This is an in-between trip before my upcoming year end winter trip next month. Since I have made trips to nearby destinations (Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok), thought it will be nice to plan a trip with a cooler climate. So, Taipei was shortlisted for this time round as my previous trip was more than 2 years ago.
Frankly, Taiwan has never been on top of my mind (in the past) when it comes to trip planning. I must agree that Taiwan do have lots of scenic places that are worth visiting as well.
Thus, the reason for this short trip. I do hope that I can cover the entire Taiwan in time to come as well. 😉
I am flying via China Airlines mainly because of the desired flight timing. As usual, started my day with a great meal at TGM Lounge prior to departure. This lounge is located in T2.
TGM serves only ala-carte set and they offer a wide selection of food options.
Japanese Breakfast Set – set includes Japanese style salt-grilled salmon, Japanese poached egg, spinach goma-ae, kimchi pickles, steamed rice and miso soup.
Korean Spicy Noodles – Korean noodles served in special hot spicy soup topped with kimchi, sausage, luncheon meat and sliced Kurobuta pork.
Daily Breakfast Special – American breakfast with toast bread, fried eggs, sausage, ham & green salad.
After a sumptuous breakfast, time to depart for Taipei. Arrived into Taoyuan International Airport after some delay during take-off. Nevertheless, I still made it here and was greeted with a wet weather as forecasted.
Upon custom clearance and baggage collection, proceeded straight to B2 for the Airport MRT to Taipei Main Station. All you need is to follow the clearly displayed directional signs to reach the MRT station.
The Airport MRT has just started late last year and it is definitely much more convenient than using airport limousine bus.
The single trip cost 150 TWD and takes about 40 mins of traveling time from Station A12 to Station A1.
Here I am (in Taipei Main Station) after a comfortable hassle-free ride.
I am staying at the Caesar Park Taipei which is directly across Taipei Main Station. Caesar Park Taipei is located at the centre of Taipei City and offers the most convenient access to MRT, TRA, THSR and other major landmarks and attractions.
Importantly, this is the only hotel in Taipei with the direct connection to Exit M6 of the MRT station. 👍👍👍
Finally arrived at the hotel destination after strolling through the underground mall.
Loved the nice and big spacious room of this hotel. This will be my abode for the next 5 nights.
After check-in, it was already evening and sky were dark. With the wet weather condition, it was also not in my favour for outdoor activities. ☹
Thus, I decided to spend the rest of the evening recce-ing the underground mall at the Taipei Main Station instead.
Embarking on my first food trail at 花莲扁食 (Hualien Dumpling)
Look at the extensive menu that they offer.
鲜肉扁食汤 (wanton soup)
鱼丸汤 (fishball soup)
各式小菜 (appetizer snack)
Spotted this tidbit stall and shop owner is extremely generous with providing sample tasting.
This is the aftermath resulting from some of the sample tasting….. 🤣🤣
There are a couple of food options for dinner at the Caesar Mall. After much struggle, decided to settle at 太陽蕃茄麺 restaurant.
This restaurant specializes in tomato based soup ramen and curry rice. It is definitely a no-brainer to order both of their signature dishes.
Tomato Cheese Ramen
Pork Cutlet Tomato Curry Rice
Accompanying sides to go….
Woo…the tomato soup is damn champion! It is really good. 😋😋 Try it if you have the chance to do so. Uniquely different. A great dinner to end a great Day 1. What more can I ask for……🤩
Day 2, woke up to a bright and cloudy morning. This morning I will be doing some sight-seeing at Jiufen, Shifen Waterfall and Shifen Old Street.
These 3 places seems to come hand in hand and definitely a standard sight-seeing attractions whenever travelers visiting Taipei.
I am pretty sure you get to see it from your friend’s social posts as well. 😉
I can either book a private transport (which will be expensive), travel via public transport (MRT & buses) but it will be time consuming on the road. Thus, I decided to book a shuttle bus (www.klook.com) instead to cover all these 3 places at one go. More cost effective & convenient in doing so.
All that is required will be to make my own way to the meeting point, GakuDen Bakery (near Exit 4 of Ximen Station) and it is just one MRT stop away (on the blue line) from Taipei Main Station.
Had a great beef noodle for breakfast at one of the lane alley, 桃源街正宗山东牛肉面.
Their shop promise…….👍👍👍
牛肉干面 (Dry Beef Noodle)
蕃茄综合牛肉面 (Mixed Beef Organ Tomato Based Noodle Soup)
Time to board the shuttle bus (after a delicious morning meal) right outside GakuDen Bakery for my awaited trip.
Arrived in Jiufen Old Street after an hour bus ride.
Jiufen (九份) is a decommissioned gold mining mountain town in northeastern Taiwan, east of Taipei. Originally built by the Japanese, it is known for the maze of lanes & narrow alleyways of its old town, packed with teahouses, street food shacks and souvenir shops.
The narrow alleyways is always crowded with tourists on any given day as it is one of the more popular tourist attraction in Taipei. You will get to see people soaking into the atmosphere and certainly great for picturesque.
Spotted Shengping Theatre, oldest existing theatre in Taiwan on one of the alleys in Jiufen. It has a long history and culture to it.
Beginning of food trails along the narrow alleyways.
Salted Fried King Oyster Mushroom
Yam & Radish kueh similar to our version of soon kueh. The skin texture is super glue-ey and chewy.
Enjoying Taro Ball dessert at the highest point in Jiufen Old Street.
Beautiful scenery on a cloudy day.
Love the matcha daifuku. A mochi type of sweet dessert with various filling options like red bean, taro, strawberry, etc.
Savouring on the old school black sugar honey cake.
Another specialty not to be missed, peanut ice cream roll.
Well, after spending a good fun time, it is time to depart for Shifen Waterfall which is about 40 mins ride away.
Shifen Waterfall (十分大瀑布) is a 40m tall waterfall that creates a rainbow as it splashes into the lake, widely regarded as the most scenic in all of Taiwan. The waterfall is located 30 min away from Shifen Old Street by walking northeast from the train platform area on either side of the tracks.
View taken from Shifen Observation Route 1.
More scenic views from the other observation routes. I have seen numerous waterfalls especially in Japan and this is just another one of the many waterfalls that crosses my travel path. Nonetheless, it is still scenic and that is what makes travel interesting.
Thereafter, proceeded to Shifen Old Street which is just 2 mins of bus ride away.
Shifen Old Street (十分老街), located in the Pingxi area is a collection of lanes and alleys in and around the Shifen railway station area. Originally built for transporting coal during the Japanese era, the station and track runs straight through the village. Shifen is a great marketplace to grab some local snacks (小吃) and souvenirs.
One of the must do for all tourist is to light and release the sky lantern (on the middle of the railway track) with wishes & blessings written on the sky lantern. There is an old Chinese belief saying, “the higher the sky lantern goes up, the more your wishes will come true”.
Tourists paying homage to the beliefs. Needless to say, since I am here, likewise I will do what the Romans do too…. 😀
Enjoy the video and see how fast the sky lantern shoots towards the sky. This is one of another of my been there done that kind of activity accomplishment. 😊
It has been a day blessed with good weather for today’s visit attraction. Now it is time to return back to Taipei City. Since the drop-off point is at Ximen Station, decided to spend the rest of the day exploring Ximending (西門盯).
Ximending is easily accessible from Exit 6 of Ximen Station. This area is very popular with tourists & Taipei youths along with shopping (massive variety of fashion clothing shops), restaurants, street snacks and hosts of street performances.
Snacking on 繼光香香雞 (J&G Fried Chicken) upon reaching. This stall is highly recommended by CNN and it also proclaims as Taiwan No. 1 Fried Chicken. All the more need to check it out.
Thereafter, came across 365 台灣小吃店 and before I knew it, I am seated inside the shop with the following orders 🤣
Braised Pork Rice
Subsequently, I was tempted with the following street snacks.
Japanese Fried Mochi with cheese flavour
Grilled Beef Steak cubes
Watching busking activities by the street performers.
It has been an eventful day and certainly a nice way to end the night.
Day 3, greeted with a bright and sunny morning.
Visited the gym this morning to work out the excess calories from yesterday’s food indulgence. 😎
One of my interest during travel will be to check out fast food menu in the country of visit and I will attempt to try the different items offered that are not available back home.
For this morning, I choose to have breakfast at KFC and McDonalds to try out the different food menu.
Chicken Fillet Puff Pastry from KFC
Pork Toast from McDonalds
Right after, proceeded to visit Maokong (猫空). The area used to be the biggest tea growing in Taipei. Now it has become a popular place for tea culture and viewing of Taipei City scenery.
To get to Maokong Gondola Station, you will need to take the brown line MRT to Taipei Zoo Station. Upon exit of the station, turn left and walk for about 340m.
Just follow the directional sign and you will see the gondola station.
Single trip ride cost 120 TWD per pax. You can either purchase the ticket from the ticketing counter or use their Easycard (our EZ Link card equivalent).
Scenic views of Taipei City on board cable car.
Arriving (Maokong Station) after 30 mins cable car ride.
There are a lot of restaurants, tea houses, cafe and street stalls in Maokong. Munching on the various street snacks.
Crispy Chicken & Fried Squid Ball
Tea Roast Egg
Lemon Aiyu Jelly drink
Oolong & Tie Guan Yin Tea Softserve Ice Cream (something unique)
In Maokong, you can embark on a couple of walking trail and you can easily spent a day here if you like.
I embark on the Camphor Tree Trail which allows me to see some vegetable and fruit plantation.
Farmers working on the plantation.
There is a section in the trail where you get to see Maple Forest. The sight is amazing.
Having a quick luncheon at a make-shift street stall.
Fried Bee Hoon with Braised Pork
White Radish Soup
Continue with more sight-seeing before descending downhill.
View of Taipei 101 from afar.
Went on next to Xiangshan (象山, Elephant Mountain) to hike up the trail for the best view of Taipei City.
Xiangshan is easily accessible via red line MRT to Xiangshan Station. Upon reaching, look for Exit 2 and it will lead you to Xiangshan Park.
Thereafter, follow the directional signs along the way to reach the start point of the trail.
The trail starts……
Word of caution : there are lots of steep stairs climbing so pls ensure you are physically fit & you have a comfortable pair of walking shoes. 😉
Sculptures along the trail route.
You will reach the peak point after 15 to 20 mins of hike.
Isn’t this a stunning view of Taipei City? I am sure the night view will be more stunning with the city fully lighted up.
What goes up must come down. Had to descend back to the start trail point and head over to Taipei 101.
Just steps away from Xiangshan MRT station, spotted Wu Pao Chun Bakery with snaking queue outside. I have been told that this confectionery serves really good breads. Incidentally, this bakery shop has an outlet in Capitol Piazza since late last year.
I am intrigued by their slogan that I decided to queue and try out their bread.
I am say, it is really good though I did not try their signature Rose-Lychee bread.
Continue to Taipei 101 after satisfying my curiousity. It is always a known fact that most tourists will dine in Din Tai Fung at the Basement Level of Taipei 101 Mall when visiting Taipei.
Though I am not really a fan when it comes to Din Tai Fung, since I am here coupled with the fact that there is no visible queue, it will be a pity to give it a miss. So, without much hesitation, I had to pay homage to it like everyone else. 🤣
Din Tai Fung House Special (冷菜)
Hot and Sour Soup
Shrimp and Pork Wonton Noodle Soup
Sesame Mochi with Rice Wine Soup
Tried out the above items and frankly I am not sure what is the hype in dining here. Taste wise, just find it so-so nothing much to shout about. Guess this is another kind of touristy activity to check off the list. 😊
While window shopping, 2 items on the Burger King menu caught hold of my attention. 🤔
Matcha Pie with White Chocolate Filling
After a quick bite, spent the rest of the evening shopping around Taipei 101 Mall, ATT 4 Fun & Shinkong Mitsukoshi before calling it a night.
These malls are conveniently inter-connected via sky bridges and you can easily hop from one mall to the other. A considerable amount of time is required to cover all these malls.
Beautiful night view shot of Taipei 101 taken from the link sky bridge.
Started Day 4 with a simple breakfast at Dicos (local fast food joint) located inside K Underground Mall.
Ham sandwich with peanut sauce
Tuna salad bagel
After a quick tummy warm up, went off to visit Danshui (淡水) or commonly refered to as Tamsui in English.
How to get to 淡水?
It is easily accessible via red line MRT station and takes about 40 mins from Taipei Main Station. Danshui Station is the last station R28 on the red line.
Upon Exit 1 of the station, turn left and just follow where the crowd goes as all of them will be going towards Danshui Old Street (淡水老街). 😀
You will get to see this big signage at the cross road junction.
Then a little history fact on the last train of Tamsui line.
Here I am on the entrance of Danshui Old Street. There are a lot of shops along the streets ranging from eateries to confectionery, souvenirs, accessories, old school tidbit store, etc.
You name it, you have it kind. This place is likened to many of the night markets in Taipei. Apart from its rich culture, Danshui has its own unique food heritage as well.
You will see nice temple and church buildings in Danshui too.
Scenic view from Danshui Riverside.
Having a fun time sampling the dried & preserved fruit in the tidbit shop.
The famous 铁蛋 (iron egg) in Danshui. A popular snack amongst locals. It is actually braised quail egg.
Must eat 阿给 (pronounced as Ah Ji, tofu stuffed with glass noodle)
a uniquely Danshui street snack & extremely popular with tourists.
鱼丸汤 (Fish ball soup), similar to Fuzhou fish ball where there are meat stuffing.
大肠麺線 (Pig intestine mee swa) tasty with the 鲁味, braised flavour.
Very adorable mini egg tart with original, matcha & chocolate flavour.
Sweet Potato Ball, chewy-ly nice bursting with custard filling.
Shrimp Roll, another local recommended street snack in Danshui & Fried Taro.
Statue of Dr Mackay was established on 27 Dec 2007 in memory of his life and displays the spirit of his religion; he prays with his one leg kneel down aside a boat together with one suit case and a bible.
Unfortunately, the weather was not forgiving today for a nice sight-seeing spree. Nevertheless, I still manage to spend a wonderful day despite the wet weather.
Danshui is a slow pace suburb city to be in for a relaxing good time. There are more interesting places to explore if given more time. It is recommended to stay over for a night to capture the night view of Danshui. Well, this may be a valid reason for me to be back in the near future to further explore the place in detail.
Light dinner at Tim Ho Wan (添好運), somewhat I find the food taste here more superior than back home. 吃了就好運当头.
Spinach Dumplings with Shrimp
Braised Chicken Feet with Abalone Sauce
Beancurd Skin with Pork & Shrimps
Shrimp Vermicelli Rolls
Pan Fried Radish Cake
Stir-Fried Chow Mein with Dried Scallop
Pork Congee with Century Egg & Salted Egg
As the night is still young, decided to make a trip back to Taipei 101 area for my lobster dinner which I miss last night.
Enjoying TKK Fried Chicken and
Shrimppa at ATT 4 Fun Mall
Followed by a sumptuous lobster dinner at Lobster Foods on Level 1 of Vieshow Mall as the finale.
Lobster & Linguine with cream
Truffle Lobster Roll
This is definitely an awesome meal to end another wonderful day. Lobsteriliously yummy !!!👍👍👍
Morning kick starter at 老虎酱温州大餛飩 to start off Day 5.
炸酱麺 (Zha Jiang Noodle)
蝦肉大餛飩麺 (Big Prawn Dumpling Noodle Soup)
Soup base is light and nice (not overly empowering) with big serving of dumpling filling. Value for money meal.
Started the morning by paying a visit to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (中正纪念堂) is a national monument landmark and tourist attraction erected in memory of Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China.
This place can be easily accessed via MRT (both green and red line). Alight at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall station and look for Exit 5.
National Concert Hall
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Bronze Statue of Chiang Kai-shek
The Changing of the Guards takes place every hour on the hour daily from 9am to 5pm at the 4F Bronze Statue Hall
Changing of Guards in process
View from the 4F floor Bronze Statue Hall.
Chiang’s official state car, a G.M.-manufactured Cadillac where he used it from 1972 to 1975 and this car is displayed on 1F Exhibition Hall.
Office of President Chiang Kai-shek
Luncheon is at Tempura Tendon Tenya Asakusa Tokyo (天丼天雅). They serve champion Tempura Tendon. I first had it when I was in Kamata, Tokyo. So when I chanced upon it here (there is no prize in guessing), there is no reason to give it a miss. Die die also must eat!
親子天丼 (Chicken Tendon)
全明星定食乌冬麺 (Seafood Tempura with Udon)
Visited Beitou Hot Springs (北投温泉) next. It is the famous home of hot springs in Taipei area. Beitou is the most convenient area for travelers visiting Taipei to enjoy authentic thermal hot springs.
How to get to Beitou Hot Springs?
Take the red line MRT and alight at Beitou Station R22 and transfer over to Xinbeitou MRT R22A for another stop.
Upon exit of the station, go towards Zhongshan Road.
You will come across Beitou Hot Spring Museum along the way and
you can stop over for a free visit.
Continue along the same path and you will get to Beitou Thermal Valley.
Enjoy the beautiful picturesque spot of the thermal valley with the hot sulphur spring steaming.
Spending the rest of the evening at Shihlin Night Market thereafter. Visiting Taipei seems incomplete without visiting night market. As such, it is logical also for me to perform this ritual. 😄
I chose Shihlin Night Market as it is the most popular in Taipei and more so it is nearer to where I stay.
Food scenes are everywhere and you will see foodies going after their must-eat lists. Similarly, I am not spared to…..😂😂
First on the go, Grilled Beef Steak cubes
Handmade mochi, I just loved its chewy texture.
状元糕 (Scholar’s Cake, a kind of sweet dessert)
Brown Sugar Boba Milk Tea
胡椒饼 (Black Pepper Bun) – Bun with pork filling and baked in earthern pot, similar to how naan is made.
Needless to say, have to pay a visit to B1 of Shihlin Night Market basement eatery. There are many shops selling almost the same menu items.
After walking through the various stalls, finally settled on 忠誠號蚵仔煎 to soak in the atmosphere.
猪肝汤 (pork liver soup)
鲁肉饭 (braised pork rice – signature local favourite staple food)
炸蝦捲 (fried shrimp roll)
雞蛋蚵仔煎 (fried oyster – another local specialty)
This marks my final night in Taipei. Had a wonderful day as usual.
Day 6, time to bid farewell to Taipei. Had the luxury to wake up to the natural alarm clock this morning. Spend the morning packing up stuff prior to checking out.
Since there is an hour to spare, I went over to Tim Ho Wan for a quick bite as it is just beside the hotel and importantly to catch up on the balance menu items two nights back. 😀
Baked BBQ Pork Buns
Beancurd Skin with Shrimp
Pork Ribs with Black Bean Sauce
Glutinous Rice with Lotus Leaf
How I come is how I go. Headed off to the Airport MRT for direct access to Taoyuan International Airport for my early afternoon flight home.
One for the road meal at Plaza Premium Lounge before home sweet home.
Well, it had been a good 6D5N trip. A relaxing and great food trip as usual. For now, I will look forward to my upcoming winter trip in Japan next month.
Till then and I hope you have fun reading this blog. 😊