A week ago my family and I went to Taipei. My sister went there last March with her friends and my cousin had the chance to go on a 7-week on-the-job training last June so my parents had really been rallying for us to go there as well.
First things first, Filipinos need a visa to travel to Taiwan. So please prepare for that, the requirements are easily available in their website, together with a processing fee of php2100. My family and I went there and submitted our requirements directly, which took about less than 2 hours to submit and pay for and just wait for 3 business days to get your passports back.
Our flight from Manila will leave at around 10 in the evening on a Friday night and we arrived Taipei about two hours later. From the airport, you have the option to take the taxi, or take the bus to Taipei Main Station. Taking the bus was the cheaper alternative so we chose that. It was not a bad ride anyway because there was literally no traffic and the travel time from the airport takes less than an hour. The best thing that happened was that our hotel (Taipei New May Flower Hotel) was just a few blocks away from the train station. It was already around 3 in the morning and we were a bit hungry with all the travelling so we grabbed a quick bite at 7-11 (thank God it was literally right beside our hotel).
I’ve always been envious with other country’s convenience stores, they have so many quirky and cute products compared to us. Le sigh.
We started our day at around 10 in the morning and had breakfast at the nearby McDonald’s place, I know you might be thinking why on earth would we eat at a fast food place, but actually I like trying out fast food places in a different country just to check out the differences and similarities are. And McDonald’s menu are the most consistent in all the places I have been too.
One thing you will love about Taipei is the extremely efficient trains that they have. I think the entire city is connected by the train system which allows tourists to go around the city easily.
I envy Taipei. Not only do they have an efficient train system, but the people there are also really disciplined. The entire 3 days that we were there, 1 heard a car honk only 1 time, 1 time!! And, everyone knows the importance of faling in line. Everyone will automatically line up to get to the escalator and everyone will go to the right side so the left side is left open and anyone in a hurry can pass through easily. Seriously.
First stop was the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, in memory of PRC’s former president. The place is massive. I mean you stand in the middle of it all and you will see 4 beautiful buildings-slash-monuments right beside each other.
Without talking about it, my family’s all wearing blue on our first day. Admit it, we look cute!
The hall is really beautiful except that we were there noon time so the heat was excruciating. Of course we won’t let that show up in the pictures, lol. My mom has an umbrella with her and all of us ended up with tan lines at the end of the day because we all forgot to wear sunblock on our first day.
The weather during that time was really humid, but I guess the advantage is that our pictures turned out really great because the sun was shining all the time. A few blocks away from the memorial hall is the 228 Peace Park which commemorates the 228 Incident of 1947 (just google it please).
Another thing I LOVE about Taipei is the abundance of parks. On our way to 228 Peace Park, we passed by another park. And this is a recurring image for our entire trip. One lovely park after the other.
We stopped by to rest and take pictures on this beautiful wall that OOTD bloggers would love, hehe. We then took the train from the park to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall.
Before we move on, I would just like to say that all of these can be visited for free. No entrance fees or whatever. Which is another reason I fell in love with Taipei. I have nothing against entrance fees but it’s still a relief for budget travelers to know that you can get to see a particular place without having to pay for anything, right? 😀
There’s really not much to see and do in Sun Yat Sen’s Memorial Hall and the uber famous Taipei 101 Building is just a few blocks away so we walked on our way to the building and mall. Which is another great way of seeing the city. So, if ever you decide to visit Taipei, be ready to walk the entire day.
Here my brother showed us a picture of someone lying on the road and he said he wants to have the same thing as well. And so we tried to get that shot for him, haha.
Walking around the city is a breeze and interesting because you get to see the wide sidewalks and streets, and how clean everything is!!! I am in awe.
They also have bikes for rent with an hourly rate, but you would need a Taiwan number to register then pay using your credit card. The great thing about their rental bikes is that you can pick it up from one location and return it in another. Convenient right? It’s another great way of seeing the city, except that my mom does not know how to ride the bike and we also need a Taiwan number to do so.
Here’s our view of Taipei 101 before going inside the mall.
We arrived the mall at around 3PM so we decided to check the mall out and eat at one of the most famous dismum pleace, Din Tai Fung.
As one of Taiwan’s most famous dumpling and xiaolongbao place, expect to wait to be seated. But the servers are all accommodating and they adjust the way they call your number if they know you only speak English.
They will already ask you for the food you want so that it’s easier and faster once your party is seated. Ooh, make sure to check out the aquarium-like window where you get to see the dumplings being made live! Live talaga, haha.
We ordered 3 sets of pork buns, shrimp fried rice, cramp and prok xiaolongbao, shrimp wonton soup, some stir fried veggies, and 2 more dumplings that I forgot the name of. You can say we made sure our late lunch was worth it, lol. Well, the good was really good and the service was superb. They know what they are famous for and they make sure they are exceptionally good at it.
Before leaving the mall, make sure to look for this Love sign in front of the building and take a picture! 😀
After the very late lunch, we then decided to go to Elephant Mountain. It’s a famous hiking trail that allows tourists to see the view of Taipei together with the Taipei 101. You can say it’s just like going up Hong Kong’s The Peak, but manually since you have to climb stairs to get to it.
From Taipei 101, we took the train going to Elephant Mountain. According to my sister’s friend, the train station was built just a few months ago to ensure that tourists and locals alike will not have difficulty to get to see the view. On our way to the start of the trail, we passed by 3 to 4 more parks!!! I mean, how crazy is that!! I mean they know what the real meaning of urban planning is and they really make it a point that parks are part of the entire city! I seriously envy the fact that they take those things into consideration.
The sign said it was just going to be 15 minutes of trekking, so I thought it was just going to be an easy climb to get to the top. I don’t know who thought of putting it at 15 minutes when I feel like almost dying! We were so not prepared that we didn’t even have 1 bottle of water with us! I run like 2x a week so I should at least find it easier but climbing each step was still torture, haha.
My siblings and I after reaching the first observation deck. Hahaha.
My iPhone’s Health app said that we climbed 70 floors that day. OMG. Well, at least the view was worth all the pain. But just so you know, going down is not easier. Because the steps are steep, you have to really control your legs and feet when going down. I swear all of our legs were shaking once we were back down and could barely drink water, hahaha. We had to rest at one of their parks before we could start walking again, lol!
It was around 6PM when we arrived back at the train station. We decided to go back to the hotel, freshen up and rest before going out to one of their night markets for dinner.
More on that in my next post because I got to do a few errands first, okay? ❤