TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE: Things to do, how to go, tips and tricks | Travel in Asia

TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE: Things to do, how to go, tips and tricks

Taipei things to do

The biggest and most complete travel guide about Taipei covering a wide range of topics from downtown Taipei to Pingxi, Yehliu and Jiufen. From hiking to even paragliding, you name it, the one-man team luomujie blog has it!

Table of Contents
TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE: Things to do, how to go, tips and tricks

TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE: Things to do, how to go, tips and tricks

1. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT EXPLORING TAIPEI

Before you get too excited and plan your itinerary, let me answer some common questions asked by prospective visitors of Taiwan. These set of questions will be very handy once you arrived at the airport and before you go back to your home country.

1.1. How much money do I need to spend per day to see most of Taipei City's attractions?

Let's say you bought a NTD 180 MRT 1-Day bus which gives you unlimited MRT and bus ride, and you will be here for five days. You booked your stay at a budget hostel which charges NTD 500 per night, and your budget for food every day is NTD 200. That gives you a total of NTD 4,400 for your five day trip. If you want to try some street food and buy some souvenirs at Shilin Night Market, get ready to spend an additional NTD 500. That gives you an grand total of NTD 4,900 which does not include yet your airfare, and entrance tickets to the city's famous attractions like Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum


To make it short, use a baseline of NTD 1,000 per day to survive in Taipei as a tourist. Then, add your roundtrip airfare plus entrance tickets to give you an estimated total cost of your Taipei trip.

MRT 1-Day Pass

1.2. Is Taipei a safe place to travel?

Yes. In general, street crimes are low in Taiwan and expats can attest to that statement. Their are CCTV cameras scattered around every corner of the island, which makes you feel like inside the Big Brother house. You also don't need to worry of your phone or camera being stolen, while walking along the road. But as a tourist on a foreign land, stay vigilant at all times always take care of your belongings wherever you go.

1.3. Do Taiwanese speak English?

Yes. They speak English. But not everyone. It also depends on which city you are located. In Taipei, most peole can speak except the elderly. The residents of the capital are generally friendly and more receptive to foreigners. If you try to go to the far-away towns of the island, then good luck to you.

It's the ability to speak English words that the educated Taiwanese are having difficulty, but they surely understand the language.


1.4. Which month is the best time to see Taipei?

There are more people visiting Taiwan during the cherry blossom festival which falls from January to March. If you are not into flowers, you can always visit Taipei any time.

To know what's in store for you, check the 2019 Latest Events in Taipei dynamic table below to know where to go during this time of the year. The length of the bar represents the timeline of the festival. Hover the pointer of your mouse or tap the bars using your finger to know its exact date. This table will be updated regularly to help you get to know the latest happenings in the city, as well with its numerous attractions.

2019 Latest Events in Taipei
©luomujie.blogspot.com

1.5. Do I need a visa to enter Taiwan?

It depends on the passport you have. For citizens of developed nations like the US and Singapore, they can freely enter Taiwan for a limited number of days. For developing nations, it's on a case-to-case basis and also depends if there is a Taipei Economic and Cultural Office on your country. Not all nations have people to people relations with Taiwan, so some visitors migh need to go first to another country like Thailand or UAE just to apply for a visitor visa. You can check the table below to know if your country is eligible for visa exemption

Countries that are part of Taiwan's visa exemption program, visa validity period and maximum number of days to stay. source: Taipei Representative Office in Singapore website
CountryVisa-exempt effectivitystay durationNotes
ThailandAugust 1, 2016, to July 31, 201914 daysnot eligible: holders of diplomatic or official/service passports
Brunei
PhilippinesNovember 1, 2017 to July 31, 2019
Russia
Indonesiamust apply first for the R.O.C. (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate to become visa-exemptRequirement: Must have permanent resident certificate,
a resident card or
visa that has expired within the last 10 years, from the following countries:
United States of America, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Schengen Convention countries,
Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.
Vietnam
Myanmar
Cambodia
Laos
India
Singapore-30 days-
Malaysia
Dominican Republic
Nauru
Saint Christopher and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadine
Belize
AustraliaJanuary 1, 2015 to December 31, 201990 days-
Austria-
Belgium
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Haiti
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Republic of Korea
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Marshall Islands
Monaco
the Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Norway
Poland
Paraguay
Portugal
Romania
San Marino
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Tuvalu
UK
USA
Vatican City State
MacedoniaMay 21, 2018 to March 31, 2019

1.6. How to go to Taipei from Taoyuan International Airport?

Board the Taoyuan Airport MRT or Bus 1819 to get to Taipei. Just follow the signs at the airport to get to train station/bus station. Waiting time for Bus 1819 may vary. Because the Taipei MRT closes at around 1:00 am, you will have to get a cab upon arriving at Taipei Main Station to get to your hotel.

Some budget airlines arrive at Taoyuan International Airport after 1:00 am. Riding Bus 1819 first, then transferring to taxi at Taipei Main Station will make your travel expenses cheaper. If you plan to book a private car to take you to your hotel, remember that the queue in the immigration could take 1 hour.

Comparison of fares, travel time and last departure for the Taoyuan Airport MRT and Bus 1819
modedestinationfaretravel timelast departure
Taoyuan Aiport MRTA1 Taipei Main StationNTD 15040 minutes23:33 (from T2)
Bus 1819Taipei Main StationNTD 140non-stop

1.7. Where can I exchange my US dollars to New Taiwan Dollar?

You can exhange currency/buy New Taiwan Dollars, before you leave the baggage waiting area of the airport. If you have an international ATM card, you can also withdraw money from ATMs at convenience stores and train stations. For other currencies like Singaporean dollar, certain banks like the Bank of Taiwan allow the exchange of SGD to NTD.

1.8. Where can I buy an Easy Card?

You can buy the cards at any MRT Taipei station and convenience stores. There is a deposit and refundable fee of NTD 100, which you can use to pay the MRT and bus fares. The cost of the plastic card is also NTD 100, but this one is non-refundable. So you need to pay NTD 200, the first time you buy an EasyCard.

Rules govern the return of the deposit like the handling fee of NTD 20 and a limit of 2 years from the first time the card was used. For tourists, because you will only a stay for a short period of time, expect your deposit (less NTD 20) and the extra money on your card to be returned. You can also keep the card as a souvenir and use it again when you come back to Taiwan for a second trip.

There are different kinds of EasyCard. Because, I'm a student here. I used the student type card, which gives me automatic discount for tickets like Taipei Zoo. I just tap the card at the sensor and the entrance fee for students is automatically deducted as I enter the turnstile.

If you accidentally destroy your EasyCard or it suddenly doesn't work, buy a new card and use it. If you look at the back your card, there is a serial number with a barcode which helps track the amount remaining and its usage. So it's possible to transfer the value stored in the old card to your new card. To transfer the money, just go to the counters at Taipei City Hall Bus Station (Exit 2 of MRT Taipei City Hall Station Blue Line in the afternoon, and present your two EasyCards. Wait for a few minutes and you get your stored valued in your new card.

EasyCard. I'm using the student type.
If the MRT counter is busy, you can charge your EasyCards at these machines.
To load an amount, place your card on the sensor and insert some coins or bills.
>
To know your remaining balance and latest transaction on your EasyCard, find the kiosk with a card sensor. There should be a small button that you can press to translate the message to English.

1.9. Does the luomujie blog offer pivate tours?

The blog is not a travel agency so it doesn't offer private tours. But I can refer you to tripool taxi (web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji). Taiwan Tourism Bureau's officialy recognized private transport service gives you the power to create your own private tours in Taiwan at a fraction of a cost of tour packages.

Most peole visiting Taipei hop on a private car when they visit Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen on a single day. You can also do that with tripool taxi. Just check the SUGGESTED ITINERARY section for a sample combination of places to visit.

1.10. What are the different modes of transportation in Taipei?

Taipei has the MRT, TRA, low-floor buses and taxi. Most of the attractions are accesible by the MRT. For places Yehliu, Jiufen ang Pingxi, you will have board the bus and local train. To go to Yangmingshan, you will have to ride a bus.

Among the TRA stations of Taiwan, the Ruifang Station is the most important to remember. That's the gateway to Pingxi, Shifen, Jiufen and Jinguashi.

I recommend the Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station[Check availability >>] and it is staple in the tripool taxi tables. They have branch near Taipei Main Station. But I prefer the one in Ximending, because of its proximity to the shopping centers and night market. A lot of Filipinos prefer to stay at this buget hotel and it tells a lof things. The staff of Diary of Taipei Hotel speaks English and they provide good service.

For our crazy rich Asian friends from Singapore, I recommend the Hotel Midtown Richardson. A greater selection of places to stay in Taipei, can be found at the website of [booking.com]. I really like that website, especially the review part where it gives you a clear idea of what to expect when you check-in.

1.12. I'm hungry. Where can I buy some packed lunch?

You can buy one at the TRA lunch box stores at Taipei Main Station (TMS), Nangang Station, Banqiao Station and other selected TRA stations. How to find the store at TMS? From the MRT Blue Line of the Bannan Line, go to Exit M5 and get inside the Taipei Main Station. You should see the Visitor Information Center. The lunch box store is located on the left side, and at peak times during lunch time you should see a long line of people.

What are they queueing for? The are craving for the Taiwanese boxed lunch aka "pientang". It contains rice, 1 boiled egg, some vegetables, and pork, beef or chicken depending on your choice. The cheapest costs NTD 60 but every kind is worth your money. A word of caution: The "pientang" gets easily sold out. So you should buy at lunch time, not when then sun is going to set or before dinner time.

What's so speical with the "pientang"? The Taiwanese boxed lunch is a conveniet way of bringing a rice meal to a tourist attraction. Just ask a plastic bag when pay for your order. Take note that not all tourist spots have a nearby 7-eleven, where you can buy your favorite spaghetti. For places like Qingtiangang, Nanya Rocks or Londong Cape, bringing a "pientang" solves your food problem at lunch time or dinner time.

1.13. Which night market do you recommend?

Hmmm... If you are into shopping, Shilin Night Market will win the hearts of many female visitors. There are lots of things to buy ranging from clothes, shoes, bags. Not to mention the souvenir shops that are always teeming with tourists looking for bargains. The main night market is in the basement area where chefs, customers and the food that is being cooked are cramped in tiny spaces. I've already tried the oyster omelet and some fruit shakes there, but I prefer the ones in Raohe Night Market.

Raohe Night Market cannot match the stores that Shilin has, but it has one of the tastiest stinky tofu in the city. It also has unique offerings that Shilin doesn't have like pork pepper buns.

The snake alley? The last snake restaurant in Huashi Night Market had finally closed down. I had been there one time and saw one baby turtle..... I don't wanna finish the sentence. It's an intriguing place and locals used to drink snake blood there. Take a visit and see for yourself.

1.14. I want to see some cherry blossoms. Which place should I go?

One of the best places to see cherry blossoms in Taiwan is at Pingjing St. Lane 42. The flowers reaches full bloom at late January until the first few day of February. Another excellent sakura spot is the Tian Yuan Temple in New Taipei's Tamsui District. The yoshino sakura here blossom in mid to late March, but sometimes the flowering can become delayed and open in April. For more information about Taiwan's different sakura viewing spots, you can check this ultimate Taiwan cherry blossom guide.


1.14. I want to see maple leaves or even experience autumn in Taipei. Which place should I go?

For maple viewing in spring, you can go to Taipei Aowanda in April. From mid-December to late-December, you can visit the Taipei Flower Test Center to see some yellow maple and five-split maple leaves. To make life convenient for maple chasers, the luomujie blog has created a Taipei maple guide and can check it here. I have also written a separate post for Taipei Aowanda and you can read it here.

MAPLE (紅葉) LOCATIONS IN TAIWAN

1.14. Does it snow in Taipei?

No. It doen't snow in Taipei at normal winter conditions. On rare occasions, it can snow at the peaks of Yangmingshan at an elevation 1,000 meters. If you really want to see the elusive snow of Taiwan, go to Hehuanshan. On the question on when it will become snowy, everyone monitors the forecast of the Central Weather Bureau for any possible snowfall.

But what if, you happen to visit Taipei and it was predicted that there is a 50% chance of snowfall in Yangmingshan. What do you do? How do you make sure that snow is really falling at the highest peak of Taipei? There is a technique and I will tell you. Check the temperature report of the Central Weather Bureau for downtown Taipei (Nangang, Shilin, all the districts except Beitou), it if is below 4 degrees Celsius AND it is raining, there is high chance that snow might be already falling in Yangmingshan.

How do you monitor the progress of snowing? Check the precipitation section of the CWB. Look for entries like Qixingshan (Mt. Qixing), those high points in Yangmingshan Natioinal Park. If the preciptation values suddenly become dashes after getting low numbers in the previous hours, then it is actually snowing. The precipitation numbers will return when the temperature increases that no ice crystals can form and liquid water fall from the sky as rain.

1.15. Where is New Taipei? Is it part of Taipei?

New Taipei is one of the cities of Taiwan, but not part of the capital. They are two different administrative divisions which each city having their own mayor and city hall. Locals call New Taipei as the "Taipei suburbs". Geographically speaking, Taipei is like a basin. A dried lake that is now an urban oasis. It is surrounded by mountain ranges with people living on it. The two cities form a natural landform with a Taipei as the bottom of the basin and with New Taipei City as its rim.

Think of New Taipei and Taipei as one cohesive unit, which I will do for simplicity. The Taipei Metro lines passes along the districts of New Taipei. The same goes for the railway tracks of the TRA. No boundary exists that prevents the flow of people making it one mega city. For the benefit of the readers of this TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE, I will treat the tourist attractions of New Taipei as a virtual part of Taipei.

1.16. Where is Keelung? Is it part of Taipei?

Keelung is another city located in Northern Taiwan. Known for its deep harbor, big cruise ship dock here for a stop in Taiwan. Miaokou Night Market and Heping Island Park are two of its top tourist attractoins. If you want to go to Keelung from Taipei, just board any local train going to TRA Keelung Station. Unfortunately, there is no MRT line going to this harbour city. There is a clamor to have one, but only time can tell whether a dream MRT Keelung Station will really come true.

1.17. Is it possible to see Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen in one day?

Yes, it is!

But the big guestion is how? And can you do it? For first-timers in Taiwan, I doubt If you can do it efficiently. The technique is to start very early in the morning. Board the bus going to Yehliu from Taipei City Hall Bus Station. After a leisurely stroll at Yehliu Geopark, you transfer to a low-floor bus going to Keelung. You change bus again to the one that will take you to TRA Ruifang Station. You will wait for another bus going to Jiufen Old Street. After your foodtrip and walking for so long in Jiufen, you go back again to TRA Ruifang Station with your feet already tired. The Pingxi train comes and the coach becomes packed with tourists who are already have an idea of what they will write on their sky lanterns. And the Shifen Waterfall is still far away from Shifen Station!

Why not follow the Yehliu-Jiufen-Shifen tripool taxi DIY tour (web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji) in the SUGGESTED ITINERARY section of this TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE? You get to enjoy the places without wasting your time waiting for the bus, and getting yourself squezzed like sardines.

But wait there's more! Klook has created a shuttle service, to meet the growing demand for visitors wishing to Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen in just one day. For only NTD 645 per person, you get to see the 3 places at a cheaper cost of what you will pay for private car. The serice has its own pros ans cons. But if you can walk fast and religiously follow the departure schedule for each tourist spot, you will get your money's worth.

1.18. I'm going to visit Taipei with my wife. Which places do you recommend?

Your wife will definitely enjoy shopping. You should take her to the shopping districts of Ximending and Xinyi. If you are on a tight budget, Wufenpu has a plethora of women's boutique shops that she can choose from. For shirts and pants, I prefer to go to Uniqlo in Ximending and look for those items with a red tag. It's hard to find men's clothes in Wufenpu but I always get sweaters for a price of NTD 250 to 350 each.

Aside from shopping, I know your wife will also enjoy being surrounded by flowers. Gone are the days of the Taipei Flower Festival every winter. The Rose Garden Show at the Shilin Official Residence looks good when you're there. But when you take your selfies, the flowers look less. If you're not visiting the capital when the cherry blossom season is at its peak, you can bring your wife to the Zhongshe Flower Market in Taichung. That private flower farm has blossoms all year round which makes it a popular destination in Central Taiwan. Or if the two of you are visiting Taiwan on November, you can take her to the Xinshe Sea of Flowers Festival where a literal ocean of petals await your better half.

Going to Taichung will mean extra expenses on your budget. Most people board the High Speed Rail to get to Central Taiwan in just one hour. In comparison, a bus ride from Taipei will 2 to 3 hours. So it's better to ride the HSR than waste precious time. For a more efficient travel experience in Taichung, book first a tripool taxi (web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji) ride from the HSR Taichung Station to Chungshe Flower Market. Wait for the approved pick-up time, then used the meeting time as a basis in choosing the departure time of your HSR ticket from Taipei.

Yehliu Geopark

1.19. I'm going to visit Taipei with my entire family. Grandpa, grandma and the kids are joining. What should I do?

It's really a hassle to have a big group on a tour. Not all seniors are energetic. So you should consider taking them to places where they can sit while you enjoy taking photos. I think the Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall and the trail at Qingtiang Grassland is still tolerable for old people. Unless your grandpa and grandma can endure the large crowd at Shilin Night Market and at Jiufen Old Street, then you can bring them there. In any case, wandering in Taipei with the elderly will force you to book a private car tour for far away places.

1.20. I'm here in Taipei now but a typhoon is coming. Should I change my itinerary?

It depends on wheter the typhoon will directly hit the island of Taiwan. Sometimes, the storm can hit the southern tip of the island. It could also wrec havoc in Central Taiwan or go up in Northern Taiwan and bring torrential rains in Taipei. If it will not hit Taipei and not doesn't carry much rain and strong winds, expect life in the capital to continue.

Taiwan is a small island, so the strongest effects of a typhoon is only felt for a day. The Taiwanese also don't have a habit of suspending work, unless there is really a need to stop people from going outside.

Typhoons in Taiwan are generally corny! With an average of 5 to 6 storms a year during the summer season, it is no match to the 20 typhoons that passes by the territory of Philippines every year. Super typhoons that form in the Pacific Ocean usually appear starting in October and durin this time, the northeasterly wind is starting to blow strong in Taiwan, thereby pushing the storms downward towards the Luzon Island of the Philippines.

If ever a strong one comes to Taipei, just stay indoors to keep yourself safe.

1.21. I am going home soon from my trip in Taipei. Where should I buy souvenirs?

For pineapple cakes, Chia Te Bakery [Google Map] is the place to go. They have different kinds of pastries to choose with their pineapple cakes with egg as their best-seller. Although I find the price for 12 pieces expensive it tastes really good.

Jiufen Old Street is another great place to buy pineapple cakes and other mochi. Just along the main road, are stores that offers free taste for potential buyers. What you can do, is to visit first Chia Te Bakery to assess the price and taste of the cakes there. Then, you compare it to the ones being sold in Jiufen.

If you don't have time to go to Jiufen and Chia Te Bakery, you can shop around Shilin Night Market, Ximending and Carrefour to find delicious goodies. Some stalls in the underground mall near Exit M5 of Taipei Main Station are selling jellies and mochi.

For keychains and ref magnets, Shilin Night Market has a lot to offer. The technique is look for that store that has price tags on their item. If could not see any price tag, it means that the seller can increase or lower prices of the goods anytime they want. Yongkang Street also has souvenir shops but I find the prices of the items there more expensive than those in Shilin.

1.22. SOS! Who do you gonna call?

Taiwan Police: dial 110 (for EMERGENCY purposes only)

1.23 Any important announcement?

Starting July 1, 2019, all passengers of Taipei and New Taipei low-floor buses will have to swipe their stored value cards twice. The first one upon boarding and the second tap before getting off the vehicle. Standard one-way fare is still NTD 15.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

I have created this sample itinerary to help you plan your trip in Taipei. 1-day itineraries covering Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen and Bitou Cape are included. Expect the list to expand as more events unfold in the capital of Taiwan throughout the year.

2.1 Three, five or seven days in Taipei

Here is a sample itinerary for a 3-day trip in Taipei. This basic travel plan covers the historic sites in downtown, night markets, the National Palace Museum, Yangmingshan, and the golden trio of Pingxi, Yehliu and Jiufen. It's very simple and easy to follow. For the bus stops and nearest MRT Stations, check the CHEAT SHEET section.


3-DAYS IN TAIPEI itinerary

Day 1: Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall -> Chiang-kai Memorial Hall -> Taipei 101 Observatory -> National Palace Museum -> Shilin Night Market/buy souvenirs -> Elephant Mountain

Day 2: Pingxi-Yehliu and Jiufen via tripool taxi

Day 3: Qingtiangang -> Xiaoyoukeng -> Ximending shopping/buy souvenirs -> Taoyuan Airport


For a 5-DAYS IN TAIPEI tour, my idea is to expand the basic 3-day itinerary by adding Beitou, Jinguashi, Houtong Cat Village and Jingtong

Day 3: Qingtiangang -> Xiaoyoukeng -> Ximending/buy souvenirs -> Raohe Night Market

Day 4: Houtong cat village -> Lingjiao Waterfall -> Jingtong

Day 5: Jinguashi -> Beitou -> Taoyuan airport


For a 7-DAYS IN TAIPEI, you should explore the Nanya Rocks, Longdong and Bitou Cape via the Taiwan Tour Bus Golden Fulong Line. Before you leave for the airport, try to check the art museums of the city.

Day 5: Jinguashi -> Beitou -> Elehant Mountain hike

Day 6: Nanya Rocks -> Longdong -> Bitou Cape

Day 7: Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)Taipei -> Taipe Fine Arts Museum -> Taoyuan airport

2.2 JAN to DEC: Yehliu,Jiufen,Shifen 1-day tour by klook

Budget travellers can take advantage of klook's shuttle bus that makes a stop at the golden trio of Yehliu, Jiufen and Shifen. It costs NTD 645 per person. The only drawback with this transport service is that, you don't have much time to explore every scenic spot. There is a schedule to follow and the bus will not wait for you, in case you are late.

Take note that there is queue just to have your photos taken with the Queen's Head of Yehliu Geopark. Expect to fall in line for an hour during weekends and holidays.

2.3 JAN to DEC: Classic Yehliu, Jiufen, Shifen tour: Yehliu Geopark -> Golden Waterfall -> Jiufen Old Street -> Shifen Falls -> Shifen Old Street/sky lantern activity

Suggested tripool taxi itinerary for Yehliu Geopark, Golden waterfall, Jiufen Old Street, Shifen falls and Shifen Old Street plus a sky lantenr activity. If you want to follow this itinerary, you should make separate bookings in the tripool web app for each pick-up point - drop-off point pair.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Yehliu Geopark39.4 kms53 mins8991,6507:30 am to 8:00 am
Yehliu GeoparkGolden Waterfall36.3 kms50 mins1,1272,01111:00 am to 11:30 am
Golden waterfallJiufen Old Street4.6 kms15 mins6381,24012:30 pm to 1:00 pm
Jiufen Old StreetShifen Waterfall23.3 kms48 mins8791,6552:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Shifen WaterfallShifen Old Street2.6 kms7 mins5871,1485:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Shifen Old StreetDiary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
38.6 kms50 mins8361,5257:00 pm to 7:30 pm
-TOTAL AMOUNTTOTAL NUMBER OF TRIPOOL TAXI HOURS
4,9669,229~13
BUDGET PER PERSON
2,483
(2 pax)
1,655
(3 pax)
1,242
(4 pax)
1,154
(8 pax)

2.4 JAN to DEC: Golden adventure in Jinguashi, Jiufen and Shifen: Golden Waterfall -> Jinguashi (Gold Ecological Park) -> Jiufen Old Street -> Shifen Old Street/sky lantern activity

The former mining towns of Jinguashi, Jiufen and Shifen offers tourist a unique combination of history, food and scenic wonders. The price per person for a group of four people is already cheap considering that tripool taxi will fetch your from your hotel in Taipei and take you back after the whole trip.

It's also ok to ride the train and buses to get to Jinguashi, Jiufen and Shifen, but this will eat your time. Booking a tripool taxi save you from a lot of stress especially when leaving Jiufen Old Street to go to Shifen Waterfall.

Suggested tripool taxi itinerary for Golden waterfall, Jinguashi (Gold Ecological Park), sky lantern activity at Shifen Old Street plus a visit to Shifen waterfall. If you want to follow this itinerary, you should make separate bookings in the tripool web app for each pick-up point - drop-off point pair.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Golden Waterfall42.5 kms49 mins8151,4957:30 am to 8:00 am
Golden waterfallJinguashih(Gold Ecological Park)2.4 kms7 mins5941,15612:30 pm to 1:00 pm
Jinguashih(Gold Ecological Park)Jiufen Old Street2.9 kms11 mins6131,19312:30 pm to 1:00 pm
Jiufen Old StreetShifen Waterfall23.3 kms48 mins8791,6552:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Shifen WaterfallShifen Old Street2.6 kms7 mins5871,1485:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Shifen Old StreetDiary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
38.6 kms50 mins8361,5257:00 pm to 7:30 pm
-TOTAL AMOUNTTOTAL NUMBER OF TRIPOOL TAXI HOURS
4,3248,172~13
BUDGET PER PERSON
2,162
(2 pax)
1,441
(3 pax)
1,081
(4 pax)
1,022
(8 pax)

2.5 JAN to DEC: Northeast coast and Jiufen-Shifen tour: Yehliu Geopark -> Bitou Cape hiking trail -> Golden Waterfall -> Jiufen Old Street -> Shifen Falls -> Shifen Old Street/sky lantern activity

This itinerary is becoming popular nowadays. Yehliu Geopark then hiking to Bitou Cape. Have a selfie at the Golden Waterfall and eat some Taiwanese food at Jiufen Old Street. Before you go back home, see the Shifen Falls and write your wishes on a sky lantern, . Seems easy to do. But you can save more time if you book a car in tripool taxi.

Hiking at Bitou Cape can take 1 hour, while the rest will be an easy stroll. The budget per person is reasonable knowing tht Bitou Cape is located a little bit farther on the seaside rod and the car will go back for uphill climb to get to Golden Waterfall and Jiufen Old Street.

Suggested tripool taxi itinerary for Yehliu Geopark, Bitou Cape, Golden waterfall, Jiufen Old Street, Shifen falls/old street plus sky lantern activity. If you want to follow this itinerary, you should make separate bookings in the tripool web app for each pick-up point - drop-off point pair.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Yehliu Geopark39.4 kms53 mins8991,6507:30 am to 8:00 am
Yehliu GeoparkBitou Elementary School41.8 kms55 mins1,3802,41910:00 am to 10:30 am
Bitou Elementary SchoolGolden waterfall7.3 kms12 mins6491,24812:30 pm to 1:00 pm
Golden waterfallJiufen Old Street4.6 kms15 mins6381,2401:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Jiufen Old StreetShifen Waterfall23.3 kms48 mins8791,6552:30 pm to 3:00 pm
Shifen WaterfallShifen Old Street2.6 kms7 mins5871,1485:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Shifen Old StreetDiary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
38.6 kms50 mins8361,5257:00 pm to 7:30 pm
-TOTAL AMOUNTTOTAL NUMBER OF TRIPOOL TAXI HOURS
5,86810,885~13
BUDGET PER PERSON
2,934
(2 pax)
1,956
(3 pax)
1,467
(4 pax)
1,361
(8 pax)

3. CHEAT SHEET: TAIPEI MRT AND BUS NUMBERS THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE CITY'S DIFFERENT TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

To make your life easier, I have created this cheat sheet about the nearest MRT and TRA stations of Taipei popular tourist attractions. The bus numbers to board and where to get off are also included. Actual locations of the tourist are provided via Google map links.

>
Summary of transportation options to the different tourist attractions of Taipei
CategoryName of tourist attractionnearest MRT/TRA Stationbus numberbus stop namewhere to get off
POPULAR ATTRACTIONS IN TAIPEITaipei 101
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei 101 Station Exit 4
Red Line
just walk
National Palace Museum
[Google Map]
MRT Jiantan Station Exit 1
Red Line
R30MRT Jiantan Station[Google Map]
Shilin Night Market
[Google Map]
just walk
Taipei Zoo
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei Zoo Station
Brown Line
Maokong Gondola
[Google Map]
cable car ride
Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall
[Google Map]
MRT Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall Station Exit 5
Red Line
Green Line
just walk
Sun-yat Sen Memorial Hall
[Google Map]
MRT Sun-yat Sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 4
Blue Line
Elephant Mountain (Xiangshan Trail entrance)
[Google Map]
MRT Xiangshan Station Exit 2
Red Line
hiking
Tiger Mountain (peak)
[Google Map]
MRT Houshanpi Station Exit 2
Blue Line
Ximending graffiti
[1]Taipei Cinema Park[Google Map]
[2]The Walls[Google Map]
[3]Wuchang Street[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 6
Blue Line
just walk
Longshan Temple
[Google Map]
MRT Longshan Temple Station Exit 1
Blue Line
Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei[Google Map]MRT Zhongshan Station Exit 1
Red Line
Taipei Fine Arts Museum[Google Map]MRT Yuanshan Station Exit 1
Red Line
Din Tai Fung
[1]Taipei 101 branch[Google Map]
[2]Dongmen branch[Google Map]
MRT Taipei 101 Station
Red Line
/MRT Dongmen Station
Orange Line
Red Line
Raohe Night Market
[Google Map]
MRT Songshan Station
Green Line
/TRA Songshan Station
SHOPPING IN TAIPEIXimending (西門町)
[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 6
Blue Line
just walk
Xinyi Shopping District (信義區)
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei City Hall Station Exit 2 or 3
Blue Line
MRT Taipei 101 Station Exit 4
Red Line
Donguri Republic Taipei (どんぐり共和国 - ベネリック)
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei 101 Station Exit 4
Red Line
Jimmy’s Moon Bus (幾米月亮公車)
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei 101 Station Exit 3
Red Line
Wufenpu (五分埔) Commercial Area
[Google Map]
MRT Houshanpi Station Exit 1
Blue Line
MRT Songshan Station Exit 4A
Green Line
TRA Songshan Station West Exit
YANGMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARKQingtiangang
[Google Map]
MRT Jiantan Station
Red Line
Taipei Main Station
Blue Line
108Yangmingshan bus terminal
[Google Map]
[Google Map]
Qixingshan Hiking Trail entrance
[Google Map]
MRT Shilin Station
Red Line
MRT Jiantan Station
Red Line
Taipei Main Station
Blue Line
[Google Map]
Zhuzihu Hydrangea:
[1]Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園)[Google Map]
MRT Beitou Station
Red Line
MRT Shipai Station
Red Line
S8, S9, 128, 129MRT Beitou or MRT Shipai[Google Map]
Zhuzihu Hydrangea:
[2]Dàgōngyuán (大賞園)[Google Map]
[Google Map]
Calla Lily Festival:
[1]Miau-Ban Calla Lily Garden (苗榜海芋園)[Google Map]
[Google Map]
BEITOUBeitou Hot Spring Museum
[Google Map]
MRT Xinbeitou Station
Pink Line
just walk
Beitou Thermal Valley
[Google Map]
Beitou Museum
[Google Map]
Atami hot spring hotel
[Google Map]
Beitou Man Lai Ramen (满来温泉拉麵) restaurant
[Google Map]
TAIPEI SHAVED ICE DESSERTSBingirl
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei 101 Station Exit 4
Red Line
just walk
Shuanglian Tangyuan Shop
[Google Map]
MRT Shuanglian Station Exit 1
Red Line
Ice Monster Zhongxiao Shop
[Google Map]
MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 1
Blue Line
Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice
[Google Map]
MRT Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station Exit 2
Blue Line
JAPANESE COLONIAL BUILDINGS IN TAIPEIXimen Red House (西門紅樓)
[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 1
Blue Line
just walk
Nishi Honganji Relics (西本願寺)
[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 1
Blue Line
Presidential Office Building (中華民國總統府)
[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 4
Blue Line
Zhongshan Hall (中山堂)
[Google Map]
MRT Ximen Station Exit 5
Blue Line
Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文創園區)
[Google Map]
MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station Exit 1
Blue Line
Chitung Old Street/Qidong Street (齊東老街)
[Google Map]
MRT Zhongxiao Xinsheng Station Exit 2
Blue Line
Taipei Qin Hall (臺北琴道舘)
[Google Map]
Control Yuan (監察院)
[Google Map]
Taipei Main Station Exit M7
Red Line
Blue Line
Taipei Post Office (臺北郵局)
[Google Map]
Taipei Main Station Exit Z10
Red Line
Blue Line
Futai Street Mansion (撫臺街洋樓)
[Google Map]
Taipei Guest House (臺北賓館)
[Google Map]
MRT NTU Hospital Station Exit 2
Red Line
NTU Hospital (台大醫院)
[Google Map]
old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部)
[Google Map]
MRT Beiman Station Exit 2
Green Line
PINGXIShifen Old Street
[Google Map]
TRA Shifen Stationjust walk
Shifen Waterfall
[Google Map]
Shifen Station
[Google Map]
Pingxi Old Street
[Google Map]
TRA Pingxi Station
Pingxi Crags (trail entrance)
[Google Map]
hiking
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival:
[1]Shifen Sky Lantern Square (spring event)[Google Map]
[2]Pingxi Junior High School (autumn event)[Google Map]
TRA Pingxi Station
or TRA Shifen Station
just walk
Houtong Cat Village
[Google Map]
TRA Houtong Station
Sandiaoling Waterfall (trail entrance)
[Google Map]
TRA Sandiaoling Stationhiking
YEHLIUYehliu Geopark (ticket booth)
[Google Map]
MRT Taipei City Hall Station
Blue Line
or TRA Keelung Station
1815Taipei City Hall Bus Station [Google Map]
Yehliu Ocean World
[Google Map]
JIUFENJiufen Old Street
[Google Map]
TRA Ruifang Station788 or 827Ruifang Train Station (District Square)
[Google Map]
[Google Map]
Museum of Ghost Masks
[Google Map]
Shengping Theater
[Google Map]
JINGUASHI (金瓜石)Gold Ecological Park (黃金博物園區) (bus stop)
[Google Map]
788 or 856[Google Map]
Benshan Fifth Tunnel (本山五坑)
[Google Map]
Gold Museum (黃金博物館)
[Google Map]
Jinguashi Shinto Shrine (金瓜石神社遺址)
[Google Map]
Crown Prince Chalet (太子賓館)
[Google Map]
Golden Waterfall (黃金瀑布)
[Google Map]
[Google Map]
TAIWAN TOUR BUS GOLDEN FULONG LINENanya Rock
[Google Map]
856[Google Map]
Bitou Cape
[Google Map]
[Google Map]
Longdong Dragon Caves
[Google Map]
[Google Map]
Walk uphill along the road for 600 meters. You should pass by a buddhist temple, before reaching the start of the trail.
Fulong Sand Sculpture Festival (Fulong Beach)
[Google Map]
TRA Fulong Stationjust walk
TAMSUI (淡水)Tamsui Presbyterian Church
[Google Map]
MRT Tamsui Station
Red Line
just walk
Hobe Mackay Hospital
[Google Map]
Former British Consulate
[Google Map]
R26MRT Tamsui Station[Google Map]
Aletheia University
[Google Map]
Tamsui Old Street
[Google Map]
just walk
Tamsui Museum of Strange/Believe It or Not Curiosity Cabinet(淡水信不信由你搜奇博物館)
[Google Map]
Tamsui Fishermans_Wharf(淡水漁人碼頭)
[Google Map]
ride a ferry
Tamsui Lovers Bridge
[Google Map]
Fullon Hotel Tamsui Fishermans Wharf
[Google Map]

4. TAIPEI ON A BUDGET: MRT 1-DAY PASS

The 150 New Taiwan Dollar Challenge

One hundred fifty New Taiwan Dollars (NTD). You can wander in Taipei with this small amount of money. But if you are going to spend it for food, then two orders of 7-Eleven Spaghetti plus red tea for drinks would solve your problem for lunch and dinner. Loading an adult EasyCard with NTD 150 will also allow you to board the bus ten times for short distance rides. At an exchange rate of 1 NTD = 1.67 PHP, it is equivalent to 250 pesos and 28 centavos. One hundred fifty Taiwan Dollars. A small amount of money but it can get you to many places.

At the ticket booth of MRT Nangang Station.Travel Buddy Rob asking about the 1 Day Pass.
The Taipei MRT 1-Day Pass with its Summer Universiade design

Thanks to Taipei MRT's 1-Day Pass, anyone can go around the city without the fear of spending so much. You can see the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, feel the heat of the hot spring in Beitou or even have a selfie at Taipei 101 even though you are on a tight budget. All for just NTD 150! Add your lunch and dinner to your budget and you can form a travel plan that suits your need.


Travel Buddy Rob joined me in this budget saver adventure. We visited many tourist spots in a span of fewer than 12 hours starting at 12:15 pm. For first-timers, it might be difficult to travel in Taipei in just a short amount of time. But with a well-planned itinerary before coming to Taiwan, exploring Taipei is just a piece of cake. You don't even need a pocket wifi to bring with you!


There are different kinds of Taipei Pass ranging from a single-day ticket to ones bundled with a Maokong Gondola trip and unlimited bus ride. Prospective visitors in Taiwan sometimes could not decide on which type of card to buy either if they would just use an EasyCard which has a balance to maintain or take advantage of an unlimited day pass. It all depends on the places that you want to visit.


If you want to wander in the National Palace Museum then you will need to ride a bus. A roundtrip from MRT Shilin Station will costs NTD 30 so a day pass with unlimited bus rides in Taipei and New Taipei City will be practical. This special kind of one-day ticket card costs NTD 180 and is best for itineraries that require transferring from an MRT to a public vehicle. Take note that in order to fully appreciate the collections in the National Palace Museum you will need at least 3 hours to read and get to know all of China's greatest treasures that are being kept in Taiwan.

If you are also interested to see Taipei Zoo then riding the Maokong Gondola is highly recommended. Like the National Palace Museum, its size is too big to explore in a day. The Taipei Pass which includes the Maokong Gondola can help save a lot of money. However, there is a catch for this kind of one-day ticket. The operations of the cable car can be suspended anytime if there is a strong wind or a threat of a thunderstorm. Buy this card if you want to lose money. Haha! The best thing to do is to just buy the tickets at the cable car station. In this way, you will have the liberty to adjust your itinerary depending on the weather advisory for Muzha District. You will know that you cannot ride the cable car when the TV screens in the platforms of the Taipei MRT flashes a bad news about the operations of the Maokong Gondola.


See below our itinerary. We wanted to maximize our 1-Day Pass so we went to many places as fast as we could. Major attractions like Taipei 101, Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall and Sun-yat Sen Memorial Hall were part of the travel plan. To check if we really saved money, I calculated the actual fare for each MRT ride that we made.


Start @ 12:15 pm

Sun-yat Sen Hall [Google Map]

[1] Nangang Station → Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station: NTD 20


The Visitor Information Center at Taipei Main Station.  The nearest MRT exit to this tourist center is Exit M5.
The lobby of Taipei Main Station [Google Map]
For our lunch, we bought "pientang" at this store in the ground floor of Taipei Main Station.
boxed lunch
Travel Buddy Rob and I opted for this NTD 60 "pientang".

[2] Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station → Taipei Main Station: NTD 16

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Longshan Temple [Google Map]

[3] Taipei Main Station → Longshan Temple Station: NTD 16

at Ximending [Google Map]

[4] Longshan Temple Station → Ximen Station: NTD 16


[5] Ximen Station → Zhongshan Station: NTD 16


[6] Zhongshan Station → Minquan West Road Station: NTD 16


MRT Beitou Station

[7] Minquan West Road Station → Beitou Station: NTD 24

The old Xinbeitou Station. Back in the days when there was no still MRT, a TRA line runs along the route of the current Tamsui-Xiangshan MRT route. Of course there was also a TRA Xinbeitou line! When the MRT was constructed, this Japanese-style building with its eye-catching windows at its roof was dismantled and then transferred to Changhua. After many years of cultural protest, it is now back again at Xinbeitou.[Google Map]
Ketagalan Culture Center [Google Map]
Beitou Public Library [Google Map]
Beitou Hot Spring Museum [Google Map]
Beitou Stream. Years ago, you can dip your feet here.  Now, you cannot! 
Hell Valley [Google Map]

[8] Beitou Station → Xinbeitou Station: NTD 16

While waiting for the train at MRT Xinbeitou Station

[9] Xinbeitou Station → Beitou Station: NTD 16

MRT Tamsui Station
sunset at Tamsui [Google Map]
A local caught a fish from the river!

[10] Beitou Station → Tamsui Station: NTD 24

at MRT Jiantan Station
while walking towards Shilin Night Market
One of the games here in Shilin Night Market.  You just have to make the bottle stand to win a prize. 
That is if you can! Haha!
Shilin Night Market [Google Map]
at the underground food court

[11] Tamsui Station → Jiantan Station: NTD 32

MRT Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall Station
CKS Memorial Hall at night [Google Map]

[12] Jiantan Station → Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station: NTD 20

MRT Taipei 101 Station
Taipei 101.  We did not enter inside.  [Google Map]
Another attraction beside Taipei 101 is the Moon Bus.  [Google Map]

[13] Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station → Taipei 101/ World Trade Center Station: NTD 16


[14] Taipei World Trade Center Station → Daan Station: NTD 16


[15] Daan Station → Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center Station: NTD 24


Back at home!


End @ 11:00 pm



Taipei MRT 1-Day Pass: NTD 150


Lunchbox at Taipei Main Station: NTD 60


Stinky tofu: NTD 50 (shared with Rob)


Oyster omelet: NTD 60 (shared with Rob)


TOTAL EXPENSES if we used an Adult EasyCard: NTD 403 {288 + 110/2 (dinner) + 60 (lunch)}


TOTAL EPXENSES WITH THE TAIPEI 1-DAY PASS: NTD 265 {150 + 110/2 (dinner) + 60 (lunch)}


If we had used an adult EasyCard, our total expense for our MRT rides would be NTD 288. We could have also explored more tourist attractions if we had started as early as 6:00 am when the Taipei MRT opens. The earlier, the better! Even though we started at noon at least we were able to save some money with our 1-Day Pass. That’s the aim of most travelers in Taiwan. To see a lot of places in one day without spending so much.

So are you excited now to visit Taipei? Get ready to pack your bags as soon as the visa-free grant for Filipinos and other Southeast Asians become official. Get to know this country as you familiarize yourselves with the different attractions of the capital through the luomujie blog. Be prepared! Now is the time for you to accept the 150 Taiwan Dollar Challenge.

Taiwan's capital has lots of attractions for its growing number of fans. There are man-made attractions like Taipei 101 and the National Palace Museum. Taipei is also proud to have the Yangmingshan National Park. Be a glutton at its night market and shop till you drop on its budget friendly shopping districts. Enter the world of the Taiwanese seat of power, as you browse this list of popular of attractions in downtown Taipei.

5.1 Taipei 101 Observatory

Number 1 on our list is Taipei 101. Taiwan's highest building represents the nation. A technological feat that is the envy of other skyscrapers. Looking at it from afar is not enough. You should also enter the building and see the observatory. Gone are the days that people will have to walk from MRT Taipei City Hall Station of the Blue Line. Hop on to the MRT Red line and get off at MRT Taipei 101 Station. Walk towards Exit 4 and you're already in Taipei 101.

Taipei 101 Observatory
Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory
My free ticket. I got this from an exhibit in Taipei.
Taipei 101 Observatory
The long queue for the elevator going to the observatory
Taipei 101 Observatory
The screen inside the super-fast Toshiba-built elevator
Taipei 101 Observatory
view from the South side
Taipei 101 Observatory
view from the East side
Taipei 101 Observatory
view from the North side

Your adventure in Taipei 101 will start with the world's fastest elevator at a speed of 1010 m/s. Patience is virtue here if you plan to visit Taipei 101 on daytime. There are lots of visitors per day in Taipei 101 and you will have to wait for your turn to board the lift. As I ride the elevator, my ears popped as it accelerated upward to the 89th floor. The door opened and the bright daylight welcomed me and my fellow visitors. The Taipei City can be best seen at this time. Look around and you can see the whole of the city from the four corners of the observatory.

Taipei 101 Observatory
The building with the yellow roof is the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. Notice the iphone-like structure which is the fountain. The building at the back is the Taipei Dome.
Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory
the wind damper
Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory
view from the West side

Visiting Taipei 101 at night was also ok but there are some things that you cannot see at night. Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall was very visible with its yellow roof, but look closely and you will notice an iPhone looking structure besides the building. It was actually the fountain that Chinese tourists became crazy about. Mighty rivers, arched bridges and beautiful mountains made the view of the city more scenic. At the center of the building was the giant wind damper and it was still the same when I first saw visited the observatory. I was not yet satisfied to just look at Taipei behind the glass windows, so I climbed upwards to the open-air area. It was actually very hot outside with only a portion of the area opened due to the very strong winds that can endanger the lives of tourists. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the view.

Taipei 101 Observatory
Taipei 101 Observatory Taipei 101 Observatory

I went downstairs to take a 360° video of the 89th floor until I got hungry. I saw people eating some sort of yellow ice cream, and it was a shaved-mango ice. I bought one for a price of NTD 250. I requested one person to take my photo with my food, while I sat and relax my body on the large glass window. The city was just behind me and I was so happy

Cheers for a great trip in Taipei 101!

5.2 Taipei 101 fireworks

"Happy New Year"

Watching the annual fireworks display at Taipei 101 is a unique experience. Those planning to visit the city at the end of year should not miss this event. Get ready to squeeze yourself against the large crowd because you are going to watch the greatest show on Earth.

Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
Finding a spot to watch the fireworks was like looking for a needle in a haystack...
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
...just to watch Taipei 101 at the strike of midnight.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
Others find a spot in this place.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
Taipei 101. Wow!
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
Yehey!
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
If you got bored, don't worry someone will give you a hug.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
A group of friends celebrating New Year
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
If you got hungry, there were food stalls to buy food.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
But going back home was an agony.  Just look at this photo.  Taipei 101 MRT Station was packed with people.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
The lights of Taipei 101 during New Year were turned on until 1:00am only.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
 I wandered in Xinyi District and the place was still alive at 1:00am.  I even watched this street performer in his hilarious act.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
It was already 1:39 am when boarded the MRT at Taipei City Hall Station to go back home in my apartment.
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
But it was fun to watch the Taipei 101 fireworks display ...
Taipei 101 New Year's Eve fireworks
especially if you have a selfie with Taipei 101 after the fireworks. Happy New Year!

5.3 Taipei Double Decker Bus

"Beep! Beep!"

The sight and sound of a red vehicle is turning heads in Taipei. It runs on six wheels, has two floors and open on the top. A double-decker bus! Do you want to experience a joyride? C'mon, it will be fun.

Before you get too excited to board the bus. Let me give you some reminders. This sightseeing tour offers different kinds of packages and routes for visitors to enjoy. Ticket prices vary for how long you want to ride the bus and what places do you want to visit. A 4-hour ticket gives you unlimited rides and costs NTD 300. For foreigners residing in Taiwan, just show your ARC and you will get a 50% discount. Yehey!

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Departure times of the double-decker bus
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

The start of the road trip. I asked for help from the Visitor Information Center at Taipei Main Station on where to board the sightseeing bus. They pointed me to Exit M4 and I was delighted to see the vehicle parked at the intersection of Zhongxiao West Road and Gongyuan Road. It was waiting for its passengers for the 4:20 pm trip. I decided to board the bus even though it was a hot summer afternoon. The sun was getting ready to set and the sky was blue with some clouds, so the temperature was just right to enjoy the trip. And it really turned out to be a wise decision!

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

I couldn't contain my excitement as I sat on the second floor. I have been to many places in the city but to see the streets of Taipei on a double-decker bus was a different experience. The traffic lights were so close and I could even see their LED lights. Even the street signs were so near that I could reach them with my tripod. Haha!

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Most of the passengers wanted to sit at the air-conditioned area.
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
audio guide.  Just ask the "stewardees" to borrow the earphones.
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

À la Hong Kong. The service of this sightseeing bus started in January 2017 while other Asian cities had also been offering this kind of travel option. But during the early '90s, double-decker buses used to run in some cities on the island like in Taichung. If there had public buses like this in Taipei, imagine a rush hour where everyone wants to get off from the bus. Worst, most of the passengers are still on the second floor. And there is no Easy Card technology yet. So a ticket inspector goes around and squeezes his or her body between people just to collect their bus fares. Bwahaha!

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Presidential Office Building
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Taipei Guest House
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
East Gate
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
When the double-decker bus passed by the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

Hop on, Hop off! The slogan of Taipei's double-decker bus. Visitors can get off and ride again at the designated bus stops to explore the city on their own. A new way to wander in Taipei aside from the thousands of classic MRT tours that you can read on the internet. The Red Route takes tourist to the Red House in Ximending then passes by the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The vehicle will then go to Taipei 101 with Yongkang Street and Daan Park as one of the stops then back to Taipei Main Station after passing by Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The Blue Route also runs in the Ximending and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall but its destination will be the National Palace Museum with the Taipei Fine Arts Museum and Shilin Official Residence as part of the major stops.

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Taipei City Hall
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
Taipei Main Station

Like magic. Riding on the Red Route, I waited as the bus slowly approaches the majestic Taipei 101. Living here for more than five years, I couldn't remember how many times I have seen Taiwan's tower of power. It's still a different feeling every time I gaze at the tall structure. When the vehicle was about to make a turn at Songzhi Road, the double-decker bus allowed me to look at Xinyi's highest building without the fear of losing my balance. I sat comfortably on the open air second floor while my digicam is pointed to the highest point of “101”. Such things that you won't experience if you are just standing on the ground.

Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
mini double-decker bus souvenir worth NTD 300 per box
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus

A bus ride for all. First-time visitors in Taiwan will surely enjoy the riding this new mode of transportation designed for tourists.   Ride and get off at your destination. Explore the city on your own with the Taipei Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus.  Hurry! The “double-decker” is waiting for you. Beep! Beep!

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Boarding location:  Taipei Main Station Exit M4 [Google Map]


Taipei Double Decker Bus Tickets and Fare
Type of TicketPriceNotes
4-Hours PassNTD 300Tickets are valid within four hours unlimited rides
Day Tour PassNTD 500From 9:10 to 18:00 you can experience unlimited rides
1-Day PassNTD 600Valid within 24 hrs from the first boarding
2-Days PassNTD 1,200Valid within 48 hrs from the first boarding

*50% discount are given to Taiwanese citizens and foreigners with ARC. Just show your ID.

*Passengers without tickets can board the bus and pay the fare to the “stewardess” while the bus is already running.

*The “stewardess” will ask you which stop do you want to get off and the tickets will be cheaper if you are going to alight at a certain stop. For the Red Route, some locals board the vehicle at Taipei Main Station and then get off the bus at MRT Taipei City Hall Station.

*If you happen to sleep during the ride and wake up at the terminal in Taipei Main Station. Board the bus again in front of Exit M4. Remember that you can ride the double-decker bus for an unlimited number of times depending on the type your ticket.

Ridership is very low for the Taipei Double-Decker Bus. Let us support this project of the Taipei City government. Nobody knows how long this tourist bus will be available for everyone. The service can be suspended if found to be not beneficial and profitable anymore.

Taipei Double Decker Bus Routes and the departure times of its first bus and last bus
Taipei Double-Decker Bus Routefirst buslast bus
Taipei Main Station to National Palace Museum [Red Line]9:1020:00
Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101 [Blue Line]9:4016:40
Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus
The detailed schedule of the Taipei Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus as of Jan. 22, 2018

5.4 National Palace Museum

"Asian Treasures"

The National Palace Museum (NPM). A big building full of precious items dating back from the Neolithic Period to the Qing dynasty. Ranked as the 13th most visited museum in the world, according to the 12th annual Theme Index and Museum Index. It is also one of the top attractions to see in Taipei when visiting the city for the first time. Amazing pieces of ceramics, bronze and jade items await you in this one of a kind of place on Earth. Would you want to explore its galleries and take pictures? Oh! I'm sure you will do especially when your ticket is free.

National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
ticket booth at the first floor
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum National Palace Museum

“Student in Taiwan? Your admission is free!”, I got surprised by these words of the NPM staff. When I went the “National Palace” for the first for my first time in 2014, I was asked to pay the discounted ticket worth NTD 150. Fast forward to 2018, a change of policy allowed international students to explore the galleries free of charge. I felt honored and blessed, when the staff stamped my hand after showing my student ID at the entrance. Haha!

National Palace Museum
pottery figure of a lady playing polo game in sancai tri-color glaze
Tang dynasty
618 - 907 B.C.E.
National Palace Museum
Left: silver cloissone square gu vessel with animal-mask decoration, middle to late 18th century, Qing dynasty
Right: cloisonne zun vessel in the form of a heavenly bird, middle to late century, Qing dynasty.
National Palace Museum
planter with coral carving of the planetary deity Kuixing, Qing dynasty
National Palace Museum
pair of golden gourds representing a myriad generations of descendants, Qing dynasty
National Palace Museum
seated buddhas on a lotus mandala gilt bronze, 17th to 18th century, Tibet
National Palace Museum
Amitabha Buddha Gilt bronze, 12th century, Tibet
National Palace Museum
Virudhaka Lokapala gilt bronze, Ming dynasty, 15th century, Tibet
National Palace Museum
Mahakala gilt bronze, 15th century, Tibet
National Palace Museum
Shakyamuni Buddha gilt bronze, Northern Wei dynasty, dated 477

From “For your eyes only” to “No Selfie”. The museum now allows its visitors to take pictures of its collections.  Poor coverage in social media and blogs might be the reason why the administration changed its mind. There were still limitations for visitors like restricting the use of tripods and selfie sticks. The policy can still change at any time so I have to be quick and take lots of pictures while there is still an opportunity.

National Palace Museum

Of the hundreds of thousands of items inside, two are considered to be the very best. Behold the meat-shaped stone and the jade cabbage. The star pieces of the National Palace Museum.

National Palace Museum
meat-shaped stone, Qing dynasty
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum

Juicy pork. The brown colored stone looks like a piece of cooked meat that had been soaked in soy sauce overnight. Layers in that small piece of rock created an illusion of a flesh underneath a layer of fat. If you will look closely and use a magnifying glass, you will observe tiny pores on the stone that help it give a texture of an animal's flesh.

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jade cabbage, Qing dynasty

Green leafy vegetable. The jade cabbage (or lettuce for others) is unique for its lifelike resemblance of an actual Chinese cabbage. Let your eyes gaze at the stem first and then upwards to the leaves. You would notice a grasshopper that camouflages itself as part of the cabbage. Carved from a type of hard jade, it symbolizes fertility and promises a good number of sons and daughters for anyone who has it. According to scholars, a concubine from the Qing dynasty who had lived in the Forbidden City probably owns the magical vegetable.

National Palace Museum National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
jade bixie auspicious beast
Eastern Han dynasty
25 - 220 C.E.
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
jade bixie auspicious beast
Western Han dynasty
206 B.C.E. - 8 C.E.

Opinions vary whether there are other items in the museum that also deserves the recognition of being a star piece. Just take for example the "jade bixie auspicious beast". Like the juicy pork and the magical cabbage, the item was also made from jade. At first glance, it looks ordinary, but stare at the rare carved stone for five minutes and you would observe how intricate the design of the head was. Its brownish body becomes dark on the edges indicating a complex technique on how it was colored. So it can be said that it's also equivalent with the meat-shaped stone and the jade cabbage, in terms of craftsmanship.

National Palace Museum
Pillow in the shape of a recumbent child
Ding ware, Northern Song dynasty
12th century
National Palace Museum
vase with "One hundred deer" in wucai painted enamels
Ming dynasty, Wanli region
1573 - 1620
National Palace Museum
flower-shaped vase with fish and dragon on a green ground
Qing dynasty, Guanxu reign
1874 - 1908
National Palace Museum
hatstand with openwork of dragon and clouds in fencai polychrome enamels
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
1736 - 1795
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
revolving vase with swimming fish in cobalt blue gaze
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
1736 - 1795
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
lidded  box with birds and flowers on a lake-green ground and yangcai polychrome enamels
Qing dynasty, Guangxu reign
1874 - 1908
National Palace Museum
pots with incised lotus petal decorations in red and cobalt blue glaze
Ming dynasty, Xuande reign
1426 - 1435
National Palace Museum
square vase with animal mask in turquoise blue gaze
Qing dynasty, Kangxi reign
1662 - 1722
National Palace Museum
lidden jar with dragons in doucai painted enamels and tian mark
Ming dynasty, Chenghua reign
1465 - 1487
National Palace Museum
lidded jar with clouds and dragon in overglaze yellow on a red ground
Ming dynasty, Jiajing reign
1522 - 1566

Handle with care. Oh! Those fragile ceramics of the National Palace Museum. They come in a variety of colors and shapes. From the earthen jars in the Neolithic Period to the products of technological advancements of clay molding and glazing during the Ming and Sung dynasty, one must definitely admit that Asia has a fragile history.

National Palace Museum
gourd-shaped vase with European women and flowers in falangcai polychrome enamels
Qing dynasty, Qianlong region
1736 - 1795
National Palace Museum
lidded twin conjoined vase with birds and flowers in falangcai polychrome enamels
Qing dynasty, Qianlong reign
1736 - 1795
National Palace Museum
vase with a sash and Indian lotus scrolls in fencai polychrome enamels
Qing dynasty, Jiaqing reign
1796 - 1820
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
Zun vessel with red glaze
Qing dynasty, Kangxi reign
1662-1722
National Palace Museum
white pottery guei-pitcher
Neolithic Dawenko culture
4300 - 2500 B.C.E.

The drawings and designs on the vases and cups give a clue about the origin of a certain ceramic or enamelware. Arabic scripts indicate the influence of traders from the Middle East and the emergence of Islam. Multi-color images on chinawares meant a complicated dyeing technique that a certain group of artisans only knew. Those with only one color can tell the era when it was made. A white glaze could indicate that it was made from Sung dynasty, while a rounded vase immersed in deep red color means a work done during the Qing dynasty.

National Palace Museum
ivory balls of nested concentric layers with human figures in openwork relief
second half of the 19th century
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum

Notes on a scandal. On one gallery of the museum are ivory carvings made from tusks of elephants. Splendid as it may seem, it is hard to imagine how many elephants were slaughtered just for their tusks. So visitors are reminded that the ivories displayed in NPM were imported from Africa and the tradition of carving on bones started in the Neolithic period and reached its peak during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

National Palace Museum
bronze wine vessels
National Palace Museum
Nao bells with animal mask pattern
Late Shang dynasty
13th to 11th century B.C.E.
National Palace Museum
"Zi-fan" chimes
National Palace Museum
Yi water vessel of Yi-yue
Mid Western  Zhou dynasty
10th to 9th century BC

Metal power. Aside from the ceramics and countless calligraphy records, NPM boasts a collection of bronze vessels and bells.   The metal alloy composed primarily of copper was a material of choice for weaponry in China until it has found its use as vessels, bells, and cooking pots.

National Palace Museum
zong-zhou zhong
late Western Zhou dynasty
9th century - 771 B.C.E.
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
mao-gong ding
late Western Zhou dynasty
9th century to 771 B.C.E.
National Palace Museum National Palace Museum
zun wine vessel in the shape of an animal with metal wire and turquoise inlay
Mid Warring States Period
4th to 3rd century B.C.E.

The chung (bell), tsun (ritual wine vessel) and ting (tripod vessel) were some of the most important bronze artifacts in the galleries of the third floor. If you find these stuff boring, focus your attention on the hsi-tsun (animal-shaped vessel). It can be mistaken as a toy because of its cuteness but it functions as a wine-vessel. Decorated with drawings on its body, patches of green rust intrigues anyone who looks at it.

National Palace Museum National Palace Museum

The entire National Palace Museum is too big to be explored in just one hour. If you want to maximize your visit, set three to four hours for a half-day tour. Those who easily get tired can rest at the benches in specific areas. Guided tours are also offered but a reservation is needed. Tourists who can't get enough of their experience can check the galleries at the Exhibition Area II Building.

National Palace Museum
Souvenir shop at the basement lobby of NPM.   You can also find other stores in the upper floors of the museum.
National Palace Museum
set of four gold overlay buttons inlaid with seed pearls
Qing dynasty, 18th to 19th century
work of the Muslim regions
National Palace Museum
birch-park phoenix finial with gold inlay
Qing dynasty, 18th to 19th century
Qing court work

Before you go home why not check the souvenir shop. Popular items in the store are keychain replicas of the meat-shaped stone and the jade cabbage. I bought a memento when I visited the NPM during my first visit and I still have it up to now. Why not purchase one for yourself before you leave? Buying them helps support the operations of the National Palace Museum, the home of the greatest Asian treasures.

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National Palace Museum

address: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, 111
[Google Map]



Exhibition 1 Main Building

Open: everyday from 8:30 to 18:30, all year-round

           extension from 18:30 to 21:00 every Friday and Saturday

Adult tickets: NTD 350

How to get here:  MRT Jiantan Station (Red Line) -> Bus Red 30 -> NPM basement lobby


Museum floor plan



B1F   Children's Gallery,  Multimedia Auditorium

1F   Room 102 Orientation Gallery
       Room 103, 104  Rare Books and Historical Documents Galleries
       Room 105  Special Exhibition Galleries
       Room 106   ivory collections
       Room 108   Qing furniture
       Room 101   Buddhas

2F    Room 203   Antiques
        Room 201, 205, 207  Ceramics
        Room 202, 204, 206, 208, 210, 212  Painting and Calligraphy

3F    Room 302  jade cabbage and meat-shaped stone
        Room 301  bronze bell and cauldron
        Room 305, 307  other bronze collections
        Room 303, 304  antiques
        Room 306, 308  jade

5.5 Taipei Zoo

"A Day at Taipei Zoo"

Taipei Zoo is a top attraction of the city and visitors never forget to pay a visit. It's not only a zoo but also acts as a conservation area. The forest surrounding it provides a natural environment to the animals here, making them feel they are just home and not inside cages. With the nearby Maokong Gondola, Going to Taipei Zoo will surely complete your tour in Taipei.

The entrance gate of Taipei Zoo on the left while on the right are the ticket booths.

Taipei Zoo is 160 hectares big and it's impossible to see all the animals and display areas in one day.

Endemic  flora and fauna of Taiwan
A Formosan black bear (臺灣黑熊, Ursus thibetanus formosanus) in its slumber. Notice the bear's characteristic white V-stripe on its neck.
Some kind of a deer
Formosan rock macaque (Macaca cyclopis)

I visited first the Formosan Animal Area to get to know more about the endemic fauna of Taiwan.

I was already sitting on the Shuttle Train.

After that I took the Shuttle Train so I can get to the Bird World Station easily. There was a long queue but it didn't take me a long time to ride the train. I paid NTD 5 for the shuttle train service. I can use my EasyCard to pay the fare but I opted to pay using a NTD 5 coin.

Freshwater fishes. These fishes are very big!

The train arrived at the Bird World Station and I randomly walked until I found myself in the Amphibian and Reptile House. It is one of the Indoor Display Areas in Taipei Zoo, and I found a lot of snakes, turtles, frogs and lizards.

Outside the Penguin House is the home of a large brown bear.

I wanted to see the some arctic animals so I look for the Penguin House and I was not disappointed with what I saw. I was also able to see a big brown bear in its giant cage. It was the first time I saw such a gigantic bear. Now I am convinced that a bear can really kill a human with its powerful claws.

It was still 1:30 pm but I know if I still go around, there would be more people that will ride the Shuttle Train at around 3:00 pm. The last Shuttle Train Service is at 4:30pm, and I don't want to take a very very long walk to the entrance gate of Taipei Zoo, if I miss the last train.

While riding the Shuttle Train, you will notice the Maokong Gondola in the mountains surrounding Taipei Zoo and you will get excited to ride those cable cars.

I wandered in Taipei Zoo for 3 hours only and I was not even able to see half of what Taipei Zoo can offer. If you want to see all the animals here, you should set one whole day.

One thing that I noticed that most of the visitors in Taipei Zoo were kids, accompanied by their parents. I remember when I was still a young boy, my dad and mom together with my baby brother Alvin, went to Manila Zoo to have some Family Day. This just proves that zoos are a great place for creating memories between family members.

I also remember one Taiwanese dad carrying his son in his arms, while mimicking the sound of a leopard, that was inside its cage in the Formosan Animal Area. Some of the parents even try to introduce to their kids the animals that they see. With what I have experienced in Taipei Zoo, I believe that Taipei Zoo is not just a place for the young but also for the young at heart.

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How to go to Taipei Zoo:

1. If your are coming from Taipei Main Station or Ximen, board the MRT Blue Line to Zhongxiao Fuxing and then transfer to Brown Line going to Taipei Zoo Station.

2. Another option if you are coming from Ximen, board the MRT Green Line at Songshan Line, get off at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and then transfer to the Red Line. Alight at Daan Station of the Brown Line. Finally, ride the train going to Taipei Zoo Station. Option 1 is better. Haha!

3. If you are coming from Songshan Airport, board the MRT Brown Line going to Taipei Zoo Station.

Opening Hours:

1. Taipei Zoo is open everyday 9am-5pm. Last admission is at 4:00 pm. The zoo is only close during Chinese New Year's Eve.

2. Indoor and outdoor exhibits close at 4:30 pm

3. Giant Panda House: closed every 1st Monday of the month

4. Penguin House: closed every 2nd Monday of the month

5. Amphibian and Reptile House: closed every 3rd Monday of the month

6. Insectarium: closed every 4th Monday of the month

7. Education Center, Animal Art Workshop, Library and Eco House: closed every Monday

Tickets:

1. Regular tickets cost NTD 60. Discounted tickets cost NTD 30. Tickets can be bought at the ticket booth. If you are student in Taiwan, just show your student ID (with a valid semester sticker) and you will get a discounted ticket. An easier way to enter Taipei Zoo is to use EasyCard. Just swipe the card at the entrance gate and you are good to go. Student EasyCards will get an automatic discount upon swiping.

2. Shuttle Train ticket: Shuttle Train Station to Bird World Station and vice versa costs NTD 5. EasyCard can also be use as payment.

3.Education Center fee costs NTD 20.

4. Panda House tickets are free and there is a time written on the ticket. The tickets are distributed upon entrance at Taipei Zoo. The best time to see the pandas are 9am-10am and 4pm-5pm. The pandas are said to be active during those times. It is highly recommended to come to Taipei Zoo at 9am and visit the Panda House immediately upon entering.

5.6 Maokong Gondola

"The Flying Gondolas of Maokong"

If Hong Kong has the Ngong Ping Cable Car, then Taipei has the Maokong Gondola. Opened in 2007, it is 4 kilometers long and has four stations connecting Taipei Zoo and Maokong. It is an efficient way of moving people that has a capacity of more than 5 million passengers. It is Taipei’s first gondola transport system and first-time visitor in Taiwain are usually excited to have their first cable car ride in the city.

Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola

A one way ride from Taipei Zoo Station to Maokong Station costs NTD 50 and there is no extra charge if you want to ride the transparent cabin also called the ‘Eyes of Maokong Gondola’. Between Taipei Zoo Station and Maokong Station are the Taipei Zoo South Station and Zhinan Temple Station.

Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola

Taipei Zoo had been in my Taiwan Day Adventures before. The first one was in Taiwan Day 63 (Zoovember) and the second one in Taiwan Day 155 (Year of the Horse), so I only want to see the scenic spots in Zhinan Temple Station and Maokong Station.

Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola

Because I alighted at Zhinan Temple Station I paid around 70 NTD using my EasyCard. Most people usually go directly to Maokong Station but Zhinan Temple Station has a lot to offer. I saw three beautiful temples and took a lot of pictures. I even saw a coin-operated telescope and I inserted NTD 10 to use it. It was my first time to use such telescope and I was given around 2 minutes to view Taipei City.

Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola Maokong Gondola

After touring around the places in Zhinan Temple Station, I went to Maokong Station and paid NTD 100. I don’t have much expectation to this place, because what most people do in Maokong is to drink tea. But I was wrong! It was already 7:00 pm, when I went to a café and ordered a vanilla iced tea plus a bagel. After ordering my food, I was surprised to see the sparkling lights of Taipei City and the iconic Taipei 101. Like jewels thrown in the air, Taipei city glistens at night.

Maokong Gondola

After my simple dinner I went back to the Maokong Station to board the gondola back to Taipei Zoo Station. I was puzzled why the queue for the crystal cabins was still long despite the fact that you won’t see anything below since it was already dark.

Maokong Gondola

I took the regular cabin instead and I was alone. I have noticed that the gondola has a motion sensor that detects the presence of people inside. If there was any movement the lights of the cable car will turn on automatically and, if you don’t move the lights will turn off. Approaching gondolas were heading to Maokong Station while my gondola was going to the Taipei Zoo Station.


Most of the approaching cabins that I saw have their lights off. Are there really no people inside those gondolas or were they just not moving? What if the cable got suddenly got trimmed and I fell in the middle in the dark forest? Haha! I was thinking too much. While in the middle of the cable car ride I suddenly saw again the glistening lights of Taipei City, but this time it is much closer. I stood up and I was awed by the beauty of the city lights that I forgot the scary things that might happen.

Maokong Gondola

It was a thrilling and unforgettable ride of my life. I was flying inside the Maokong Gondola and I want to fly again.

5.7 Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall and Sun-yat Sen Memorial Hall

"A Tale of Two Fathers"

When you go to a foreign country, you need to know the culture as well as the people who shaped its history. Most tourists would just go and have some pictures at a well known scenic spot, without even knowing the importance or significance of the place. People do this because are in a hurry and they will only stay in Taiwan for a short period of time. It can be a one week amazing race tour or worst they are in a 3 days/2 nights trip in Taipei. As a PhD student here in Taiwan, I got the chance to know more about the story of the two fathers of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek. They are remembered on two important buildings in Taipei.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is considered as the ‘Father of the Nation’. I was surprised to see a huge statue of him sitting in a chair inside the National Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. He is the provisional President of the Republic of China and is well respected because of his ‘Three Principles of People’ which is nationalism, democracy and people’s welfare. He is a man with a vision and instinct and up to now the Taiwanese government continues his legacy. One good example is the EasyCard which gives so much convenience to people living in Taipei. Don’t also forget the democracy that people have here, compared to the other people living on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. There is facebook and Google here in Taiwan.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Chiang Kai-Shek is a different father. He is a dictator. I have been twice in Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The first one in Taiwan Day 134 (Ice Age) and the second one in Taiwan Day 211 (Black and White), but this is the first time that I entered inside his memorial hall and learned more about him. I always hear his name in the Philippines because a college is named after him. Students enrolled there are probably Filipino-Chinese and they are said to be good in math. Chiang Kai-Shek is a military man and inside his memorial are more about his life as a general. But I am more interested in his private life especially when I saw his portrait with his wife called by many as ‘Madame Chiang’. General Chiang also went to the Philippine and has met Pres. Elpidio Quirino in Baguio in the island of Luzon in 1949.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

Although they have their own memorial halls and each with their own changing guards of ceremony. I have observed that Taiwanese give more respect to Sun Yat-Sen than to Chiang Kai-Shek. They gave a bow or a salute to the large statue of Sun Yat-Sen at the start of the changing guard of ceremony while they don’t do that for Chiang Kai-Shek. Maybe because General Chiang put Taiwan under Martial Law that many people were suspected as Communist spies and were persecuted in an era called the ‘White Terror’.

The tale of two fathers is a story about a father who dreamed of a better China (Sun Yat-Sen) and a father who lost China (Chiang Kai-Shek). Nevertheless, they will always be remembered in Taiwan as the two people who shaped its history.

5.8 Elephant Mountain

"Climb the Elephant"

How to go to Elephant Mountain: Board the MRT Red Line to Xiangshan Station. Go to Exit 2 and continue walking. You will pass by a park with basketball courts. At the end of the road, it should become uphill. Follow the path upwards and find the Chinese marker for "Xiangshan" which indicates the start of the Elephant Mountain Trail.

In theory it should take only 15 minutes to reach the summit. But if you're not used to hiking, Elephant Mountain might be challenge. There are viewing platforms on top where you can see Xinyi District. Because the mountain is a popular tourist spot, expect a large crowd on weekends and holidays. There are also large boulders where you can sit and even stand. Just be careful when climbing up and when going down.

Daytime or night time? It's better to go before sunset, so you will see Taipei before the city lights start to open. If want to go at night and see the tower from the summit of Elephant Mountain, remember that the lights of Taipei 101 is until 10:00 pm only.

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A viewing platform in Elephant Mountain

5.9 Tiger Mountain

Eye of the Tiger

Tiger Mountain is not as popular as Elephant Mountain but climbing to its top was a rewarding experience. You can finish the hike in one hour if you're fast enough to climb. Taipei 101 will say “hello” from a distance and it is a perfect place for watching the fireworks every New Year’s eve. Just remember that like a real tiger this mountain have pointed teeth and sharp claws that will bring you to your death. There are no lights at night so bring your own flashlight, after enjoying looking at the city lights. You will also encounter an exposed rock where you can take selfies but be careful because you will be standing on the edge of the world. What a tiger it is!

Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain
Marker near Exit 2 of MRT Houshanpi Station
Tiger Mountain
Zhongpo South Road
Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain

People called it Hushan where the word “hu” means tiger and “shan” meaning mountain. It is located in Xinyi district and part of the Four Beasts Mountain. A network of trails connects this Tiger Mountain trail to the Nangang District and you will enjoy going around the mountains if you really love hiking. How did I get here? I boarded the MRT to Houshanpi Station and I then went to Exit 2 where I followed the Zhongpo South Road, until I reached its intersection in Fude St. I turned left and I saw a marker for the Fengtian Temple along Fude St. Lane 221. The land was already going uphill on this area and I passed by multi-story houses. I really don't know where the start of the trail.

Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain

I saw a large paifang along Lane 221 and I already knew that I was near a temple. Previous bloggers who had been here always described that they passed by a temple in finding the trail. “It must be the Fengtian Temple”, I told myself as I entered the gate and climbed the stairs. Tiger! Tigers! Tigers! There were a lot of them on the stairs. I did not want to miss the chance so I immediately opened my tripod to take some photos with the tigers. Yi...Er...San...Roar!

Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain
Fengtian Temple
Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain
There was a park at the end of the stairway.
Tiger Mountain
And a magnificent view of the city and the mountains unfolded in front of me.
Tiger Mountain
I continued the hike on this concrete stairway.
Tiger Mountain

The “tiger” had opened its mouth and I soon entered a circular gate where a long stairway welcomed me. A marker bearing the Chinese name of Tiger Mountain indicating that it was the entrance to the trail. Actually, there were a lot of staring points for the Tiger Mountain trail. You can start along Fude St. Lane 221 or Fude St. Lane 51. I realized this in the middle of my climb because there were markers to help you point which way you were going.

Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain
Do you see the spire of Taipei 101?
Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain
The view from the exposed rock in Tiger Mountain.

Compared to the Elephant Mountain trail, the Tiger Mountain is less maintained. Or it might be wrong! There were evidences of a slow mass movement in the trail, that the stone stairs were drifting downwards the slope of the mountain. I walked carefully at each step while the rays of the sun made my climb dramatic. There was a large exposed rock and it served as a good place to take photos. I got really excited standing above it, but I still exercised caution. I was already standing on a cliff and my greed for taking selfies might cause my death. Sitting on the rock and enjoying the view of Taipei city made me feel proud that I went to Taiwan to have my PhD study.

Tiger Mountain
Mt. Tiger 120 Highland
Tiger Mountain
The view from Mt. Tiger 120 Highland
Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain

I continued my climb until I reached the Mt. Tiger 120 Highland. Visitors can take a temporary rest here while enjoying the view of the city. The trail continues to a seemingly tall rock where a steep stairs had to be climbed. I was very careful in going up since there were insects on the handrails and I don't want to be their latest victim. At the end of the climb was the summit and I was surprised to see a lot of people. They were not ordinary hikers but professional photographers. Xinyi district with Taipei 101 was their masterpiece of the day and they were probably waiting for sunset.

Tiger Mountain
Taipei 101 and the mountains
Tiger Mountain Tiger Mountain

Why this mountain was called Hushan? Were there any tigers here before? I also thought of this questions as I climbed the trail just like when I first went to Elephant Mountain in Taiwan Day 100 (Happy 100 Days). My Travel Buddies and I didn't find any real elephants, but rather we only found statues that were kept hidden in the mountain. The same goes here for Tiger Mountain where I saw the tigers in Fengtian Temple. For any first time visitor in Tiger Mountain, who did not have any idea about the trail or was just hiking, would probably think that there was something special about the place. Are you brave enough to know the secret of Hushan? Go there and hike alone. Let us see if you have the eye of the tiger.

5.10 Longshan Temple

Enter the Dragon

Longshan Temple is another popular attraction in Taipei. How to get here: board the MRT Blue Line and get off Longshan Station. Go to Exit 2 and walk towards the relgious site.

Longshan Temple

I have already read a lot of things about Longshan Temple before I went here, but I was still surprised by the energy inside the temple complex. I can smell the strong odor of incense sticks and I can also hear the rhythmic prayers of the people. Being there is a totally different experience, as if there was a strong energy inside that place that I felt I was in the anime Zenki. It was like the female lead in Zenki was praying her chants to give the protagonist his superhuman powers. There were a lot of tourist who looked like Americans and I even saw a group of Japanese students and they were accompanied by a tour guide. I go around the place and I saw a statue of Buddha inside. I was a bit hesitant to take pictures because I thought I might offend the locals, but I was still able to capture some images through my camera even though I took them from afar.

Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Longshan Temple

The highlight of my trip was to capture images of colorful dragon statues in Longshan Temple. Long means dragon while Shan means mountain in Chinese so the English transhan of Longshan Temple should be dragon mountain temple.

Longshan Temple Longshan Temple

The dragon in the Western culture is an enemy while in the East it is like a god. The dragon is a powerful mythical creature and one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. It can fly and it can spew fire. It can also grant your wish just like in the anime Dragon Ball. I was captivated by the mysterious aura of Longshan Temple. Come and enter the dragon!

5.11 Pingjing St. cherry blossoms>

"Sakura Series: Pingjing St. Lane 42"

How to go to Pingjing St. Lane 42? From MRT Shilin Station, go to Shilin Farmers Association building where the bus stop is located. Just take either Bus 303 or Bus S19 and alight at the bus stops listed below. The cherry blossoms here usually open during the 3rd to 4th week of January.


Bus 303 → 倫仔尾 (Lún zǐ wěi stop)

Bus S19 → 福德祠 (Fú dé cí/Earth God Temple stop)

Bus 303 schedule
DayDeparture Times
Weekday6:00/6:40/7:10/7:30/8:20/9:00/9:40/10:10/10:40/12:10/
12:40/13:10/14:10/15:10/16:10/17:30/18:30/19:10/20:10/21:10/
22:00/22:40
Weekend5:30/6:30/7:40/8:40/9:40/11:10/12:10/13:10/14:40/15:40/
17:10/18:10/19:40/20:40/21:40/22:40
Bus S19 schedule
DayDeparture Times
Weekday6:00/6:30/7:20/8:20/9:20/10:20/11:40/12:40/13:20/14:20/
15:20/16:10/17:00/17:50/19:00/20:30/22:10
Weekend6:00/6:30/7:20/8:00/8:40/9:20/10:00/10:40/11:20/12:00/
12:40/13:20/14:00/15:00/16:00/17:00/18:00/19:00/20:50/22:20
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Pingjing St. Lane 42. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Pingjing St. Lane 4221.5 km46 mins6231,2309:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station18.5 km38 mins5751,141
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Fuji cherry blossoms add beauty to the homes here.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Fuji cherry blossoms are a hybrid type of the Japanese and Taiwanese variety of sakura.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Some of the sakura trees here are inside the garden of a private home.  
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Last year, I was here in Pingjing St. Lane 42 but I didn't walk to to its end and I was surprised to see more cherry blossoms.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Based on the Taipei government website for cherry blossom viewing, the status of the flowering here is 50%.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Some of the cherry blossom trees here already have leaves indicating that the "petal fall" will soon occur.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
I really love sakura trees.  Its branches shoot up to the sky like a human hand reaching to God in the heavens.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Nice picture!
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
The weather was sunny and the sky was cloudless when I arrived in Pingjing St. Lane 42. This made my photos a mixture of the blue sky and pink flowers.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
You have to come early in the morning so that sun will be looking at Pingjing St. Lane 42. This will give you good lighting for your photos.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
What a sight! Fuji sakuras form clusters on it branches.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
I raised my tripod with my camera on it to see what's on the other side of the wall.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
A close-up view of Fuji cherry blossoms. These flowers are bigger than the Taiwanese variety and the tree starts blossoming in the middle of January.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
You won't get hungry here in Pingjing St. Last year, these vendors were here.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
I do not know exactly what is the yellow vegetable but it smells like a ginger. The soup is actually good for the cold weather in Pingjing St Lane 42.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Squid balls worth NTD 40 per stick.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Don't also forget to buy oranges before you go home.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Just beside the food stall was a lot planted also with cherry blossom trees.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Sakuras and the mountains of Northern Taiwan.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
The gate of the private home at the far end of the street.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
At the corner of Pingjing St. Lane 42
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Yi...Er...San...[Flash]
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
A "secret" lane
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
I saw some visitors get out of here.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
At the end of the "secret lane" was a gate and I was surprised to more cherry blossoms. However, I could not go beyond it because it was locked. Some visitors were able to get inside and they might be friends of the owners of the private lot.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
A famous spot here in Pingjing St. Lane 42 is its white fence.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Hooray! A selfie.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Go inside this narrow street and you would find more cherry blossoms.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
The sakuras here complement the mountains.
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Taiwan cherry blossoms!
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
Can you see me?
Pingjing St. Lane 42 cherry blossoms
See you next year Pingjing St. Lane 42!

5.12 Ximending graffiti

"Gratified by the Graffiti"

Taipei’s graffiti. Bold, colorful and expressive. I have been hearing a lot of these street artworks since the first day I arrived in the city. But where are they? They are kept hidden by the number of boutiques, shops, and restaurants that fill the alleys of Ximending. There is no doubt that it's the Shibuya of Taipei! Everywhere you go, you can see and feel the magic of capitalism. It’s a world where your money can buy many things. So it seems natural that there is no place for art here to exist. Or is it?

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

In this trip, I went on a colorful journey to an unfamiliar territory where both the alluring and annoying coexist. Armed with a Google Map app on my smartphone, I wandered the streets of western Taipei to look for those amazing walls that gave new life to the boring corners of the capital.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Vandalism or art? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The graffiti of Ximending is an art for me and also for the many visitors who took their time to have pictures with the drawing on the concrete wall. Spray-painted or drawn using the hand. It doesn't matter. They are gifts from talented people who spend their time expressing their emotions on an inanimate object. So here are some of the interesting things that I saw while exploring the backstreet of the shopping district.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

“The Walls”. A giant image of a basketball star can be seen in this open space. It functions as a parking lot for scooters while its green grass gives visitors some fresh air. But beyond the lot are the buildings with large colorful paintings as high as a four-story house. Their humongous size is just perfect for some selfies. One must hurry in taking selfies the moment you see them during your visit in Taiwan. The images can change from time to time as they fade and redrawn again by a different artist.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Taipei Cinema Park. Just beside “The Walls”, is an old building with a giant chimney. An urban landscaping of an old industrial zone turned into another park. There is a covered court and a footbridge that you can walk on. Functioning as a place for leisure and a venue for promoting the cinema culture in Ximeding, there are some graffiti to enjoy at.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Bravo, the Taipei Universiade's mascot can be seen on a container van. Memories of the largest sporting event ever held in Taiwan are still fresh in the memories of the Taiwanese. Beside the container van are some exercise equipment. Build some muscles with those machines. But read the instructions before using them. Oops! The guide had been blended with the painting on the wall. Haha!

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Godzilla. Who says that monsters aren't real? Here in Ximending, the king of the beasts lives as a collection of soda cans. Pieces of thin layers of aluminum placed on top of one another to form the body of the monster while old tires were used to form its tail. Beside Godzilla is a small house painted with bright colors. On what kind of message the artist wants to convey to passersby will depend on how they see recycling as a form of art and a garbage as a unique form of diamonds.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Wuchang Street. This is the mecca of Ximending's graffiti with the “red-crowned crane” as its masterpiece. The wall of the multi-story house had been painted with a pair of these birds with their feet positioned above an exhaust vent. Walk on the street and see more beautiful nuisances. Take a look at the facade of the WOW restaurant and the alleys in front it. They are all teeming with life.

Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti Ximending graffiti

Don't be surprised when you see some models doing some pictorials in Ximending. I was lucky to see a guy dressed in a weird costume with his team of fellow models and photographers. When the man posed for the camera,it gave me the feeling that they were trying to make humans as a graffiti or the people as part of the painting on the wall. Whatever it may be, I believe my objectives in this travel adventure and their intentions are the same. Everyone who went here in Ximen to find the street art wants to do one thing. To be amazed in awe while at the same time be gratified by the graffiti.

*******

How to get here: Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Ximen Station. Go to Exit 6.  You can find most of the graffiti at

[1]Taipei Cinema Park [Google Map]

[2]The Walls [Google Map] and

[3]Wuchang Street [Google Map]

5.13 Modern Toilet

"Edible Excretions"

Modern Toilet is a theme restaurant located in Taiwan, where one can experience eating food in a toilet bowl and drinking juice in a urinal.

I've read many blogs and reviews about this restaurant and most people go to the Ximending branch which can be easily be reached by the Bannan Line of the Taipei MRT. To have guaranteed seats one has to make a reservation by phone or by posting a message in the Modern Toilet website on what day, time, branch and the number of people who will eat in the restaurant.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

It was a Friday night and it was a perfect time for a get-together and eat 'feces'.


Modern Toilet

We went to the Shilin branch since that place is less crowded. The Shilin branch is just near to the Shilin Night Market which I visited in Taiwan Day 42.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

Bath tubs covered by glass served as the tables while real toilet bowls act as chairs. The toilet bowls have different decorations on the toilet lid and my most favorite was the 'barb wires' design. There were also shower heads and faucets on the walls. I guessed that they are real and functioning. Haha! But no one dared to use them.

Modern Toilet

If you need tissue, it's not a problem! You just have to pull the tissue in a roll dispenser placed in the walls just like what we do inside a toilet.


The menu is written in Chinese and English but the English translation of the food names are not funny. Only the Chinese names are the ones fun to read with. My Taiwanese classmate explained to me the names of the desserts. He told us that the chocolate flavor is the 'diarrhea poo', the strawberry flavor is the 'bloody poo', while the kiwi flavor is the 'green poo'. There is also a mango flavor dessert which I ordered and it was the 'yellow poo'.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

I was able to finish my chicken meal which was placed in a black shining toilet bowl. I didn't eat the parts that only contains the skin of the chicken. It remained on my plate toilet bowl plate after finishing my meal. It made my mind to imagine floating 'feces'.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

Some of my friends ordered pasta which were placed in a white ceramic bathroom sink plate while another one ordered a 'hot pot' served in a green toilet bowl. I was the only one who ordered a big mango dessert and it was very tasty. It was a shaved ice mango mixed with some coconut meat with a chocolate poo ice cream on top . Others only ordered the chocolate poo ice cream.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

The interesting thing was that the desserts were placed in a toilet seat and funny things happened when the ice melted. The melted chocolate desserts looks like the 'real thing'!

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

There are other theme restaurants in Taiwan and I wish to visit them someday as part of my Taiwan Day Adventures.

Modern Toilet Modern Toilet

If you have plans of going to Taipei, Modern Toilet is a must to visit! It will give you the chance to eat and taste those 'edible excretions'.

5.14 Din Tai Fung

"Dine in at Din Tai Fung"

Taiwan's famous dumpling restaurant – Din Tai Fung. Its humble beginnings as an oil store which later evolved as a dumpling restaurant serves as an inspiration of success in the Taiwanese food business.

Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung

Visitors to the island's capital come to the Taipei 101 branch to experience eating “xiaolongbao” and watch as the workers make dumplings. The word of mouth for this restaurant keeps spreading like a virus to the different parts of the world. Recently, it opened its branch in the Philippines allowing Filipinos to have a taste of Taiwanese cuisine. I would not allow myself to lose the opportunity to dine in Din Tai Fung especially at its Taipei 101 branch. I prepared my stomach and as well as my wallet for this unforgettable first-time dinner in Din Tai Fung.

Din Tai Fung
Be prepared for the crowd!
Din Tai Fung

How to get to the Taipei 101 branch? Just board the MRT and alight at the Taipei 101 Station. Go to Exit 4 and find yourself surprised by the towering landmark of Taiwan once you get out of the underpass. You will easily notice the big restaurant of Din Tai Fung at the B1 Floor where a large crowd waits for their numbers to be called. Lunch and dinner is a prime time and average waiting time to get a seat for a group of people is 80 minutes.

Din Tai Fung
My number was 1124 and the current number being called was 1085.
Din Tai Fung
I was given this order slip while I was still on queue.
Din Tai Fung

There are actually different queueing systems for customers: 1-2 persons, 3-4 persons, 5-6 persons and more than 7 people. I went directly to the staff and told them that I was alone and they gave me immediately a ticket number. More than 100 persons were queued before me but my time wasn't wasted since the staff gave me an English order slip so that I can pick my order while waiting for my number. They even gave me a small board to help me write my order. For those that are really impatient, you can try tasting the various pineapple cake products on the souvenir store beside Din Tai Fung. Just remind yourself to eat only small amounts of the sample pineapple cakes or else you won't have any space in your stomach for the dumplings and “xiaolongbao”.

Din Tai Fung
Customers usually place their bags here.
Din Tai Fung
"How to eat xiaolongbao" manual

After 30 minutes, my number was called and a kind employee accompanied me to my table. I was asked to place my things on a white bag made up of cloth. They then covered it with large brown handkerchief when I started eating. A Taiwanese couple beside my table looked at me as I read the small cardboard explaining the step-by-step procedure how to eat “xiaolongbao”. They might have thought that I was a tourist but they just didn't know that I would be soon celebrating my 1000th day in Taiwan.

Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung
1 part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar for a tasty sauce
Din Tai Fung
chicken "xiaolongbao"

Before I forgot, “xiaolongbao” is the buns cooked in a bamboo steaming basket and it is eaten by dipping it first in a sauce made up of 1 part soy sauce and 3 parts vinegar. A waitress volunteered to make the sauce for me in a saucer with shredded ginger. My first tray of food arrived and steam came out once the bamboo cover was opened. It was the chicken “xiaolongbao” and a waiter pointed his finger to the small chicken cutout made up of ginger or cheese to indicate that it was the chicken variant.

Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung

I read the instructions again how to eat my food. After dipping the “xiaolongbao” in the sauce with the help of the chopsticks I should place it on the short spoon and punch small holes on it using the chopsticks to release its juice. I then put some shredded ginger from the saucer to add flavor. I can feel the juices of the “xialongbao” sending messages to my taste buds that it was really delicious. I repeated the process of eating the food again and again until I ate all of my five pieces of chicken “xiaolongbao”.

Din Tai Fung
My other orders had finally arrived
Din Tai Fung
steamed fish dumplings
Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung
steamed shrimp and pork dumplings
Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung
crab roe and pork xiaolongbao
Din Tai Fung
Sometimes I find it easier to enjoy my dumplings by just dipping it in the sauce with this tiny saucer plate.

My “steamed fish dumplings” arrived immediately and I enjoyed its taste like I was really eating a real fish. I was still eating my five pieces of fish dumplings when my two other orders arrived on my table. The “crab roe and pork xiaolongbao” and the “steamed shrimp and pork dumplings”. My stomach was actually getting full when I was eating the fish dumplings. I initially thought that this would be a light dinner but it wasn't at all.

Din Tai Fung
red bean xialongbao
Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung

For my dessert, I ordered another “xiaolongbao” and it was the red bean variant. Its sweet taste removed the sourness of the vinegar and the tastes of the different dumplings. The complimentary bottomless tea wouldn't be forgotten in this food trip in Din Tai Fung. Its hotness was just right for the customers.

Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung Din Tai Fung

A nice feature of the Taipei 101 branch is that visitors are given a chance to see how the dumplings and buns are made. As soon as the dumplings are ready they are placed on the bamboo basket for steaming. Those ready are stacked up until the bamboo basket creates a tower so high that it needs to be delivered to the hungry customers.

I really enjoyed my dining experience in this restaurant. The courtesy of the staff, the variety of dishes and the authentic taste of the “xiaolongbao” are the reasons that makes people go back and eat here again. It deserves a five out of five “luomujie stars”. I highly recommend to people visiting the capital to have a taste of Taiwan in Din Tai Fung.

My order:

crab roe and pork xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 175

chicken xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 100

steamed shrimp and pork dumplings: 5 pieces for NTD 120

steamed fish dumplings: 5 pieces for NTD 110

steamed red bean xialongbao: 5 pieces for NTD 80

coke light: 1 can for NTD 35

TOTAL: NTD 620


Din Tai Fung Taipei 101 Store

B1, No. 45, Shifu Rd., Taipei City (Taipei 101 Mall)

Tel: 02-8101-7799 Fax: 02-8101-7800

Opening hours: Sun to Thurs. 11:00am to 9:30pm;Friday, Sat., and the day before holiday: 11am to 10:00 pm

How to get to this place by MRT: Board MRT to Taipei 101 Station and go to Exit 4

5.15 Shilin Night Market

"Foodtrip at Shilin"

How to go to Shilin Night Market. Board the MRT Red Line and get off at Jiantan Station. At night, after crossing to other side, you will aready see vendors at the street.

Shilin Night Market was full of people! There were lots of stores selling clothes, shoes and many more. I was at first disappointed that I couldn't find many street food vendors along the street but after walking for so long I was able to reach the "true" Shilin Night Market.

I was tempted to try some fried squid and many people were falling in line to buy some of it. As a budget travellers, I find it expensive and one cup was priced NTD 100. But I gave it a try. The lady selling the food knew that I couldn't speak Chinese, because when she was talking to me I was not saying anything. She then talked to me in English, "Do you want it spicy?". I just shaked my head to say no. I was satisfied with that fried squid that I wanted to try more street food in Shilin Market.

Aside from street food there were also games that you could try to win a prize.

But the games were not easy to win. In this photo, a lady would drop a ball filled with water in this pipes and the player needs to squash them with a hammer once the water ball comes out on the other end. Timing was very important in this kind of game.

The "true" Shilin Night Market was located underground in this covered court.

Another night market game. Given a set of rings, try to throw them and have it inside the blue pillars to win a prize.

Or catch fish the Japanese style? You would be given some sort of paper fan where you used the fan to scoop the fish out of the aquarium. Of course! The paper would tear. Haha!

Throw darts at this balloons to win a prize

A marble game. You need to balance the maze and not let the ball rolled out of the track to win.


As I walked along the crowded streets, I found this covered market that has a sign "Shilin Market". I went inside and I found more shops.

At the basement of Shilin Market was the foodcourt where I tried a milk tea. It was priced NTD 30. One of best-sellers in Shilin Night Market is the oyster omelette and I ordered one. It costs NTD 50. It doesn't look appetizing in the picture but eating that food was just like eating an ordinary scrambled egg. The only difference, was that it had some leafy vegetables and oyster meat. My stomach was almost full when I finished that meal and I decided to went back home. The total cost of my foodtrip was NTD 180.

A very common sign among night markets in Taiwan. This "frog" sign actually refers to a refreshing drink.

It was a fun night experience Taipei and it always feel great to have a foodtrip at Shilin.

5.16 Raohe Night Market

"RaRaRaohe"

Is Raohe Night Market part of your itinerary? If not, then you should try to include this place. The 600 meter Raohe Street spanning from Bade Road Section 4 up to Tayou Road is full of food every night ranging from finger foods to rice meals. The price ranges from NTD 35 to a NTD 100 and it depends on you if you want to spend more and be a glutton. First timers in Taipei usually come here as an addition to their Shilin Night Market experience. Like any other expats in Taiwan, I simply call this place as “Raohe”. Its convenient location from the Songshan Station of the MRT and the TRA makes it possible to have a different kind of dinner with family and friends.

Raohe Night Market

Since the first time I arrived on this country after my homecoming in the Philippines, I had made a lot of eating adventures in the different night markets of Taiwan. Raohe is one of them. However, I haven't made any exclusive blog post for this night market. The lack of any coverage for this famous place in Taipei prompted me to write a travelogue under my “Delicious Taiwan” program. So sit back, relax and let your gastric juices flow as I take you deep inside to the culinary wonders of Raohe Night Market.

5.16.1 Pepper Pork Bun

Upon entrance to the gate of Raohe beside the Ciyou Temple, you will notice a long line of people. I bet that you will also join the queue once you come here in Raohe even if you don't have any idea on what the visitors are lining for. As I told before in my past food trips that if there is long line in a stall then the food at that store must be good and probably delicious. Here in Raohe, the pepper pork bun is the one that first catches the attention of the crowd.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
While I was in the queue for the pork pepper bun.
Raohe Night Market
Workers were busy preparing the bread
the cylindrical ovens
Raohe Night Market
A lid was opened and I saw the breads!
Raohe Night Market
It was hot near the ovens but I could see the pork pepper buns.
Raohe Night Market
How do they prepare the pork pepper buns? Grounded pork and these minced vegetables were mixed together and placed inside a dough.
Raohe Night Market
the dough
Raohe Night Market
The dough is rounded and made into circular buns and brushed on top with a transparent liquid.
Raohe Night Market
After the sesame seeds are placed on top of the bread, it will be then  put inside the oven.

Your ten minutes of waiting will not be wasted because you will have a chance to get close to the hot cylindrical ovens. Wait until a lid is removed. Peek inside and observe the dough of bread placed on the sides of the oven. It gets cooked by the heat of burning charcoal. Watch the workers as they placed grounded pork mixed together with minced leafy vegetables inside a dough. It will be soon sprinkled with sesame seeds once the top of the dough becomes sticky with a mysterious liquid that would be brushed on it. After a batch of the buns have been cooked, the newly prepared batch of dough will soon be placed inside the ovens to meet the needs of the hungry customers.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market

One order of the bread cost NTD 50. Be careful when you hold it because it would be blazing hot. When I made my first bite on the pepper bun, it tasted like an ordinary salted bread in the Philippines with a pork filling inside. But after eating all of it, I felt that my stomach became full. So one bread is enough for one person unless you're very hungry in Raohe.

5.16.2 Ham Cheese Potato

Another heavy meal in Raohe is the Ham Cheese Potato. It's actually a ham cheese potato bake or call it whatever you like. Sliced potatoes are placed on a transparent container and mixed with small pieces of ham. A thick layer of cheese is poured on top making it enticing to it. If you don't like ham, then you can choose pork, chicken and other filling depending on what's available on the menu.

Raohe Night Market

A couple (or maybe not) sells this kind of food on the right side of Raohe if you happen to enter at the Bade Road gate. It was the second time that I have seen them and it seems that nothing has changed on their food. They have a Chinese menu but the lady who acts as the cashier could speak English. She explained to me the choices and I chose the ham. Hence, the name “Ham Cheese Potato” for this food in Raohe.

Raohe Night Market
This food was covered on top with a layer of cheese...
Raohe Night Market
with tidbits of ham...
Raohe Night Market
and potatoes.

Like what I said it is a heavy meal but the real challenge in eating this food is whether you want to eat it while walking along the street or just placed it inside a plastic bag. I opted to carry it. Just imagine yourself walking in a big crowd while holding a transparent container with a thick layer of cheese on top. Then you suddenly drop your spoon. Haha! It will be better eat this NTD 60 meal while sitting on a chair.

5.16.3 Pork Rice and Pork Rib Soup

At the middle of Raohe is an area lined with tables and chairs and this is the best place to eat the Ham Cheese Potato. Just order the classic pork soup for NTD 70 and you won't have any problem while you sit on one of the tables here. Order a tiny bowl of the pork rice for NTD 25 and it would be a perfect combination together for your pork soup.

Raohe Night Market
pork rib soup
Raohe Night Market
pork rice
Raohe Night Market
It was so busy on this area.
Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
Just your hands to eat the flesh on the bones!

Don't be surprised when your cup of pork soup is brought to your table. Bones of the pork are included and you might need to use your hands to eat the flesh. I did it and and I still enjoyed my meal. If you are not comfortable to eat with your bare hands then use a tissue but I guessed it will be more difficult. There was nothing extraordinary with the bones and if you are a Filipino then you might think that the bones as something like of 'bulalo'. It was the soup that makes it different and when I was sipping it from the hot bowl I thought of the taste something like Taiwanese beef noodles.

Raohe Night Market
Burp...

The spicy taste of the pork perfectly blended with the sweet taste of the pork rice. The rice meal was not new to me and I remembered my food adventure in Beigang. I ordered a tiny bowl of duck rice and it was so delicious that I would never forget its taste. For this pork rice in Raohe, it is a must to partner it with the pork soup because these two are like husband and wife.

5.16.4 Chicken Leg Roll

Enough of the heavy meals! Let's talk about a cheap food here in Raohe. Sausages are very affordable for a price of NTD 35 but these are very common in night markets in Taiwan. I was looking for something different in Raohe until I found a man grilling a sausage-looking food. Wrapped in chicken skin were probably tiny chunks of meat. The food was prepared like a sausage and anyone passing by the food stall won't be able to resist its burning aroma.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
Choose from these set of condiments

I watched closely as the chicken skin slowly turns into a brown color. Its white spots disappeared fast at the heat cooked the meat inside. Since I don't speak Chinese, I made a V-sign to tell the vendor to give me two chicken leg rolls. Cooking the food took five to ten minutes and when it was ready I was asked whether to put some pepper on it or make it spicy. The vendor could speak English and he explained to me each of the condiments that I could choose from.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market

It was still very hot when my order was given but I managed to have my first bite on my food. Its inside was packed with chicken meat and it had a familiar taste of fried chicken only that it was shaped into a sausage. If you are impatient to wait for the long queue in the pork pepper bun then try this chicken leg roll. You would have something to eat while searching for another food in the night market.

5.16.5 The “egg cells”

I don't know what to call this food so I just described it as the “egg cells”. You would see this dessert on both sides of Raohe and it was easy spot to spot them. Sometimes you would see them smoking like it was taken out from the freezer. They look so appetizing so I gave it a try. For a price of NTD 50, I was given a tray of these soft and chewy glutinous delicacy. The taste was just right to remove the saltiness of the chicken leg roll. The cells come in different colored spheres on its inside and it was covered with a translucent layer.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market

The translucent layer of the “egg cells” was a mystery to me. While other customers were busy making buying their orders, I had the chance to observe how the “egg cells” were made. A viscous white liquid was scooped and put into a tray like marbles. I wasn't able to know if beneath the white liquid was glutinous rice or something made of taro but I was very sure that the colored balls were covered with the mysterious white layer until it hardens.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market

The cells were somewhat sticky and a toothpick made it easier to eat this type of food in Raohe. But once you made your first bite, you would definitely crave for more. It was not so sweet and one order was enough to be shared to other people. There was nothing spectacular about the colored spheres because they tasted like ordinary taro balls in Jiufen.

5.16.6 Mango-Kiwi-Strawberry Shaved Ice

Last but not the least was my mango-kiwi-strawberry shaved ice. There are many stalls in Raohe selling this kind of food and you just have to look around until you see one. From those with red beans to only a single type of sliced fruit, Raohe will always have a wide selection of this dessert. I already ate inside a big dessert shop a long time ago and I wanted try something new.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
The menu and the one on the lower right corner is my order.

I was able to find one stall in the middle of Raohe where a sliced fruits can be easily seen. It was so tempting to eat that I immediately looked for the menu. A woman approached me and explained to me in English the desserts that they offer. The ice can be ordinary frozen water which was described by the vendor as “water ice” or if you want something fancy then try the “milk ice”.

Raohe Night Market
the ice crusher
Raohe Night Market
the ingredients
Raohe Night Market
putting slices of mangoes on the shaved ice

Slices of either mango, kiwi or strawberry can be added on the ice as a single type of fruit only or a mix of two or all of the flavors. I chose the three-flavored shaved ice where all the fruits were placed on my “water ice”. After each fruit was placed above the ice, thick syrup was added making my food richer in taste. At the end of the preparation, condensed milk was poured in a zigzag motion. If this wasn't enough to make it tastier, gelatin was then added to my order until my NTD 120 shaved iced dessert was placed on my table.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
when the ice melted
Raohe Night Market
Uhm...
Raohe Night Market
Still colorful!

Its arrangement was so colorful that I was thinking not eat it at all. The green color of the kiwi, the redness of the strawberry and the shades of yellow from the slices of mango were a perfect combination. Mixing it caused the ice melt but its liquid form made the dessert more delightful to eat. I wonder if it would taste better if I had chosen the “milk ice”.

Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market Raohe Night Market
Okonomiyaki looks like scrambled eggs.

And this ends my night market adventure in Raohe. There were still interesting food to eat like the okonomiyaki which costs NTD 60. Unfortunately, my stomach was already full although I still have some money to spend on it. Maybe next time, I will come back again and make my blog roar with another RaRaRaohe.


My orders:

1. ham cheese potato: NTD 60

2. pork pepper bun: NTD 50

3. egg cells: NTD 50

4. pork rice: NTD 25

5. pork rib soup: NTD 70

6. chicken leg roll: NTD 35 x 2

7. mango-kiwi-strawberry shaved ice: NTD 120

Total: NTD 445


Overall eating experience: 4 out of 5 “luomujie” stars

a walk in Raohe Night Market (饒河夜市)
Raohe Night Market
Bade Road Section 4 with Ciyou Temple

Address: Raohe St, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

How to get here:

By MRT: Board the MRT Green Line to Songshan Station. Go to Exit 5 and cross the Bade Road Section 4 to reach the night market.

By TRA: Board any TRA local train going to Songshan Station in the Taipei Line. Walk towards the Bade Bade Road Section 4. The entrance of Raohe Night Market is beside the Ciyou Temple.

By bus: Board Bus 203,205,276,306,605,668,678,711,1032,1191,2021 or 9069. Alight at Songshan Rail Station (Bade) and cross Section 4 Bade Road towards Ciyou Temple.

5.17 Yongkang Street

The food heaven can be accessed by Exit 5 of the Dongmen Station the MRT Orange Line. You definitely shoud not miss Yongkang Street Commercial District on your itinerary. If you're not keen on the street food in Yongkang, you can check the original Din Tai Fung restuarant. The original chefs, original store, and the orignal recipes are here. Yongkang also has shave ice dessert shops and authentic Taiwanese beef noodles that you will love.

Yongkang Street Yongkang Street
The view upon getting out of Dongmen Station Exit 5
Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street
scallion pancake
Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street

5.17.1 Smoothie House mango shaved ice dessert at Yongkang Street

Smoothie House is a popular restaurant in Yongkang. It so well-known, there were lots of Taiwanese trying to order their favorite fruit dessert. I chose the Super Fruits Mix Mango Snowflake Ice with Sorbet. It's a very long name but you can just say the number when you order.

Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street Yongkang Street

As I waited for my food, I noticed the customers sitting beside me. Their strawberry flavor shaved ice was sparkling with its pinkish color, and I even thought of grabbing their spoon and scoop one into my mouth. Haha! After waiting patiently, I got my dessert and in just one scoop a supernova explosion happened in my mouth.

The offerings of Smoothie House are worth your money. The only problem here is the waiting time when you visit the restaurant during its peak time.

5.17.2 Yongkang Dāoxiāomiàn (永康刀削麵) Beef Noodles

The luomujie blog Delicious Taiwan subprogram now presents “The Best Tasting Beef Noodles”. This is the search for the yummiest and tastiest beef noodles in Taiwan. Do you want to know where to find them? Let's start with Yongkang Street in Taipei.

Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles

The birthplace of the famous Din Tai Fung Restaurant is also the home of the well-known noodle houses in the city. Establishments here usually opens at 11:00 am so plan your trip well if you want to visit Yongkang Street. How to get to this food mecca? Board the Taipei MRT and alight at Dongmen Station. Go to Exit 5 and find yourself surprised with a variety of restaurants to choose from.

Yongkang beef noodles
Taste Buddy Teklu

Travel Buddy Teklu joined me in this food trip. I usually refer to my friends who joined my trips as a “Travel Buddy” but for a change let's call all those who will join my Delicious Taiwan adventure as a “Taste Buddy”. So Teklu, I congratulate you for being the first ever Taste Buddy. Haha! Together with Teklu and my future Taste Buddies, we will give our honest opinion about the food that we are going to eat and if they are worth to try.

Yongkang beef noodles
Yǒngkāng Dāoxiāomiàn (永康刀削麵) restaurant
Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles
Taste Buddy Teklu ordered a small bowl of the tomato beef noodle soup while I requested for a big bowl of the beef noodle soup.

Our first victim..Oops! I mean the first restaurant that we checked was Yǒngkāng Dāoxiāomiàn (永康刀削麵) Restaurant. The waitresses here have difficulty speaking English but the giant photos posted on the walls helped us a lot in deciding what to order. My Taste Buddy was looking for a hot bowl of beef noodles with some intestines on it. However, this restaurant could not give what my friend wanted but we opted to stay and decided to order.

Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles Yongkang beef noodles

Of course, we requested for the beef noodles! Teklu was served a small bowl while I received a big one. I was expecting the same kind of taste from ready to eat noodles from convenient stores but their beef noodles here were very good. It was very tasty! The soup was so perfect and I really enjoyed it a lot. The meat was properly cooked and the noodles were more than enough to fill my stomach.

Yongkang beef noodles
Haha!

There was just one problem. My Taste Buddy counted the number of beef slices in his 'small' order of noodles. One...two...three... There were only 3 pieces and he got very disappointed. I did not count mine but they mere many when I started eating. So it's better to order a big bowl because the difference is only NTD 40. My large bowl of beef noodles was priced at NTD 200 while Teklu's small order was NTD 160. But do not underestimate the servings here because your stomach can easily get bloated. If you're planning to eat in this place then it's better to come here very hungry to eat especially if you want to order a large bowl.

*********

Yǒngkāng Dāoxiāomiàn (永康刀削麵) Restaurant

Address: No. 5, Lane 10, Yongkang Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

Opens at 11:00 am

Nearest MRT Station: Dongmen Station

Price: NTD 160 (small bowl), NTD 200 (big bowl)

rating: 5 out of 5 “luomujie” stars

Brrp!

6. SHOPPING IN TAIPEI: Ximending and Wufenpu

"Confessions of a Shopaholic"

“Look at him! He bought so many [shoes]”. A Filipino was looking at me as I carry a large translucent green bag containing six pairs of casual shoes. Buy 3 pairs of shoes for only NTD 500! Who would not accept the offer? The middle-aged Taiwanese man selling the shoes might not return along the streets of Zhongshan North Road, so I grabbed the opportunity to buy a lot. It seems crazy for a person to carry six pairs of shoes along the streets of Taipei, but if shopping is a crime then I'm guilty of it. I will get caught by a Taipei police and confess that I'm a shopaholic.

the SM Ecobag

It was great that I brought along my SM Ecobag for this shopping adventure. I felt that the plastic bag that I'm holding might burst while roaming around the shopping districts of Taipei, so I transferred my shoes to the SM Ecobag. The last time I used this shopping bag was in Taiwan Day 7 (Carrefour and Laundry Day) and I never thought that I will be able to use it again. I just didn't expect that six pairs of shoes would be too heavy. I put the SM Ecobag's straps on my shoulder and then I went to Ximending Commercial District. My newly cut Uniqlo pants were waiting for me there.

shops in Ximending Shopping District
Modern Toilet in Ximending

I boarded the MRT Red Liine at Minquan West Road Station, and I transferred to Taipei Main Station to get to the Ximen Station of the Blue Line. Ximending Commercial District is one of the top destinations to visit in Taipei. It has a number of shops, restaurants and recreational facilities to enjoy. I usually went here to check if there are clothes that are on sale. There are a number of branches of Uniqlo in Taipei, but the Uniqlo Ximending branch has the most bargains and discounted items as compared to other branches in Taipei.

I also went inside the Shinkong Mitsukoshi mall near Taipei Main Station.  The items inside were very expensive.

As the winter season approaches in Taiwanm, thick clothes are usually the hot items in Uniqlo Ximending. Luckily, slim fit jeans were at a sale for only NTD 590. I bought three and have them cut at the ends which cost an additional NTD 100 for each pair of pants. The cashier placed the items on one white Uniqlo paper bag. As soon as I stepped out of the store I transferred the items inside my backpack and just folded the Uniqlo paper bag. I'm starting to look like a weirdo carrying a heavy SM Ecobag on my shoulders, a Uniqlo paper bag on my right hand, a tripod on my left hand, a digital camera hanging on my neck and a bag on my back.

I boarded the MRT again at Ximen then transferred at Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall Station. I was going to Xinyi Shopping District, when I noticed that a lot of Taiwanese were looking at me. My SM Ecobag already got a hole and one shoe was on its way out. I just laughed at the situation and sat on one bench at the MRT Station. I transferred my shoes at the original green translucent plastic bag and folded the ripped SM Ecobag.

Welcome to Taipei 101 Shopping Mall!
The 'When the Moon Forgut Bus' is just beside Taipei 101. Just cross the street

Shopping in Taiwan is not just about buying stuff. It's also a form of a travel adventure. The towering Taipei 101 might get your attention and lure you to enter its Taipei 101 Shopping Mall but just in Xinyi Section 5 Rd. is a bus that takes passengers but doesn't move. Enter the When the Moon Forgot bus (aka Jimmy bus) and it will take you to the world of one of Jimmy Liao's storybooks. Pay the bus fare with your imagination and enjoy the ride by taking pictures.

The Totoro store can be found at the B1 floor of ATT4FUN Mall in Xinyi Shopping District.

Fans of Totoro will be happy about the Donguri Republic at the basement of ATT4FUN mall which is also within the Xinyi Shopping District. Princess Mononoke, Chihiro and the rest of the Studio Ghibli gang will be there in the form of different products. Take a look at the sleeping Totoro. Press a red button and observed as he inhale and exhale air out of his lungs. His stomach enlarges and deflates while he sleeps. A large orange Catbus is also there with store visitors having fun taking photos. I wish Totoro lives near my home in Taipei! I will tell my friends in the Philippines about 'My Neighbor Totoro'.

Wufenpu Commercial Area
shirts for NTD 200 each
printed shirts for NTD 150 each
I got my sweaters in this store for NTD 250 each.

My shopping didn't end at Xinyi. I boarded the MRT at Taipei City Hall Station and alighted at Houshanpi Station. A 5-minute walk led me to the famous garment district of Wufenpu. Lots of stores were selling women's clothes, but you can always find shops selling men's clothes. You just have to patient in looking for one. I bought 4 shirts worth NTD 200 each. Another store sells cheap printed shirts for NTD 150 each and I bought two. Winter is coming and I have found a shop selling sweaters for NTD 250 each. I bought four sweaters and I was also given an additional sweater for free. More shopping bags were added to my 'hand-carry' after I visited Wufenpu Commercial Area.

It was already 11:00 pm when I reached my home in Nangang. My legs were very tired walking and my arms have no more strength to lift something. I've never experienced this insane shopping when I was in the Philippines. I can only do window shopping during college and I was even mocked for wearing the same shoe when I was already working. My life has truly improved in Taiwan and I thanked God for everything. There will be more shopping in the future. Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing… I'm revealing these statements to all of my readers, for these are the confessions of a shopaholic.

7. YANGMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK

Yangmingshan National Park. Northern Taiwan's only national park. Also known as Taipei's backyard. It's a great place for hiking and relaxation. For cherry blossom viewing in Taipei, Yangmingshan Park is a popular spot. Aside from sakura, the Zhuzihu area is also famous for its calla lily and hydrangea flowers. The Qingtiang Grassland is great for non-hikers while the Qixingshan Hiking Trail is for thrill seekers. If you five at least five days in Taipei, you should put Yangmingshan in your itinerary.

Yangminghsan Public Transportation Cheat Sheet
DestinationBus numberNotes
Flower ClockBus 129 and S9 from MRT Beitou (Red Line)-
Bus 260 from Taipei Main StationDuring weekends, visitors will have to make a make from the Yangmingshan bus stop to the Flower Clock/Yangming Park. To avoid the walk uphill, a better option is to transfer to Bus 109 and get off at the Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters. The trail and markers will lead you to the Flower Clock.
MRT Shilin (Red Line) and MRT Jiantan Station (Red Line): Bus 260 (Flower Clock)
or Bus R5, 111, 109, 260 (going to Yangmingshan stop only)
get off at Yangmingshan stop/terminal then transfer to Bus 131, 125, 128, 129, S8, S9 or 260 (Flower Clock)
ZhuzihuMRT Shipai Station (Red Line): Bus S8 and 128-
MRT Beitou Station (Red Line): Bus S9 and 129
from Yangming Park (where the Flower Clock is): the same Bus S8, S9, 128 and 129 plus Bus 131
from Yangmingshan stop (bus stop is a typical waiting shed, not the bus terminal where you can board the Bus 260 (Flower Clock).
Same bus numbers for Yangming Park
Lengshuikeng and QingtiangangBus 108 from Yangmingshan stop/terminalThis can be a mini-bus or a low-floor bus. There are actually two kinds of Bus 108 based on the route.

The first one only goes up to Erziping, the other one makes a full trip passing through Xiaoyoukeng, Qingtiangang and Lengshuikeng and then goes back to Yangmingshan stop/terminal.

Before taking a seat on Bus 108, show the driver, the Chinese characters of Lengshuikeng and Qingtiangang to let him know that you want to go to these places. If the driver says yes, then board the bus. If not, wait for the next Bus 108 and then ask again.

7.1 Qingtiangang Grassland

"Greener Pastures"

Qingtiangang (擎天崗) is a lava terrace formed by the eruption of Mt. Zhugao. The lava that oozed out from the volcano is now the green grass fields of Qingtiangang. It is also called 'Valley of the Sun' and located in Yangmingshan National Park, the only National Park in Northern Taiwan.

How to go to Qingiangang Grassland: Board Bus 260 from Taipei Main Station or Bus R5 from MRT Jiantan Station. Transfer to Bus 108 at Yangmingshan terminal stop. Get off the vehicle at Qingtiangang stop.

Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland
Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland

Bus 108 runs on a circular route around Yangmingshan National Park. Sometimes, visitors will have to board Bus 108 twice. Depending on the schedule, the trip can be cut at Erzping. Tourists will have to wait for a second Bus 108 to arrive, which will eventually pass by Qingtang. If you can't wait for Bus 108, you can pay a visit at the Erziping Visitor Center and ask for Chinese and English map of Yangmingshan National Park.

Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland

I went together with House Guest #5 aka Travel Buddy Mario for this leisurely stroll in Qingtiangang. He went to Taiwan for a short vacation and see the best places that the island has to offer. So I brought him here and I was very confident that he will like the place.

Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland

Walking here was like going going inside the world of the Windows XP wall paper. A mountainous terrain covered by green grass. I took a lot of photos and I got some pictures of the wild cattle here. The ruminants did what they need to do. They just and eat grass, and excrete dung randomly in the entire grassland, giving Qingtiangang the typical farm smell.

Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland Qingtiangang Grassland

I highly recommend going here during spring and autumn. The weather in summer is too hot and you won't enjoy getting your skin burned under the scorching heat of the sun. In winter, Qingtianngang Grassland becomes covered with a mysterious mist. Still a wonder place to visit when Taipei becomes cold and rainy. Whatever the season will be, it is alwasy fun to go to places with greener pastures.

Qingtiangang Grassland

7.2 Erziping

Another nice place to visit in Yangmingshan is Erziping. The hiking trails are suitable for kids and the elderly. At the end of the pathway is a pondm with hills covered in lush greenery as a backdrop. Lovers, friends and family spend their time here. Chatting together while enjoying good food place on a picnic mat.

How to go to Erziping: Board Bus 108 from the Yangminshan terminal stop. Get off the bus at Erziping and start your leisurely walk to the Erziping scenic area.

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Erziping. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Erziping29.3 kms1 hr 5 mins9451,7219:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station26.2 kms58 mins 8181,530
Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping Erziping

7.3 Zhuzihu Hydrangea

"Hydrangea Mania"

Yangmingshan blossoms again for another flower festival! As the sun continues to scorch Taiwan, colorful puffy heads have already appeared on selected farms in the national park. Get to know the “hydrangeas”, our flower of the month for this episode of the “My Beloved Taipei” Travel Series. Described by the English-speaking world as the aqua barrels for its love for water. Their ability to quickly absorb water is not what people drive them crazy. It's their round-shaped appearance. Locals have been visiting Zhuzihu just to see these flowers and I went there to know more about the frenzy.


Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

Calla lily out, hydrangea in. After the calla lily is done with its reign in April, the weather in May makes it suitable to grow the hydrangeas. But unlike the white lilies of Zhuzihu which dominates the scenic area, our featured blossom is mostly found in the hidden corners of the high-altitude valley. Each floral garden is unique in terms of the varieties of the flowers that can be seen as well as the scenery that can be enjoyed. For this travel adventure, I selected two which I find to be the most interesting.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

My first stop. The Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園). Tickets cost NTD 100 for each person. It is a private garden where the entrance ticket can be used as a voucher in the restaurant. The hydrangeas are planted in the terraces which makes it good for taking selfies. Go to the higher levels to see the entirety of the floral paradise. Flowers of different colors can be seen and are mixed making the place pleasing to the eyes.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

Just be careful while walking along the narrow pathway of each terrace level, as some of the tiers were a bit high that careless visitors can easily fall on the bed of flowers below. As the hydrangeas need lots of water, some areas of the garden are wet areas so tourists must check first if they are going to step on mud with a murky liquid.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

But beyond the danger of injuring one's self or getting your shoes dirty. The Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm is a perfect place to take photos of the hydrangea. Go to the lowest level and watch as the sun's rays illuminate the entire place. You would see people walking back and forth busy capturing their precious moments.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

And after enjoying the flowers, why not enter the restaurant and use your ticket? Since it was too hot during my visit, I ordered an iced coffee without sugar to cool myself. The taste wasn't that great but just enough relieve me from the heat of the hot sun. I walked back to the bus stop while sipping my coffee. In a few minutes, I reached the main road. If you are in a hurry to see the hydrangeas, then this farm is a good place to start with since it is only a short walk from the Zhuzihu bus stop.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea
The "Top Lake" offer views of the Xiaoyoukeng sulfur vent
Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea
Dàgōngyuán (大賞園) Farm
Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea
The entrance of the Dàgōngyuán (大賞園) Farm

The second farm that I visited is far-away from the Zhuzihu that people used to know. It's the Dàgōngyuán (大賞園)Farm and it is located in a place called the “Top Lake”. The whole Zhuzihu scenic area is a former inland body of water that had dried up a long time ago and is now the fertile plain that is planted with various plant species.   It has a northern region which is concealed by a mountain. This is the “Top Lake” and it's the most romantic place to see the calla lilies during their full bloom. Couples should go here if they want to have their prenuptial photos taken in Taiwan during April.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

Entrance to the farm costs NTD 100. They have the same blue and violet hydrangeas but their white variety is the most eye-catching. Gazing at Xiayoukeng, the white hydrangeas look like snowballs that glisten under the sun. Taking photos was a bit difficult as visitors are not allowed to go in the middle of the plantation. Strings were tied around the tall bushes of the white hydrangeas preventing people from getting inside. There were warnings of snakes and that might be the reason.

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

Comparing the two private gardens that I have visited, I find the Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm a more suitable place to enjoy the hydrangeas. Its multi-tier landscape allows visitors to see lots of flowers from above without the need of any drone. Here in Dàgōngyuán Farm, the white hydrangeas plus the view of Xiaoyoukeng is what drives visitors to come here. Imagine a sulfur vent emitting toxic gases as a background of blooming flowers. Anyway, I love both places. It was just too hot to wander in Yangmingshan on a sunny weather. Haha!

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

A little trivia. The “flowers” of the hydrangea are actually the sepals or the specialized leaves of the plant. The real flowers are small to be recognized that people mistook the ball of sepals as the entire “flower”. Acidic, basic or neutral? The hydrangea is like a natural pH indicator of the soil on which it grows. The flower is blue if the soil is acidic and it is red when it is basic. Don't let yourself get confused with what you learned in your high school chemistry, that a change of color in a pH paper from blue to red is acidic. The reverse is true for the hydrangea flowers. Farmers use this knowledge to create a variety of colors by adding chemicals like aluminum sulfate or hydroxide salts in the soil to control its acidity. Do you want a pink hydrangea? Make the soil basic. Do you want a blue one? Make the soil acidic. It's all about chemistry!

Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

If you plan to visit during the weekends, then expect a lot of people in Zhuzihu.  You might also be surprised to see hordes of tourists on a busy working day.  News in Taiwan about the hottest seasonal attractions spread like wildfire and locals are quick to join the bandwagon.  I think no one in Taipei wants to be left behind.  Do you? So grab your camera now and go to Yangmingshan.  Surround yourself with a sea of flowers and feel this mania for hydrangea.


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Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園)


address: 112, Taipei City, Beitou District, 竹子湖路33-7號 [Google Map]


nearest bus stop: Zhúzihú (竹子湖) [Google Map]


Tickets: NTD 100


Dàgōngyuán (大賞園)


address: 112, Taipei City, Beitou District, 竹子湖路67-7號 [Google Map]


nearest bus stop: Fengjiakou (風架口), tell the driver to drop you off at this stop [Google Map]


Tickets: NTD 100


Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園) and Dàgōngyuán (大賞園).

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Terraced Flowers Ecological Farm (大梯田花卉生態農園)25.9 km54 mins7681,4499:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station22.8 km47 mins6511,272
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen StationDàgōngyuán (大賞園)24.8 km52 mins7251,3848:00 am to 8:30 am
Taipei Main Station21.7 km44 mins6161,218
Yangmingshan Zhuzihu hydrangea

How to get to Zhúzihú or Fengjiakou


[1] MRT Shipai Station (Red Line)  -> Bus S8 (everyday)


[2] MRT Beitou Station (Red Line) -> Bus S9 (everyday) or 129 (weekend/holidays)

7.4 Calla Lily Festival

"Spring in Zhuzihu"

Visitors to Taipei have more reasons to explore Yangmingshan during the month of April. Rain or shine! People will always come to Zhuzihu to pick those white flowers and experience spring beyond the usual cherry blossoms. Just go on the right time when the sun was up, so that the fields will be less muddy. Remember that when it rains, the calla lily farms became an instant quick sand. Oh well! People wont' care.

The Calla Lily Festival usually happens between March and April and visitors are given the chance the pick several flowers and be taken home. I still remember what I did before to pick those calla lilies. I twisted the root portion of the stem before pulling it out of the soil. It was really fun when you do it on a sunny spring day!


For first timers, you might be surprised to see the fields were filled with water, although some would come with their rubber boots. You will admire them for being prepared for this event event. Haha!


The flower fields are very beautiful when you see it on pictures from the internet and on postcards. But manage your expectations. If you come here late, when the flower season is about to end. You might only see leaves with a few remaining petals as the tiny white spots on your photos. Don't worry because those places are the flower picking area. For tourists who want to be surrounded by a sea of whiteness, there is a private farm that suits your need even up to the last week of May.

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Miau Ban Garden Restaurant. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Miau Ban Garden Restaurant25 km53 mins7381,4049:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station22 km45 mins6221,229

The Taipei City government promotes the calla festival with photos of abundant white calla lilies on the fields in Zhuzihu and I searched the place for that magic spot. I walked along Zhuzihu Road until I saw a farm dotted with whiteness. I entered the gate of the farm until a woman blocked my way and stopped me from going inside. I entered Miau-Ban Calla Lily Garden (苗榜海芋園) and it was a private farm. I paid the entrance fee of NTD 150 and she then gave me a laminated card of the farm with some Chinese instructions at the back, as a proof of my payment which I need to present upon getting out of the garden. Picking flowers was not allowed in the farm and you can just buy the pre-harvested calla lilies from them. Miau-Ban Calla Lily Garden is also a restaurant where you can order Taiwanese food.

The good side of visiting a private garden was the great number of calla lilies that you can see inside. There were less people too! It was a perfect place to take great photos of a calla lily farm. After I left the private farm, I got hungry and a man selling steamed buns solved my problem. We really don't each understand each other since he talked to me in Chinese and I answered him in English but I was able to made him understand that I want the totoro-looking buns.

Another interesting place to visit in Zhuzihu was the Zhuzihu Black Forest (竹子湖黑森林). Fir trees stand tall at this spot in the Yangmingshan with a big art installation composed of large pebbles creating a giant heart shape in the grounds of the forest. The place had been visited by Korean actress Ha Ji-Won during her recent trip in Taipei making it more popular nowadays. Bus 128, 129 and 131 makes a stop at 頂湖 (Dinghu) and you just need to make a short hike up in road until you see the big heart in the woods. Bus S8 and S9 also makes a stop here during the Calla Lily Festival.


How to go to Zhuzihu? It's the same bus routes for my Sakura Series in Yangmingshan. Actually, I boarded Bus 128 from MRT Shipai Station since that bus normally goes to Zhuzihu directly but it made it made a final stop at the Yangmingshan Flower Clock and I transferred to another bus going to Zhuzihu. Traffic has been controlled in Yangmingshan to create an orderly celebration during the time of spring.

Zhuzihu Black Forest (竹子湖黑森林)
Calla Lily Festival

It's still cold here in Taipei during April but everybody knows that winter is slowly losing its grip. The showa and yoshino cherry blossoms have already appeared while the calla lily flowers are now ready for harvest. Take a peek at the sky in the Zhuzihu Black Forest, and the tall fir trees would say 'hi'. Don't just sit there and read this post. Come to Taipei and experience the spring in Zhuzihu.

7.5 Mt. Qixing (七星山) hiking - Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑) - Qixingshan - Lengshuikeng (冷水坑) - Qingtiangang (擎天崗)

"Hiking in the Stars"

If the weather is good, why not hike the mountains of the city? Taipei’s Yangmingshan National Park is just around the corner and accessible by public transportation. Its green mountains shine like emeralds in summer. Who could ever resist this hiking adventure like no other?

Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
Me, my Travel Buddies and the giant fumarole in Xiaoyoukeng

Brave interns joined me in hiking Northern Taiwan’s highest mountain. It is Mt. Qixing and literally means Seven Star Mountain. French interns Clara and Anissa joined the trip together with Jason (Indonesian) and Yoshi (Thai). There were also Filipinos in the adventure and they were Kristine, Bryan and Jonalyn. It is the biggest travel army I had since Taiwan Day 393 (Why does the wind blow?).


Many got hooked with my reality show videos and a lot wants to know how to go there. It’s just plain and simple. Just board Bus 260 from Taipei Main Station and from Yangmingshan Bus Stop take Bus 108 which will take you to Erziping Recreation Area. A little knowledge of Chinese will help if you still need to take another ride of Bus 108 to Xiaoyoukeng which is the start of the Qixingshan Hiking Trail. You can ask for free copies of English and Chinese maps of Yangmingshan at the Erziping Visitor Center and the people there will help you a lot.


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Fuming and with a hissing sound, the giant fumaroles of Xiaoyoukeng enchants the visitors of the Yangmingshan National Park. Fumaroles are openings in the earth’s crust where volcanic gases such as sulfur are emitted. Mt. Qixing is classified as a dormant volcano and that adds to the thrill of climbing this mountain. Will it explode while there are hikers around? Who knows? We might see a rebirth of a volcano!

Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
We entered the Mt. Qixing trail at Xiaoyoukeng
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We saw smaller fumaroles along the sides of the trail while the sun roasted me and my friends. With a height of 1120 meters above sea level, it will take 4 hours to finish the whole hike. Wooden balconies serve as rest stations for the hikers. The description of Yangmingshan being Taipei’s backyard was true! We saw Taipei City from the observation stations and we had fun taking pictures and videos.

Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
At the peak of Mt. Qixing

We successfully reached the summit and our photo sessions continued. Strong winds blew upon us like a mother comforting her tired children. A wooden markers stands on the top of the rocks in the summit indicating the elevation we have attained. We have just walked 1.6 kilometers from Xiaoyoukeng and we have reached 1120 meters above sea level. Whoah! But hiking Mt. Qixing is just a piece of cake for professional climbers. Try climbing Mt. Yushan. It is 3,952 meters above sea level and also the highest mountain in East Asia.

Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
We exited the trail at Lengshuikeng
Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
Milk(Niunai) Lake
Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
Jingshan Suspension Bridge
Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail

We descended the Seven Star Mountain by taking the trail going to Lengshuikeng where the Milk Lake and the Jingshan Suspension is located. Another 45-minute to 1 hour hike and we reached the green grasslands of Qingtiangang. New Zealand or whatever name you give it, it’s a very beautiful scenic area. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any cows grazing along the main pathway. It might be too hot that the cows are hiding in shaded areas.

Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail
Qingtiangang grassland
Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail Yangmingshan Qixingshan Trail

Xiaoyoukeng, Qixingshan, Lengshuikeng and Qingtiangang. The stars have fall down in Taipei as Qixingshan. What will you do on a hot a summer day? Let’s go to Yangmingshan and do hiking in the stars.

BEITOU

Beitou. Taipei's hot spring town is an interesting place to visit every winter and whenever it gets cold in Taipei every autumn and spring. Old Japanese buildings have been preserved and now act as museums displaying the rich onsen culture of Taiwan. Why not pay a visit to the Beitou Hot Spring Museum which is just a short walk from the MRT Xinbeitou Station. Thermal Valley should not be left out in your itinerary as well as dining at Man Lai Ramen restaurant.

Don't get confused with the Beitou Museum with the Beitou Hot Spring Museum. These are two separate buildings and offer a different set of collections. Before you leave Beitou, dip your body in a tub with steaming hot spring water at one of the hot spring hotels in the area. There are a variety of hot spring hotels to choose from and I featured the Atami Hotel on this TAIPEI SUPER GUIDE.

8.1 Beitou Hot Spring Museum - Beitou Stream - Beitou Thermal Valley

"A Warm Welcome To Winter"

Whenever it's winter time in Taiwan and as the temperature drops, people are looking for places to warm themselves and have fun. Beitou is the best place to go when its getting cold in the city. The northernmost district of Taipei is located along the Datun Mountains and it boasts a number of hot spring hotels that will definitely give warmth to your winter.

Beitou
Beitou Hot Spring Museum
Beitou Beitou

I have a Travel Buddy but he doesn’t want his photos posted in the blog. Let’s just call him Travel Buddy ‘X’. We boarded the MRT Red Line from Taipei Main Station and we alighted at the Beitou Station. We then transferred to another MRT train that took us to Xinbeitou Station where the hot spring town is located. The Xinbeitou line is a small branch line of the Taipei Metro System.

Taking a bath is a normal thing that people do everyday. But here in Beitou, taking a bath is something special. It is not just for hygienic purposes but also as a way to socialize with other people. The Japanese introduced this bath culture to Taiwan when they annexed the island as part of their empire. The original inhabitants of Taiwan just ignore the hot springs and they thought that the fuming hot springs were poisonous. They even regard Beitou as the ‘Valley of the Witches’.

Beitou

The Japanese developed the place and a lot of hot springs sprouted near the Beitou Stream where the greenish warm water comes from the Thermal Valley or Hell Valley. I went down the stream and dipped my feet into the water. The water was warm! There are some things that I can do in Taipei that I can’t do in Manila, and this is one I will never forget. The water is rich in sulfates and I can even smell the pungent order of sulfur gas coming out of the districts sewage canals. Just imagine a canal along a road steaming with white sulfur gas!

Beitou Beitou Beitou Beitou Beitou Beitou Beitou Beitou
Hokutulite
Beitou Beitou

Along the Beitou stream was a Victorian style building. It was the Beitou Hot Spring Museum and it was formerly known as the Beitou Public Bath. It was a second generation public bath built by the Japanese. The building was adorned with stained-glass windows which makes the place more beautiful. We went inside and we were instructed to leave our shoes just like what people do in the old days of Beitou. We were given slippers and we toured around the place. Japanese mats called “tatami” were in the second floor while the radioactive mineral called ‘Hokutolite’ was displayed in the first floor as well as East Asia’s largest public bath.

Beitou
Thermal Valley aka Hell Valley

It was said that only men can use the large public bath while women can only use the smaller pools. Women can’t even go to the beautiful building without their spouse! It was a patriarchal society during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. Travel Buddy ‘X’ and I followed the source of the water of the Beitou Stream until we found ourselves in a hot and steamy place. It was the Hell Valley. I was reserving this place for Taiwan Day 666: Drag Me to Hell but it will be best to feature this place in my “Decembest” series. The hot spring is mixed with volcanic gasses and some spots can reach a temperature of up to 98 degrees Celsius. Once you fall here, it will definitely drag you to hell!

Beitou Beitou Beitou

Taipei’s Beitou district still has a lot to offer and this adventure was just a teaser about the place. Soon, I will try the hot spring hotels and the public hot spring areas. I can’t wait for that to happen!

Beitou

When you come to Taiwan, put Beitou in your itinerary next to Taipei 101. A warm welcome awaits you in Taipei’s hot spring town whether it’s winter or not.

8.2 Beitou hot spring hotel

"Atami Onsen"

Looking for an onsen in Taipei? Atami Hotel has a spring bath for you. It's so affordable that budget travellers must take it. For only a price of NTD 700, you get to dip your body in a private tub. Relax under the aroma of water coming from the sulphuric spring of Yangmingshan. It's the best way to enjoy Taiwan's winter season.

Aside from private hot spring resorts, there are also outdoor public baths for you to enjoy. Prices vary depending on the kind of service that you like. The cheapest one can be found behind the Beitou Hot Spring Museum. Some travellers prefer to spend their time at an outdoor resort. It's a public bath and you might need to wear a shower cap. If you're interested, you can get your tickets through the klook platform.

How to go the hot spring hotels in Beitou: Just board the MRT Red line to Beitou Station and then transfer to the Xinbeitou branch line (I call this as the Pink Line). While you wait for the train, art installations at the platform already give you an idea of what to expect in Xinbeitou. A hot spring bath!

Tall hotel buildings will welcome you at Xinbeitou. Most of this are hot spring resorts and you can inquire at their lobby about their rates.

MRT Beitou Station MRT Beitou Station MRT Beitou Station Beitou Thermal Valley

A hot spring trip Beitou won't be complete without seeing the fuming Thermal Valley. I brought my girlfriend Andrea, before we went to Atami Hotel. It was her first time to see Hell Valley and she was thrilled to see bubbles rising from the body of water. Those are sulfur gases and smells like rotten eggs.

Yangmingshan is a dormant volcano with a magma chamber that is no longer active. But the risk of it exploding again is very low as its magma chamber is already shriking. Having hot springs at the Taipei's Beitou district is a good sign for the city. It means that there's no pressure that will be build up through time, and the heat will just escape through fumaroles and hot springs.

Beitou Thermal Valley

Andrea and I left the Thermal Valley after staying for a few minutes. We can't take anymore the smell of sufur gas that is being blown towards us by the wind. We left the area to search for the Atami Hotel and we immediately found it. Upon entering the lobby, Andrea talked to the staff and she was given an album containing the different rooms that Atami Hotel has to offer. The NTD 700 private bath suits our budget and we opted for that one. The limit is 1.5 hours and the rooms are located at the basement.

Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel Beitou hot spring hotel

What to expect in Atami's private hot spring room? There's a shower inside and a waterproof bed. The size of the tub is not that large and it can barely fit two people. Because there is time limit, open the hot spring faucet immediately upon entering. It will take a few minutes to fill in. Try to test first the hotness of the water. If you can't take it, open the cold water faucet. Adjust the temperature until your body can tolerate more heat. Enjoy!

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8.3 Beitou Museum

"The House That Hid the Moon"

Have you ever gone to a house that shines so bright? I had been to one and it's the old Kazan Hotel in the hot spring town of Beitou. Stories of the past, present, and future illuminate the entire home and I was so intrigued by its history. Kamikaze pilots used to stay here granting the wish of the Emperor to keep the Land of the Rising Sun shine brighter than the ordinary moon.

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The Kazan Hotel is a two-story Japanese house in Taipei which makes it interesting to visit.
Beitou Museum
The second floor of the Kazan Hotel
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Before entering, I left my shoes at one of the cabinets.
Beitou Museum
The ticket booth is inside the house.

The Kazan Hotel of the 1920s is now known as the Beitou Museum and I was able to get inside for a student ticket price of NTD 50. Regular adult tickets cost NTD 120 but special discounts are given to a group of tourists compose of 20 members. Visitors are required to remove their shoes and explore the entire house using a special pair of socks where the underside has an anti-slip surface.

Beitou Museum
After paying the ticket, I was given this special pair of socks in the "genkan" area.
Beitou Museum

Are you familiar with Japanese houses? It has a place called the “genkan” and it is the area of the house just right after entering the door. The Japanese remove their shoes here before entering their home and its floor is usually lower than the entire house. I paid my ticket at the “genkan” after showing my student ID and before going inside I already left my shoes in one of the lockers outside the house.

Beitou Museum
Near the Kazan Hotel are buildings that are probably hot spring hotels
Beitou Museum
Private Japanese-style house in Beitou District
Beitou Museum
An illustration of Beitou District in Taipei during the island's Japanese colonial period.
Beitou Museum
Japanese hot spring map of Taiwan in 1935. Haha!

It was not surprising to see Japanese-style homes in Beitou. This district of Taipei is located at the foot of Yangmingshan and serves as the city's hot spring town. It’s no wonder that during Taiwan's colonial period under Japan the town flourished and became a haven for soaking one's body in a sulfur hot spring. Nowadays, tall and large hot spring resort hotels dominate the scenery and the old Kazan Hotel is one of the remaining well-preserved colonial structures here.

Beitou Museum
Artifacts found inside the house during its reconstruction.  Japanese buildings usually have tablets containing important information about the house.
Beitou Museum
A tile on the Kazan Hotel
Beitou Museum
displays about Taiwanese folk arts
Beitou Museum Beitou Museum

The house had passed into the hands of various people until it ended up in the care of the Taipei City government. Due to various factors like heat, termites, sulfur corrosion, the house had decayed through time. But thanks to the restoration effort that was put into this house, the Beitou Museum now houses 5,000 Taiwanese artifacts as part of their Permanent Exhibit to show to its visitors the colorful folk arts culture of the island.

Beitou Museum Beitou Museum Beitou Museum Beitou Museum

In one room of the old Kazan Hotel is a large bathtub and it is a reminder of the glory days of the rich Japanese history of this house. The ceiling of the room was high enough to allow steam from the hot spring water to stay above and not suffocate those who were taking a bath. It was not explained though whether the bathtub was used exclusively for men or not. I've learned from the Beitou Hot Spring Museum in Taiwan Day 463 (A Warm to Welcome to Winter) that women have separate smaller bathrooms in contrast to the men who have the privilege to swim in large bathtubs as big as a swimming pool. Let's just assume that in Kazan Hotel everyone has the right to be treated like a royalty.

Beitou Museum
hallway at the ground floor
Beitou Museum
The staircase leading to the second floor of the house.
Beitou Museum
The tearoom
Beitou Museum Beitou Museum
Mt. Fuji
Beitou Museum
The tea preparation room or "mizuya"

The house was originally a single floor house until it was expanded into two floors in 1938. It was interesting to enter a two-floor Japanese house in Taiwan. Aside from the usual “tatami” mats that covered the floor, what's inside on the upper floor caught my curiosity. There was a tearoom and guests enjoyed their time talking to each other while someone prepares their tea in another area called the “mizuya”. Here in the “mizuya”, there is a cabinet that serves as a storage place for the different kinds of tea that can be made for the guests.

Beitou Museum
selfie at the second floor
Beitou Museum
The Banquet Hall or Performance Hall
Beitou Museum
stage
Beitou Museum Beitou Museum Beitou Museum

A performance hall occupies most of the space on the second floor and I was surprised that there were no barriers to prevent visitors in getting inside. There was a stage and I was amazed to see such structure in a Japanese house. Had there been any geisha here who performed in the Kazan Hotel to entertain the kamikaze pilots? Or was it just a place for dining before World War II started? These questions were on my mind as I set my tripod and camera for a memorable photo while sitting on the floor covered with 60 “tatami” mats. In the Bietou Hot Spring Museum, visitors are not allowed to enter the performance hall but here in the old Kazan Hotel, you have the liberty to go inside and capture unlimited selfies.

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A modern twist on ramie clothing

The museum had provided a big space for their seasonal exhibits on the first floor. At the time of my visit, the different weaving patterns of the Atayal people were displayed. The colors and the geometry of the shapes in the clothes were somewhat similar to the textiles of the aboriginal people in the Philippines. But beyond the vibrant colors of the Atayal-themed items displayed in the museum, the material on which it was made should be not be missed. The clothes were woven from a kind of fibrous plant called the “ramie” and it undergoes different processes to create a ball of thread reading for weaving.

Beitou Museum Beitou Museum Beitou Museum

If you got hungry, then don't worry because the museum also acts like a restaurant. The prices of the meals were a bit expensive but those interested to experience drinking tea in a Japanese room with a beautiful view of the Danfeng Mountain should ask the staff at the entrance. They will gladly attend to your needs. How to get here to the Beitou Museum? Just board the MRT to Xinbeitou Station and made a hike along the slopes of the mountains in Youya Road. You are heading the right way if you passed by the building of the Spring City Resort.

Beitou Museum Beitou Museum Beitou Museum

My experience in Beitou Museum was fulfilling and it exceeded my expectations for a filler episode in my travel adventures. Yehey! If you are planning to visit Taipei then put the old Kazan Hotel in your itinerary. Discover its secrets and know why I call this place the house that hid the moon.

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Beitou Museum (北投文物馆)

Address: No. 32, Youya Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, 112
Google Map

8.4 Beitou ramen

"Man Lai Ramen"

“Are you from Singapore?” the waitress of Man Lai Ramen Noodle asked me as I looked at the English menu. “No. I'm from the Philippines”, I politely answered. Haha! It might be that a lot of Singaporeans who had been to this restaurant were fond of taking photos of the food that they ordered. Judging from the number of people waiting for a table at Man Lai’s doorstep, this ramen house must be famous. However, there are a number of people who said that the food here wasn’t that great. I was skeptical of their claims so I went here to taste their delicious ramen.

Beitou ramen Beitou ramen

No trip in Beitou won't be complete without a visit to this restaurant. The ramen house becomes busy before noontime and it is located a few meters away from the MRT Xinbeitou Station. Many people go here to eat especially during lunch and dinner time so expect a lot of waiting time when you come at these times.

Beitou ramen

It was before 4:00 pm when I arrived at Man Lai. I came from my tour in the Beitou Museum and I was so hungry at that time. There were not many people waiting for an available table so I took advantage of the situation and decided to eat. I was asked to wait for few minutes until I was called to enter and sat beside an empty table.

Beitou ramen Beitou ramen

The floor area of the restaurant was not that large and it can only accommodate less than 20 customers per one hour of eating time.  It also depends on the order of the customers. If a family of four each ordered big bowls of ramen plus at least two side dishes then it might take them two hours to finish their meal. But in spite of the limited number tables, the atmosphere was nostalgic with portraits on the walls making you feel like you were in the 50s.

Beitou ramen

After deciding on what my order would be, I raised my hand and an English-speaking waitress took notes of my orders. The ramen was the main reason why I went to the restaurant and there were different kinds to choose from. I selected the seafood ramen as my main course and for the side dishes, I chose the meat roll, the fried pork chop, and the cold boiled egg. For my drinks, I ordered a can of Coca-Cola.

Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen

If ordering was fast and easy then so the delivery of the food to my table. My coke in can arrived first and then followed by the coiled boiled egg. My ramen was then put on my table and after a few minutes, the meat roll and deep-fried pork chop were handed to me. As a blogger, I took photos of my food and as expected the other customers were looking at me.

Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen

Among the food, the deep-fried pork chop was my favorite. It was juicy and a perfect side dish for my miso ramen. For the overrated noodles of this restaurant, all I can say is that it was ok although not as spectacular like what many had said. My seafood ramen was composed of clams, large shrimps and some slices of squids. One good thing about the ramen was its serving size. It was too big and I was the one who surrendered in eating my meal The meat roll had a weird taste to me. It was sweet but there was something about it that I prefer to eat the deep-fried pork chop. The cold boiled egg? It was actually a soft-boiled egg. Unfortunately, my stomach was already full that I couldn't enjoy it anymore.


Overall, I would give Man Lai Ramen Noodle a passing score in my Travel in Asia blog. The deep-fried pork chop was the restaurant's saving grace. There were still other side dishes and other kinds of ramen to eat at this restaurant. Maybe I should also try those. But compared to my food trip in Raohe Night Market which costed me more than NTD 400, my entire order here in Man Lai Ramen amounted only to NTD 390. I ate a lot and but I did not expect the servings to be too much for me making my stomach so full for the first time in 2017! lol

Beitou ramen

My rating:3 out of 5 “luomujie” stars

My orders in Beitou Man Lai Ramen Noodle (滿來溫泉拉麵) restaurant
foodprice
seafood ramen in pork chop misoNTD 210
fried pork chopNTD 60
deep-fried meat rollNTD 60
cold boiled Japanese style eggNTD 30
coke in a canNTD 30
TOTALNTD 390
Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen Beitou ramen

**********

Man Lai Ramen Noodle (滿來溫泉拉麵)

Address: No. 1-8, Zhongshan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei City, 112

How to get here: Board the MRT to Xinbeitou Station and walk along Zhongshan Road towards the Beitou Hot Spring Museum. The restaurant is located before reaching the Beitou Hot Springs Resort and the Ketagalan Culture Center.

[Google Map]

9. TAIPEI SHAVED ICE DESSERTS/SUMMER DESSERTS

"Cool Treats"

Summer in Taiwan won't be complete without having a taste of Taipei's delicious ice-cold desserts. From taro balls to the sliced pieces of mango, I travelled around the city to look for the best food to beat the heat. A story from the Fun Taipei travel magazine featured different options for food lovers, and I tried each one of them to know if they were real treats or just a promotional trick.

Ice Monster

9.1 Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice

Are you ready? So let's start with the Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice. The first floor of a residential house was turned into a dessert restaurant and it is open every day except only on Mondays. Just go to Exit 3 of the MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station and then walk to No. 9, Alley 33, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhongxiao E. Road to find the restaurant. You will find an open gate and that is the dessert shop.

No. 9, Alley 33, Lane 216, Section 4, Zhongxiao E. Road
Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice

To make my life easier, I just showed to the lady the photo of the dessert that I want to eat. The price of the pineapple and plum ice was NTD 45 and it was very cheap. Pineapple flavored shaved ice was placed on a cup and on its top were tidbits of the same fruit. A piece of perilla plum was also added to give it another shade of color. I first thought that I could see the staff prepare the food in front of me. But I was wrong! They had already made a lot of the dessert and they kept it in a freezer. There was nothing special about the pineapple and plum ice until the ice started to melt. The sweet sour taste of pineapple juice became sugar for my taste buds. Yeah! I gave it a rating of 3 out of 5“luomujie” stars.

9.2 Bingirl

Next on my list was the Fruit and Souffle Pancake from Bingirl. I had high expectations for this dessert because of its nice photo in the Fun Taipei magazine. After alighting at the MRT from the Taipei City Hall Station, I looked for the store at the ATT 4 FUN mall along Songhou Road. The store was located on the 4th floor of the building and I was asked to wait for 15 to 20 minutes after I gave my order. My food had arrived and I got disappointed with the small size of the pancake dessert. It was placed on hot pan and on top of it was the pancake with some cream and sliced apples. I was also given a cup of ice cream and below it was sliced kiwi and strawberry.

Bingirl Bingirl
I went near to Taipei 101 to find the mall
ATT 4 FUN mall
ATT 4 FUN mall
Bingirl
Bingirl
Bingirl Bingirl
Fruit and Souffle Pancake
Bingirl Bingirl

I didn't like the taste of the ice cream because it was not sweet. The kiwi and the strawberry didn't even help to improve its flavor. Now let's go to the pancake. Since it was place on a hot pan, the food was still very hot. The waiter told me something in Chinese and I knew that I was told not to touch the pan. The pancake and the sliced apples were just ordinary and thanks to the white cream it made the food somewhat appetizing to eat. I felt hot after eating that meal and I was wondering on why it was included on Fun Taipei's list of recommended ice desserts. How much was the price? An expensive NTD 374 which included some extra charges. My rating? A disappointing 1 out of 5 “luomujie” stars.

9.3 GLAMAIR

Are you a fan of K-pop? If yes then you might enjoy the Korean-style ice cream of GLAMAIR. Three layers of light colored cotton candy was placed on top each other like a pyramid and the sweet tower was later put on a cup which contained an ice cream. I chose the lemon soda flavor for the ice cream and I don’t' have any idea on what would it taste like. The price was NTD 150 for this special ice cream which had captured my imagination.

GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR
Surprise! There is an ice cream below your cotton candy.
GLAMAIR GLAMAIR
GLAMAIR's ice cream was also topped with popping sugars
GLAMAIR
Other customers ordered cute shapes for their cotton candy.
GLAMAIR
A bunny!
GLAMAIR GLAMAIR GLAMAIR

After receiving my order, the biggest question that I had on my mind was how to eat this dessert. Oh yes! I just ate the cotton candy through the help of my hands. Don't worry because you would also be given wet wipes to clean your hands after eating. Then after I ate all of the cotton candy comes the exciting part because GLAMAIR's ice cream was also topped with popping sugars. Its sweet taste combined with the refreshing ice cream was a sure winner for this food adventure. Where to find GLAMAIR? Just go to the B1 floor of Shin Kong Mitsukoshi A11 along Songshou Road and you will find the ice cream store. What's my rating? I gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 “luomujie” stars.

Sad to say GLAMAIR was reported be closed.

9.4 Shuanglian_Tangyuan Shop

I still had a space for my stomach so I continued my journey to look for the Shuanglian Tangyuan Shop located along Minsheng W. Road. To find the store, I boarded the MRT to Shuanglian Station and then went to Exit 1. I turned left and just walked at the busy road until I found the store at house number 136. It was an air-conditioned shop and I ordered their best seller by showing the photo of the food from the Fun Taipei magazine. When the staff found out that I was a foreigner they immediately asked me sit and without wasting any time they instantly prepared my food.

Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert
Shuanglian Tangyuan Shop
Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert

It was a shaved ice meal and topped with red beans and taro balls. There were two additional toppings and they were indicated on my receipt although it was written only in Chinese. When my food had arrived, I was surprised with its large serving that I got afraid that I might not be able to finish my meal. Anyway, I tried to eat all of it and I really liked its taste. You know that feeling when food was cooked with love and this ice shaved meal was one of those. The red beans and taro balls were a perfect match to the extra topping which I thought of as something like sweet potato. Many people go here in Shuanglian Tangyuan Shop to eat but visitors and loyal patrons can also watch the staff make taro balls and other delicious delicacies inside the store à la Din Tai Fung. My rating: 4 out of 5 “luomujie” stars.

Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert
The four toppings
Taipei Shuanglian Tangyuan dessert
red beans

9.5 Ice Monster

My stomach was already bloated but I didn't know that it was going to be hit by a monster. I'm actually talking about Ice Monster and this Taiwanese store was hailed as one of the best dessert shops in the world. But being a famous store also means a lot of patience for its customers and I was right. There were a lot of people in the afternoon in Zhongxiao E. Road and they were patiently waiting to get inside the dessert shop near Exit 1 of Sun Yat Sen Memorial Station. The line was too long that I decided to eat first in Bingirl until Ice Monster became my last stop for this food adventure.

Ice Monster Taipei
The long line of people in the Zhongxiao E. Road branch of Ice Monster. Address: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E. Road, Da'an District, Taipei City, 106
Ice Monster Taipei
At 7:30 pm
Ice Monster Taipei Ice Monster Mango Sensation
Fresh Mango Sensation
Ice Monster Mango Sensation
The ice was super fine!
Ice Monster Mango Sensation
mango ice cream
Ice Monster Mango Sensation
sliced mangoes
Ice Monster Mango Sensation
There were more sliced mangoes underneath.

I went back to the shop at 7:30 pm and the queue was shorter. A waiter soon gave me a menu containing all the kinds of shaved ice desserts that I can buy. Their best seller was the Fresh Mango Sensation and I tried it for a price of NTD 220. Being been to other dessert stores, I observed a big difference of Ice Monster's shaved ice compared to the other dessert stores that I had visited. The ice on my food was super fine that you would feel that it was like snow. Aside from the mango flavored ice, my order also had a mango ice cream, large chunks of the mango fruit and a while jelly-like substance which was panna cota. It took me time to finish my delicious meal since it was super cold but when I tried to check the bottom part of my dessert I found out that the shaved ice was placed on top of more large chunks of fresh mango. Wow! Because of this I gave Ice Monster a perfect score of 5 out of 5 “luomujie” stars.


So there you have it! Beimen Pineapple and Plum Ice, Bingirl, GLAMAIR, Shuanglian Tangyuan Shop and Ice Monster. I gave my ratings to their desserts and they were my personal opinions only. Try each one of them and decide for yourself which one is the best among these cool treats.

10. JIUFEN

Described to be the inspiration of the Japanese animated film "Spirited Away", local and international tourists especially the Japanese flock to the narrow streets of Jiufen. Delicious food are waiting for you on this corner of Taiwan. Just remember that most stores will close at 6:00 pm. At night, pay a visit at the famous staircase of Jiufen, and you will be rewarded with the unforgettable of view of the glowing red lanterns at Ah Mei Tea House.

10.1 Jiufen foodtrip

"Hungry in Jiufen"

When I posted my Taiwan Day 252 (Spirited Away) a friend was skeptic, in believing that Jiufen was the inspiration of Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 animated film Spirited Away. In that film, Chihiro and her parents got into a street full of food, and if you’re a fan of Miyazaki’s films you know what happened next. Tourists from all over the world come here to relive the wonderful scenes of the movie, but there is another reason why people flock to this place. Food!

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Jiufen Old Street. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Jiufen Old Street40.2 km51 mins8301,52110:00 am to 10:30 am
Taipei Main Station38 km46 mins7691,427
Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

I did my homework and made a list of foods to eat here on Jiufen Old Street. To make my life easier, I printed my list with the top 5 foods with their Chinese names. This made it easier for the vendors to understand what I wanted to order. They just gave me the food that I want and I pay immediately.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

The Zhang Ji Traditional Fish Balls were my appetizer. It was served in a bowl of soup and I slowly regained my energy as I sipped it. I left the Zhang Ji Store No. 23 after eating and I walked until I found Store No. 45 which was selling the Peanut Ice Cream Roll.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

A large cube of peanut brittle was being shaved and the tiny pieces of the peanuts were placed on a crepe. Two scoops of ice cream were then added which made the food interesting to eat. The seller will just wrap the crepe and it’s ready to eat. A Japanese tourist laughed upon seeing how the food is prepared.


The first bite of the Peanut Ice Cream Roll was memorable and I love the taste of the peanuts mixed with ice cream.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

I forgot to include the number of the store which sells Red Wine Meat Ball with Glutinous Rice Skin but a lot of these meat balls are being sold in Jiufen Old Street so finding one was easy. The red color of these fluffy meat balls were very attractive and I saw a lady how she prepares the food. She used scissors to cut the red portion and I took a video to document the scene.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

The Hakka Glutinous Rice Cakes were very cheap for a price of NTD 10. I chose the red bean flavor and I was delighted with the sweet taste of the red bean with the sticky feeling. It comes in various flavors and I would love to try again other flavors.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

My visit to the Ghost Mask Museum and Shengping Theater were my side dishes. The mask museum boasts a large number of masks inspired by the ghosts that the owner sees while Shengping Theater is Taiwan’s oldest movie theater.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

The crown jewel of Jiufen Old Street was the Taro Balls and it can be served hot or cold. I chose to eat the cold version. It was served as shaved iced with yummy taro balls mixed with red beans and another one which I forgot. It tastes really good! Not only my stomach got full but also my eyes. A nice view of the East China Sea was just beside me.

Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen
grilled snails
Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen Jiufen

When you go to Jiufen just remember that it is not a night market and most shops close at 6pm. And also be ready with a large swarm of people at 4pm. Their stomachs are empty and looking for food. They will eat and eat because just like me they are hungry in Jiufen.

11. YEHLIU

Yehliu Geopark and the Yehliu Ocean World are two attractions that you can visit on the same day at New Taipei's Wanli District. Just board the bus going to Jinshan Youth Activity Center from Taipei City Hall Bus Station, and you will be at Yehliu stop after 1 hour and 30 minutes. A short walk will lead you to these two tourist spots.

11.1 Yehliu Geopark

"The Queen's Kingdom"

Yehliu Geopark. Located in Wanli District, is is one of the fascinating natural wonders of Taiwan's northeast coast. The shoreline facing the East China Sea had embraced the forces of nature for a very long time, carving the rocks into various shapes that never fails tickle the minds of anyone who sees them. The town of Yehliu, in particular got lucky to have a rich collections of this priceless treasures. And voila! Yehliu Geopark was formed.

How to go to this place: at Taipei City Hall Bus Station, board Bus 1815 (Jinshan Youth Activity Center route), get off at Yehliu stop and walk towards the gate of the scenic area.

Yehliu Geopark
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Yehliu Geopark. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Yehliu Geopark39.2 km50 mins8571,5828:00 am to 8:30 am
Taipei Main Station36.4 km46 mins7921,482
Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark

I brought my House Guest #5 here in Yehliu Geopark. After getting off from Bus 1815, we walked to the ticket booth of Yehliu GeoPark. There is a road leading to the scenic area and you will pass by a small harbor and an elementary school. For first-time visitors, just follow the tour buses and you will know why. All the vehicles that carry tourists here are going to the car park of Yehliu Geopark.

Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark

The Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園) is rich with natural geologic wonders. The rocks in the geopark were formed during the Miocene period millions of years ago and were uplifted by geologic forces. Water, rain and wind carved the marvelous rocks that people see today.

Some of the noticeable rock formations were the ones shaped like mushrooms and the fairy's shoe. But my most favorite was the Queen's Head (女王頭). Her shape resembles the image of an Egyptian queen. All in her glory she held her head high enough, much to the excitement of her fans.

Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark Yehliu Geopark
Yehliu Geopark

A visit to the Yehliu Geopark won't be complete without a photo with the Queen's Head, and tourists follow a queue to have at least a selfie with the Royal Highness. For sure, anyone who posts their photos in social media will get many shares and likes. A natural rock formation that you won't find anywhere on this world. Don't miss the chance to meet the queen of Taiwan and enter the world of her rocky kingdom.

11.2 Yehliu Ocean World

"Zoomarine"

My 400th day in Taiwan became extra special when I went to Yehliu Ocean World. I wanted to see their dolphins, but I was surprised that there were more things to see here. C'mon, what are you waiting for? The sea lions and the star fishes are waiting you!

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Yehliu Ocean World. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Yehliu Ocean World39.4 km51 mins8681,6019:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station36.5 km45 mins7801,463

How to go to Yehliu Ocean World: Board Bus 1815 from Taipei City Hall Bus Station (Jinshan Youth Activity Center route). Pay the bus fare using EasyCard. Get off at Yehliu stop and walk towards the aqua park. Yehliu Geopark is just beside the Yehliu Ocean World, so it's very easy to locate. Both of these places are part of Taiwan’s North Coast Guanyinshan National Scenic Area, and it is recommended that you visit these two attractions in Yehliu.

I paid a discounted student ticket price of by showing my student ID with a valid sticker for the Fall Semester. After entering the gate, I went first to the Sea Life Exhibition Hall and there were different kinds of fishes in swimming in large aquariums. The glass containers were not as grand as the Manila Ocean Park, but there were still interesting species to see. Tickets worth NTD 300 are also available online in the klook website:https://affiliate.klook.com/jump/activity/3639-yehliu-ocean-world-ticket-taipei/?adid=32366&af_wid=324

The Archerfish has a demo every 12 noon and 3:10 pm. It will spit water to its target victim, while another show by a live octopus showcased its intelligence by opening the large plastic bottle containing its prey. The starfish area was also interesting to see. Kids of all ages were having fun touching the Echinoderms and I took the chance to touch and hold one. “It’s alive!”, I said to myself while holding the starfish. It was my first time to hold such life form. Their radial symmetry was very fascinating.

The main event of this adventure was to watch the one hour Dolphin and Sea Lion Show at the outdoor amphitheater. I was able to find a good spot near the “stage” and it was a good choice. The audience enjoyed the opening dance number of the dophin mascots. They were dancing to the tune of a song of the K-pop group Crayon Pop.

The sea lions were the first to appear and showed their tricks. A microphone was brought to the big sea lion and it roared like a real lion. The performance was followed by a team of international high divers where they showed their skills in high dive jump. A group of females also did synchronized swimming. The audience clapped as they formed a star formation on the swimming pool.

You also have the chance to have a photo with the dolphins although it's not free.

The audience got excited when it was the dolphins turn to perform. The dolphins suddenly entered the stage with a magical music and they did different kinds of acts. The cetaceans were very active and intelligent. They knew that they were the stars of the show.

The sea lions, the star fish and the dolphins. They made all of the visitors happy. If Taipei City has Taipei Zoo, then New Taipei City has Yehliu Ocean World. Come and see Yehliu Ocean World. It is Taiwan’s zoomarine!

12. PINGXI

New Taipei's Pingxi District and the Pingxi Branch line of the TRA is a treasure throve of surprises. There is the cat town of Houtong, the challenging waterfall trail of Sandiaoling and Pingxi Crags. Plus, you can also visit the nostalgic towns of Shifen, Pingxi and Houtong. The entire suburban district is a home to a lot waterfalls with the Shifen Waterfall being the most popular.

Seeing all of these attractions in just one day is impossible. For a 1-day tour, you can visit the Shifen Waterfall, write your wishes and lit a sky lantern along the railroad tracks at Shifen Old Street. Take note of the last departure of the train going back to TRA Ruifang Station from TRA Jingtong Station, and the closing time of the visiting area at Shifen Waterfall. Don't also forget that it will be a very long walk from Shifen Old Street just to see the body of water. For a hassle-free trip, create your own tripool taxi itinerary or hop on to the klook Yehliu-Jiufen-Shifen tour bus.

12.1 Shifen Watefalls - Taiwan Coal Mine Museum - Lingjiao Waterfall - Shifen Station - sky lantern activity at Shifen Old Street

"My Pingxi, Your Shifen"

Have you been to Pingxi? How about Shifen? Two names of places referring to the land of sky lanterns in Taiwan. Pingxi is a district of New Taipei City and also the name of one its town. Originally known for its coal mining industry, the place is now teeming with colorful sky lanterns that bear the wishes of those who send it to the sky.

Shifen Waterfall Pingxi Branch Line map

Shifen is a town in Pingxi District. Like the town named after the district, it is also known for sky lanterns with its old street being the best place to write your dreams on folded lantern paper. A train runs every 30 minutes across this place, interrupting any lantern activity going on. The railroad is called the Pingxi Branch Line and alongside it are the old towns which make New Taipei City famous.

Pingxi Line One Day Pass Ticket
The One Day Pass Ticket
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Shifen Station or Shifen Waterfall.
The body of water is a long walk from the Shifen Old Street, where you can send sky lanterns up in the air.Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Shifen Station37 km48 mins7911,4639:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station34.1 km42 mins7111,339
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen StationShifen Waterfall39.6 km52 mins8491,552
Taipei Main Station37.4 km48 mins7841,452

Visitors wanting to see Pingxi must ride a train go Ruifang Station and then transfer to the Pingxi Branch Line. Our itinerary includes checking the lesser known places in the town so a One Day Pass suits our needs. For a price of NTD 80, anyone can now visit all the train stations without the worry of spending so much money for the tickets. The pass is available at Ruifang Station but remember to have your EasyCard scanned first at the exit gate before buying the one-day ticket at the counter.

Shifen coal mining history
Shifen town during the heyday's of its mining industry
Shifen coal mining history Shifen sky lantern release at the railroad tracks
Now, Shifen is a bustling town that is always full of tourists.

Riding the Pingxi train is like going back in time. The train goes inside tunnels and narrow valleys like you’re entering into an unknown world. Look outside the windows and appreciate the river that runs parallel with the railroad. The Pingxi Branch Line had been a source of income for the locals who had lived here for decades. During the 80's, the Pingxi branch line was primarily used to transfer coal mined from the mountains. The trains containing the coal would stop at the quiet town of Shifen before going to Ruifang and then transported to Taipei. The town's coal industry is now a history and had been replaced by a more profitable sky lantern business.

Shifen Station
Shifen Station
Shifen Station Shifen Station Shifen Jing'andiao Bridge
Jing'andiao Bridge
Shifen Station
A local train waiting for its passengers at Shifen Station
Shifen Station
The railroad track of the Pingxi Branch Line follows the meandering Keeling River.
Shifen sky lanterns flying in the air
Skylantens flying in the air as seen from Jing'andiao Bridge
Shifen Old Street Shifen Scenic Area
To get to the Shifen Watefall,  one must enter the Shifen Scenic Area.
Shifen Scenic Area
It's a 1.7 km walk from Shifen Station but we enjoyed the view.
Shifen Waterfall Park map
map of Shifen Waterfall Park
Shifen Scenic Area Shifen potholes
potholes
Shifen Scenic Area Shifen Scenic Area
The bridge on the left is the Guanpu Suspension Bridge while on the right is the railroad of the Pingxi Branch Line.
Shifen Scenica Area Shifen Waterfall
After crossing the Guanpu Suspension Bridge, we walked a little further until we heard the sound of water flowing down from a waterfall.
Shifen Waterfall
There are different observation platforms that let visitors take nice pictures.
Shifen Waterfall Shifen Waterfall Shifen Waterfall Shifen Waterfall
Wow!
Shifen Waterfall

Shifen Waterfall. Aside from being known as a coal mining site, the town is proud to have a beautiful waterfall. Considered as the Niagara Falls of Taiwan, looking at its refreshing waters can beat the heat of the hot summer weather. It was raining when I first went here in my Neverland adventure and the color of the water turned into a brown color making the Shifen Falls look like an overflowing chocolate drink in the middle of the wilderness.

Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
The gate of the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
ticket booth
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
After paying our tickets, the staff led us to this coal minig train for an unforgettable ride. Haha!
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
The engine
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Just making sure that each cart is connected to each other
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Travel Buddy Rob while on the train
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
The ride gave us a glimpse on how the coal obtained from the mine is transported to the Pingxi Branch Line.  
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
To get back to the park proper, we need to get off the train and wait for our grandma driver while she pushes the engine to make it face the right direction.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
The ride on our way back
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
After the train ride, we were excited to see the Mine Pit Entrance
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
It was cold inside!
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
A gate prevented us from exploring the mine.  It was also muddy inside.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Imagine being trapped on this mine
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Helmets outside the museum hall area.  Visitors can put these on their heads and enter a simulation tunnel.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
simulation tunnel
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
The museum hall with pictures of the mining activities done before in Pingxi District.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Another area of the Taiwan Coal Museum has displays about the types of equipment used by miners and samples of the different kinds of coal.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Yuan Zi charcoal
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
charcoal
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
briquet
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
bituminous caol
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
anthracite
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
oil coal
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
coking coal
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Analog tunnel.  To let visitors experience the look and feel of a coal mine. No need for helmets here.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
Beside the entrance of the closed mine tunnel is a station where cards are hung probably representing the names of miners.  If a card is displayed, it means that the miner is inside the tunnel.  
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
locomotive garage
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
compressor
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
A railroad switch helps to transfer one train to another track.
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum
railroad switch
Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Taiwan Coal Mine Museum Shifen Station
After our tour in the Taiwan Coal Mine Museum, we called a taxi to take us back to Shifen Station.
Shifen Station Shifen Station
Visitors waiting for the train at Shifen Station.
Shifen Station
The train has arrived!
Lingjiao Station
at Lingjiao Station

After having our pictures in the waterfalls, we walked back to Section 3, Jing’an Road where we boarded a taxi that took us to Taiwan Coal Mine Museum. At a ticket price of NTD 200, we were able to roam around the facility of a closed mine. Part of the tour was to ride the train that was originally used during the heydays of the town's mining boom. A grandma was our driver. The railroad tracks had no U-turn so on our way back to the tunnel she was even the one who pulled the train engine so we can make the return trip. The garage of the trains is at the entrance of the coal mine tunnel. We thought that we could enter the gate but unfortunately, it was closed. It would have been better if we could get inside and have a look. Although the tunnel was closed, the museum has a real-life version that lets visitors enter and have a feel of what's inside a coal mine.

Lingjiao Station Lingjiao Station
We somehow got lost in finding the Lingjiao Waterfall.
Lingjiao Station Lingjiao Station Lingjiao Station Lingjiao Station
A train as it approaches Lingjiao Station.
Linjiao cliff Linjiao to Lingjiao Waterfall
We found a staircase that led us to the waterfall.
to Lingjiao Waterfall
Going down the staircase was like entering an unknown forest.
Lingjiao Waterfall
Lingjiao Waterfall.  Finally!

Another off-the-beaten destination in the Pingxi Branch Line is the Lingjiao Waterfall. Finding it from Lingjiao Station was a bit confusing at first. With the help of a lady who owns a local convenience store beside the train station, we got the right directions leading to a trail that is slowing to be covered with plants. Going down there was like a going to an enchanted land as if there was a fairy waiting for us downstairs.

Lingjiao Waterfall Lingjiao Waterfall
According to some locals, a theme park used to exist here in Lingjiao Waterfall, until an unfortunate event happened that the waterfall became forgotten.  
Lingjiao Waterfall

Spooky! There was just something in Lingjiao Waterfall that I couldn't explain. It was like there was a pair of eyes watching over us at the base of the falls. There was no one there except us but we can feel its presence. Insects become louder as we began to gaze our eyes at the body of water flowing down from a big slab of rock. Its splash cuts the silence in the reservoir. Not as picturesque as the Shifen waterfall, the Lingjiao Waterfall has a unique beauty of its own. Simple yet enchanting. After taking pictures and some selfies, we left the place immediately.

Tsai residence
Tsai residence
Tsai residence Tsai residence

A few meters from the Lingjiao Station is the Tsai Residence. Owned by the Mr. Tsai Chuan, it was built in the 1939 and now serves as a reminder of the prosperity brought by coal mines. Too bad! It was undergoing renovation during our visit but its brick-style architecture should not be missed by anyone who makes a stop in this town.

Pingxi train arriving at Lingjiao Station at night
It was already dark when the train going to Jingtong arrived at Lingjiao Station.
Jingtong Station
at Jingtong Station
Jingtong bamboo wishes
Locals wrote their wishes on bamboo and left them hanging here on Jingtong.
Pingxi Police Station
Pingxi Police Station

It was already dark when we arrived at the terminal stop of the Pingxi Line which is Jingtong. This is also a nice place to have photos at the railway since the train won't go to the end of the tracks. In Jingtong, lanterns are not only the way to send one's wishes to the heavens. Writing on bamboo is another way to immortalize one's desire and it is usually left hanging at the fences of the train station. Before we board the train again, we passed by the police ice station. Its unique glass structure in the shape of a lantern plus its surprise lights show is something to watch out for in Jingtong.

Pingxi train
Our tour in Pingxi is not complete without releasing our lanterns in Shifen.
Shifen Station token signalling system Shifen Station token signalling system
Some kind of a token system can be found here inside the Shifen Station.  Let's say that it's a kind of train signalling system.
Shifen sky lantern activity
Staff from a store in Shifen old town helped us clipped our sky lantern.
Shifen sky lantern Shifen sky lantern fuel
These papers were lit to become the source of fire in our sky lantern.
Shifen sky lantern fuel writing wishes on a folded skylantern at the railroad tracks of Shifen Old Street
Travel Buddy Rob wrote his wishes on the sky lantern.  The three of us shared a red lantern worth NTD 150.

For the finale of our cultural rail tour, we went back to Shifen for the sky lantern activity. A red lantern for NTD 150 was more than enough for us to write our wishes on a red folded paper. There on the railroad tracks, we thought of our hopes and aspirations and wrote them on the lantern.


We watched our lantern fly after releasing it on the night sky. It went higher until it suddenly became a tiny red dot. A red dot that also joined the other dots in the heavens. Looking at them was like gazing at a starry night. Our blood, sweat, and tears. May all our wishes come true!

Pingxi and Shifen. Treat these places as your own or share it with your friends after visiting this country. The decision is yours on how to distribute the happiness. It could be my Shifen, your Pingxi. Or the other way around, my Pingxi, your Shifen.

12.2 Houtong Cat Village - Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park - Shifen - Jingtong

"Neverland"

What brings me to back to Pingxi? Many would say “I’ve been there. Why would I come back?” I wonder what stops them from going back? My Taiwan Day 365 (The Towns That Time Forgot) was so successful that the beautiful memories I made on that day keep coming back. Celebrating your 365th day in Taiwan, writing your wishes and releasing them in the air in the form of a sky lantern makes an unparalleled experience of your lifetime. Newcomers have arrived. It’s time for me to share the experience I had in a place that everyone calls their own fantasy land.

Shifen Pingxi Branch Line One Day Ticket
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Houtong. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Houtong40.4 km49 mins8121,4919:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station37.6 km44 mins7361,375

Like Peter Pan I brought along Jonalyn, Francis and Bryan. We didn’t fly but instead we boarded a train from Nangang, until we reach Ruifang. A one-day ticket pass allowed us to see many places. We needed to transfer to another train at Ruifang Station and it's a colorful orange train known as the Pingxi train. It brought us first to a place called Houtong where cats rule and humans obey.

Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village
Humans!
Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village Houtong Cat Village

Stepping outside of the train station, we saw a sleeping cat and we awakened it. “Humans”, said the cat. We knew we were already in cat village. We explored the area and I interviewed a grumpy cat. It was camera shy and not interested in interacting with people. We entered a shop full of postcards and a white cat was in the cashier area. Feeling hungry? Why not try eating a Meow Meow Cake? But beware you might turn into a cat!

Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park

On the other side of the Houtong Station was an old coal mining town. The mines had closed and the miners have left but glory days of the black flying dust are still remembered in this place. We wandered around the area and discovered a locomotive garage, a sand drying area and an abandoned dormitory of miners. Who would have thought that this place was going to be preserved? A river divides the area into two and we found the felines’ nemesis – dogs. They were barking at us! Who let the dogs out?

Houtong Ruey-San Coal Mine Houtong Ruey-San Coal Mine Houtong Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park

The Ruey-San Main Mine looks like a dungeon from the outside. Were there any miners trapped inside? Only the old tunnel knows the answer. The coal transportation bridge stands majestically in the cat town. It looked like a gray rainbow in the area. The Pingxi train was coming back and we went to the station in a hurry or else we have to face the cats’ fury.

Houtong Station Houtong Station Shifen Station Shifen Station Shifen Scenic Area

From the cat town we were transported to the sky lantern town, Shifen. My friends couldn’t stop looking at the sky. Sky lanterns were flying everywhere bringing people’s wishes to the heavens May the gods and goddesses read and fulfill them. The rain fell heavily and scared the people. We were forced to look first for the town’s Niagara Falls. We passed by a hanging bridge and an umbrella man led the way. A red wooden pathway leads to the Shifen Waterfalls. We walked along its path until we saw the falls. The water became muddy but the sound it created was music to our ears.

Shifen Old Street Shifen sky lanterns Shifen skylantern Shifen sky lantern Shifen sky lantern Jingtong Station Jingtong Staton Jingtong Jingtong Station Jingtong Station Jingtong Station Jingtong Jingtong Jingtong bamboo wishes Jingtong bamboo wishes a rainbow at Jingtong Jingtong bamboo wishes a rainbow at Jingtong Jingtong bamboo wishes

The rain stopped and the sun was peeping in the sky. My friends took the chance to write their wishes on a red sky lantern. 1, 2, 3 and they released it until it was out of our sight. Will they get what they ever wanted? The Pingxi train arrived again and we went to the last station, Jingtong. Darkness was creeping in but we still had fun. We were not alone because giant bees and mosquitoes were having a feast in the area. Prayers, wishes and dedications were written on bamboo and hanging around Jingtong. We looked into the heavens and a rainbow appeared in the cloudy sky. We knew that a wish was answered. But whom?

Pingxi Police Station

Darkness turned into madness as we waited for the Pingxi train. It’s time to take my friends back to reality. When they arrived home they might think everything was just a dream. They might forget Pingxi but Pingxi will never forget them. They will cease to age and remain forever in the memories of Neverland.

12.3 Pingxi sky lantern Festival

"When There is Smoke, There is Fire"

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. The most dazzling night in Taiwan. Be there when it happens! As hundreds of sky lanterns carrying people's wishes fly to the heavens, spectators can't stop themselves from taking selfies, pictures, videos. Your visit Taipei won't be complete without your dreams and aspirations written on a paper balloon that will suddenly float in the air.


Rated as one of the best things to see before you die, the luomujie blog tried its best to cover the event and give the ins and outs of the festivity. There are certain things that you need to know if you want to join or just watch the event. I have compiled them in a Question and Answer format. Read more to find out.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q: What is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A: It is the simultaneous release of hundreds of lanterns per 30 minutes in Pingxi District. Tourists who were able to register can participate in the lantern release.

Q. When is the Pingxi Lantern Festival?

A: The event happens twice a year.  The first one is done two weeks after the Chinese New Year (CNY)., while the second round is held during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Q: Where is the venue of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A: The Chinese New Year edition is held at the Shifen Sky Lantern Square [Google Map] while the Mid-Autumn Festival version is staged at the Pingxi Junior High School [Google Map].

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q:  What is the difference between Pingxi and Shifen?

A: Pingxi refers to the district of New Taipei which includes the towns of Shifen and Pingxi (of the same name).  Shifen town had been known to be the best place to release a sky lantern along the railway tracks.


Q: How to register for the sky lantern activity?

A: There is an on-site registration at the venue. Visitors can go to Shifen Sky Lantern Square (Chinese New Year edition) or Pingxi Junior High School (Mid-Autumn Festival edition) to register for the activity at 10:00 am. If you got a slot, then you have to wait at night for the lantern release. Schedule your itinerary well for the entire Pingxi Branch Line to maximize your trip.

Q: Is it free?

A: Registration is free. Tickets will be given until nothing is left.

Q: How to go to the venue?

Aby train:


1. Taipei Main Station -> Ruifang Station -> Pingxi Station or Shifen Station -> walk to the venue


First train from Ruifang going to Pingxi or Shifen leaves at 5:19 am. Expect the next trains to arrive every 40 to 60 minutes. Boarding the shuttle bus from TRA Ruifang Station is a better option.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
People lining up for the shuttle bus in front of TRA Ruifang Station

2. Ruifang Station -> ride shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 30) -> walk to the venue

by MRT

1. Taipei Main Station -> MRT Muzha Station (Brown Line) -> board festival shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 50) or Bus 795 [Google Map] > Get off at Pingxi Junior High School (平溪國中) stop or Shifenliao Bridge (十分寮橋) stop -> walk to the venue


2. MRT Taipei Zoo Station (Brown Line) -> walk to the gate of Taipei Zoo -> board festival shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 50) -> Get off at Pingxi Junior High School (平溪國中) stop or Shifenliao Bridge (十分寮橋) stop -> walk to the venue

by tripool taxi (book the car at least one day before the event, 3:00 pm cut-off time)


Visit the tripool taxi web app (https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji) -> Choose pick-up point (ex. Taipei Main Station) -> Select drop-off point (Shifen Old Street or Pingxi Junior High School) -> Reserve your taxi -> Repeat the booking process for the return trip

Price comparisons of a general taxi vs tripool taxi, for two passengers going to Taipei Main Station Exit M3 from Pingxi Station or Shifen Station
Pick-up pointDistancetravel timeGeneral taxi fare (deal offer)Tripool taxi fare
Shifen Station38 km46 minsNTD 1,000NTD 706
Pingxi Station33.5 km43 minsNTD 1,000NTD 673
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
clueless tourists at Shifen Old Street
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
If you registered, look for the volunteers at the Assembly Area.
Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q: I registered for the group sky lantern release and got a ticket. Where do I go during the event at my scheduled time?

A:There is an “Assembly Area” (or Assemble Area) upon entering the premises of the Shifen Scenic Area or Pingxi Junior High School. Follow the arrows and get in touch with the volunteers so they can assist you. Do not be late and come to the Assembly Area at least an hour before your scheduled lantern release.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q: What is the show format of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:

It is a group lantern release every 30 minutes starting from 5:30 pm / 6:00 pm and ends at 8:00 pm / 8:30 pm.   There are song and dance numbers during the intervals of the lantern activity. During this 30-minute grace period, the registered participants enter the “activity area”. They become the stars of the show as they write their wildest dreams on the fully opened sky lantern.  Thanks to the volunteers and staff of the festival committee! They will open the paper balloons for you.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

When everyone is done writing their wishes, everyone waits for the sound of the starting pistol (You won't hear it actually!) and the participants release the lanterns at the same time, creating an unforgettable scenery that they will never forget in their entire lives. After the screams and cheers, the participants leave the “activity area” and the next dance or song number happens. During the intermission, the next batch of people will enter for another round of sky lantern release.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

The highlight of the event includes the visit of the New Taipei City mayor, famous personalities like celebrities and social media influencers, and CEOs of the event's major sponsor (ex. Sanrio). Their visit is accompanied by the release of a giant lantern that also joins the hundreds of sky lamps that are released every 30 minutes.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q:I failed to register for the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.What should I do?

A:

There are “sideshows” located along the road leading to the event venue. These are also group lantern release activity that you can participate but organized by local vendors in Shifen and Pingxi. Although less prestigious than the main event in Shifen Square or at the junior high school grounds, it is an alternative for those who weren't able to do so. It can also pacify the hunger of those who have already participated but wanted to see more sky lanterns flying above them. Haha!

You can also come to Shifen or Pingxi to just watch the hundreds of sky lanterns fly simultaneously. But beware!The festival is considered as a major event in Taiwan so expect thousands of tourists flocking to the event area. Get ready to squeeze your self against the crowd if you want to get a nice view. The best place to watch the lanterns is the perimeter around the "activity area" that is formed by the retractable belt barriers. Once a group of lanterns had been released, people usually in front leaves the place giving an opportunity to the person behind to get good photos and videos. I have observed Taiwanese to become aggressive and territorial when they are in front of this belt barrier. They would always want to give their children, husband or wife to have the best viewing experience. Just stay calm, they will also leave after one hour. Haha!

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q: After the event had ended, is it advisable to ride the trains going to Ruifang Station?

A:

It is better to board the shuttle buses going back to Taipei Zoo/MRT Muzha or TRA Ruifang Station. The New Taipei City government is aware of the large crowd that visits the Shifen Scenic Area during the festival so they have a provided several fleets of buses to take tourists back to downtown Taipei.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Q:Are there any concerns that we need to know about the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:

Like any activity that involves fire, accidents may happen. A sky lantern can be blown away by wind and hit spectators, houses or even the stage. I have seen sky lanterns struck the giant lights that are placed on a top of scaffolding (Those studio lights that we see in concerts). It burned as everyone stared at the fire. Until a man pushed the burning lantern. It then fell to the ground! Luckily, no one was standing below and the blaze turned all the paper lantern into ashes. As if nothing happened, everyone looked at the stage and watched the show again. Haha!

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Firemen with their firetrucks and fire extinguishers are on standby in case something happened out of control. So do not worry too much. Enjoy the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival but stay vigilant. When you join the festivity, always remember the saying: When there is smoke, there is fire.

12.4 Pingxi Crags

"Crack the Crags"

An exposed rock in the middle of a forest in the town of Pingxi attracts thrill seekers for a fantastic hike to its top. It's not just one, not two but three rocks and they call it collectively as the Pingxi crags. I had difficulty looking for a Travel Buddy for this trip but the gods and goddesses of Taiwan answered my prayers as one Ethiopian guy joined me in this one of a kind hiking adventure.

Teklu, an Ethiopian was my Travel Buddy for this adventure. I had always invited him to join my adventures but he was so busy that he always declines my invitation. Until this day came! Hallelujah! He finally joined my Taiwan Day Adventures.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Pingxi Station
Pingxi Crags
Waidian Bridge
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Pingxi Station. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Pingxi Station36.7 km49 mins7951,4699:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station33.8 km43 mins7161,349

Going to the trail of the Pingxi crags was simple and easy. We first boarded a TRA train going to Ruifang Station and then we transferred to a train going to Pingxi Station. The train station in the town of Pingxi was built overlooking a river so we went down to its banks and crossed it by walking over the Waidian Bridge. We turned right and walked along the road until we found a marker stating the start of the Xiaozi Mountains Trailhead.

Pingxi Crags
The entrance of the trail
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Travel Buddy Teklu giving a lecture about the trail.
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Be prepared to climb these stone stairs!
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
The statue of a goddess at the intersection of the different hiking trails.

There was a map at the start of the trail and going up was not difficult. We then reached a parking lot where fellow hikers with their own cars parked their vehicles. My Travel Buddy and I continued the hike until we reached a place where there was a goddess acting like a guardian to the entrance of the three crags. There was confusion on where to start and but we managed to identify the one leading to the famous Xiaozi mountain by asking questions to locals.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags

Teklu was excited upon seeing the stone stairs and the rope. He was even the one leading the hike while I courageously hold on tightly to the ropes while I document every scene in our adventure by taking photos. It was a bit difficult for me climb since I also carried my tripod on my other hand. That's really the life of a travel blogger. Haha!

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags

At the top of the stone stairs was a rest station where people can regain their energy before starting the real hike. We were already on the base of the crag and going up meant more struggles. I gave Teklu my tripod and he assisted me to climb the rocks! Damn it! My legs were too short. lol

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
me and Xiaozi Mountain
Pingxi Crags
It was scary to use these ropes to climb to the top.
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
This not yet the peak of Xiaozi Mountain
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
The town of Pingxi
Pingxi Crags
We went down these steep stairs and discover another way to climb to the top of Xiaozi Mountain.
Pingxi Crags
Travel Buddy Teklu got interested with the "Chinese" writing on the rock.
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
The metal stairs to the summit of Mt. Xiaozi
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
At the peak of Xiaozi Mountain

We were at first surprised to see the tall wall of rock that was in front of us. There was also a set of ropes hanging on the crag and we got scared with the idea of doing rock climbing without any harness. Anyway, there was a way going down the side of the base of the crag which led us to another path leading to a metal ladder. We climbed these dangerous metal stairs as well as the steep stone stairs and we were rewarded with the view of town of Pingxi at the top of 360 meter Xiaozi Mountain.

Pingxi Crags
One can also see Putuoshan at the summit of Xiaozishan
Pingxi Crags
Mt. Cimu as seen from the top of Xiaozishan
Pingxi Crags

At the summit of Mt. Xiaozi was an incredible view of the other two crags. Mt. Cimu with its very long stone stairs that were carved from the mountain itself and Putoushan which was covered with trees with some portion of its stone stairs exposed. We even saw some hikers while climbing Putuoshan as we stood on the top of Xiaozi Mountain.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags

After enjoying taking photos at top was the struggle of going down the steep stone stairs of Mt. Xiaozi, I first tried to go down by facing the stairs until I decided to turned my back and go down with the help of holding tightly on the ropes. For the metal ladder, I made sure that I placed the middle portion of my foot on the steps as not to slip on the ladder and let gravity pulled me down to the face of the Earth.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Mt. Xiaozi as seen from the summit of Mt. Cimu.
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
At the summit of Mt. Cimu
Pingxi Crags
A brave man tried to climb Xiaozishan using only the ropes. We saw him while we were at Mt. Cimu.
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Putuoshan as seen from the top of Mt. Cimu

We went back to the place where there was a goddess and we saw the set of narrow stone stairs leading to the top of Mt. Cimu and a wider cemented stairs going up to top of the mountain. My Travel Buddy and I chose to climb the wider stairs since it was shaded and covered with trees. We saw the top of Mt. Cimu and it was like a large wall of rock as we get near to its summit. A set of ropes helped us reached its summit and we were awed with the view of Xiaozi Mountain amidst the dense green forest of Pingxi.

Pingxi Crags
Going down from Mt. Cimu
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
A sky lantern that made its way to the Pingxi Crags trail
Pingxi Crags
The trail to the top of Putuoshan
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
The stone stairs of Putuoshan
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
There was another goddess at the peak of Putuoshan
Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags

The way to Putuoshan was marked with a small stone containing Chinese characters representing the name of the mountain. We followed the path and I documented the hike to the top by recording a video. The trail then becomes the carved stone stairs with ropes on its sides to protect the climbers from falling down from the cliff. We finally reached the summit of Putuo Mountain and at its top were three Buddha statues and were like looking at the town of Pingxi. A simple thank you was our gift to the gods for protecting me and my Travel Buddy during our travel adventure.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags

Before I end this travelogue, let me ask you a question. When was the first time that you heard the word “crag”? I actually learned about this word when I was goggling for this place to visit on a sunny day in Taiwan. The word “crag” was intriguing to me so I searched its meaning on the internet. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, a crag is a steep rugged rock or cliff. But here in Pingxi, the crags were more than just tall exposed rocks in the forest. It was a big playground to defeat acrophobia and reach your dream of climbing a tall rock.

Pingxi Crags Pingxi Crags
Fellow hikers standing on top of Xiaozi Mountain
Pingxi Crags
It took us 4 hours to finish climbing the three summits. We started at 10am and finished around 2pm. When we went back to our starting point, there was this yellow line that hangs at the entrance of the trail.  I thought of the yellow line as a warning sign that you won't be able to finish hiking the Pingxi Crags if you start at 2pm.

We had lots of fun as my Travel Buddy and I shouted to our fellow hikers while they climbed on a different crag. Great smiles were exchanged in our loud greetings and we suddenly felt happiness in our hearts. So when you come to Pingxi, don't just send sky lanterns in the sky. Find the trails, face your fear of heights and prepare yourselves to crack the crags.

12.5 Sandiaoling Waterfall

"True or Falls"

Of all of my travel adventures, hiking is the most physically exhausting. Not only you get a workout, your mind and soul gets clear of all the hassles in life. Taiwan being a mountainous island offers a variety of hiking trails for the young and old. The Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail is a unique one because walking along its path is like tracing a river. Slippery when wet and pretty dangerous because of the cliffs, this hiking was even more memorable because I bought a GoPro HERO3. True or False?

Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall

Kiran, and Indian joined the trip as my Travel Buddy and he was also a PhD student like me. Our journey at the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail started near Sandiaoling Station which is accessible by taking a train. The slow local train ride was one hour from Nangang Station and the ticket was only NTD 46. We saw the branching point of the rail tracks of the Yilan Line and Pingxi Line while walking towards the start of the trail. Speeding express trains suddenly came out of a tunnel and then crossed the bridge. I took a video of the express trains to document the scene. True or False?

Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall

Having a GoPro camera on my forehead was a new experience for me. Recording high quality videos with this gadget makes it easy to document the exciting adventures I will have in my future Taiwan Day Adventures. It's really great! My Travel Buddy and I even have a 6 minute video while walking in the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail capturing every moment while hiking. Yi, er, san. True or False?

Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall

An observation platform allowed all the hikers to appreciate the beautiful Hegu Waterfall. My 8x40 binoculars provided a great view of the natural wonder. It was like I was already facing the falls! We continued the hike for more than one kilometer until we found the second waterfall, Motian Waterfall. Large boulders sat on the ground receiving all the water flowing down from waterfall. After taking pictures we decided to see the third waterfall. It was a dangerous hike upwards with a very narrow, slippery and muddy trail and I even have to climb with the help of ropes. True or False?

Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall

We successfully reached the third waterfall, Pipadong Waterfall. It's actually connected to the Motian Waterfall. Water flowing down from Pipadong Waterfall goes down to the edge or top of Motian Waterfall. I have some pictures at the edge but I was actually scared. I could die easily with one wrong move. We continued the hike upwards and the Loquat Cave welcomed us. The three waterfalls were our target and we already found them. What's next? Kiran asked some Taiwanese and we were told that we should climb the mountain to go to Shifen town. Hmmm... I've never been to Shifen town before. True or False?

Sandiaoling Waterfall Sandiaoling Waterfall

We climbed using ropes to get to the flat mountain top were a nice trail surprised us. Kiran was even surprised when we saw a grandma. She was able to climbed using the ropes! Oh well, I even saw a blog about a family who went hiking in the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail. Hiking is for all ages in Taiwan. We walked for about 4 kilometers to reach Shifen and as usual it was still very busy. Sky lanterns were flying up in the air as the Pingxi Train arrived in the old town. Chu...chu... It was an epic ending for this travel adventure. For thrill seekers, I highly recommend hiking the Sandiaoling Waterfall Trail. A dangerous trail with three stunning waterfalls. It was wet and wild! True or Falls.

13. JINGUASHI (金瓜石)

"Gold Digger"

You’re just a gold digger in red”, I always remember this famous line from a Philippine TV drama series. Every episode was so intense that you will never forget every dialogue. But this travelogue is not about TV dramas but about the gold mining town of Jinguashi (金瓜石). The neighboring town of Jiufen is a nice place to I learn a lot about the history, culture and industry of gold digging in Taiwan. Try to include this place on your itinerary when you visit Taipei and discover its hidden treasures.

Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Jinguashih (Gold Ecological Park). Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Jinguashih (Gold Ecological Park)44.9 km56 mins9061,6359:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station42.1 km50 mins8241,509

Jinguashi is part of the Ruifang District of New Taipei City. It is just one bus ride away from Jiufen which I first visited in Taiwan Day 252 (Spirited Away). From Ruifang Train Station, I boarded Bus 1062 and then I alighted at the Gold Ecological Park bus stop. The Gold Ecological Park is the mining site of the Taiwan Metal Mining Corporation. However the company was forced to close due to debts in 1987. After many years of closure, the Taiwanese government revived the place as a tourist spot as part of the New Taipei City Special Scenic Area and is now known as the Gold Ecological Park.

Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi

Even before the Japanese colonized Taiwan and formally started the island’s mining industry. Stories of golden sands gathered from a river have already spread. A gold rush begun and the rest was history. The mountains of Jinguashi are rocky and they are said to be rich in minerals. When Taiwan was still part of the Japanese empire, the colonizers had developed a system of tunnels in the mountains. One of the tunnels is the Benshan Fifth Tunnel. It is 180 meters long with an altitude of 290 meters above sea level. I learned a lot of many things how mining is done inside when I entered that tunnel. I wore a hard hat just like miners do and it was my first time to enter a gold mine. I paid NTD 50 for this unforgettable tunnel experience.

Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi

Beside the Benshan Fifth Tunnel is the Gold Museum where I had a chance to touch a 220kg gold bar for the first time. I also saw interesting ants, grasshoppers and crabs. All made in gold! On the third floor of the Gold Museum was the place for the Gold Panning DIY activity where I paid NTD 100 to experience gold panning. The instructions were given in Chinese but the instructor can also speak English. After the gold panning session, I ask the instructor if I have gold in the residues inside my vial and he said that I have gold. I kept the vial as my souvenir and became part of my ‘Taiwan collections’.

Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi

The Japanese not only developed the mining industry of Taiwan. They also carried with them their religion. The last 15 years of Japanese colonization in Taiwan was an era of promoting and building a lot of Shinto Shrines and one of them is the Jinguashi Shinto Shrine. This is the second Shinto Shrine that I saw in Taiwan and the first was one was the Taoyuan Martyr’s Shrine which I visited in Taiwan Day 295 (Shinto 101). But unlike the Taoyuan Martyr’s Shrine which is intact, the place was just remains of the sacred place. The Japanese worshipped the Kaneyako diety here which is a Shinto god related to metals. Hiking to the Shinto Shrine gave me a nice view of the East China Sea and the Teapot Mountain (580 meters altitude).

Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi Jinguashi

Other places interesting places to see was the Crown Prince Chalet which was made for the visit of Prince Hirohito for a mine inspection, while the Four Joined Japanese-Style Residences was a dormitory made for the employees of a Japanese mining company. The last tourist spot that I went that day was the Golden Waterfall in Shuinandong. I boarded a taxi together with six students from Hong Kong who went to Taiwan for a summer vacation. Our driver was named Linda and she was the first female taxi driver that I have encountered. It was an exciting road trip going down the ‘snake’ road.

Jinguashi

Visitors can continue their trip to Shuinandong. Although there is not much to see aside from taking pictures, the abandoned building reminds tourist of the heydays of Taiwan's mining era. Cross the busy road, and you get near to the Yin Yang Sea. Water flowing down from the Golden Waterfall goes here giving the deep blue sea a shade of golden yellow.


My tip for visiting Jinguashi and Jiufen for one day. See the Golden Waterfall first, then board the bus going to Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park. And On lunch time or in the afternoon, that's the time to go to Jiufen for your lunch or buy some snacks. On weekends, it becomes stressful to wait for the bus back to Taipei at night. Not to mention that there are also hundreds of local and foreign tourists who will also board the bus. So its better to go home early, than to waste time so much time with your fellow Taiwanderers.

14. TAIWAN TOUR BUS GOLDEN FULONG LINE

Travel across the northeast coast of Taiwan via the Taiwan Tour bus Golden Fulong Line. It's actually Bus 856 and a one-day ticket costs only NTD 50. You can board the bus from the Ruifang Station District Square and tell the driver that you want to buy a day pass.

Popular attractions along the way are Jiufen Old Street, Jinguashi (Gold Ecologicap Park), Golden Waterfall, Nanya Rocks and Longdong Bay. The terminal of the low-floor bus ends at Gongliao District of New Taipei, where the golden sands of the Fulong Beach is waiting for you.

If you just want to see Fulong Beach during the sand sculpture festival, board a local train instead at Taipei Main Station or at any train stations along the Taipei Line, which includes TRA Banqiao Station, TRA Nangang Station and even TRA Ruifang Station.

14.1 Nanya Rock Formations

"Nanya Rocks"

Imagine yourself driving a cabriolet on a seaside road called the Provincial Highway No. 2. You open the car’s roof and the wind starts to play with your hair. As you travel along the highway, you let your eyes gaze at the tall cliffs. Your ears listen to the sound of waves crashing against the shore. This rocky road on Taiwan's northeast coast never fails to amaze tourists. Yes, it is! From the famous Yehliu Geopark to the Dragon Caves in Longdong, there are lots of places in Taiwan that was driven by the forces of nature. Inspired by my love for geology, it’s time to add another place that will definitely rock your world.

Nanya Rock Nanya Rock Nanya Rock

Nanya Rocks! Bannered by the peculiar stone, it is the best representation of the geologic forces that shaped this place. When there are typhoons, giant waves hammer the coastline rounding the edges of big rocks. Strong earthquakes uplift the land revealing any secret that was kept hidden under the ocean for a very long time. Looking at these large stones is like gazing at the artwork of nature.

Nanya Rock

Most visitors come here with their own cars or sometimes in a private bus. Bundled with a guided tour in Jiufen, it's so easy to lure tourists for a package tour. For those wishing to enjoy more of their precious moments at the sea, board the Taiwan Tour Bus Golden Fulong Line at the Ruifang Station. During weekdays, the vehicle arrives every hour but during weekends when there are more tourists, the tour bus arrives every after 30 minutes.

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to the Nanya Rock Formations. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Nanya Rock Formations44.8 km50 mins8711,6019:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station42 km44 mins7861,467

Travel time to Nanya Ninxin Temple stop is less than 20 minutes. Hold on to your seats as when Bus 856 goes down to Shuinandong from Jinguashi. It would be a thrilling ride as it goes down on the winding “Snake Road”. Press the alight button when the bus is already running on the seaside. You do not want to bypass Nanya or else the vehicle would take you Bitou Cape.

Nanya Rock

Nanya Geologic Trail. From the bus stop, I crossed the other side of the Northern Coastal Highway to get near to the beach. There was no sand here but rather a rocky flat shoreline that has been slowly showing itself as the sea recedes at low tide. It was nice to see families enjoying their time here on a hot summer day. Fathers hold on to the hands of their young kids as they dip their feet into the shallow waters of the tidal flat.

Nanya Rock Nanya Rock Nanya Rock Nanya Rock Nanya Rock Nanya Rock

At the end of the pathway were the rocks that rose from the sea. It was like going to Yehliu Geopark without the need to pay for a ticket. If you are coming from the highway then you have climb down the staircase. You are to going to meet other tourists who have already taken their selfies with the peculiar rock. It was good that there were lots of people in the area. They made the place tourist friendly. Unlike in Longdong Cape back in Travel in Taiwan 170702 (The Dragon's Lair), where there were few visitors and the rest were local fishermen.

Nanya Rock

It was so tempting to climb above the sea cliff. I couldn't resist its allure so I walked towards it. Along the highway, I found a “secret passage” where it leads to a trail that ends at the edge of the cliff. It was actually so scary to stand here. After taking pictures of the scenic area, I immediately left the place.

Nanya Rock Nanya Rock

Nanya Rock definitely rocks because everything turned into gold during the sunset. The boulders, the cliff, and the stones all shone with help of the powerful rays of the sun. Truly, Nanya is a fascinating sight and it deserves a happy greeting by every visitor who comes to this place. So raise your hand once you're here, let your spirits go wild and get ready to rock on!

14.2 Bitou Cape

"A Beautiful Summer"

You know it's summer season in Taiwan when temperatures are rising every day, and the intense blue hue of the sky appears. The “Best Time of Year” is also the right time to visit Bitou Cape. You can also dip your body in the refreshing waters of Longdong Bay. I went with friends which made this summer adventure, not just special but also beautiful.

Bitou Cape Bitou Cape

They were Evan, Robert and Gagan. The first two were Filipinos and they were my Travel Buddies in last week's Taiwan Day 1001 adventure where we visited a NASA Exhibit. Gagan came from Nepal and he went to Taiwan to work as a research intern. We all met at MRT Nangang Exhibition Hall Exit 5 and boarded the train to Nangang Station where we transferred to a TRA local train going to Ruifang Station.


It was hot when we arrived at the train station. There was a visitor center inside and I asked help from the staff there. I was informed there was a Taiwan Tour Bus that would bring people to the different tourist attractions in Taiwan’s North Coast. It was Bus 856 and the One-Day Pass costs NTD 50. We walked outside the Ruifang Station and looked for the police station where the bus stop was located. The bus arrived in a few minutes and we started our exciting journey.

Bitou Cape
The bus stop is also the start of the trail.

Jiufen and Jinguashi were some of the stops of Bus 856. Gagan was amazed at the scenery as the bus ran along the highway in the mountains. We were all standing on the left side of the bus which made us appreciate more the amazing view of the East China Sea. Bitou Cape Trail was one of the stops of the tour bus and I pressed its stop button to inform the bus driver that we were going to alight. The blazing heat of the sun welcomed us and we all embraced it. haha!

Bitou Cape
Bitou Elementary School

There were clouds in the sky but it could not cover the sun. It was a good thing that Robert shared his sunblock with us before we boarded Bus 856. I didn’t bring any protective lotion so we thanked Robert for his kindness. There was confusion at first on where the trail actually starts until we passed by the Bitou Elementary School. We looked at the guide map and we knew that we were going on the right way.

Bitou Cape Bitou Cape Bitou Cape
A gated fence prevents hikers from entering a military facility.
Bitou Cape Bitou Cape
And then we continued the hike again.
Bitou Cape
Our goal was to reach this rest station.
Bitou Cape
But we need to have a photo first. Haha!
Bitou Cape
We finally reached the rest station where a beautiful view of the mountains and the sea awaits us.

One of best place to have photos in the trail was the Bitou Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the segment of the hiking trail leading to the magnificent building was closed. Big rocks fell along its path prompting the tourism bureau to close it temporarily until it is safe hike it again. But it was still fun to hike the Bitou Cape Trail and I took good photos while standing on its curve walkway.

Bitou Cape
We then started our descend towards the town.
Bitou Cape Bitou Cape Bitou Cape Bitou Cape
Cheers for a successful hike!

We were surprised at the end of our hiking when we encountered a man selling bottled juice drinks. He could not speak English but he let us have a taste of his product. We all liked it and since we were all thirsty we decided to buy a bottle of the juice. The drink was made from the extracts of passion fruit and I have never tasted something like this before in Taiwan. After becoming rejuvenated with that refreshing drink, I told a joke to my Travel Buddies. “Why did the man asked us to give him our empty bottles? Is he going to put juice again to the bottle and resell it?”. We all laughed at my idea.

Bitou Cape Longdong Four Seasons Bay
We bought our ticket here for our entrance at the Longdong Four Seasons Bay.
Longdong Four Seasons Bay
We talked to this woman to rent snorkeling gears.
Bitou Cape

The town of Bitou was just at the foot of the hiking trail and we made a short walk until we found ourselves at the bus stop where we originally alighted. Bus 856 arrived again and it took us to our next destination, the Longdong Four Seasons Bay. A white building was my landmark and the place was a like a resort with rocky shores that were transformed into rectangular pools. People dived and swim here to see some fishes. There was an entrance fee of NTD 120 and we paid at the gate. Based on my research, snorkeling gears at the Four Seasons Bay were available for rent at a cost NTD 100 but the lady at the shop didn't asked us for any money.

Longdong Four Seasons Bay Longdong Four Seasons Bay Longdong Four Seasons Bay Longdong Four Seasons Bay

It was my first time to dip my body on a beach of Taiwan and I could not contain my happiness. There were fishes that were swimming along with me although there were no beautiful corals to look at. I didn’t know how to swim but I was wearing a life vests so drowning would not become a problem. We wanted to stay longer at the sea but we have to catch Bus 856 or there might be no more bus to take us back to Ruifang Station.


We decided to visit Keeling Miaokou Night Market since we were all hungry. We boarded Bus 787 at the Ruifang Station and at the harbor we walked to reach the night market known for its seafood delicacies. A grandma caught our attention and we ordered seafood noodles from her store. It was very tasty and it was cooked with love. We enjoyed our meal under the night sky amidst the hundreds of people who were also looking for food at the night market.

Bitou Cape

Everything was perfect that night. Travel Buddy Gagan even commended me for my selection for Taiwan Day 1008: Bitou Cape Trail, Longdong Bay, and Miakou Night Market. He was so elated that he wanted to join my future travel adventures. Yehey! I made a rookie Travel Buddy very happy. The gods and goddesses of Taiwan would surely reward me for my hard work in exploring Taiwan. haha! Today was a lucky day and it marked the start of a beautiful summer.


***********

Bus 856 (Golden Fulong Shuttle Bus) Departure times
DayBus stoptime
weekdaysfrom Ruifang Station:9:00/10:00/11:00/12:00/13:00/14:00/15:00/16:00
from Bitoujiao (鼻頭角):10:42/11:42/12:42/13:42/14:42/15:42/16:42/17:42
weekendsfrom Ruifang Station:Every 30 minutes. First bus at 8:00. Last bus at 16:00
from Bitoujiao (鼻頭角):Every 30 minutes. First bus at 9:42. Last bus at 17:42
Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to the Bitoujiao Trail. You can also set Bitou Elementary School (trail entrance) as the drop-off point. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Bitoujiao Trail47.9 km55 mins9491,7218:00 am to 8:30 am
Taipei Main Station45.1 km49 mins8661,592

14.3 Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival

"The Sand Republic"

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival. One of the main reasons why people flock to the Fulong beach of Northern Taiwan. It always attract local and international visitors to see golden sand castles in diffent sizes and shapes. Every year is different. One of my memorable visits was when there were flags that kept dancing in the wind. It helped spectators identify the nationality of their favorite sand artists.


The sculptors have come from the different parts of the world, from the United States of America to Europe and then to Asia. Was there a participant from your country? Let’s find out.

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Fulong Beach. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Fulong Beach57.7 km1 hr 12 mins1,2182,1398:00 am to 8:30 am
Taipei Main Station54.8 km1 hr 6 mins1,1231,992
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Can we see through?”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Demons”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“The Wendigo”

Canadians will be at the top of our list. Melineige Beauregard won 1st place on this year’s Taiwan World Sand Sculpting Championship with her “Can we see through?” sculpture. Lovers entangled in strings representing bad and good experiences in a relationship captured the hearts of judges in the competition. Only the eyes of the lovers can be seen in her work and they were looking at each other. Eye to eye, heart to heart. While Beauregard portrayed love, other Canadians showed the scary side of life. Marc Lepires’ “Demons” and Guy Olivier Deveau’s “The Wendigo” brought life to creatures that we pray not to see in our dreams at night.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Spring Plumage”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Think…Reduce…Reuse…Recycle!

The land of the free had also sent its participants. Kirk Rademaker’s “Spring Plumage” featured the act of the birds when it spread its wings to attract a mate during spring time. Another American, Dan Doubleday believed that the octopus is the most intelligent creature in the ocean. He was fascinated with its IQ and also its ability to change color through mimicry. It was impossible for him to behave like an octopus so he created one and sent it to Taiwan. John Gowdy showed his love for Mother Earth with his “Think…Reduce…Reuse…Recycle!". He used the festival as an opportunity to remind everyone to care for the environment especially our oceans.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
"Flora"
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Life Music"

Europe’s best sand artist also created sculptures for the annual event. We all know that The Netherlands is a country of beautiful of flowers and it was not surprising to see a sand sculpture depicting the Roman goddess of flowers, fertility and spring which is "Flora". Wilfred Stijger’s “Life Music” was an amazing sculpture. Life was compared to an accordion and according to him our whole journey on this Earth was like a music. We have our ups and downs as we grew up like musical notes that also goes up and down on a composition. We started our life song at our birth and we will end it with our death once we played the last key of our own music.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Fat Mermaid”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“In the Center of the Cyclone”

How about seeing a “Fat Mermaid”? Pedro Mira from Portugal imagined the mythical sea creature as a plus-size mermaid representing the greed of humans feeding from the weakness of others. Mother Russia will always be a proud mom to its citizens. Her son Dmitrii Klimenko created the sculpture “In the Center of the Cyclone” which takes visitors back to a time when a storm ravaged his town.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Wisdom King”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Cows and Global Warming”

There were also entries from other countries like Latvia, Czech Republic and France but let us not forget Taiwan. Various artist from around the island also joined the fun for this yearly event. They have a different source of inspiration and I enjoyed taking photos of their creations. Some of the Taiwanese sand artworks that I saw were the “Wisdom King” of Yeh Kun-Peng and the “Cows and Global Warming” of Fang Zhi-Da.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Taiwan’s Night Market”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Taiwan Scooter”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Sky Lantern”
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
“Taiwan’s First Female President”

But the art installations that attracted the most in the festival where the daily scenes and different tourist attractions in the island. Are you hungry? Why not go to “Taiwan’s Night Market” and imagine yourself eating street food made up of sand. Ride a “Taiwan Scooter” to reach Pingxi and then send a “Sky Lantern” to the heavens. Congratulations to president-elect Tsai for being “Taiwan’s First Female President”. She will become the most powerful woman in the Chinese-speaking world once she starts her duty.

Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival

This 2019, the festival will last until Aug. 25. So be there before it’s gone! How go to Fulong Beach? Just board any train going to TRA Fulong Station and from there you can walk to reach the beach. There is an entrance fee worth NTD 100. Enjoy the sand sculptures there and spread the news to your friends and loved ones. Show them your passport of happiness. Tell them that you have enjoyed your stay in the sand republic.

14.4 Longdong Dragon Caves

"The Dragon's Lair"

Be careful. A Taiwanese woman gave me a warning after I struggled to climb down a portion of a cliff. “Are you alone?”, she asked. “Yes”, I replied. “You need to put your tripod inside your bag. Your hands must be free because you will use the ropes”, she added. This conversation started my adventure in Longdong. Fear and horror replaced my excitement and ecstasy as I stand in front of a high cliff. Beneath is the blue waters of the East China Sea. The sound of its waves crashing against the rocky shoreline in Longdong Bay was like a song from hell.

Comparison of tripool taxi fares from Taipei Main Station and Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station going to Longdong Bay Promontory. Don't forget to book a return trip back to downtown Taipei.

tripool taxi web app: https://www.tripool.app/?utm_source=luomuji
Pick-up pointDrop-off pointDistanceTravel timeEstimated tripool taxi fare (NTD)Suggested pick-up period at the pick-up point
# of passengers
1,2,3 or 48
Diary of Taipei Hotel - Ximen Station
Check availability >>
Longdong Bay Promontory50.7 km58 mins9651,7359:00 am to 9:30 am
Taipei Main Station47.8 km52 mins8801,604
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Longdong Four Seasons Bay
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From the police station near Ruifang Station, I boarded Bus 862 and alighted at Longdong Four Seasons Bay stop. I walked 600 meters uphill to Xilingyan Temple where the Longdonwan Cape Trail starts.

The thin line dividing life and death is very clear here in Longdong. The home of the dragons. Who would have thought that it could be found in Taiwan? For Asians, the dragon is a god. A powerful mythical creature. In the West, it is an enemy and brings chaos. A fire breathing animal with a long tail and two large wings. Whatever it may be, I must find it. I must find its home.

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Looking down 
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Local fisherman climbing down the rocks.
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The universe was waiting for that moment. That point in my life where I will lose my grip on the rope and fall below. There is no one that will catch me. There is also no one that will help me. All I have is myself. My hands are strong and my determination too. I trusted the Lord as I embraced my tripod on my right arm. I struggled to go down. Thank God. I survived!

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Longdong Cape as seen from the Longdong Four Seasons Bay
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The deep blue East China Sea and Luo-Mu Jie.
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Longdong Cape. Warnings are given to those who dare to go down!
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Longdong Cape (龍洞岬). It was the name of the place of that I went to. Here, the land tilts to an angle similar to a cuesta rock formation. Setting my tripod for the 10-second timer was easy but running to have a good pose wasn't. There are rocks with unusual shapes and puddles that can make your shoes wet. If I really can't get a good picture then a selfie will do the trick.

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Looking into the direction of Bitou Cape from Longdong Cape.  I was actually standing on the edge of the rocks and below it was the sea.
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Everything was fine until the sea whispered something in my ear. It told me that the Dragon Cave that I was looking for can be found beneath the cliff in the direction of Bitou Cape. I went to that area where I can almost meet Death. I stood above the rocks with the deep blue sea below me. The view was tantalizing on a calm summer day. But when there's a typhoon or during winter, giant freak waves suddenly appear here claiming the lives of innocent visitors. They are swept to the sea and returned to the shore in their lifeless body.

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A warning in Chinese
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A local fisherman walking on the cliff
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Visitors climbing uphill. If you fall down then it's over.
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Final destination. lelz
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This place is not a playground. Not even a paradise. It is a deathtrap to those who ignore the warnings. From the year 2000 to 2015, 241 people were found dead or missing. The woman was right! I really have to be careful. Searching for the home of the dragons in Longdong Cape is not a child's play. It is a death-defying stunt that only experts can win.

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In order to go back to where I came from, I need to climb using this rope again.
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Before I started to climb using the rope
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I placed my tripod on the side pocket of my bag to keep my hands free when holding the rope.

I returned to where I came from. It is above the cliff where the outlook observatory was located. Below, I met the rope again. Before I started climbing, I placed my tripod in the side pocket of my bag. With its strap around it, my travel paraphernalia was tightly fastened to the knapsack. My hands were free then and I was able to hold the rope with my two hands. I have to trust this thing or else I would be stuck here forever. I made a successful ascent but the travel adventure was not yet over because I still haven't seen the Dragon Cave.

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Longdong Cape Trail

A walk in the Longdong Cape Trail is an illusion of being cradled in the arms of the gods and goddesses of Taiwan. Look at the sea and imagine how far your eyes can see. The place where Heaven and Earth meet every day is in front of your eyes. They crossed their paths at the horizon with the moon above as an eyewitness of their love.

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The entire trail was a mirage. Plants cover its side as if there is a land beyond them. I continued my walk until I found an outlook observatory. Here, you can see what's on the cliff. Layers and layers of rock are exposed to the elements like a big wall of a house. But where is the Dragon Cave? I could not see it.

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Wow!
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The Dragon Cave. I found it at last!
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Beware of the dangers in the dragon's lair
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There is another outlook observatory not far away from the Longdong Bay Promontory and a walkway led me to that place. There I found what I was looking for. A giant hole was on the cliff wall! No one told me that it was the Dragon Cave but I knew that it was. It has a large opening big enough to fit a dinosaur inside. Or should I say a dragon? I wonder what's inside. I was thinking of a plan to visit Longdong again until suddenly I remember what the Taiwanese woman told me. Be careful. Beware of the dangers in the dragon's lair.

15. TAMSUI (淡水)

"Tamsui daytrip"

Visitors in Taipei can go to Tamsui to experience a trip full of history and seaside views. On the months of July and August especially on weekends, Tamsui becomes packed with people wanting to escape the summer heat.

How to go to Tamsui: Board the MRT Red line and get off at the terminal stop which is Tamsui Station. Some of the tourist attractions are a walking distance. For places ike Tamsui Wharf, you will have board a ferry to get there fast.

Tamsui Tamsui

On one hot summer day, I brought my Travel Buddies here. But in contrast to what people do, instead of boarding the MRT to Tamsui, we opted to ride a ferry from Guandu Wharf. started Guandu Food Court. One-way ticket to Tamsui cost NTD 110. The passenger boat took us to Tamsui Wharf within 15 minutes and it passed under the famous Guandu Bridge. Its red color and three arches make it photogenic while standing at the back of the passenger speedboat. Our boat docked at Tamsui Wharf and we searched immediately for Tamsui's historic sites.

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The red bricks architecture of the Tamsui Presbyterian Church got our attention. Beside the church is an old hospital, the Hobe Mackay Hospital. It was named after Dr. George Mackay. He is a Canadian missionary and has a large influence in the development of Tamsui. The hospital is just beside the Tamsui Presbyterian Church which is under its supervision.

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Other interesting places to see were the Former British Consulate Office and the Fort San Domingo which I have visited in Taiwan Day 323 (Game of Thrones). The campus of Aletheia University is open to visitors who want to enjoy the unique architecture of its buildings. The eye-catching bell towers of the Aletheia Church was so stunning that I can't stop myself from taking photos. Am I in Europe? Another intriguing building was the Oxford College but I was not able to enter its museum. Maybe next time I will visit the campus again. I've heard that the scenery is different in the campus during the cherry blossom season.

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A delicious cookie in Tamsui Old Street
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I don't know what is written on the card that I'm holding. Whatever!
Tamsui

For food lovers, Tamsui have a lot to offer. Its famous “Iron Eggs” is a must to try while the Ah Gei dish has a distinct taste. The fun continued in the Museum of Strange where weird dead and alive animals were displayed. Tickets cost NTD 89 and you can see a chastity belt for women. Have you ever heard of a condom for women? Yes, they have it. We also have taken our mug shots inside. My Travel Buddies showed their evil faces while I smiled with joy. I'm a happy criminal!

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A speedboat ride took us to Tamsui Fishermen's Wharf where the Lover's Bridge is located. Somehow my Travel Buddies became emotional as they told their stories of love lost that can never be regained. The changing colors of the Lover's Bridge added drama to the night scenery - red, blue, green.

Tamsui

Bus Red 26 took us back to the Tamsui MRT Station. From a river cruise trip to the bridges of love, visitors will definitley enjoy their trip in Tamsui.

16. JAPANESE COLONIAL BUILDINGS IN TAIPEI

"Traces of Japan"

Taiwan – the little Japan. The island had become a colony of Japan when representatives of the Qing Dynasty signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. Since then, tremendous development was done by the Japanese empire for Formosa from its railway system to its premier university. More than 70 years had already passed since the defeat of the Land of the Rising Sun but its legacy still remains in Taipei. They are scattered around the city serving as windows to the island’s glorious past. I wanted to see their grandeur with my own very eyes and be the first one to trace their locations one by one.

old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部)

16.1 Zhongshan Hall

Let's start first around the area in MRT Ximen Station because the Zhongshan Hall is near to this place. This good looking building with its mighty arches on its facade houses a large theater. It was built to celebrate the accession of Prince Hirohito when he became the Emperor of Japan. Architect Ide Kaoru designed the building and its construction was finished in 1936.

Taipei Zhongshan Hall Taipei Zhongshan Hall Taipei Zhongshan Hall

16.2 Ximen Red House (西門紅樓)

Have you been to Shinkigai Market? Oops! It sounds Japanese. I'm actually talking about the Ximen Red House. The iconic building is one of the most visited colonial buildings in Taipei. Here, the old meets new. The red brick structure with an octagonal hall is just walking distance from the Ximending commercial district where modern neon lights, shops, and good food rule. Do you know who designed the Ximen Red House? It was Matsuzaki Tsumunaga and it was built in 1908.

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16.3 Nishi Honganji Relics (西本願寺)

Are you religious? Why not visit the relics of the Nishi Honganji Temple. It was one of the newest attractions of Taipei City after its renovation in 2012. It was the center of Zen Buddhism in the capital a long time ago. There was a shrine here before but it was turned into ashes after a fire broke up but its wide staircase will remind every visitor that it had once existed. A bungalow house now stands in the complex called the Rinbansyo. If you have time then you can have your afternoon tea here. Another interesting structure was the big hall with a characteristic facade. Its roof resembles the free flowing style of the Shinto Shrine that I saw in Taoyuan in Taiwan Day 295 (Shinto 101).

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A Shinto shrine originally stands on top of this staircase. However, it turned into ashes during a fire.
Nishi Honganji Relics Nishi Honganji Relics Nishi Honganji Relics Nishi Honganji Relics Rinbansyo Rinbansyo

16.4 old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部)

Beimen Station was the next area that I explored. This is where the North Gate was located during the time when a great wall surrounded the ancient city of Taipei. It was torn down by the Japanese to develop the city and around this corner were majestic buildings that remind Taipei residents of its past. One of them is the building of the Railway Ministry. This is where the governor-general of the Transportation Bureau have its office during Taiwan’s Japanese colonial time. The building was designed by the Improvement Division of the Railway Ministry and was finished in 1919. It is now under the care of the National Taiwan Museum. It was still undergoing renovation during my visit but I'm praying that someday it would soon open its doors for local and international visitors.

old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部) old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部) old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部) old Railway Ministry of Taiwan (台灣總督府交通局鐵道部)

16.5 Taipei Post Office (臺北郵局

Located along the Zhongxiao West Road is the Taipei Post Office. A flyover used to stand beside this building but when it was demolished by the city government the beauty of the building was unveiled. It has a small clock on its top while its columns give that illusion of strength. Architect Kuriyama Shunichi designed the building and its construction was done in 1930.

Taipei Post Office Taipei Post Office Taipei Post Office

16.6 Futai Street Mansion (撫臺街洋樓

A few meters from the Taipei Post Office was Futai Street where a European-style mansion stand until today. Walk slowly as you suddenly notice the Futai Mansion. It was originally owned by Takaishi Gumi Construction Company after it had built the two-story building in 1910. The mansion now houses a photo exhibit where people can learn some interesting facts about Taipei city. It’s a rare structure in the city nowadays so at least have a selfie with this building once you get a chance to visit the North Gate.

Futai Street Mansion Futai Street Mansion Futai Street Mansion

16.7 Presidential Office Building (中華民國總統府)

The scorching heat of the sun didn't stop me in looking for the Presidential Office Building. It was one of the most important imperial buildings in Taiwan during its Japanese colonial period and even up to this present time. Its central tower gives that impression of power to the island's 23 million residents. The building was built in 1919 and designed by Moriyama Matsunosuke of the Construction Division of the Office of the Governor-General. It was hard to take photos of this place and I don't know why the guards were so in particular with the tripod that I was holding. I was allowed to take photos but to open my tripod was like illegal for them.

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16.8 Taipei Guest House (臺北賓館)

I continued walking along Ketagalan Road until I got a sight of the Taipei Guest House. I could only see its beautiful windows from afar which have the same design as the Futai Mansion. Its original architect was Fukoda Togo and the building was constructed in 1901. Nomura Ichiro and Moriyama Matsunosuke made some improvements to the design of the building. I walked near its gate. Too bad! It was closed permanently for visitors. It used to be a guest house for prominent leaders of other countries especially the Japanese governor-general of Taiwan.

Taipei Guest House Taipei Guest House

16.9 Control Yuan (監察院)

The National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital was my next destination but I somehow got lost and I stumbled myself in the pink building of the Control Yuan. It was located at the corner of Section 1 Zhongxiao West Road and Zhongshan South Road. Architect Moriyama Matsunosuke designed the building and its construction was done 1915. If you are wondering what is the function of the Control Yuan in Taiwan