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I have zero to low expectations when we visited Taiwan in 2019 but it turned out to be one of the best travels that I had and I was able to enjoy exploring the place even more.
At that time my friend and I are stressed out at our respective jobs and so this Taiwan travel is one that we’ve been looking forward to the most upon booking a seat sale on the tail end of Spring. We wanted to experience cherry blossoms (this trip is way affordable / less expensive than Japan) and so we didn’t miss the chance to see its bloom. And what a spring time to remember!
We had five amazing days in Taiwan while only spending a total of approximately 360USD (including air fare and pre-booked tickets; our pocket money is 200USD).
Book an Airbnb unit that is accessible (preferably in Ximenting or near Taipei Main Station). Don’t worry, there are actually a lot of great options in there. I believe it is because it is a perfect location: it is not too far from the main mean of transportation (train/bus station) and there are a lot of night markets in which you can buy not only different types of food when you are hungry but the mementos and some authentic treats for your friends and families.
I think the one that we booked is the best in the area. It has a huge common room and we get to meet several travelers in there as well. The rooms are well kept and ventilated that even though we are sharing rooms with other people, we didn’t really find it as a problem. Also, the belongings are well-secured so you won’t worry about losing anything.
Familiarize yourself with the train/bus routes. You don’t have to memorize them all but it is better to download a train app (we did this in Japan and Korea too) and list down a comprehensive itinerary (say, the drop off station, the train line color and classification along with the estimated transportation fare) to keep track of the budget and to also budget your time well. That way, you can also set an itinerary that could cover most of the tourist spots in the same area instead of going back and forth to reach a destination. Pretty convenient, right?
For example, we had a whole day spent visiting Taichung province and had a local tour in there. We get to maximize our day with amazing locations and tried out some authentic dishes. I think we managed to go to eight locations and tried out their high speed train, too. It was a mix of provincial life at the same time, modern experience as we get a taste of both.
I particularly enjoyed seeing beautiful flowers at the arboretum and lived the “Lavender” dream (that famous Taiwanese telenovela) at the lavender farm.
Don’t be afraid to book joiner tours. Spending your tour with complete strangers isn’t necessarily a bad thing because who knows, they might be just as shy as you are and you can also meet your new friends in the form of these strangers. I met one of my friends whom I share a lot of common interests in this tour and I am glad because it has made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Also, since it is a budget trip, getting to travel with other joiners would mean a division of the total expenses so you’d get to allot your budget even better.
Don’t be afraid to try their street foods (even though it may not sound or seem okay to smell at first), talking about stinky tofu in particular. It is…. indeed stinky but it is the best tofu that I have ever tried and I loved it. Some of the must try snacks are:
— the huge chicken chops (it will give you value for your money!)
— the steamed pork buns (siopao like, but better)
— the flour rice noodle which is famous since 1975
— and of course, their boba milk tea in which they are famous for
It was raining that week and the day after we visited but God has blessed us with a really good weather during our tour (gloomy but not too windy.) at the iconic Yehliu Geopark and we were able to really explore His wonderful creations then.
The rock formations may change after a few years because of erosion and natural processes, but I’ll forever be grateful for the chance of seeing these wonderful sceneries in the flesh.
This hall is so iconic that almost everyone who traveled to Taiwan must at least have their photos taken in this place. It is vast and serene that you can see locals doing Tae bo classes (fitness class) in some area.
This is also where we saw some cherry blossoms. We almost gave up on seeing them because per the calendar, the blooming season may be already over and yet it is nice to see some as we walked around the area.
One of the highlights of our trip is probably visiting one of the shoot locations of the famous Taiwan series, “Meteor Garden”. Remember the place of Dao Ming Si and Shan cai’s cafe date where they ordered banana split?
We also tried to order the same thing and it’s very nice!
The university location is quite far from the city so we had to decide whether to go there or to experience the beauty of Taichung instead. We opted the latter and it’s one for the books!
Every corner of this place is truly amazing. You can even buy a lot of goodies if you are into shopping and all that. I am such a Ghibli fan and knowing that one of Ghibli’s iconic film is inspired by this place gave me extra joy.
We also tried customizing our very own lantern/kite and flew it along with our written hopes and dreams to the sky. This is one of the must-try activity when you visit Taiwan!
So apparently an actor named Bang Sunghoon was arriving the same day as us and so we saw him at the airport. I being a noob don’t know him, to be honest. There’s minor ruckus (super minor and it was still relatively calmer than the hype of Korean actors in the Philippines) because of people wanting to take a glimpse and I think it’s pretty cool to see it at that time.
If we aren’t running late to our next destination and we waited a bit more, we could have seen Vaness Wu (F4 member) at the airport as well (as he is scheduled to arrive then, we were informed). Anyway, it’s already a travel to remember.
It took me a couple of days to finish this post as I’ve been nursing an ear infection (I am feeling a bit better now); been busy with work; been grieving an untimely loss of an uncle. Too many has happened in the past few days.