This is, honestly, my very first time traveling to Taiwan, particularly to Taipei and Taichung. Since I was a kid, I just know the country through their films, then the songs, and the pictures of my friends visiting Taiwan. All of those things always urge me to travel to the country once, to see how it is in reality. And now this is the time, let’s follow me, and my sweetheart, to wander around Taipei and Taichung!
Day 1: The Ningxia Night Market
We tried to get the early flight at around 9 a.m departure from Vietnam. It was a long 3 hours flight to arrive at Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. Then another hour to queue and pass the customs, and another 1.5 hours to come to Taipei. Finally, we checked-in at the Queens Hotel 2 very late, at around 5.15 p.m.
As we were so tired and hungry for a long way going from Vietnam to Taiwan, we decided to visit the Ningxia Night Market, which was very near our hotel. Instead of going sightseeing, our choice turned out to be one of the best as the Taipei night market was very exciting to discover with a lot of local foods. I thought it would cost the whole week to try everything. They likely have all kinds of delicious foods I have ever tasted. It was really really great!
My dinner at the night market started with a big grilled mushroom, then a big glass of lemon tea, followed by some sticks of grilled duck heart, and finally end with a stick of Taiwanese sausage. As I said, those were so awesome!
Day 2: Let’s Discover Taipei!
Thanks to Google Maps, my journey of discovering Taipei and Taichung is now easier than ever. The only thing is, you must know the destinations where you would love to go to. So here are the destinations on my second day:
National Palace Museum
After the great breakfast at Crazy Burger restaurant, we caught a bus at the nearby station to go to the National Palace Museum. It is home to more than 697,000 pieces of Chinese History, one of the largest museums in the world for royal artifacts and works of art. The collection includes over 10,000 years of Chinese history from the Neolithic period to the end of the Qing Dynasty. You can see there the Jade Cabbage, the Meat Stone, etc.
I especially loved the garden in the area. Just because it had been intense sunshine at noon, we then looked for a corner cooler with umbrage. Fortunately, we stepped inside a wooden pathway with a lot of trees on the 2 sides. Finally, that pathway turned into a really nice background to take beautiful photos of us. You shouldn’t miss this place.
We decided to visit Taipei 101, and firstly spend our lunch there at Din Tai Fung restaurant. The best way to have your seats in a time-saving way is to get your number right when you enter Taipei 101. Then you can take your time wandering the building while waiting for your turn to get in the restaurant. Inside, you can see their glass room with many chefs is making the Xiao Long Bao. It’s the iconic dish that you must try at the restaurant. Furthermore, I ordered a House Special, Steamed Chicken Soup, Braised Beef Noodle Soup, Steam Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai, Shaohsing Wine Marinated Chicken, and of course, the famous Pork Xiao Long Bao.
After had lunch at Din Tai Fung, we then spent half of our day exploring all the corners of Taipei 101. The mega building has 7 floors of shopping mall with all kinds of luxury brands. Here they have all the Taiwanese traditional and special confectionery such as the milk tea cake, pineapple cake, etc. for you to buy. You can even find easily the world’s top luxury brands of fashion, cosmetics, etc. here.
On the 5th floor, you can buy a ticket priced 600NT$/pax to go to the Observatory on the 89th floor by the fastest elevator in the world. As the name of the floor, you will be able to observe the vast part of Taipei from the 4 sides of the building. Don’t forget to watch the sunset from there. They have restaurants, shops, cafes for you to spend your time while experiencing there.
Raohe St. Night Market
Raohe St. Night Market is vibrant and full of foods as Ningxia, or other night markets. However, at the Raohe St. Night Market, you can find the exceptional Fuzhou Pepper Buns (pork pepper buns). A bun costs 50TWD, and about 10 minutes waiting, but it’s definitely worth your while. By the way, you can find this vendor right at the market’s entrance.
If you decided to go to Raohe Night Market, perhaps you should spend a few minutes visiting the Songshan Ciyou Temple, it’s just right at the entrance too. Not just about the delicate architecture, the temple is a perfect place to sit down and calm the mind, and to learn about the local culture. The temple worships the goddess Mazu.
Day 3: There Are Some Interesting Old Towns
Taipei isn’t just all about the busy shopping malls, night markets with so many foods, or modern skyscrapers, it also has the old towns that still keep the tradition and culture of the land. Additionally, the old towns come with many beautiful sightseeings, and delicious foods, making them one of the most Taipei attractions. Let’s follow us on the third day with destinations:
Voted as the best landscape in Taiwan in 2013, Yehliu Geopark attracts tourists with its special rocks in different shapes. Those are the results of the sea erosion on the soft layer of the rocks, making them varied forms. Some are truly interesting such as the Queen Head, the Dragon Head, the Leopard, and many in the Mushroom shapes, etc. The place even has fossils of the sea urchins.
It’s better to visit this geopark in the morning, especially before 9 am, or at least noon. There won’t be so crowded, and the sunlight will make the area brighter than ever for beautiful pictures. In addition, just in case that day is windy and rainy, like in my situation, coming to the park in the morning is possibly a better choice. Yehliu park has 3 areas with its own outstanding rocks that may cost you 2 hours to explore the whole place. In the middle of areas 2 and 3, as I could remember, there was a tea shop where you can take relax and enjoy nature.
Shifen Old Street
The memory about Shifen Old Street stored in my mind was a railway with 2 sides of old houses went along. Indeed, it’s the main location that tourists come to Shifen to release sky lanterns to wish for luck, health, prosperity, etc. The costs will be around 100-200NT$ depending on the kind of lantern you choose. Unfortunately, I came right on the time there was heavy wind and rain, so it was significantly hard to release the sky lantern. Sadly, my most expected activity in this Taipei and Taichung tour has turned out to be so bad. There were a few people tried to do, but some lanterns have stuck on the houses’ roofs, and some even burned when it attempted to fly.
That day was kinda bad on the weather. Despite that, I had a chance to tried one of the best Taiwanese foods. There was one vendor, located somewhere in the middle of the area, which sells grilled chicken legs with rice added inside. It was quite unique, and so new, one of a kind I have ever eaten.
Located just about 600m from the Shifen Old Town, Shifen Waterfall is certainly a spot that you shouldn’t miss. The waterfall is 20m in height, and 40m in width, showing you the beautiful nature of Taiwan. Actually, it’s the broadest waterfall in the country.
Alongside this, you can find the Jingan Bridge in the area. I’m sure you will have many nice photos taking with this cool hanging bridge. Taking a few steps more, there is a statue of 4 Face Buddha with many animal statues around for you to make wishes. They have red ribbons to tie up on the statues but honestly, I didn’t know what to do with that as I couldn’t read their language and no one there to show. If you visit this place, please share me the meaning of the red ribbon in case you know.
By the way, this place could be a bit frightening if you come alone, especially when it’s late, or has no one around. Particularly when you have to cross the bridge to the waterfall as it’s the only way. Yet, I’m sure you will love the cascade at the end. At least it’s free to go.
I really wanted to spend a night here, Jiufen Old Street was just extremely beautiful. Especially when the night came, the old town was brighter with a lot of lanterns lightened up. Although it was not too big, in general, which would take me the whole day to explore. Nonetheless, the town had many charming corners to be the best background for photography. And its foods were among one of the best I have ever tasted. Everything was just so great..
Till the heavy wind and rain kept happening. It then stopped my plan to stay there a night to fully enjoy the town. Anyway, you can stay there late, the last bus leaves at around 9 pm. And don’t forget to visit A-Mei Tea House, the most well-known attraction of the place. Also, remember to try the Taro and Sweet Potato Balls Dessert, and the Taiwanese sausage, those are so mouthwatering!
Ximending Night Market
Me and my sweetheart ended up our day at Ximending, the most vibrant night market at Taipei, and Taichung, perhaps from what I knew. However, I would not rate this market for foods as I didn’t find anything outstanding to put in my stomach, except the Xing Fu Tang milk tea. They had the very iconic traditional milk tea, now upgraded with a golden leave added on the above, making the cup more luxurious. Of course, the price for that cup was much higher.
If you are a shopaholic, I think you will love this place. It has many big brands mixing with local ones of fashion that you may look for. Some of the fast-food chains located here too.
Day 4: Hello Bello Taichung!
If you plan to move between Taichung and Taipei within a day, make sure you prepare enough stuff for entertaining. Because you have to sit on a bus or train for a long time, and of course, it would be boring. Nevertheless, I’m sure the attractions at Taichung will release your boredom, and right away make you exciting.
National Taichung Theater
There is Sydney Opera House in shape of shells in Australia, Singapore has its ‘big durian’ Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, then in Taiwan, they have the National Taichung Theater, also has a very unique architecture. The building located on a 60,000 m2 land, belonged to a Metropolitan area, at No. 101, Section 2, Huilai Road, Xitun District, Taichung City.
The theatre is special with open spaces following the concept of its Japanese architect, Mr. Toyo Ito. The whole building is made by strange curving holes and walls, mixing with the harmony of colors, together making the theatre brighter and more vibrant than ever.
I came to the National Taichung Theater at 11:20 am, just about 10′ earlier its open time. The schedule was quite good to both enjoy the building’s outdoor, watching the area around, also the curves from the outside. Then, after the theatre was opened to get in, I could easily learn more about the architecture by the observation from the outside. Besides, they sold some cool pieces of stuff that you can buy as gifts for your friends or relatives.
Trust me, this could be one of the most impressive buildings of confectionery you have ever visited. Especially when there is an occasion, you will be surprised with their decoration of the store. I visited there once in the time of Christmas, and they ‘wow-ed’ me with a reindeer herd carrying gifts from Santa Claus.
Indeed, Miyahara always surprises any visitors anytime in the year with its decoration. From the outside, it’s similar to a busy shopping center. Notwithstanding, this two-floor building is just a place for people to enjoy delicious pastries and peaceful space with hot tea, or ice cream.
If you love ice-cream, I’m sure your Taipei and Taichung journey will be sweeter with this destination. Just a quick note, you possibly have to get in a long line to buy ice cream.
I didn’t expect this place was so lively and colorful, and all of its corners are backgrounds for beautiful photos. Indeed, your phone or camera is flooded with so cute pics at the village.
Like a local’s story, the modest, small Caihongjuan village was built in the 40s and 50s of the last century to be a temporary stop for national soldiers. Yet, they turned out eventually to be the permanent residents of the place. Many years after that, under the hands of an old veteran, also one of the last few residents of Caihongjuan village, the once dull village is now full of colors. The veteran determined to “change clothes” for the village that has been with him for half of his life. He drew manga characters, animals, dolls, planes, or the closest things in everyday life. Nowadays, people call it Rainbow Village, one of the most attractive spots which you shouldn’t miss on your Taipei and Taichung trip.
Here at the village, you can find different characters in lively colors painted on the houses’ walls. They are all being the most pretty backgrounds for any visitors to spend a few hours taking photos. The old man who painted the village will be sometimes at the place, talking with his visitors. You can even take photos with him, or support him by buying the souvenirs sold right at one of the houses. And the significant specialty is, it’s free to come!
How is your strength over the wind? Just a little note for you before visiting this destination. There is a very strong wind at Gaomei Wetlands.
Nevertheless, this place is considered the most beautiful spot to watch the sunset in the country! Moreover, Gaomei Wetlands is a conservation zone since there are many rare species of migratory birds that often gather. Surely, there is nothing to be surprised if you meet the bird lovers with portable cameras, or binoculars on their hands.
Honestly, it’s very fun to come here. The bottom is the swamp. When the sea level rises a little higher than the ankle, you can see the crabs run around. They ‘re looked very cute. Some people put off their sandals on the long, winding wooden bridge, and then went barefoot to the swamp. There was even one who flew a kite here. When the sun slowly started to set. People at the same time took out their phones, prepared to catch the most brilliant moment. That moment was too beautiful, even a mere 10 minutes, but it was definitely worth a while.
The Last Day: What? I Didn’t Enjoy Enough!
Bopiliao Historic Block Site
I have to confess that I didn’t put this spot on my list of destinations on Taipei and Taichung trip before. That could be easy to understand, I even didn’t know about that. I just knew this place when I’m on my way to Lungshan Temple.
Truly, after I left the bus that took me from my hotel to the nearest station, according to Google Maps, I had to walk around 10 minutes to the Lungshan Temple. On the way, I noticed a place with a background that was similar to scenes in movies. And finally, I figured out Bopiliao Historic Block Site.
As a historic site, perhaps it had more meaning with the locals. To me, it was truly a place to take some nice photos. To the travelers, it could be an unexpected place to discover and to learn more about Taipei. And to you, it may be a movie-liked studio for your really cool pictures.
I always love to visit a temple on every journey. It’s not just about me wishing for the trips and things to be well, but to support my faith in Buddhism. Of course, you can easily find many temples in the Far East Asia region, especially with a country like Taiwan. And among those beautiful and well-known temples, Lungshan Temple is one that I decide to spend a visit on my Taipei and Taichung trip.
Many people call this place one of the top spiritual destinations in Taipei. Actually, the 1800m2 temple has thousands of visits everyday. After walking around to pray, you can stop by the souvenir shop at the exit gate to buy different amulets with added wishes for each Chinese Zodiac or your birth month.
National Chang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
Openly, this should be my first place to visit as planned. I forgot the reason why I put it last. But anyway, this is truly a place that you must spend a visit to see its amazing construction, space, and environment.
Located inside the city, you can easily catch a bus or MRT to go to the place. In the hall, you can discover the history of Chiang Kai-shek and China in the 20th century through the wonderful memorial photos, paintings, and architectural designs. In addition to historical value, the National Chang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is a marvellous architecture. Surely you will be extremely impressed by its magnificence.
Fortunately, I came to the memorial hall at around 12pm. When there was a performance of the guards changing their shifts. It was so cool seeing so. Hence, it’s also my tip for you to visit this place. You should plan to come there at around 12pm to both enjoy the performance, and to see the hall at its most beautiful moment.
Overall, this is my 5 days 4 nights itinerary to travel Taipei and Taichung. I’m so sure that you will be alike me, feeling it’s not enough somehow to explore all the corners of this charming country in just a few days. Regardless, as I always think, there should be spots that we didn’t discover, ’cause those are the reasons for us to come back to the beautiful Taiwan.
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I hope you love this Taipei and Taichung itinerary, and hope that it’s helpful for you to plan your trip to this beautiful country. If you’d love to learn more about destinations, here are some posts with details info about places in this post: