#TAIWANderful: A 4D3N Taipei + Taichung Experience

It's easy to see why Taiwan is fast-growing in popularity as a travel destination. Tagged as "The Heart of Asia," Taiwan truly is a perfect destination in Asia that must not be missed. Our 4D3N adventure with my For Mindanao fambam was a whirlwind of interesting activities!

Here's a quick video of our adventure. Read on for the details.

The Itinerary

Our trip is a combination of guided tour and DIY adventure. Flight and hotel bookings plus a 1-day tour in Taichung were arranged through Ms Rhizz of Rhizz Tours and Travel (based in Bohol).  Vouchers to major attractions, unlimited fun pass, and 4G sim were pre-booked via Klook. And all directions as we went around Taipei, c/o the ever reliable Google Maps and compass apps. πŸ˜‚

We arranged our itinerary in a way to have a balanced experience of Taiwan and explore the beautiful attractions, nature, food, and culture and arts.

What to do upon arrival (Taoyuan International Airport):
  1. Money changer. There are money changers in Taoyuan International Airport. [Note:  You can also buy New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) before flying to Taiwan. There's a money changer in Mactan Cebu International Airport near Burger King and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.] 
  2. Pick up Taipei unlimited 1-day pass and 4G sim with unlimited data (pre-booked via Klook).
  3. Purchase and load Easy Card. The card is 100 NTD, which we loaded with 400 NTD to be used for bus and train fares and other purchases.
  4. Take the express train to hotel. 

    Travel Tip #1: 
     Bring your own water bottle. It's easy to find public drinking fountains for refill. You're helping the environment AND saving some money. πŸ˜‰

    Where to Stay When in Taipei:

    Conveniently located in downtown Taipei, the Diary of Taipei Hotel is a short 5- to 8-min walk from Taipei Main Station. Beds are large and comfortable. Linens are clean, and the rooms are cleaned daily. Hot and cold shower is available too... perfect for a nice hot bath for a relaxing slumber after a day of touring. I'll blog a separate blog post for a hotel review. 

    Travel Tip #2: 
    Take note of the name and address of the hotel in Chinese, just in case you need to ride a taxi at some point. Not all taxi drivers in Taiwan can converse in English. We kept the hotel's business card to show the driver when we get too tired to figure out how to commute back to the hotel.

    What to Do and See When in Taiwan

    Taipei Free Walking Tour

    We started our Taiwan adventure by getting acquainted with the culture and interesting architecture of Taipei. We booked the Taipei Free Walking Tour Golden Age Route via KlookShout out to Jack, Viki, and Pei of Like It Formosa δΎ†εŽ»η¦ηˆΎζ‘©ζ²™! They did a very great job of touring us around and helping us understand the rich history and culture of Taiwan.

    Tour Details:
    meetup at MRT Beimen Station Exit 2
    πŸ“ North Gate
    πŸ“ Taipei Post Office
    πŸ“ Tianma Tea House
    πŸ“ Xia Hai City God Temple
    πŸ“ Dadaocheng
    5:30pm tour ends at Dihua Street

    Travel Tip #3: 
    Book a walking tour with local guides. You'll have a deeper understanding of the culture, architecture, and people. Like it Formosa offers 3 routes in Taipei 7 days a week.

    TaipeiEYE Chinese Opera

    Day 1 of #TAIWANderful adventure continues with a TaipeiEYEθ‡ΊεŒ—ζˆ²ζ£š Chinese Opera experience.  We went to see an authentic (subtitled) traditional Chinese performing arts.

    Photo credit: TaipeiEYE website

    We bought the ticket via Klook, which included:
    • TaipeiEYE show ticket
    • Traditional costumes trying-on experience (7:00pm - 7:50pm)
    • Face painting experience (7:00pm - 7:50pm)
    • Taking photos with the dancing lion
    • Postcard mailing service

    And then off we went to our first Taipei night market experience.

    Shuangcheng Street Night Market

    From TaipeiEYE, we walked for about 8 to 10 minutes to Shuangcheng St. for dinner. It's a fairly short block, but the food options are vast.  


    For our trip to Taichung on day 2, we went the easier, more comfortable route and pre-booked a van. We didn't want to waste time getting lost. Haha! And of course, there's peace in knowing you can sleep while in transit and be sure that you'll arrive at your destination. 

    We booked the chartered car service through Rhizz Travel and Tours. Fee is Php 2000 per head. The van was comfortable, air-conditioned, and with free wi-fi. Yey! Our driver/tour guide is Alex. He can speak English well, so we didn't have trouble conversing with him. Plus his playlist in the van includes OPM songs. My OPM heart is happy. Haha!

    Here's Alex's contact details: 

    Travel Tip #4: 
    If you want a day tour outside Taipei, it is best to book a chartered car service. It may be a little pricier than fully DIYing, but the peace of mind you'll have is priceless. ;)

    Our Taichung itinerary:

    Rainbow Village

    Rainbow Village is a colorful settlement in Taichung famous for its vibrantly painted houses and streets.

    The village also has an interesting and inspiring history behind it. It was created by Huang Yong Fu ('Rainbow Grandpa') in an effort to save his village from demolition.

    Taichung World Flora Exposition 

    Taichung World Flora Exposition is an international horticultural expo, featuring the best of the best. Most information are written in Chinese/Taiwanese though. So... there's that. But it was a feast to the eyes nonetheless. 

    Zhongshe Flower Market

    We finished our short Taichung adventure with a visit to Zhongshe Flower Market (or Chungshe), which features beautifully landscaped gardens with colorful flowers.

    The vibrant hues make excellent backgrounds for 'em Instagram posts. 

    Shilin Night Market

    After Taichung, we went back to Taipei. We asked Alex to drop us off at Shilin Night Market instead of back to the hotel. We just couldn't miss the largest and most famous night market in Taiwan. 

    After having our dinner, we roamed around Shilin Market to buy some pasalubong. And of course, what better way to spend in a foreign country than disappear into the crowd and have an impromptu photoshoot session. Haha! 

    Taipei Fun Pass

    Now on to day 3. We pre-purchased 1-day Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass through Klook, which we picked up in the airport. 

    The pass combines attractions and transportation for one great value, with access to 12 different attractions, unlimited rides to the Taipei MRT, Taipei and New Taipei City bus, and 4 Taiwan Tourist Shuttle Routes. Check here for more details. 

    We didn't want to cram the day with so much activities, so we limited our itinerary to:

    National Palace Museum

    The National Palace Museum is a must-visit in Taiwan. It is a world-famous museum that houses a huge collection of classic cultural relics of the Chinese imperial court dating back thousands of years.

    Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Residence

    After a quick lunch, we then proceeded to our next destination, which is a short bus ride away. We visited the former residence of Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling. It is a designated historical site that celebrates their accomplishments and huge contributions to the growth of Taiwan in the modern era.

    Taipei 101 Observatory

    We also made sure to visit the tallest building towering above the city like the gigantic bamboo stalk to appreciate an overlooking view of the beautiful city. Tickets and entrance are on the 5th floor of the Taipei 101 Shopping Mall. The pressure-controlled elevator ride up was an experience itself, taking you to the 89th floor in 40 seconds. Observation decks are on the 88th and 89th floors, and there is an outdoor deck on the 91st floor opened on some occasions, weather permitting.

    Taipei 101 from afar

    View from the top

    Linjiang (Tonghua) Night Market

    To cap off the day, we opted to have one more night market experience on our last night in Taipei. We went to Linjiang (Tonghua) Night Market because of its proximity to Taipei 101. We had dinner and strolled around for more souvenir shopping.  This one is pretty low-key but still very lively. It is also rarely visited by tourists, so it feels more local. 

    National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

    On the last day of our #TAIWANderful adventure, we wanted a fairly easy day. We only had one attraction to visit -- the National CKS Memorial Hall. This historical landmark in Taiwan was erected in honor of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the former President of the Republic of China. 

    We took lots of pictures and made sure to witness the changing of guards. 

    And then we went back to the hotel to pick up our things and headed back to the airport. 

    Food in Taiwan

    One of the highlights of Taiwan is the food scene. It really is a gastronomic adventure! The rich culture of Taiwan, with both western (European) and eastern (Chinese and Japanese) influences well translates into a rich collection of food items to try. So, I'm just dumping food shots here.

    Travel Tip #5: 
    Serving size generally is huge for an average Filipino appetite. If you're traveling with a group, best to just share. Otherwise, you may bring your own container to pack the excess for your next meal. 

    So there you go. That wraps up our Taiwan adventure. If you want details, including budget and link, you can view our itinerary spreadsheet here. (Yep, because we're kind of OC like that. Haha!) Please note that this budget excludes flights and accommodation. 

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