Boarding the inaugural flight of AirAsia Philippines from MCIA to Taoyuan Intl. Airport marked the start of my 50-hour adventure in Taipei. And as the first en route passengers of the flight, we were treated to a bunch of comfort merchandise from AirAsia All-Stars. Yay! That had set a feel-good mood for the wonderful jaunt ahead.
AirAsia Philippines flies between Cebu and Taipei three times weekly, every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, departing at 6:10AM from Cebu and estimated to arrive at 9:00AM in Taoyuan Intl. Airport.
The three-hour flight gave me an ample time to nap before I head to a day of learning a brief history of Taipei, have a delicious feast at a very famous Taiwanese joint and to go shopping!
Taipei is the second international destination I’ve visited for the first time in 2016, and the buzz about the region’s great-tasting streetfood made me super thrilled. Of course, milk tea was on top of my list which had me real excited! But with less than 50 hours to vacation, how much of Taiwan do you think I can explore?
Read on as I give you a quick glance of my 50-hour Taipei & beyond adventure ! 😉
——————————Around Taipei City —————————————
1. Presidential Office Building
After arriving at Taoyuan International Airport, it took us about 90 minutes via a tour bus to arrive at our first stop – The Presidential Office Building. Situated in Zhongzheng District dowtown Taipei, the building houses the office of the President of the Republic of China.
Our tour group stayed at an open field across the complex for picture taking and stayed for about 15-25 minutes.
How to get to Presidential Office Building via train:From the nearest station, ride a train bound for Ximen Station. Alight at Ximen Station and walk towards the complex for about 450 meters/6 minutes.
2. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park
Erected in memory of former President of the Republic of China Chiang Kai-shek is a national landmark with the leader’s monument and a museum in the complex. It is situated in Zhongzheng District. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park is open everyday from 9AM-6PM. And don’t miss the changing of guards which happens hourly.
Our tour group spent about 90 minutes exploring the museum and the memorial hall.
How to get to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall via train:From the nearest station, ride a train bound for Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Station. Alight at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station and walk about 400 meters/ 6 minutes to the site.
3. Lungshan Temple of Manka
The remarkable temple honors both Buddhist and Taoist deities. Taiwanese go here to seek for answers and to pray for love, knowledge, abundance and more. We toured around the temple for a good hour.
How to go Lungshan Temple through train:From the nearest station, ride a train bound for LongShan Temple Station. Alight at LongShan Temple Station ( Kang Ding) and walk 2 minutes towards Lungshan Temple.
Shopping at Ximending is very comparable to shopping in Harajuku, Japan. Great bargains from international to local clothing brands. There are also beauty, tech and gadget outlets in the area. And if you are fancying on trying out local streetfood, you can spot a few stalls of stinky tofu along the district. Shopping time: 120 minutes.
How to get to Ximending via Train: From the nearest station, ride a train bound for Zhonghua Road Nei Zhan Station. Alight at Zhonghua Road Nei Zhan Station, walk 250m/4mins to Ximending.
5. Night Market
There are a lot of night markets in Taipei, and we were able to swing by one nearby the hotel. You can find just about anything at the night market. But not all items are good buys as expected. Be keen on examining the quality and the price tag. Some may be valued absurdly, so have your haggling skills ready and ask for a good and fair discount.
6. Taipei 101
Taipei 101 was on our second day itinerary, right after our New Taipei visit. Situated in Xinyi district, this skyscraper has 101 floor and stands 449 meters (508m to tip). The building has a shopping complex on the lower floors with restaurants, clubs and office spaces on the upper floors. An indoor observation deck is located at the 88th-89th floor, and an outdoor observatory on the 91st. Combined with the solidity of its foundation, a tuned mass damper is installed to withstand typhoon winds and earthquake .
Taipei 101 was part of our second day itinerary (right after our New taipei tour), and we were a bit out of luck though, as it was slightly gloomy and a thin concentration of fog surrounded the tower, making the view less visible. Oh well, more reasons to come back to Taipei. 🙂 We spent about 2.5 hours here.
How to go to Taipei 101 via train:From the nearest station, ride a train bound for Taipei 101. Alight at the Taipei 101 train station.
—————–Off to the Northeast Coast of Taiwan: New Taipei —————–
On our second day, we explored a part of the Northeast coast of Taiwan- New Taipei. It is about an hour bus ride from Taipei City. Our itinerary included Nanya Stone Formation/Peculiar Stone, Northeast Fishing Village, Golden Waterfall and Jiufen Village.
1. Nanya Peculiar Stone
Nanya Peculiar Stone or Rock Formation is somehow similar to Kapurpurawan Rock Formation in Ilocos PH. While Kapurpurwan is known for its white limestone formations, Nanya rock formations are ferric-oxide weathered sandstones.
2. Northeast Coast Fishing Village
This coastal fishing village has a very laid back feel. Walking along the path to a park by the sea, you’ll pass through docked boats and people fishing along the port. Also, restaurants offering fresh catch can be spotted just along the walkway.
Several boats that catches squids were also docked, which were interestingly adorned with huge bulbs to attract the squid at night.
Situated at the elevated part of the park by the sea is a shrine of a deity for bountiful harvest.
3. Golden Waterfall
This layers of waterfall gives out this distinct gold-ish hue. It’s color is a result of it’s high metal concentration bed which was caused by rain water pouring from the gold mines from yesteryears. As per our super friendly tour guide Jane Fan, the waterfalls gives out a more gold-ish color when it’s sunny; as the sunlight hits the water and its bed, giving out a bright yellow color.
Jiufen used to be a gold mining mountain community built by the Japanese. Now, its a tourist destination holding an eclectic mix of novelty and souvenir shops, traditional tea houses and restaurants. Japanese influence is apparent in the architecture of many of the structures here. And if you are a foodie, then Juifen surely would not disappoint. Every nook and corner holds pop-up booths serving Taiwanese streetfood and delicacies at affordable prices.
How to get to Jiu Fen:
From Taipei Train Station, take the train north to Ruifang Station.
After exiting the station, board the Keelung Transit bus towards Jiufen and Jin Gua Shi.
The bus trip will take an estimated 15 minute.
Directions from Zhongxiao Fuxing 忠孝復興 MRT
Leave MRT Exit #1, and take Keelung Bus 1062 towards Jiufen.
The bus trip will take about an hour to Jiufen.
—————– Glorious Taiwanese Eats and Drinks ———————–
Food plays a big part in making ones stay a pleasurable one, and I would personally consider Taipei to be one of those destinations that the food itself is an attraction. So here’re are some of a few I’ve tried during my less-than-50-hour jaunt.
1. Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung
Best known for their soup dumpling, Din Tai Fung can create a long line spanning ’til the next block. Waiting time can take around 30 minutes to an hour (or more) on peak hours.
And yes, those Xialongbaos are really good. Yum!
2. Milk Bubble Tea
The popular Asian drink “Bubble Tea” or “Boba” that is made with milk and Tapioca pearl originated in Taiwan in the 1980s. So which one are the best in Taipei? 50Lan and Coco are the best brands as per our guide Jane Fan.
Tried the classic “Boba drink” at these outlets and their refreshingly good, and the tapiocas are cooked right – chewy, gooey and gummy, just the way I like it. Price-wise, Coco is slightly cheaper than 50Lan.
3. Taiwanese Streetfood
I told myself to explore Taiwan again soon and next time focusing on their streetfood. Sadly, this visit, I’ve only tried Ice Cream ‘Popiah’ or peanut ice cream crepe. This very interesting snack is made with peanut brittle shavings, cilantro and 2 scoops of ice cream wrapped in handmade ‘popiah’ or spring roll wrapper.
The red bean pancake and the grilled mushroom are really intriguing as well. The fried chicken cutlet and grilled scallops are alsoon my list. On my next visit Taipei, definitely!
4. Those Giant Fruits
Who doesn’t want supersized food?
Giant atis and balimbing, anyone?
Thanks Mommy MJ of Istorya.net for holding the fruits! ^_^
5. The Interesting “Five Dime Restaurant” and The Soy Glazed Pork
The adventure starts when you go up on its spiral path to the restaurant’s entrance. Stepping in the restaurant transports you to an artsy, quirky dimension. Imagine Alice going inside the rabbit hole. Yes, that weird yet cool kinda feel. 😛
Food is just okey, but a bit pricey. We were unanimous that the Soy Glazed Pork is really good, just like our local Cebuano humba. 😉
Whooo-wheeee! This 50-hour Taipei adventure covered a bit of everything – from history, culture, food and shopping! Not bad at all, (pats back)!
Can’t wait to explore more of Taipei on a more relaxed pace over a 7-day vacay, focusing on exploring the region’s streetfood. Soon!
So have you been to Taipei already? Please leave some tips for things I have not covered yet which surely be helpful on my next trip to Taipei. 😉