Trip to North of Taiwan
My 10 days itinerary for a solo traveler
In April 2015, I have chosen to go to Taiwan for my annual trip by myself. I started to have this habit and I do not intend to stop anytime soon. I felt this is the only time I can break away from my daily routine and just be lost somewhere unfamiliar.
I come from a multiracial country where our national language is Malay while English being the secondary. While I may be chinese, but I did not have the privilege to learn mandarin back in school. I had a little bit of trouble in communicating at some point as the locals tend to speak mandarin to me. It is common that people stereotype Asians assuming that we would know and understand Mandarin, judging by our skin colour. I’m sure this does not just happen to Asians (」゜ロ゜)」Thankfully, I still can converse basic mandarin and managed to make some friends from Taiwan, Czech Republic and China.
- Upon arrival at the airport, buy a sim card that comes with data coverage. It is fairly cheap, so don’t save on this if you plan to walk and travel around by public transport frequently. You can easily check which bus to take, and departure timings on Google Maps! It will be your best friend :)
- Get yourself an EasyCard for transportation around Taiwan, mostly in Taipei. You can top up easily at any metro station or convenient stores, and you can rent YouBike for free (only on the first 30 minutes), usage on BRT, buses and trains. But there are some trains does not allow you to use the EasyCard, especially long train rides / crossing over to another state. Best to check at the ticket counter.
- If you intend to visit Taroko, do bring along a headlamp/torch light, ponco/umbrella, plastic bag to keep your shoes or you could wear sandals, ample water supply, sun block as well as some snacks with you.
Anyway, here’s my itinerary:
Day 1 : Taipei
Departed from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei, reached around 2pm. It is pretty easy to commute to the city centre by bus. Upon arrival, I met up with WanTing, Airbnb host where I will be staying with for 3 nights. Do check out her place here! I would recommend it, simply because it has strategic location and value for money :)
- ATT4Fun: Went there in the evening to collect my Nike race kit. This place is full of youngsters, and can get a bit crowded. You can enjoy some street performers at night, if you are lucky enough, you get to catch performance from the infamous female drummer that went viral with her video on BIGBANG cover song. In case you’re wondering who she is, check her out on Facebook :)
Day 2 : Taipei
- Elephant Trail (象山親山步道): I cycled to Xiangshan by renting YouBike as there’s a bike station nearby to park. Try to avoid the weekends as there will be quite a crowd on the trail, young and old. Taiwanese people are very health conscious! :P
- Ximending (西門町): Once you are there, never miss this famous rice noodles called Ay-Chung Flour-Rice Noodle (阿宗麵線). It is located nearby the MRT station, and if you ever feel lost, just ask any locals there and they will be gladly to help. This place is like Harajuku in Japan! When it comes to night time, it became so lively with people and buildings lit with colourful lights.
- Tamsui (淡水): I would recommend this place to visit when you are in Taipei. Spend half a day or full day if you can, because there are lots to see and do in this coastal area. You can rent bicycle, or take a ferry ride. There’s plenty of street food and arcade games too. If you prefer something slow, take a walk to the famous church, or the fort site, or even cross the love bridge! Find out what other attractions that you would be interested here.
- Zhanlu Coffee (湛盧咖啡): Enjoy a cuppa hand brew with superb handmade creme caramel pudding! You will never forget the smooth pudding that melts in your mouth, and wash down with a sip of warm black coffee. Read review here.
- Taipei 101 (台北101): Not to be missed tourist sight. However, I wasn’t really excited besides seeing the real building and the LOVE ART sign.
Day 3 : Taipei
- WeRunTPE: Woke up at around 4am to get ready for Nike Women’s Half Marathon.
The environment in the dorm is so empowering and fun at the same time!
- Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區): Take your time here where you can picnic or just simply sit and do people watching because you will see a lot of family with children, youngsters and lots of dogs! If that does not entice you, this creative park also offers concerts / exhibitions (may need ticket), restaurant / café, gift shops as well as street performances!
- Caldo Café: They serve superb soufflés! Must try if you are around this area. It is so famous that they only limit patrons to stay for a maximum of 2 hours.
- Raohe Street Night Market (饒河街觀光夜市): Taiwan street food!!! You can never go wrong with any night market. There’s always something for everyone. I had the grilled mushroom with lime, sweet potato balls, and Ai Yu Bing (爱玉冰 / Aiyu Jelly Drink).
Day 4 : Jiufen, Taipei
- Jiufen (九份): If you are familiar with Spirited Away, this is the place you would want to go to. Highly recommend to go during weekdays as this is a very popular tourist spot. When you are there, be sure to try these 10 things to eat in Jiufen Old Street. I had tried almost all of it, except for those non-vegetarian ones.
- On My Way Jiufen Youth Hostel (九份 國際青年旅舍): Clean, comfortable and affordable hostel in Jiufen! Location is not a problem, walking distance from the bus stop and you are already in the old street itself.
- Shifen Old Street (十分老街) / Pingxi (平溪) District: It is amazing how crowded this place can be! But this is where you write your wishes on the paper lantern and release it to the sky, hoping it will all come true. I feel coming here is very stressful, mainly:
2) Incoming train on the track you are stepping on;
3) Waiting and chasing for the train, cause once you missed it, you’ll just have to wait for another hour or so ⊙﹏⊙
Day 5 : Hualien
- Houtong Cat Village (猴硐貓村): After dropping my backpack at the station, I took the train to visit the cat village. Make sure you go there early like 8am to avoid group of tourist, but the shops will not be open by then. Do grab a map at the station and explore the area as there are other things to see as well, not just the cats!
Some railway stations provide baggage service with a minimal fee. I paid NTD$50 for a couple of hours. Do check with the counter beforehand just to make sure.
- FH hostel (繁華青旅): Checked into this fairly new hostel and stayed here for 2 nights. I enjoyed my stay with them! The host is really friendly, the place is clean, pretty comfortable bunk beds as well. I had the privilege to stay in a 7 female dorm all by myself during my stay!
- Hualien City Coastal Bikeway (雙潭自行車道): Rented a bicycle nearby the hostel, and rode to the coastal for this magnificent view!
Day 6 : Hualien
- Taroko National Park (太魯閣國家公園): The main highlight of this trip! I’ve been wanting to visit this magnificent place! Spent the entire day here, and it wasn’t enough. Hence, I would suggest anyone to plan ahead for at least 2 days to enjoy the entire area. Check out this blog post for your further information on the shuttle bus and tour.
Day 7 : Nantou
- Cingjing Farm (清境農場): Departed at around 9am from FH hostel by OKBUS to my home stay in Cingjing. All passengers are required to take sickness pill as the road is very windy along the way. The entire journey took about 4 hours to reach. Taiwanese are pretty skillful drivers!
- Green Green Grassland / Swiss Garden / Carton King: Enjoy the breeze, scenery and lot of sheep! Find out attractions in Cingjing, show times, entrance fees, and everything here.
- Julie’s Garden (清境峰情人文民宿): Stayed one night here in this quiet, clean and accommodating host! Since the area is not that accessible plus the shops tends to close early, you can make dinner reservations with them.
Day 8 : Taichung
- See You International Hostel (國際背包客棧): Checked in to this comfortable and yet affordable stay, sandwiched between a dessert shop and a vegetarian noodle shop called Veges M. If you are feeling a bit tired to walk and wanted a quick bite, you should try this vegetarian noodle shop. It’s good where you can choose your own ingredients!
- Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市): One of the largest night market, worth the visit. Do beware of pick pockets as the place tends to be very crowded. When I was here, I went with a local whom I met at the Nike Run. We had the famous taro dessert and stinky tofu!
Day 9 : Taichung
- National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (國立台灣美術館): If you have time to spare, you can cycle here to just chill and walk around the museum.
- Retro Mojo Coffee: After a tiring day of walking and cycling, head to this cafe for some chill time. Nice environment, serves good coffee and desserts :)
- Miyahara (宮原眼科): Must try ice-cream! A whole selections of flavours and toppings to choose from. They are also famous for their pineapple cakes and other snacks as souvenirs. Go check it out!
Day 10 : Taipei
- Calligraphy Greenway Square (草悟道): Woke up early to go for a run here and I may say that it is pretty nice long park for you to enjoy! After my run, I saw this small shop on my way back that caught my eye. Hence I decided to take away my breakfast and sat at the park while enjoying the last day of this trip.
- Taoyuan International Airport: At the Taichung train station, you can purchase your one way bus ticket direct to the airport. I had so much fun and hope to come back again someday to conquer the other parts of Taiwan!
Lastly, breakdown of my expenditure:
- Return Flight (Malaysian Airline): RM 1,232
- Accommodation: NTD$ 5,000 (RM 600)
- Food, Transport and Miscellaneous: NTD$13,945 (RM 1,673.4)
Total spent for the entire 10 days trip: RM 3,505.40
I may missed out some details, but yeah, that’s the route I took which I think it’s just nice to fit into the duration of my stay. Hopefully I have the chance to come back here to explore the other parts of Taiwan, and perhaps do some hiking and bungee jump which I missed out due to conflict of date.
The end of my solo trip.
Time to head home to face the reality [¬º-°]¬
On the other hand, do follow me on Instagram for more travel photos and other miscellaneous postings ⌒°(ᴖ◡ᴖ)°⌒