Fun Taiwan!

I used to watch Fun Taiwan on TLC, that long-running series hosted by Janet Hsieh, so I have that long-standing notion that there’s so much fun in Taiwan especially in terms of food and nature adventure. My niece and I visited Taiwan last April and if you have already watched the vlog, which is embedded right at the top, perhaps you already have an idea how we had some real, full-on fun—of course, that kind that is apt for a tweener!

I’m not going to write about the how tos because there’s probably a hundred or so blogs about it. So let me skimp on words and lavish you up on visual imagery. I’ll also include some helpful tips just in case you want to make some places that we visited a part of itinerary on your visit to Taiwan.

This is what our 8-day itinerary looks like. It covered Taipei and some tourist destinations in the central region.

taiwan_itinerary

Day 1
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport  &  Taichung (West & Central districts)
Travel time to Taichung via Ubus: approximately 2 hours
Accommodation: AirBnb
Places Visited 
Fantasy Story (Sadly, it permanently closed shortly after our visit.)
Audit Village
Miyahara Ice Cream Shop
Liuchuan Riverside Walk
Zhonghua Road Night Market
Somehelpfultips!

  • Most find it convenient to take Ubus from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to Taichung. Taking the high speed train will take you to Taichung in less than an hour but it’s more expensive, you have to take a 25-minute bus ride from the airport to the nearest station, and the HSR station in Taichung is far from city center.
  • Find an accommodation that is within walking distance from the attractions that you want to visit. Doing this saves you time and money from taking commute buses or taxi.
  • If you’re thinking of far-reaching day trip that covers most of the must-see tourist attractions within the city to  as far as Gaomei Wetlands,  hire a private car and a driver. However, it can be pricey if you’re traveling alone (in my case, with a tweener as a companion) since you’re the only one bearing all the expenses.
  • Don’t miss the ice cream at Miyahara. It has the best-tasting ice cream in Taiwan!

Days 2-3
Cingjing, Nantou County
Travel time from Taichung via Nantou Bus: approximately 2 hours
Accommodation: 5KM Villa
Places Visited
Small Swiss Garden
Green, Green Grasslands
Cingjing Skywalk
Carton King
Somehelpfultips!

  • If you are coming from central Taichung, go straight to Taichung Gancheng station. The Nantou Bus route starts from there. It’s near Taichung Railway Station. We made a mistake of taking the bus from Taichung HSR. It cost me TWD400 for a taxi ride from the BnB to Taichung HSR.
  • Buy the TWD610 Cingjing Farm Pass at Nantou Bus counter at the Taichung Gancheng station or the ground floor of the Taichung HSR station. This covers your 2-way bus fare from Taichung to Cingjing, entrance fee to Green, Green Grasslands, and etc.
  • Cingjing is best explored by car because taxi ride is pricey and bus trips within the township has 30 minute to 1 hour interval. So if you’re traveling by bus, find an accommodation that’s near the center, which is the area where Cingjing Farm Passenger Center is or  simply get a room at Cingjing Guesthouse.
  • Go to Green, Green Grasslands by bus or Taxi (TWD200 from Cingjing Farm Passenger Center) and go back to Cingjing Farm Passenger Center via the 1.2 km. Cingjing Skywalk.
  • There’s nothing special to see at Small Swiss Garden, so save your TWD120 and aim for a bigger and picturesque flower farm like the Zhongshe Flower Market in Houli district, Taichung.
  • If you have a car or if you don’t mind the expensive taxi fare, I recommend minsus (homestay or bnb) like 5KM Villa. However, there are minsus that offer free shuttle service to and from Green, Green Grasslands, better stay in one of those. Alas, 5KM Villa doesn’t offer this service but the scenery is impressively beautiful and the hospitality of the owner and the homeyness of the place is superb .
  • Cingjing Farm Passenger Center has a free luggage storage service for visitors.

Days 3-4
Taichung Xitun and Houli Districts
Ximending, Taipei
Travel time from Cingjing via Nantou Bus: approximately 2 hours to  Taichung Gancheng Station
Accommodation: Airbnb  and I Play Inn
Places Visited
Fengjia Night Market
Zhongshe Flower Market (Tai’an)
Ximending
Somehelpfultips!

  • Fengjia Night Market is one of the biggest and  most vibrant night markets in Taiwan. It’s about 30-45 minute bus ride from Taichung Gancheng Station (central Taichung) so better get an accommodation in Xitun district if you’re staying for a night. Our BnB is just 5 minutes walk away from the market so it was pretty convenient and our host, Jacky Jr., gave us a briefing on how to dig into  this bewildering expanse crammed with people and overflowing food choices. We didn’t eat much because we got overwhelmed with the assortment of street foods (the smell and the sight). Among those that we have tasted, we recommend the Minglun pancake and papaya milk. You will easily know popular shops because of the number of people lining up.
  • Don’t miss Zhongshe Flower Farm if you seek Instagram worthy attractions.
  • Don’t take that  TRA trip from Taichung to Taipei if the ticket seller tells you No seat, stand only. Never ever subject yourself in a pitiful state. We exactly did that, it was 2 hours of misery.
  • If you’re in a hurry or planning to eat on-board the train or on a bench in a train station, buy the railway bento. Its cheap and tasty for only TWD60.
  • There’s a baggage room at the Taichung Railway Station where you can leave your baggage. I paid TWD150 (if I remember it right) for my two luggage.

Days 4-5
Hualien 
Travel time from Taipei via TRA: approximately 2 hours (Puyuma train)
Accommodation: 花蓮‧官家休閒民宿  (Mr. Guan’s BnB)
Places Visited
Bear Forest
Hualien Night Market
Liyu Lake
Taroko National Park
Chihsingtan Beach

Somehelpfultips!

  • The easiest way to reach Hualien is by taking  one of the fastest TRA trains, either Puyuma or Taroko, from Taipei Main Station.
  • Hualien Night Market is a huge, well-organized market that is more like a fair. It has food stalls, arcade and other game stalls, and a stage that showcases performances by Taiwan’s indigenous people. It’s a quiet night market but it’s worth a visit since there’s actually nothing much to do in Hualien at night.
  • The best way to explore Taroko is via a private or rented car.
  • Hualien looks like a sleepy county but there’s actually a number of interesting sights to see.

Days 6-8
Taipei & Jiufen
Travel time from Hualien via TRA: approximately 2 hours (Puyuma train)
Accommodation: Airbnb
Places Visited
Banqiao
Huashan 1914 Creative Park
Taipei  Da’an, Zhongzheng & Xinyi Districts
Jiufen
Maokong mountain
Taipei Zoo
Taipei 101

Somehelpfultips!

  • Find a BnB in Banqiao, it’s cheaper. Our BnB was 3 minutes away from the MRT Banqiao station by foot, it’s quiet despite that it’s right beside a busy day market.
  • When in Jiufen, don’t just have your  picture taken right at the facade of the iconic Amei Teahouse. Go upstairs, get a table, and relish the sight of the mountain and the sea and the wholesome goodness of the traditional Chinese tea (and, yes, words must rhyme!).
  • Jiufen has some of the most delightful street food choices, try them. I recommend Ah Lan hakka glutinous rice cake, Grandma Lai’s taro balls, and the rou yuan (Taiwanese vegetarian meat roll).
  • Take the Maokong mountain gondola and bask in the scenic side of Taipei. Take time to unwind with some tea or that green tea/black tea ice cream with cat shaped cookie at Maokong Tea House.
  • You want to see a real panda? Visit Taipe Zoo!
  • It’s your first time in Taiwan? Don’t ever forget to pay Taipei 101 a courtesy call. It’s a must!

Eight days went by real quick. On the 7th day, I was feeling fatigue taking over me. Oh, this eight-day long journey of non-stop hopping and skipping from city to city, one town or district to another, walking miles & miles and running after trains & buses seemed no longer a good idea for an ageing woman! The tweener was a spring of boundless joy and energy who remained sweet and charming. Most days we found ourselves bone-weary but nothing’s left uncured by a good hot shower, the sound of hearty belly laugh as we went about our misadventures, long uninterrupted sleep in a comfy bed, and the anticipation for what’s to come in a brand new day of adventure.

Taiwan has been a memorable trip, made even more special by friends who went out of their way to spend time with us and show us the beauty of the place they call home. Thank you very much. We are beyond grateful for the kindness of your hearts. ♥

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