I’ve always wanted to visit Taiwan. So, when I actually arrived in Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei and said, “Ni Hao! Taiwan!” I was pretty amazed myself. Situated on the beautiful island peninsula, Taiwan is Asia’s jewel. This is a land of true natural beauty, rich history, multitude of cuisines and a true bundle of joy.
I was invited by Taiwan Tourism to experience this glorious country for 15 days.
I had the most exciting opportunity to #LiveLikeALocalinTaiwan and I most certainly did. In this journey I travelled across cities, towns using domestic aeroplanes, local trains, MRT, buses, bullet trains, scooters, boat, bicycles and by foot.
The Taiwan I met was stunning, friendly, full of life and yet so liberal. I was amazed by Taiwan’s folk faith, culture, traditions and the true spirit of being happy.
One thing that sets apart Taiwanese people from the rest, is their hospitality, kindness and acceptance of who you are and not where you are from. Which I think is a great reason for all foreigners travelling to Taiwan. Being accepted and welcomed is a sense of true delight for everyone travelling to a new place and Taiwan definitely is.
This remarkable journey which started around Taiwan spans across from a couple of interesting places, forming a complete V-shaped route. I started my journey in Taipei city, which is probably one of the most livable and fashion frenzy cities in the country.
There’s a lot to explore around Taiwan, so continue reading below and the related articles.
Why Tourists Love TAIPEI ?
Travelling around Taipei is pretty exciting. Be sure to be amazed at every street, city and little alley that you spot. My journey began in Taipei city. This beautiful city is huge, and believe me when I say that it has numerous train lines running on the MRT . It spans from east to west, north to south all within an MRT ride of 45 mins to an hour.
I stayed at the Papersun Hotel in Shilin District in Taipei city. It was a relaxing hotel with steps away from the MRT station. It was perfect for me to hop on and off the trains whenever I wanted to visit places around Taipei.
A few things that I enjoyed in Taipei city were the Taipei 101 iconic landmark, breathtaking views of the city from Elephant Mountain, historical places such as as the Chiang Kai Sheikh Memorial Hall, Longshan Temple and the beautiful hot springs in Beitou.
My favourite spot in Taipei is definitely the Taipei 101 and Elephant Mountains. Both these locations are correlated as you visit each of them to see the other. I hiked up the Elephant Mountains to capture this fabulous shot of Taipei 101 before sunset. And then when I had the fortune to go an exclusive tour of the Taipei 101 I caught a glimpse of the Elephant mountains from there. To me personally they are the prominent landmarks in Taipei’s skyline.
Travelling to Taiwan in August/September calls for a humid climate, something you should know when visiting this gorgeous island. Minutes away from Taipei City is the Yangmingshan Mountains, this place is great if you’d like to escape the heat. The mountains offer cooler temperatures and definitely the most stunning views of Taipei city.
Some of the interesting streets in Taipei include the Dihua Street, old fabric markets and other quirky coffee shops surrounding it. The city has a growing number of artist installations, art decors and a buzzing café culture that are unmissable. I had the opportunity to snap some shots around here. I biked around Daan Park. And went on to visit the Songshan Cultural & Creative Park, which is definitely a contemporary take on Taiwan’s growing cultural scene.
People are constantly breaking fashion boundaries in Taiwan. It’s pretty unique to understand that dressing weather appropriate is important however you’d be surprised how you can style yourself in Taipei.
The Shihlin Night Market, Ximending and places around the National Taiwan University are a must visit when in Taipei. The Shihlin Night Market is definitely the largest night market I’ve seen. Food, fashion, art collectors, little stationery etc, there’s something for everyone there. Ximending is another popular street that attracts tons of young shoppers, a very popular destination among the growing LGBT community and late night dwellers.
The city has a colourful nightlife scene with some pubs that are open from 7pm all the way upto 5am. It is a great way to connect with locals and mingle with some of the city’s fun loving people.
Sharing my nightlife experience below when I return to Taipei city for the second time around. (Head all the way to the bottom if you can’t wait) 😛
Taipei city has many cities within itself. So, there’s no way you see the entire Taipei city in 3 days. You need at least a week to see the promising city. And as you read below you’d know that I was back for more.
After having spent a few days in Taipei I travelled South West towards Tainan via the cities of Taichung and Chiayi. I hopped on to the bullet train or commonly known as HSR (High Speed Rail) from Taipei Main Station and made my way to the country’s first capital. The train was top class, one of Asia’s finest bullet trains and I enjoyed my ride very much. The journey was smooth and had the best views of the natural landscape of Taiwan.
I arrived into a melting pot of people, culture, food and history in Tainan. During my stay in Tainan, I had the pleasure of staying at Jia Jia West Market Hotel . The hotel is located in the heart of the city. The hotel’s art decor stands tall as it captures glimpses of Tainan’s history within its boundaries and beyond.
Tainan is one of the most historical cities of Taiwan. Today Taiwan is symbolic of a modern-day glorious country, where culture and traditions come alive.
You can’t beat this, Tainan has a night market every day. Tainan is immensely popular for its 7 days night market and sumptuous Taiwanese food. Some markets have their own specialties, whereas the rest have tons of the same cuisine with a little twist of their own. One thing that is constant is the warm vendors who are happy to assist and even happier to meet foreigners.
During my city tours around Tainan I visited the Confucius Temple, Sunset Platform, Jhongjheng Commercial Area, Chihkan Tower, Tainan Park and Tainan City Hall. I also visited the Chi Mei Museum that has great architecture inspired by the European history. The museum is a little out of the city, however it’s popular among locals for picnics or just a casual family day out. Everything around the museum is designed beautifully and makes up for great picturesque views.
Somewhere I felt that I was looking for the soul of Tainan city. And I was more than glad when I found it at the Anping District. I got on the local Bus 88 and it took me on a journey back of time. I visited the older parts of Tainan city, the glorious Anping Fort, Anping Tree House, the beach and the Anping cultural zone. These historical sites reflect the 300 years of quintessential yesteryear of Taiwan.
I also had the opportunity to visit the Si-Cao District and checked out the natural mangroves ( Green Tunnel), alongside the marvelous Buddhist temple (Si-Cao Da Zhong Miao). The temples in Taiwan have always fascinated me, however this one was a total standout. I am naturally spiritual and this definitely was a peep into my Chinese family roots and I ended up offering prayers in the temple. I met a monk and she even helped me read my fortune. Well the outcome of the fortune reading is a tale to tell. However, for those of you who are curious about knowing your future, you must check out the fortune-teller street in Taipei city when you visit Taiwan.
It took me a while to understand the spirit of Tainan. And when I did, I totally fell in love with this city. The southern part of Taiwan is known to be warm, friendlier than all of Taiwan and the best food in the country. I experienced them all and had to continue my journey further.
I flew from Tainan to Magong City, the capital of Penghu via UNI AIR. The flight was short and sweet and the perks of flying domestic in Taiwan, you get Milk Tea and snacks. Moving on, I arrived at the stunning Penghu Islands in the southern west part of Taiwan. I was totally impressed by the aerial view of the dreamy islands.
The Penghu islets form an archipelago of 90 islands and islets in the Taiwan Strait. Some of these are connected by land, whereas the others are only accessible by ferries. I checked into my luxe Greecian inspired hotel – Greek Frontier Villa by the Shanshui beach. The hotel had all the elements of transforming the villa into a mini Mykonos in Taiwan. It is probably one of the nicest places to stay on the Islands. My room came with an attached Jacuzzi and patio which was perfect for basking in the sun and some bedroom relaxation.
I met my local tour guides who were the owners of The Beach Break, an immensely popular Café/ Surfer’s Club by the Shanshui Beach. They were pretty hospitable and the best people to show me around the island, considering they’ve lived in Penghu for over 15 years.
Penghu Islands are known for having the best beaches, white sands, coral reefs and transparent water. At times the water in the beaches appear to glow in the dark. And I have tried it myself. It was a true spectacle of delight. The heavy winds, giant waves draw surfers and windsurfers from around the world. I met tons of travellers who have been visiting from the US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to catch those big waves.
Ted, the owner of The Beach Break took me for my private SUP (stand-up-paddle boarding) session on the Shanshui Beach and it was an amazing experience. As a first timer, he trained me well to hit the sea and in minutes I was paddling away to the sunset. The golden hour is absolutely the best time to catch a glimpse of the sunset too.
Penghu is an ideal stop for the travellers who are adventurous at heart. Think of biking, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, surfing or just island hopping on your scooters. It’s the island life, and damn it was pretty relaxing.
There are some historical places to check out in the island. I went to some of them, which includes the Erkan Historical House, Banyan Tree temple, Lighthouse, Mazu Temple and the ancient Turtle temple.
I boarded the local ferry to go check out the islands of Chimei and Wang-An. The entire trip was about 4 hours and definitely a must visit when in Penghu. The jewel island has many smaller islands of which Chimei is pretty popular among tourist. It is also the same place where I got this really cool shot of the twin hearts. Supposedly made as a symbol of love, today it is an iconic landmark on the island that gets a lot of tourist attention. After which, we bike around the Wang-An island where I visited the green turtle museum, played on the sandy white beaches and enjoyed the natural landscape of island life.
It is definitely not a commercial tourist destination. A little relaxed, quaint and yet very adventurous is how I would describe Penghu. I was so glad to have met her.
Here I was almost at the end of my Taiwan trip. So, I flew to Taipei city once again from Penghu to have a last glimpse at the night life and shopping scene in Taipei before I headed back to Vancouver, Canada.
No matter what time of the day you arrive, Taipei is always alive. I headed straight to my hotel and hastily rushed out to explore the nightlife of Taipei.
Chelsea a co-blogger on my #LiveLikALocalinTaiwan journey joined me to explore the local pubs, breweries and clubs in Taipei. It was totally exciting to meet her and to go bar hopping right away. We started at the Mikkeller Brewery where we sampled some local Chocolate beer and tea infused beer. After which we headed to C Park By A Train, then B Train and finally ended up at a popular local pub called ‘The Fucking Place’ well that’s how it translates in English I guess. Taiwanese people are amiable, so it’s super easy to chat with locals and a great way to practice some mandarin too. We ended up heading home at almost 6am, which was a total win for a night out in Taipei city.
Goodbye’s are never good. And it never gets easy to leave behind all the fun and the most enriching trip I have had this year. But it was time to head back to Canada, so I did a quick shopping spin and souveneir collection at the Taipei 101 Mall, passed Ximendin and Taipei Main station mall before I made my way to the airport.
Taiwan was so charming and memorable. I am not sure if there was a single moment, I wasn’t happy or hungry or bored. Every moment spent in this mesmerizing country was most definitely magical. It was the spirit of the Taiwanese people, culture, food and natural landscape that captivated most of my attention. As I share my experience here, I also promise myself to head back to Taiwan soon.
For the hot summer days and cool beach nights, a lightweight jacket is a must have. Try using sneakers that pop or just go all out and invest in some luxury pieces. Whatever you pick – it’s easy to complete an outfit if you love what you are wearing.
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Thank you Taiwan Tourism Bureau North America for organizing this amazing trip for me.
Airline Partner: EVA AIR and UNI AIR
Travel Partner: Local MRT & Taipei Buses and Taxi all sponsored by Taiwan Tourism
Outfits all belong to Jonathan from Waiching’s Wall
The images belong to WaichingsWall.com