Our first trip to Taiwan! We didn’t have much time so we tried to hit all the highlights in three short days.
DAY 1: ZHONGZHENG DISTRICT + MORE
Dongmen Market: Our first stop! It’s a pretty typical day market with lots of stalls full of meals, snacks, flowers, fruit, etc. It’s big and covers a lot of ground. We got a sweet treat and kept walking.
Huashan 1914 Creative Park: I loved this area! One of my favorites. There are a bunch of cool themed stores, like Hello Kitty, plus a lot of really cute “normal” restaurants and stores. There’s benches and a park area.
Liberty Square: A large plaza with lots of important buildings like the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall! Very pretty and historical.
Din Tai Fung: Ugh. The best discovery of our lives. Going here is so easy especially if you’re nervous about ordering food. They speak English, the menu is very easy to understand, they have vegetarian options and are very nice. They have a system for ordering that makes everything very efficient. They have multiple locations around Taipei. I would highly recommend coming here! We went twice in three days.
Ximending Area: A shopping area with lots to see even if you don’t go into any stores!
Snow King Ice Cream: A cute little place with lots of weird flavors! It’s kind of hard to find. Look for the address and then you’ll need to go up stairs.
Driftwood Brewery: A super cute, wood decorated brewery. We sat outside and loved the vibe.
Revolver: This bar was super cool! I read that it’s touristy and there were quite a few tourists there, but it didn’t feel fake (if that makes sense). They HATE Coldplay and have signs everywhere saying that haha. The bartenders seemed really cool and hipster. When we went there wasn’t a band playing, but I guess they have really cool shows on the second floor. The whole thing is open air and you can sit outside. As we were drinking, a guy came up to us and started talking to us and telling us about his life in Taipei and his travels. He started sketching something on a napkin and then handed us this! A cool memory for sure.
DAY 2: NORTH COAST TOUR
On our second day, we got out of the city and took a tour with kkday. We really enjoyed the experience – I don’t think we would have been able to make it to any of these places on our own. You have to keep in mind that it is a typical bus tour though…so sometimes the stops are too quick and you’re always with/working around other people. BUT ALSO IT’S $12, YES I REPEAT $12.
Stop 1 – Yehliu Geopark
This place was very cool! A lot of nature formations and water. There’s a lot of ground to cover in the allotted time so choose what you want to see wisely. You do get a map with descriptions of each area. I would definitely go back here when we have more time.
Stop 2 – Shifen Waterfall + Shifen Old Street
The waterfall area is very pretty! You walk through a little spot with snacks and art to see. Then walk across a bridge to a large waterfall. After that we got back on the bus and headed over to Shifen Old Street!
It’s an old railroad town with the tracks still running down the middle. There are little shops and food stalls on each side. The town is famous for releasing lanterns up into the air. There are a ton of vendors selling the lanterns and the tour guide will take you to his favorite. You write your wish on the lantern and let it go!
Stop 3 – Jiufen
This town is from the movie “Spirited Away” and is built right into a cliff side. You walk up lots of steep stairs and then there are alleys that go either way. It gets super crowded and we got lost a few times, but it’s a really cool experience. We were walking down one alley and noticed a place with vegetarian food – it was literally a hole in the wall. Like a hole with a few stairs and you turned and it was a few tables and just one guy just cooking up food! And it did not disappoint!
Elephant Mountain: When we got back we took a break and then climbed Elephant Mountain. This is not for the faint of heart! It’s A LOT of stairs and the area isn’t very well lit so you can’t see where you are going. I wanted to give up like 20 times, but we made it to the top for some pretty awesome views (bad pic below)!
Ounce: We stopped here for a drink after almost dying. It’s a cool speakeasy – we couldn’t find the entrance at first! The owner was really nice and moved to Taiwan from New York. He decided to open a NY vibed bar in Taipei. We def recommend getting a cocktail here!
DAY 3: BEITOU AREA
Heritage Bakery: We got pastries and coffee here before setting off for the day and it was really really cute. And they had some merch with Michigan on it!!
Spring City Resort: This area is known for their spring water and we really wanted to try it out. There are a bunch of resorts in the area that let you rent a room for a few hours vs. staying there overnight. After some research, we chose Spring City Resort through kkday. We thought this was easier to do and cheaper! There are options for an outdoor spring where you wear a bathing suit (make sure you read the rules), but we wanted to be alone.
You get a little room with a big bathtub that fits two people. They explain to you how to use the room and then leave you be! There’s a mirror, space for your clothes, water bottles, etc. in the room. It was nice, clean and definitely relaxing. We didn’t feel anything “magic” from the spring water, but it was still a cool way to relax after two busy days of traveling.
Thermal Valley: Next we walked about 8 minutes over to Thermal Valley. It’s a green spring – one of the only two green sulfurs in the world! It’s a really cool site and does get really hot.
Taipei Public Library: Another 8 minute walk takes you to the library! It’s a really interesting building on the outside and in. We went to the balcony area and sat and looked out at the water.
We wanted to check out the Beitou Market, but didn’t have time.
We got a late lunch nearby and then had to head out to go to Kyoto (and then Tokyo), Japan!
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