Before coming back to Canada, I decided to end the semester by doing a solo trip to Taiwan after the finals. My Singapore to Taipei flight was about 5 hours and I was able to book it such that it coincides with sleeping hours. This allowed me to arrive really early the next morning to go check-in and immediately start visiting this beautiful city.
Many people recommended different neighborhoods to stay: Ximending, Zhong Shan, Da’An District, and Xinyi. However, when looking for the place with the most things to do, it had to be Ximending. I don’t always mention my hostel choice, but in this case, I have to promote it. I booked a 4 nights stay with “Space Inn” near the Ximen MRT station and it was amazing!! Everything was super clean, the AC was cold, service was friendly and the bed was really comfortable. Furthermore, considering it is only 6 minutes away from the busy MRT, I would definitely recommend anyone looking for a place in Taipei to book with them. Seriously.
After leaving my luggages at the hostel, I went to eat a classic Taiwanese breakfast. The most famous place for breakfast in Taipei is called Fu Hang Soy Bean阜杭豆漿. It is a restaurant so famous that it has a long line-up around the building, even if it is on the second floor. The service was quick so I believe I waited less than 30 minutes. Apparently everything they sell is really good, but they were especially famous for their salty soft tofu and breakfast crepes. I ordered exactly that and both were super tasty.
After this brunch, I went on to the Huashan 1914 Creative Park just near by. It is a friendly neighborhood full of cute little artisan shops and museums. I walked around a bit, took some pictures. There was one exhibition on Taiwanese animation. There were many interesting design installations as well as a display of Taiwanese manhuas. Furthermore, they had a TV broadcasting some new TWdramas :’D Brings me back to my old twdrama fangirling yeras.
From there, I walked around a bit more, got myself a delicious bubble tea and caught the MRT to my next destination.
I went on to visit the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. It is an amazing attraction, massive in proportions. The statue of Chiang Kai Shek was built at the top of the hall. The national theater and the concert hall are on either sides and the entrance of this memorial hall is called the Freedom Square Gate. You can’t miss any of them and I found it interesting these attractions all come together so nice visually.
After so much walking around and since I was close by, I decided to go eat the famous Braised Beef Rice at Jinfeng Braised Meat Rice 金峰魯肉飯. Needless to say, there was a huge line and the food was super tasty! I also got to talk with a couple of really friendly local and they offered me some of their side dishes!! ❤ Such nice people.
Afterward, I decided it was a must for me to visit the other NTU of the world. I am of course talking about the National Taiwan University. It is a really nice campus that reminds me a lot of the ones I visited in China. There were a huge amount of bikes parked around, which totally makes sense as it seems like bikes and motobikes are the official choice of transit in Taipei. As I went on a Sunday, I didn’t see many students. Instead, a lot of families and grandparents chose the school as their week-end nature gateways.
With so many places visited during the day, I was dead tired. I went back to the hostel where I was finally able to check into my room (previously only got the payment made). I took a quick nap before waking up around 8:00PM. After waking up, the first thing I did was of course to go hunt for food. There was a popular Taiwanese beef noodles place around my hostel so I had to visit it. It is called 桃源街正宗山東牛肉麵 Taoyuan Street Authentic Shandong Beef Noodle. The beef was super tasty and they were really generous with the portion. The soup was savoury and the noodles chewy, just the way I like them.
Afterward, I went to visit my first Taiwanese night market called Huaxi Night Market. It was a really nice night market with many things to buy, play and eat. It was also pretty big and overall a great option nearby.
Since the Longshan Temple was just next to this night market, I went in to take a few pictures and walk around. I didn’t stay there for too long because I knew I would come back again the next day.
I started the day by walking around Ximending since it was close to where I was staying. I found a wonderful place selling authentic Taiwanese snacks/food. I ordered the white radish cake as well as the famous Oyster omelette. Both were marvelous, but I especially loved the oyster omelette.
Ximending had many higher-end, but fun restaurants to try out as well as many shops to visit. The neighborhood felt like a busy downtown area.
Afterward, I caught the MRT in direction to Longshan temple. It is a totally different experience to see the temple again under the daylight. The temple is not very big, but it is well designed with many beautiful details. For example, on both sides of the temple, we can find water installations, including a small waterfall. The temple itself has an old, but classy exterior color.
My afternoon was spend mostly at the National Palace Museum. It is a huge museum close to the Shilin district, in the northern side of Taipei. The museum had 2 different exhibitions, but I went to check out the permanent one. It is interesting to note that they do not accept student card to buy tickets unless you have a very specific international student card (which I am not sure how I could have made). The exhibition is placed on three different levels, presenting the many artifacts and art works of China. Most of the exhibition seemed to concentrate on the Qing Dynasty. This museum is classified as 2nd must do on Tripadvisor and, if you are unfamiliar with Chinese history, I would strong recommend you to pay it a visit.
Finally, from there, I caught the bus back to the Shilin MRT and then walked toward the world famous Shilin Night Market. It was definitely the activity I was looking out to do the most. It was basically EAT, EAT, EAT until I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go back sleep for the night.
The goal of day 3 was to explore the rest of the city I didn’t get to visit yet. While walking to the MRT, I stopped at a local breakfast place and got my favorite Chinese breakfast combo: hot sweet soy milk with crispy just made Chinese Doughnut.
Of course, this means I had to start off the day with the Elephant Mountain Hiking Trail. This trail would allow me to have a great view of the city of Taipei, including of its highest building Taipei 101. The hike itself was pretty short as it took about 30 minutes. However, because of how steep it was and how many stairs it had, I was totally exhausted when I reached the top. Waking up early in the morning for this view was totally worth it.
When coming down from the mountain, I was dying of hunger and decided to buy a simple Zha Jiang Mian. It was super tasty with a lot of peanut sauce.
After, I walked from there toward the Taipei 101 building. From there, you can buy tickets to go to the top or even eat dim sum at some restaurant there. I chose not to and simply walked around its indoor mall before leaving. The mall itself is really big and properly the cleanest place I have been in Taipei. It was the place to go if you like branded products.
From there, I then went on to visit the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Just like the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, this place is massive. There is also a statue of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen inside the main building. I liked that there was a publicly open museum explaining the amazing like of this man. I was also lucky to see an exhibition of art work there. The park surrounding the memorial hall is very pretty so I definitely recommend walking around a little bit before leaving.
My next destination for the day was the Wu Fen Pu Shopping District. As a young girl in love with Asian fashion, I was excited to visit this place known to be the biggest fashion outlet in Taipei. However, maybe because I was overly critical that day, I barely found anything I liked. The fabric especially was disappointing. The price is cheap though so I would definitely recommend going to see if you may find a good deal.
From there, I then went to my last night market of the trip: Raohe Night Market. This night market had a lot of Japanese influence for its food, which was fine by me. I tried all kind of delicious midnight snacks, but I have to say that the takoyaki was my ultimate favorite. Super tasty.
For day 4, I booked a shuttle bus option to visit the big trio: Yehliu + Jiufen + Shifen. I booked with Klook which I believe is the cheapest option available out there. Unless you are a big group who can share cab/uber cost together, I think the shuttle bus is definitely worth considering.
Before going on the car, I went to buy a simple breakfast at a street stall. Seriously, Taipei cannot disappoint when it comes to food.
Although there is no tour guide, the shuttle bus basically going to every touristy attractions and gave us a strict deadlines on when to come back. Definitely make sure you come back by the time as they are on tight schedule.
The first destination was Yehliu Geopark which was my favorite destination of the whole Taiwan trip. Seriously, it was BEAUTIFUL!!! Everything was gorgeous and I was lucky enough to have went when it was a blue sky. Seriously, the Nanya Rock formations were so great I think I could had stayed there all day. If you go, make sure you go take a picture with the Queen’s Head.
Next, the car stopped at the Ying Yang Sea and the 13 Layer Remains for 20 minutes. It was enough to take a few quick pictures, but we were too far from the 13 Layer Remains to go explore it. The Ying Yang Sea was beautiful, but be careful of the traffic around the area.
From there, we were only a few minutes away from the Golden Waterfall.
Afterward, we went to the Jiufen city. For anyone familiar with Japanese animation movies, you must have heard of “Spirited Away”. Well, it turns out that this movie was not inspired by a random Japanese city, but by Taiwan’s Jiufen. I totally understand: tea, great food and beautiful village in the mountain? Of course we are talking about Jiufen. The Old Street was full of souvenir shops and restaurant. With a friend made during the trip, we went to eat some delicious Iced mochi dessert in sweet syrup as well as an authentic Taiwanese meal.
The restaurant we got to try out is called Zhang Ji 張記 and it is famous for both its Braised Beef rice and its fishballs with fillings. Both were yummy yummy!
Afterward, the car drove us to Shifen. I was blown away by the Lantern Wishing ritual there. Basically, you write your wishes on a giant lantern using black ink. Then, after taking pictures with it, they light it up and it flies up to the sky. Mind blowing! It is like what you saw in the movie Tangled except that this time, it is during the day. Oh, and also, there were trains passing from time to time and everyone had to leave the main passage for it. What an experience!
After the trip and coming back from this long trip, I decided I had to eat a good last supper in Taiwan. I hence decided to go to the last recommended restaurant in my must do list: Lin Dong Fang 林東芳牛肉麵 for Beef Noodles. It is known to be the best beef noodles place in Taiwan. I got to agree with them, this was so good! The beef was tender, the noodles were chewy and the soup was tasty without overpowering the rest. Great day!
As my flight back was in the early afternoon, I decided to come back to the hostel and start packing by 11:00AM. Hence, it barely left me a few hours to tour around Taipei. I chose to stay once again close to the hostel and visit places nearby. I first started off by going to buy a quick breakfast to eat at a popular simple breakfast place I visited two days ago. I got their rice ball which had Chinese Doughnut and Rou Song inside. Really yummy!
Afterward, I visited the 2/28 Peace Memorial Park which was just next to it. It is a historical site used to remember the February 28 Massacre (wikipedia link here). The park itself is a beautiful place with artistic memorial installations and a little lake. There was also some Chinese style huts.
My original plan was to go visit the National Taiwan Museum which is just next to the park, but it opens around 9:30AM. I promised myself to come back later, but totally forgot.
Instead, I walked from there to the National Taiwan Library. The library itself was a bit boring since most of the books were thesis and achieves. I would say go visit if you maybe pass by the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall (since it is right in front of it) and have some time to loss.
Finally, I went to Ximending to eat my favorite Oyster omelette and the famous Ah Zong Mian Xian (阿宗麵線) for Tripe noodles. This tripes noodles was so so good and I definitely recommend everyone to go try it. I think what makes it so special is that the tripes are chewy and tasty and the noodles are soft and different from the ones you normally get.
I ended the trip by buying some souvenirs before heading back to the hostel. I still had to pack before catching the MRT toward the airport.
Oh and bonus, I bought a instant noodles from Taiwan back and it was super tasty. It had chunk of real beef in it 😉