“Ni Hao! Welcome home, darling” – Taipei

TAIPEI. I never really dreamed of visiting this relatively unpopular Asian City. But I am somehow thankful for my impulsivity in buying ticket sales that I discovered myself speechless from the quiet beauty of this humble country. Unlike the more popular destinations, I have little knowledge of what to expect from this travel. I was prepared to be surprised and I wasn’t disappointed.

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This is my first solo travel and I believe I chose the best destination. Its the top 3 safest country for solo female travelers in Asia-Pacific behind Singapore and New Zealand.  My favorite Seoul is at 7th. This country is impeccably clean an evidence of highly coveted discipline of its people.

I flew from Manila through a late night flight and arrived at Taipei at past 1 am. I went through immigration smoothly with a Travel Authorization Certificate. Currently there is still no visa exemption for Filipinos (which is yet to be implemented on September). However if you have an existing visa (US, Shengen, Australia, Korea, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, and UK) for as long as it is not expired for 10 years or more you can just apply for a travel authorization certificate which you can do online for about 5mins. You will be given a printable pdf copy of the certificate. YOU MUST PRINT A COPY OF IT. (http://www.boca.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=6464&ctNode=868&mp=2)

travel cert

As for me, I used my South Korean single entry visa (already used single entry). If you will also be using your SK visa, the visa number which you will need to enter to apply for the Taiwan Travel Authorization Cert, is at the right upper hand corner of your visa. It’s the numbers followed by PH. You don’t have to enter the numbers below it.

My flight to Taiwan was delayed for an hour so I missed to pick up my pre-rented 3 day wifi through klook from the designated counter since it’s only open from 5:30am to 1am. So if your flight is also scheduled to arrive near closing time, don’t risk it anymore. Flight delays are unpredictable.

I was then picked up by my pre-arranged airport carpool transfer through Klook. Its a hunchback car and I was the only passenger. I enjoyed the quiet private ride. The driver was polite and English conversant. He gave short introduction of remarkable places we passed by, “That’s the office of our president. Our president is a girl, you know. I know that your president is a power powerful man.“, but for most parts of the ride he was silent and I liked that. It was comfortable.

He dropped me off right in front of the place I’d be staying, Uinn Travel Hostel which I booked through Agoda. The receptionist greeted me warmly. And asked for my passport to be photocopied he gave me instructions on where the keycard will be used (elevator, room, locker, power source). He gave me a map of the subway and nearest convenience stores.

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The girls’ dormitory is 10 bed capacity room located at the 3rd floor. The elevator access to 3rd floor can only be utilized if the issued keycard is used. The room is sufficiently spaced and well provided with essentials (face towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, bed room slippers) . During my stay there were only 4 of us, and all other 3 were already sound asleep when I arrived. And I tiptoed quietly as I marveled on how carefully the room was prepared.

The common comfort room was surprisingly neat, not even a strand of hair. The cubicles were created so as to ensure privacy of each user. There were shampoo and shower gel provided. The only downside was the absence of bidet. Otherwise it was constructed with the comfort of guests in mind.

The following day, I got out of bed at 6am to get ready to explore the city. I put on my outfit for the day and went down for breakfast. Breakfast was also included in the paid amount for the stay. It’s a self-served meal with toasts, coffee, juice and hard boiled egg. The available spreads were, blueberry (my favorite), peanut butter, garlic, strawberry and chocolate. Breakfast is available from 7am to 10am. The drinks though are available 24hrs.

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So I set out for my 1st destination, Longshan Temple, one of the more famous temple located at the heart of the city.

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From Longshan Temple I set foot for the Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The vastness and majesty of the architecture left me speechless.

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Huashan Creative Park. This place features an artistic youth vibe with its modern art exhibits and coziness with its classy coffee shops.

Taipei 101. It was named as the world’s tallest tower in 2004 before it was surpassed by the Burj Khalifa in 2009. The 89th floor gives an amazing view of Taipei. It gives a beautiful glimpse of the very progressive city.

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Ever since I watched Nanta Show in Seoul, I vowed to always watch a popular performance of the country I am visiting because it gives me a peek to the values, traditions, strengths and weaknesses of the country and its people. And Taipei Eye is a showcase of traditional Chinese opera. It was amusing to somehow surmise from the show the origins of their beliefs and old forms of entertainment.

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Day 2

National Palace Museum consists of thousands of collections including Chinese ceramics, jade, painting and calligraphy. My personal favorite was the Jewelries section featuring different accessories including belts, hair pins. It feels as if I was taken back in time. The structure of the museum itself was definitely an architectural beauty.

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There was an available English audio guide available for rent at the ticketing area for 150 TWD. You’re not supposed to bring a backpack, selfie stick or food inside the exhibit halls. There were available lockers where you can leave your things but you have to deposit 10 TWD. So prepare a loose change.

 

The travel to and fro the National Palace Museum from the place I was staying took around an hour. But still it was a comfortable travel with their superb transport system. And that cute Japanese solo traveler 😉 haha!

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From the National Palace Museum I travelled to National Taiwan Museum. Beside the museum is the 228 Memorial Park with a nice landscape and refreshing pavilions.

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National Taiwan Museum was a lot smaller than the previous museum I visited. It also has limited collections. If you plan on visiting the National Palace Museum you can skip this one out because the exhibit was quite bare. Though I must admit I loved their section of “Light-Infused Stone Slice Art” wherein tree barks painted by nature are featured. I was awed how savagely exquisite nature can be.

From NTM I proceeded to Tamsui, a small town in New Taipei. An hour away from the capital through the metro. It was difficult to choose a favorite place in Taiwan but if I had to choose one that would be Tamsui Old Street. The place was buzzing with life and vibrant with enthusiastic tourists and locals alike. One side of this famous street was lined with food vendors and souvenir shops, the other side was blanketed by the Danshui River and outlined by the Guan Yin Mountain with perfect sight of the sunset. Along the streets were a number of indie musicians.

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From Tamshui I travelled to the famed Shilin Night Market, a popular food haven. The variety of foods did not disappoint. It was full of curious tourists eager to have a “taste of Taiwan”.

And I capped the day with a bursting stomach and happy taste buds.

Day 3

This day was a scheduled visit to nearby small towns Shifen and Jiufen with pre-arranged transfer through klook. There was no tour guide provided and its very convenient with sufficient time of stay allotted for each place. 1 hour for Shifen, 3 hours for Jiufen.

Shifen is iconic with its old railway and sky lanterns.

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Visiting Jiufen was like stepping right into a 1970’s Chinese movie. Its nostalgic with its narrow uphill streets lined with red Chinese lamps. The climb was tiring but the rustling vibe at the heart of the town was rewarding.

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From Jiufen I went to the Myeongdong of Taiwan, Ximending. The place exudes with youthful spirit and modern vibe.

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From Ximending, I went back to Uinn to get my luggage and wait for my transfer to Taoyuan Airport. The ride back to the airport wasn’t smooth. The driver seemed a newbie, hitting 3 different cars on its way, not even 5 minutes away from the hostel. The standby policemen were quick to respond. Thankfully, the accidents were minor. The carpooling company was very apologetic and quick to send a replacement driver.

The rest of the trip to Taoyuan was hassle free. The new driver was very polite and attentive. On the quiet alone trip through the glinting city my heart was smiling from  a good stay in picturesque Taipei with its warm people. Each city has its distinct beauty and feel. Taipei is special because it leaves you with a cozy feeling that says “Ni Hao! Welcome home, darling.”. It’s as if it’s calling you to stay longer.

 

PRACTICAL  TIPS:

  1. Subway map. Have a copy of this. If you’ll stay at Uinn too, they’ll give you a copy of the subway map. Otherwise you can download a subway app (Taiwan Rail)
  2.  Transportation. I opted to buy the Taipei Pass over the Easy Card because it’s an unlimited transport card for the MRT and buses. I don’t have to be mindful about my balance and reloading. (https://www.easycard.com.tw/english/taipeipass/index.asp)
  3. Translator app. It always a good idea to have this ready when visiting a non-English speaking country.
  4. WiFi. If you are travelling alone with a DIY itinerary, this is a must, since you will be relying mostly with google maps. But in case you will not be renting a pocket wifi, you can utilize the Taipei WiFi. You just have to register with a Visitor’s Information Counter located at some MRT Stations. You need to present your passport. The connection will only last for 4 hours. You will need to register again after the allotted time has lapsed. But most tourist areas have wifi that don’t require registration or username and password.
  1. Klook App. It has a very nice discounted offers that will make your travel more comfortable. The Shifen/Jiufen shuttle and aiport transfers were really convenient.
  2. Visit A City App. You can utilize this app to make a custom itinerary. Once you enter your destination and days of stay it will automatically give you itinerary options. The itinerary includes top tourist sites and activities.
  3. Chinese Lite app. It’s always be good to at least have a little knowledge of the country’s language 🙂
  4. Food trip tip. There are really so much food to try in Taiwan, one visit won’t be enough. So what you can do on your last day is buy as much food as you want for to-go and bring it as your airport or in-flight snack. Especially if you will be leaving late at night. ALL STORES including restaurants and convenience stores at the Taoyuan Airport closes by 10pm. All you could buy are bottled drinks from the vending machine.

 

Attached below is a detailed copy of my itinerary with budget layout:

TAIPEI 2017 FINAL ITI, wanderG

 

Xie xie! ❤

 

 

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