I went on a week-long trip to Taiwan in July 2014, and it was TERRR…RIFIC!!!
7 days in Taiwan was pretty short, I must say. I initially had sooo many places in mind that I wanted to visit (Hualien, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan National Scenic Area, Kenting National Park, etc.), but obviously it was NOT possible to visit all of them in 7 days. So I decided to only explore these 3 counties – Taipei, Nantou and Hualien (check the map below!)
I spent about 4 nights in Taipei. Highlights in Taipei: night markets in Taipei City, Jiufen and Shifen in Pingxi district, and Maokong, an area famous for great tea and beautiful views over the city. Both Pingxi district and Maokong are located relatively near to Taipei City. You can easily get to Maokong by Gondola from Taipei Zoo station. But to get to Pingxi district, you will have to travel a lil’ bit more.
So what exactly can you do in Pingxi district?
Jiufen is a small town in Pingxi district, and the highlight for me was the old street market.
And we tried lots of snacks here!!
Shifen is another small town in Pingxi district, and it’s famous for sky lanterns! Have you seen the movie “You are the Apple of My Eye”? Do you remember the scene where the couple released a sky lantern? You can re-create that scene with your partner (or friends, for the single folks!) in Shifen! 🙂
If you have extra time in Shifen, do visit the waterfall! I heard it’s really pretty there.
I only spent about half a day exploring this area, so that explains the pretty short description of the places I visited. The activities and places that I mentioned above are my “must-not-miss” in Pingxi district! 🙂
If I had more time, I would have probably added the waterfall to that list as well! 🙂
How to get to Pingxi District?
Go to Taipei Main Station and take the northbound train (except Keelung bound train) towards Ruifang station. Then, transfer to Pingxi line and purchase a one-day ticket for the Pingxi Line.
I was in Nantou for about 2 nights. Highlights in Nantou: Sun Moon Lake and Cingjing farm. Cingjing was really awesome! It was July and yet the weather was a bit chilly. It did rain for a few hours and that sucked, but other than that I love everything about Cingjing! <3
Other than these two places, we also went to Puli. It is a small town in Nantou – sooo small that we could reach all the places that we wanted to visit on foot! xD There was nothing much there; we stopped by for a day to break the long journey to Cingjing from Taipei 🙂
To go to Puli from Taipei, your first option is to take the High Speed Rail (HSR) to Taichung (alternatively, you can take the normal train from Taipei to Taichung – cheaper but slower) and then board a bus to Puli from the basement of the Taichung train station.
While planning for this trip, I was contemplating whether to go back straight to Taipei from Cingjing, or to explore other areas near Cingjing before heading back. Then, I stumbled upon a blog post about Hualien. The pretty pictures on the way to Hualien from Cingjing totally caught my eyes, and I just knew that I had to visit Hualien before going back to Taipei. So we ended up staying in Hualien for a night! 🙂
There are two options to go to Hualien from Cingjing: by train or cab. Fun fact: taking a cab is WAYYY faster than taking the train! If you want to take the train, you have to take the bus from Cingjing up to Taichung and then take the train to Hualien. That takes really LONG! So we decided to rent a cab. It was around S$200, which was pretty costly for an 8-hour rent, but we thought that was the better choice.
So, was the S$200 worth it? A.B.S.O.L.U.T.E.L.Y!
I mean, just look at these pictures!!
A couple other important things about Taiwan I’d like to mention: the transportation and visa!
Transportation in Taiwan
I’d say traveling around Taiwan is pretty easy. Getting around Taipei City on the MRT is a breeze, and in the event that you get lost, just hail a cab. Cab fares are super affordable there! The other cities and major attractions are also well connected via the HSR or normal train network.
FYI, if you are planning to take the HSR, you should purchase your tickets early as you could enjoy the early bird discounts. For more information, please click here!
As an Indonesian, I have to get a visa for almost every country that I want to visit. It sucks, isn’t it! But luckily I still have a valid U.S visa and so I didn’t have to apply for a Taiwan visa (yay!).
For nationals of India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia with a valid visa issued by the U.S, U.K, Schengen states, Canada, Japan, Australia or New Zealand, you just need to apply for the “Authorization Certificate” online. That’s it, and you save S$65. Woohoo! For the full article about this, please click here.
To apply for the “Authorization Certificate”, click here.
OVERALL, HERE’S MY…
(+) Points about Taiwan:
Almost everything (especially FOOD) is so cheap in Taiwan! I only spent a total of around S$1,000, including hotels, plane tickets, plus bf’s birthday lunch in a steak house in Taipei.
The people are so friendly in Taiwan! And if you can’t speak Chinese, you can still survive in Taipei City, but maybe not in the countryside! Haha. But don’t worry, you can always use Google Translate to help you communicate with the locals! 😉
(-) Point about Taiwan:
I really hate the mosquitoes in Taiwan! Hahaha… So do bring insect repellent especially if you plan to visit Cingjing, Shifen and Jiufen 😀
PS. Stay tuned for more details on Taiwan from me! ;D