With the recent new of Taiwan extending visa free travel for Filipino Tourists, there are a lot more reasons to visit the “thriving cream of Asian sophistication”.
Shy – our totally committed girl is here to take us to a semi-virtual tour during her 6 – day travel to Taiwan. I have worked with her in creating this full Taiwan guide and while writing, I can’t help to be more excited to visit the place soon.
Shy kicked off her trip by arriving late night giving her enough time to rest for a full day of adventure the next day. “From the airport, I purchased bus tickets heading to my first destination in Taichung. First bus leaves at around 5:30am, so being the always on the go me, I took the time to eat something light and nap at the airport! (Pro-tip: Taoyuan has a sleeping lounge designed for travelers wanting to take some nap)”
DAY 1 – Getting to know Taiwan through its Instagrammable Places
Rainbow Military Dependent’s Village: Every nook is sure to be an Instagrammer’s paradise!
I’m Talato: Not only they serve nice and creamy ice cream, but their ice cream pool section is perhaps one of the most Instagrammable places in Taiwan.
CMP Block Museum of Arts: Street art and hipsters’ paradise
Miyahara Ice Cream Shop: The moment you entered, you’d find out it’s more than just an ice cream shop! Also, Harry Potter fans will be delighted because of the way it exudes all the Hogwarts feels. 😊
DAY 2 – Around Taiwan in its High Speed Rail
Taiwan High Speed Rail: Available online on Klook! You can exchange the voucher at any High Speed Rail station. You need to declare when you intend to use the High Speed Rail pass, hence I suggest you make some sort of itinerary before your trip.
Chimei Museum: Using my HSR Pass, I went to Tainan and visited Chimei Museum (HSR offers free shuttle service going to popular tourist spots, and this is one of them!) Art and history lovers will be delighted with their display and exhibition. Also, the façade is quite a sight to behold!
Old Fort Zeelandia: Few minutes away from Chimei Museum is the Fort Zeelandia and Anping area. Tourist spots are within walking distance so you can pretty much visit a number of places in an afternoon. Street food is also everywhere, so you get to sample them as you walk!
Anping Tree House
Fenjia Night Market: Let the night market exploration begins! Thanks to my HSR pass, I was back in Taichung (Tainan) in no time. I still got enough time to visit their night market, so I thought of giving it a go. 😊
DAY 3 – Highlight of the Taiwan Trip
Chungshe Tourism Flower Market: Definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Not only because I like flower farms and this place is absolutely amazing, but mostly because of the experience how I got in here. This place is quite far from the city center (approx. 1.5 hours), and being the navigationally-challenged me, I decided to take a cab and make my life easier (LOL).
That’s when I met my taxi driver, Mr. Huang who basically became my friend, tour guide and photographer (now you understand how I am able to get these great shots) all rolled into one! How many times do you meet a taxi driver who treats you to ice cream and lunch? He speaks no English, so we basically used Google Translate all the time we were on tour. We was also kind enough to drop me off the High Speed Rail station, as I was bound to Kaohsiung that afternoon.
More sceneries in Kaohsiung
Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum: Kaohsiung is the second largest city in Taiwan, next to Taipei. Fo Guang Shan is the largest Buddhist Monastery in Taiwan. The Big Buddha statue is also considered the highest seated bronze Buddha in the world. Being in here was surreal, especially when you went up close to the Buddha statue. It was quite emotional for me to sit in one of the park bench, think things through and just reflect on your existence.
Kaohsiung E-DA World: As I was riding the bus, this place caught my attention because of all the European vibe it gives!
MRT Formosa Boulevard Station: Can you believe this place is inside a public train station?
Love River: History says the river got its name after a couple during the 1940’s committed suicide in its depths. Today, no trace of such tragedy is apparent. By the bridge are a number of cafes and restaurants where locals and tourists dine. One popular attraction is the Love River Gondola cruise. At night, they light up the bridge. So to say that this place is romantic and perfect for couples is an understatement. But hey, I was single and solo when I went there and still had a great time!
DAY 4 – Exploring Taipei
Bopiliao Old Street: Located near the Longshan Temple, Bopiliao is a popular tourist attraction in Taipei where tourists can learn a little something about Taiwan’s cultural heritage.
Longshan Temple: Arguably the most well-known temple in Taiwan, the Longshan temple is indeed a structure that stood the test of time and lasted through several natural disasters and wars.
Ximending Night Market: Compared to the more popular Shilin Night Market, Ximending is more of a hip place where the young crowd hangout. There are a lot of interesting acts happening on the streets. Aside from shopping, there are a lot of bars around which makes for a great night out with friends.
Day 8 – A day in Keelung
Jiufen Old Street: Jiufen is another popular destination about 2 hours away from Taipei by bus. The rain was unforgiving the day I got there, but I didn’t let it spoil my trip! I took the time to chill and sample their nice tea, while sightseeing the amazing village by the mountains. The place is a decommissioned gold mining mountain town, originally built by the Japanese and now a maze of lanes and alleyways with rich history and culture. Tourists are in for a treat, thanks to the number of stalls with great food, teahouses and bargain finds.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall: The hall in in honor to China’s National Father, Sun Yat Sen. Aside from the gardens, visitors will enjoy a marvelous view of the Taipei 101.
Shilin Night Market: Now into the main league! Shilin is the flagship of Taiwan’s night market culture for a good reason. Foodies are in for a feast sampling different street food ranging from the most traditional to the most exotic. I came here feeling a little bit ‘hangry’, and came out with a happy tummy. 😊
Day 6 – Modern Taipei
Hike to Elephant Mountain: Prepare to do some serious steps hiking the Elephant Mountain. Bring water along with you as steps tend to get narrow and steeper as you move along. But hardwork definitely pays off, as you’re bound to see a glorious view of Taipei 101 at the viewing deck.
Taipei 101: Perhaps the national symbol of Taiwan. Taipei 101 previously hold the record of the world’s tallest building, before Dubai’s Burj Khalifa took over in 2010.
Moonbus: Another unexpectedly interesting (and Instagrammable) attraction in Taipei. Found this while strolling near Taipei 101 with a Couchsurfer traveler. It holds an interesting area inside you would never expect from a bus. Better check it out and see for yourself!
Maokong Gondola / Maokong Mountains: Go in line for the Red Gondolas to try those with glass floors. You’re in to see marvelous view of Taipei City for a good 30 minutes or so. Once you reached Maokong, don’t waste any time and try their quality home-grown tea in one of the numerous tea shops. This while enjoying a scenic view of the place? Priceless. 😊
Accommodation & Restaurants
Ease Single Inn: If you’re looking for a squeaky clean capsule hotel, this place is for you! The staff are super helpful and the place is well-maintained. It’s also convenient to move around because it’s walking distance from the Taichung Central MRT Station. Did I mention that they also serve breakfast?
UZ Hostel: If you’re a huge Star Wars fan like me, then this capsule hotel is the closest you can be to the galaxy far far away! Staff are helpful and will be more than happy to give you tips on where to go and where to eat. It’s walking distance from the train station so you won’t have a problem moving around. Also, they will give you a free voucher at a nearby McDonald’s so you get to save some bucks for breakfast!
Taiwan FAQs & Interview with Shy
The food scene got everything covered from the most quirky, casual down to the most exotic options which still which are bound to leave any foodie with a happy tummy.
Also their quality, home grown tea (particularly in Maokong) are oh-so-worth trying (and hoarding)!
They are crazy about their night markets! you’re in for some bargain hunting, then this destination is for you! The Taiwanese are some of the friendliest people you can meet, everyone is generally pleasant and warm, always willing to help out tourists with directions or suggestions.
Would you recommend Taiwan trip to specific groups?
Taiwan is hands down for everyone in search of an offbeat amazing places – may it be for solo travelers, friends, family or your significant other. It’s an under-the-radar tourist destination in Asia, but once you have opportunity to visit this country, try their food, experience their culture with the friendly locals, no doubt you wouldn’t think twice of returning!
What’s the best thing about touring around Taiwan?
It’s easy to get around because of their efficient transportation, system. The Taiwan High Speed Railway (THSR), in particular makes it possible to visit Taiwan from North to South in one day!
It’s relatively cheap compared to Hongkong, Korea or Japan. If you’re in for some serious shopping, their night markets will sure make you happy!
The extension of the visa-free entry for Filipinos definitely makes Taiwan a destination of choice, whether you got limited number of days to go, or a week to spare.
Do you have more tips for people who will be traveling soon to Taiwan?
Where is your next destination?
I am very excited to be visiting New York City in a few days! Like my ever-amazing good friend Jaey, New York is up there on my bucketlist. Especially because I am such a big “How I Met Your Mother” fan. But more than the fact that NYC is my dream destination, I can’t be more happy and excited to visit and spend time with a person really special to me. 😊
Thank you so much Shy for sitting with us and putting effort in helping create this full Taiwan Travel Guide! We wish you more travels and all the best & joy for your New York Trip! Follow Shy on Instagram.
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Disclaimer and Transparency Clause: Information such as prices, location, contact numbers are subject to change without prior notice. All photos are owned by Sheila Laquindanum and all italicized words are quoted from Shy’s interview. We may or may not be always on the same page but hey thanks for dropping by anyway! Feel free to drop in some comments/suggestions.