stalls at Shilin basement food court. (You can click on this image to see the details.)
Stinky tofu is also available everywhere. As it has a strong smell and taste, not everyone appreciates this unique dish. Nevertheless, it is worth a try if you visit Taiwan. Another dish you may wish to try is pig’s blood cake.
Some other random Taiwanese food.
The night markets also offer non-Taiwanese food. This was taken at Raohe night market.
Big Takoyaki found at Ximending
If you are overwhelmed by street food, you may have your meal at one of the eateries/restaurants in Taipei. We had braised beef noodle and Zhajiangmian at an eatery near Ximending.
There are other food you can try e.g. Ah Zong Mian Xian that is available at Ximending and Shilin night market…and much more…
Some of the places we visited…
- Wufenpu – it is like a garment wholesales area. Many people visit this place to buy cheap clothes. Nearest metro station is Houshanpi. You may need to walk a distance from the metro station.
- After shopping, you can walk to Raohe night market for a good meal. If you are not sure of the direction, just ask around. Taiwanese are friendly.
- Ximending – a more hip place for shopping. A picture is worth a thousand words. We saw the cast of Kano (newly-released Taiwanese movie) there. Nearest metro station is of course Ximen.
- Shida night market – what I read on blogs was that since this market is near an university, things there are relatively cheaper. It is a rather small market though.
- Yangmingshan National Park – of course, you can’t miss this place if you are visiting Taipei during Spring. Shouldn’t miss a chance to view cherry blossoms (樱花), especially if the country you are living in does not have four seasons.
Other than taking cab, you can take metro to Taipei main station. (Just buy an Easycard from the machine or counter at the Metro station and top up. Fares are pretty cheap.) Follow the signs and walk to the bus station. You can take bus 260 to Yangmingshan. It is about 40 min ride. When you reach Yangmingshan, you may start to wonder whether you should alight at certain stops – for fear that you may miss the stop. There is a final stop whereby most people will alight – it is where visitor centre is located – and the famous flower clock is nearby as well. Nonetheless, you may also choose to alight earlier as there are certain stops which offer views that are good for photography.
Anyway, when you board the bus, you should notice the lighted sign at the 上 or 下 character. 上 means that you should pay your bus fare when you board the bus, while the latter means that you should pay your bus fare when you alight the bus. On our trip to Yangmingshan, we had to tap our card when we boarded and alighted the bus. During our journey back, we only had to tap on exit.
If you are taking bus 260 back, you can drop off at Jiantan station and visit Shilin night market. It is on the way.
My previous stay in Taipei
I visited the following also, of which I highly recommend you all to go!
- Yehliu Geopark
- Jiufen, Shifen
Just my 2 cents worth…
I am sorry that my post is not very detailed but time is as limited as always. I will write a more detailed blogpost next time!
Nonetheless, if you need any tip or have any comment for me, feel free to leave a comment or contact me.