My family is planning a 6-day trip to Taiwan and they’ve asked me to prepare a customized schedule for them. Their tour agency suggested that they visit Sun Moon Lake and Alishan but I personally feel there’s more than enough to see just in Taipei alone. If they want to go outside Taipei, I suggested they go for Hualien and spend the rest of the days in Taipei.
Taipei is all about delicious and reasonably-priced food, a clean environment, convenient transportation and a mix of Japanese and Taiwanese cultures.
WARNING: People here speak Mandarin so it can be a bit hard to go around Taiwan if you don’t speak Chinese. But at the same time, they’re also very friendly and are willing to help. And if they don’t, it’s only because they’re shy.
Otherwise, below is the itinerary I sent them. The hotels I picked were not as expensive, and the food is still okay. I removed Ding Dai Fong because I felt that you can eat good xiao long bao anywhere since the restaurant already have branches globally, and replaced them with some good BBQ and hotpot buffets. I also removed Mitsui Taipei since my mom is paying for most of the dinner and each person was NTD 2000 a pop.
Overall, my family will come away exhausted. This is a jump-packed schedule!!! But they will have a good feeling of Taiwan’s true “essence” in just 6 days, and will understand why I love the country so much.
And if you readers would want to do 7 days, I would suggest visiting the a) Taipei Zoo and having tea at Maokong in the evening, or b) traveling to Wulai and visiting the Wulai Aboriginal Village. You can also do a day trip to Yang Ming Shan Park.
To Share: A Real-Life, Jump-Packed 6-Day Taipei – Hualien – Jiufen – Yehliu – Taipei Itinerary
Day 1: MANILA – TAIPEI – HUALIEN (Book Tour)
7:40 am: Depart Manila to Taipei via PR896
9:50 am: Arrival in Taipei. Tour guide will meet you at the airport to transfer to train station going to Hualien. The tour guide should already buy TPE-Hualien-TPE tickets for group’s behalf
Lunch: Buy and eat Taiwanese bento box (around NTD 100) inside the train.
Check-in: CLASSIC HOTEL CITY RESORT (經典飯店) **Hotel is only a 5-10 min walk from train station**
Address: No. 139, Guolian 5th Road, Hualien City, Hualien (970花蓮市國聯五路139號)
Tel: 03-835 9966
Dinner: Taxi to Zhiqiang Night Market (自强夜市) in Hualian
Must have: The First BBQ Store and Guan Zai Fan (蔣記花蓮式棺材板)
Guan Zai Fan sells French toast with your choice of filling. In Chinese, it means “Coffin Sandwiches.” Its popular flavor is black pepper beef but try the other flavors. The meal comes with free milk tea/red tea.
The First BBQ Stall (第一家烤肉串). Because lines are long, just choose whatever you want them hand it to the stall owner at the end of the queue and pay for them. They will mark your sticks and send them for grilling and proceed with giving you a queue number.
Since waiting can be as long as 1 hour on weekends, head to this stall and choose your food first, go and try other food and then return to collect your BBQ treats.
On Fuxing Street (復興路), there are 2 stalls selling the same snack – yup, only one snack – that everyone is willing to come early / queue to buy. It’s the spring onion pancake with an egg! What makes this unique is that the egg yolk is still soft and oozy – the whole egg is added into the hot oil (yes, unhealthy deep-fried egg) together with the pancake dough and deep-fried such that the egg sticks to the dough. It is then scooped out and brushed with a soy-sauce-concoction and chili sauce before serving.
Then walk to the Hualien Golden Triangle (花蓮金三角商圈) for shopping.
Day 2: HUALIEN – TAIPEI (Book Tour)
Check-out: Classic Hotel City Resort. Leave luggage in concierge for pickup later
8:00 am: Tour guide picks group up from hotel
TOUR: Taroko National Park. Taroko Gorge is an exceptionally beautiful, narrow raving road created by a river which has cut deep into the mountains of solid marble. A road cared into sheer walls of rock snakes its way past forested peaks and cliffs towering thousands of feet above it, while hundreds of feet below a river roars past gigantic marble boulders.
Stops will be made at Evergreen Shrine, Swallow Grotto, Nine Turns of Tunnel (pass by), Marble Bridge and Tienshiang.
Simple lunch at Buluoge Visitor Center.
Finish the tour in the afternoon. Then get luggage from Classic Hotel City and catch train to Taipei
Upon arrival to Taipei, take a taxi to Sunworld Hotel. Taipei taxis are generally clean and safe. They will take you to the right direction using the car meter.
Check-in at SUNWORLD DYNASTY HOTEL TAIPEI (王朝大酒店)
Address: 105 台北市敦化北路100號 (No. 100 Dun Hua North Road, Taipei)
Tel: +886-2-2719-7199 / Closest MRT: Nanjing East Road
DAY 3: TAIPEI – JIUFEN (九份)– YEHLIU – KEELUNG NIGHT MARKET (Book Tour)
9:00 am: Pickup from Sunworld Hotel. Coach to North coast of Taipei. Travel time: 40 minutes
TOUR: Jiufen Old Street. Once a prosperous town famous for its gold mining industry, Jiufen was abandoned in the 1970s and nearby forgotten. Now, it’s a mecca for artists and writers, as well as inspiration for films like A City of Sadness and Spirited Away.
**To do: Walk through Jiufen Old Street. Try the different snacks along the street, and buy souvenirs at own pace. No need for proper lunch as you’ll be full by the time you’ll reach the end of the street**
Lunch: IF you are still hungry, have tea in one of nearby teashop. You can try Jiufen Tea House (No. 142 Jishan Street, Tel: +886-2-2496 9056). The tea house was once a meeting place for many great Taiwanese writers and artists. You can eat at a quiet table at the lower levels or sit outside the back entrance in good weather. Choose your favourite tea and snacks from the menu. Sit as long as you like.
Afternoon: Drive to Yehliu Geopark.
Travel time: 50 minutes
Opening Hours: 8am-5pm, Entrance: NTD 50 for adults/NTD 25 for children below 115 cm. Allocate 3 hours for leisurely walk.
Wear a light jacket. It will be windy and cold. The park is divided into 3 areas: there are mushroom rocks, ginger rocks, candle rocks, slipper rocks, and even a queen’s head.
Make sure you have snacks and water for the trip because food is not as accessible inside the park. Upon arrival, treat yourself to the short English film at the visitor center. Then, follow the path for amazing views.
The Queen’s head resembles the head of an Egyptian Queen. From her narrow delicate neck to the imposing head dress. It is said that the Queen’s Head will break from natural wear and tear within 50 years. On the other side of the park, notice the statue of Lin Tien Jen, a man who sacrificed his life by jumping in the water to save some drowning children. After saving the children, he couldn’t pull himself back in. He left behind a wife and children, and a statue was built dedicated to this unsung hero.
Evening: After the park, drive to Keelung City.
Travel time: 30 minutes
Dinner: Eat at the famous Keelung Miaokou Food Street and Night market.
Must try: This light seafood noodle soup (similar to La Paz Bachoy), Mayonnaise Sandwich
and Thick Crab Soup (Stall #5)
After touring, ride back to rest in hotel in Taipei. Travel time: 35 minutes
DAY 4: TAIPEI (DIY)
Buy breakfast at 7-11 Convenient Store. Better yet, if you can wake up early enough, go for traditional Taiwanese breakfast at the famous Yonghe Dou Jiang (102, Fuxing South Road, Sec. 2, Taipei).
MRT to Da-An Station (Blue line). It’s 24 hours, 7 days a week.
A definite must order?
The fantuan (饭团), a rice roll filled with a crushed youtiao (油条, translated as ‘grease stick’), pork floss, and some diced fried radish. Fantuan is basically the ideal combination of sweet-savory (pork floss), chewy (rice), crunch (youtiao and radish), and greasy (all of it). I also like Dan Ping (Egg pancake) with soy milk drink, but many people order the salty soy milk with you tiao.
If you choose the Taiwanese breakfast, you must finish by 9:30 am to make it to church. Church service starts at 10:00 am and ends at 11:10 am.
For church, taxi to Grace Baptist Church (基督教浸信會懷恩堂)
Service: 10am-11:10am at Sanctuary, 2/F Grace Baptist Church
Address: No. 9, Xinsheng South Road Sec. 3, Daan District, Taipei City (台北市新生南路三段90號)
Tel: +886-2-2362 5321 / Website: http://www.gbc.org.tw
Closest MRT: 5-10 mins walk from Gongguan MRT Station, Red church right beside NTU
LUNCH: Yongkang Beef Noodles
Address: No. 17, Lane 31, Sec. 2, Jishan South Road, Daan District, Taipei
Tel: +886-2-2351 1051, Hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-8pm
Directions: Take taxi or MRT. For MRT, Gongguan is on green line so must transfer to the red line for Dong Men MRT station Exit 4
Must-try: Beef tendon noodle soup (a little spicy) and “fen zheng pai gu” (yam and pork ribs). Yongkang Beef Noodle is an institution and has been there since 1963 serving Taiwan’s most famous dish. Their broth is made out of tasty and beef and soybean based stock. Add pickled vegetables generously.
Then take MRT from Dongmen MRT Station to Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT Station. They are one stop from each other. Both are in the red line.
TOUR: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall MRT: Chang-Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall showcases two buildings facing each other — the National Theatre and the National Concert Hall — right inside the gated Liberty Square. The CKS Hall lies at the center and situates a large Chiang Kai-Shek statue. Inside the hall, you can see much of what Chiang Kai-Shek’s life was like. From his bulletproof Cadillac to the clothing he wore, and the chair he sat on. A wall clock has needles set to 11:50pm, the time of his death.
Check out the bullet holes of Chiang’s car at the left rear part, and count the number of steps from the ground to the second floor. There are 89 steps to be exact, equivalent to President’s Chiang age. He lived for 89 years. The back of the bronze says, “Ethics, Democracy, Science.” This is the essence of the Three People’s Principles — To practice nationalism by ethics, by democracy, and by science.
Must do: Wait for guards to change. It happens on the hour from 10am to 4pm. Wednesdays are from 10am to 6pm. The army, navy and air force takes turns to be the guards every four months. How do you know who is which? The army wears the green uniform, the navy wears the black uniform in summer and white in winter, while the air force wears blue.
Then take MRT from CKS Memorial Hall to Ximending. Use the GREEN line.
Called as the “Harajuku” or “Shibuya” of Taipei, I personally think of Ximending as the place where the young people hang out. Currently, it’s a decent place to see Taiwan young fashion and Japanese culture. The shopping area is the first pedestrian shopping area built in Taipei, and is the largest in Taiwan.
Must do: Shop a little and eat some snacks. Pass by the red house close to the MRT entrance.
Note that the closest MRT to go anywhere is the Ximending MRT Station. So no matter how deep you go in, you still have to go back where you come from at the MRT station.
To get there: take the Longshan Temple MRT station. It’s one stop from Blue line from Ximending.
Longshan Temple is Taipei’s oldest, most popular temple, dating back to the 18th century, when it was first established by settlers from mainland China. In the meantime, it’s expanded and contracted in times of war and peace, very much integrated into city life, while offering an oasis of reflection and contemplation within its heart.
Visitors are usually moved by the amazingly ornate carvings and other decorative elements in display. The ceremonial gateways, elegant pagoda roofs, and heady incense burners associated with traditional Chinese temples are found here. Also typically Chinese is the mix of faiths: Longshan is associated with Buddhism, Taoism and other local gods.
Longshan Temple is found in central Taipei and is served by its own MRT station. It’s open until 10am so you can consider an evening visit when the temple is at its atmospheric, perhaps before or after dinner at the nearby Huaxi Street Market. Admission: Free.
If you are hungry, go and eat snack at the Snake Alley, which is very close to the Longshan Temple.
Huaxi Night Market (or Snake Alley) announces itself with a ceremonial gateway with charming Chinese lanterns providing decoration and more powerful lights illuminating the area to near-daylight levels.
Most visitors are drawn to Huaxi Street by the stalls collectively known as “Snake Alley.” Vendors attract far more onlookers than those willing to test the potency and vigor that comes from eating snake soup and other serpent derivatives. For the less adventurous, there is a huge range of dining options in the surrounding streets encompassing noodles, oyster omelets, chicken skewers, cuttlefish soup, traditional custard pastries, and local delicacies include stinky tofu.
If you don’t like to try the snake delicacy, suggest you skip this part altogether.
Then take MRT from Longshan Temple (or Ximending if you skip Longshan Temple) and travel to Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Blue line)
The National Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park
A memorial dedicated to the Father of the Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat Sen, this Memorial Hall was completed on 1972. The total building area covers 29,464 square meters (7.3 acres) with an open space of 115,000 square meters. It contains displays of Sun’s life and he revolution he led, and is currently a multi-purpose social, educational, and cultural center for the public.
Walk towards Taipei 101. Drop by Taipei Eslite Bookstore, the largest retail bookstore in Taiwan, and pass by Mitsukoshi Mall. Go around the higher-class area. This is where rich people go and shop.
If you don’t like to walk, Taipei 101 is accessible via MRT to the stop “Taipei 101/World Trade Center” station.
Taiwan’s largest skyscraper, Taipei 101, enjoyed the title of the world’s tallest building from 2004 up until the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was completed in 2010. It remains as the world’s largest and tallest green building, standing at 1,667 feet and consisting of 101 aboveground floors, five underground floors, and houses a mix of offices, a multi-level shopping complex, food court and restaurants.
Most impressive than the total building height is its structural integrity. Taipei 101 is designed to withstand earthquakes and typhoon-level winds thanks to a massive damper sphere, the largest in the world. The building’s exterior is meant to resemble bamboo, a symbol of longevity.
Ride the world’s fastest elevator to the eighty-ninth floor of the observatory. Take a self-guided audio tour in the indoor observatory before climbing to the outer deck to take in the bird’s eye view of Taipei.
Hours: 9:00am-10:00pm, daily. Last ticket entry: 9:15 pm.
Admission: NTD 450 for adults
8:00 pm DINNER: 2-Hour Eat-all-you-can BBQ at Gyu-Kaku (牛角日式炭火燒肉)
No. 309, Fuxing North Road, Song Shan District, Taipei (台北市大安區忠孝東路四段177號2樓(忠孝東路 敦化南路口)
Tel: +886-2-2514 7070 (http://www.gyu-kaku/com.tw/all-you-can-eat)
Average price: NTD 599-899/pax
After Dinner: Dessert at Dong Qu Fen Yen (Walkable from Din Dai Fung. Closest MRT is Zhongxiao Dunhua).
Walk to Dong Qu Fen Yuen near Chungxiao Dunhua.
Dong Qu Fen Yuen
No. 38, 216 Alley, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Daan District, Taipei (Tel: +886-2-2777 2057)
Closest landmarks would be the Ming Yao Shopping Center and is close to Ding Tai Feng. The shop will be packed and you can choose all your favorite ingredients. Choose from the tofu, red bean and grass jelly sweet soup, fill up with crushed ice and select up to 3 toppings for only NTD 25. Toppings include yams, green beans, red beans, soft peanut, passion fruit, strawberry jam, gingko, pumpkin balls, almonds and pearls. The QQ balls glistens with the ice and is sweet, soft and very chewy.
Closest MRT: Zhongxiao Dunhua
DAY 5: TAIPEI (DIY)
11:30am-1:30pm: Tasty Steak. There’s a close one near your hotel.
Address: 2/F, N. 11, Sec. 2, Nanjing East Road, Zhong Shan District, Taipei City) OR Taipei Fuxing South Road Branch (3/F, No. 152, Sec. 1, Fuxing S. Road, Daan District)
Travel via MRT To National Palace Museum. Drop at Shilin MRT Station (Red Line). Then:
- a) From Shilin MRT Station, take bus R30 (Red 30), 255, 304, 815, Minibus 18 or Minibus 19 to plaza in front of National Taiwan Museum). Ask for directions on MRT personnel, or
b) Take taxi
Arrive at National Palace Museum by 2:45 pm
3pm: Take English-guided tour at 3pm. Apply online and register to join tour. You need passport number, contact number and email address. Be at audio reception desk 15 minutes before.
After the Museum, take the bus back to the Shilin Station. Go to Shilin Night Market in the area. 10 minute walking distance.
Note: The closest MRT station to Shilin Station is Jiantan Station, NOT Shilin Station.
The Shilin Night Market (士林) is one of the most well-organized, most popular night markets in Taipei. One section covers the streets surrounding the traditional Yangming Theatre and stretching to the Chicheng Temple on Danan Road. The other sector is a centralized food court serving a wide variety of snacks that attract large crowds.
Must haves at the Shilin Night Market:
- Chili Wantons (Stall #1), NTD 45
- Hot Star Fried Chicken, NTD 60 (Stall#50?). It’s to the left of Chili Wantons, blue sign
- Giant sausages, NTD 60
- Frog eggs drink (青蛙下蛋). I usually order Aiyu (愛玉) with tapioca pearls (粉圓) and milk. Tastes better than milk tea.
- Fried oyster cake and oyster misua soup
- Large Taiwanese sausages
- Cold Layers milk dessert (Stall # 250)
- Lou Rou Fan (Stewed meat in rice)
- Teppanyaki, ~NTD 100
- Sizzling giant steak with spaghetti and egg, NTD 120
- Pan-fried bun (生煎包) with sesame seed, NTD Like the fluffiness of cake and the crunchiness of potato chips? The pan-fried bun gives you the best of both worlds. The buns are made with spongy white Chinese bread that is pan-fried on the bottom. Break one open to reveal the moist porky filling. A Shanghainese staple, the Taiwanese version differs in two ways: it’s slightly bigger in size and it hits the pan upside-down.
- Cold La mian, NTD 50
- Toilet restaurant for photo ops and desserts (Address: 2F, No 7, Lane 50, Xi-Ning South Road, Taipei Taiwan / Tel: 02-2311 8822) It’s at the very end of the Shilin Night Market
Here’s how to find Modern Toilet
1. If you are coming from the metro, get out of Ximending station exit 6.
2. Head to the right side of Eslite mall. That street is called Emei street. Just go straight until you reach the end of the road which is called Kunmimg Street.
3. Turn right as soon as you see the parking lot.
4. Turn right once again. Walk a few steps. Modern Toilet is to your left and located on the second floor.
Day 6: TAIPEI – MANILA (Book Tour)
Check-out from Sunworld Dynasty Hotel. Bring your luggage.
8:30 am Depart from Hotel for Danshui
Danshui: Fisherman’s Wharf and GongMing Street
Upon arrival at Danshui, head to Fisherman’s Wharf by taking the R26 bus from Danshui MRT station. Go to the Lover’s Bridge, an infamous bridge born on Valentine’s Day and is the reason for its inspired name. Watching the sunset off this bridge is one of the most breathtaking moments.
11:30am – 1:30 pm: Lunch at Man Tang Hung (滿堂紅), Danshui Branch
Address: No. 8, Zhongshan Road, Danshui District, Taipei (11/F, Meitou Department Store / Tel: +886-2 2775 3738)
Then, head back to Danshui’s GongMing Street, a street full of unique Taiwanese eats to enjoy some local food. Shops generally open at 10:30am. A mere 5-minute walk from the Danshui Main Station, try the following eats:
- Ice cream shop that sells 6 different flavors — all at arm’s length: vanilla/chocolate, green tea/mango, taro/strawberry. Taste-wise, it doesn’t have the same creamy consistency and is more of a sorbet. But it sure is refreshing. Price: NTD 10
- Freshly grilled squid with bonito flakes and onion garnish. The squid is usually moist and the texture is neither pasty nor chewy. The taste is a little sweet. Price: NTD 60
- Ah-Gei (NTD: 30): Fried tofu stuffed with cellophane noodle and sealed with fish paste. It’s steamed and topped with special ketchup sauce.
- Take home some souvenirs include iron eggs, almond tae and nougat (Flavors: Green tea, almond, chocolate). The iron eggs are stewed in a variety of spices and air dried, giving them a chewy consistency.
Travel to Beitou Hot Springs. A good source of information can be found here. Note that all photos from Beitou part is taken from this website.
- Beitou Park (北投公園): Coming out from the Xin Beitou station, you will see the Beitou Park across the street on the right hand corner. The entrance is marked by a water fountain that perform shows on the hour, every hour during the day. Inside you will find pleasant trails, streams and popular sights such as the Beitou Library and Beitou Hot Springs Museum
2. Beitou Hot Springs Museum. This is an old Western building constructed by the Japanese in 1913. This was the main public bath in the area during the Japanese Era. This historic building was restored and re-opened in 1998, allowing visitors to view into the former lifestyles of the Japanese. Visitors are asked to remove their shoes before entering and change to slippers provided by the museum. There are 12 rooms including 1 tatami mat performance area, and the original public bath in the basement.
3. Beitou Garden Spa (北投親水公園露天溫泉浴池 or Millenium Hot Springs). Up the road is the Beitou Garden Spa It is a modern day public bath located outdoors next to a river and among green trees. This is a mixed public bath, requiring bathing suits. Admission price: NTD40.
4. Plum Garden. Beside the outdoor hot springs is another historical building called the Plum Garden, a summer house of the former Control Yuan president and calligraphy master Yu You-ren. The building only opened to the public in 2010 and displays Japanese colonial wood architecture and a number of calligraphy works by Yu You-Ren. Stroll through the manicured garden or sit down and relax inside the quiet house. Closed on Monday. Admission: FREE
5. Beitou Thermal Valley: Go to the Beitou Thermal Valley (aka Hell’s Valley) You will see steam rising as high as 100 meters above the geothermal pools. The area is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9am-5pm. Admission is free.
6. Taipei Public Library Beitou Branch. Once you are warm and relaxed, walk a little further down the road and arrive at the modern Taipei Public Library.
WARNING: Both Xin Peitou and Danshui takes about 40 minutes to an hour to get to your hotel. Please time your schedule accordingly.
6:45 pm: Leave Taipei for the airport
9:20 pm: Departure from Taipei to Manila via PR 899
11:40 pm: Arrival in Manila.