“Life was meant for good friends and great adventures”
It was an unforgettable trip, to say the least.
To start off, we didn’t even plan it as a group. Taipei was not the original destination we were supposed to be heading to.
My sister was just planning a trip for 4 to Bangkok to watch the Coldplay concert. In the midst of buying Coldplay tickets, our friend Bianca mentions that she’s watching Coldplay in Taipei which happens to be on the day of her birthday. Wanting to celebrate Bianca’s birthday with her we then decide to watch Coldplay in Taipei and just shorten the trip to Bangkok. And then a few weeks before the travel date, Bianca’s brother who’s Nigel’s best friend also decides to join the 5 of us to Taipei.
Have you ever considered traveling to Taiwan? If you have, what was on your top list of things you wanted to experience? The night markets for the food?
Shilin night market to be exact? or was it for the lovely tea experience up in the mountains?
Taiwan has been pretty low-key in terms of popularity. I’ve heard of Hong Kong and Singapore as being shopping destinations and Japan as being a food and cool cultural experience but Taiwan has been more on the hush side. It was still a mystery to me and my curiosity began to tick louder.
Where we stayed:
Beauty hotels B7 journey – Zhongzheng area
Price: PHP 2950/ night roughly around $60/night
My friends and I stayed in one hostel near the Ximending area; everything was pretty much within walking distance. We’d only have to walk around 8 min to get to the Ximending district.
My boyfriend Kevin who came from Australia also had a day to himself as he arrived earlier than Coleen, Nigel and I so he spent that day walking and basically mapping out everything that was close to our hotel. Without taking pictures or writing it down; He just mapped it out with his visual memory . I mean, I’m not bad at directions, but sometimes streets, shops and buildings in Taipei looked alike but he managed to remember everything by just casually walking around the area one time. It was impressive. ❤
Transportation: Taipei MRT Rapid Transit Subway
On a daily basis, the Taipei MRT serves about a million commuters as the station serves most of Taipei. Learning how to use their MRT system right away made it easy for us to commute and get to different places for a cheap and convenient way. It is fast, easy to navigate and CLEAN! The subway system is both bilingual in Chinese and English (including the Chinese languages of Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, and Hakka).
I recommend getting a pocket wifi and bringing it with you when you go around. Google maps is very useful in finding directions and the exact address and location. If in any case you were not able to acquire a pocket wi-fi, just google the address of where you want to go, what exit you should take on the subway station and map it out already before leaving the hotel.
Also, take a screen shot of the name of the place you’re heading to so you could ask the locals or the taxi cab if ever you get confuse or lose your way
Another tip: Always take the business card of the hotel you’re staying at or write down in paper or on your phone in chinese letters your hotel name. For the reason that if you get lost, you can ask directions from the locals or show the taxi driver so he will be able to read it. Most taiwanese are not so familiar with English names or they may find it hard to understand you.
1. Ximending district
Also known as the Harajuku of Taipei, the bustling streets of Ximending is at the heart of it all. If you’re planning a short trip to Taipei I suggest you stay near the Ximending district.
It’s a huge shopping district that not only consists of the latest fashion trend and one whole building of H&M clothes, they also have unique and trendy fashion stores around the area that is of chic, high quality clothes and very affordable. They also have tattoo parlors, night bars, restaurants and creative artists performing in the middle of the street. Last but not the least, Ximending district is also known as being a food haven. There are food stalls in every corner each selling a unique type of snack. Everything tasted so good!
Must try in Ximending:
- Japanese style grilled Muah Chee/ Mochi
Even if it’s tucked in this small alleyway in the middle of Ximending area, you wouldn’t miss their stall as it comes with a long line of customers eager to have another taste of their famous grilled Muah Chee that comes in different flavors. Their stall is also styled with eye-catching red lanterns!
Made by grilling the soft mochi with various sauces; some of the sauce are green tea, cheese, sesame and peanut. Then they finish by topping your grilled Mochi with the topping that coincides with the sauce you chose. I’d recommend the peanut flavor for the ultimate Muah Chee experience J
Address: No. 49, Emei st, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Directions: Take MRT to Ximen station. Take exit 6 and walk about 4 min.
But if by any chance you stay in Zhongzheng district, Ximending is just an 8 min walk from Hotel b7 journey
- Ji Guang Fried Chicken
Savory fried chicken is one of the favorite snacks in Taiwan. One of the big stalls in Ximending area is the 1973 chicken. Their bite sized popcorn chicken is marinated with more than 8 spices and it is deep fried extremely well on the spot. It’s served hot and super tasty!
Price: ranges from TWD$75 for small to TWD$110 for large
No. 121-1, Hanzhong St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108, 台北市萬華區漢中街121-1號
Directions: Take the MRT to Ximen station. Take Exit 6 and walk about 1 minute
- Oyster omelette
The locals love it and even the tourist queue in line for this; it’s definitely a crowd favorite! The 4 main ingredients being: the glutinous sweet potato starch and the pan-fried omelette with the freshly poached oysters and Taiwan’s signature red sauce. When combined, it makes up this heavenly snack that will melt in your mouth and make you come back or it again and again.
Our first day (and night) was entirely dedicated to the Ximending district and all the food it could offer. We ate everything we could find and everything we could see, by the end of out food excursion we were so full we thought we’d burst, it was a good thing we had a short distance to walk back to our hotel. The night was spent dressing up and then ending up cancelling our plans to go out and just stay in for card games with friends. At midnight, we started getting hungry again so we went out to go grab McDonald’s. It was the best.
2. Bubble tea
Our second day we were able to taste their amazing bubble tea and discover restaurants on a ground floor level of a shopping mall.
3. Taipei 101 and 4. Peace park
Kevin let me watch a short documentary on how Taipei 101 was built and it was awe-inspiring; in every detail their creativity and the hard work they have put into creating a magnificent thing. Being able to see the building in person stunned me even more.
A landmark skyscraper located in Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan. It is the tallest and largest green building in the world as it was awarded the LEED platinum certification in the year 2011: the highest award according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.
The 101-story tower was architecturally created as a symbol of the evolution of technology and Asian tradition in Taiwan.1999 was the year that the construction of the skyscraper started and it finished in 2004.
Taipei 101 is designed to withstand typhoons and earthquakes. It consists of a multi-level shopping mall with hundreds of stores, restaurants and it even has night clubs. To see this majestic site in the most amazing time possible; visit Taipei for New Year and watch their amazing show of Fireworks light up the skyscraper.
5F Taipei 101 Mall – Purchasing of tickets to be able to enter the observatory is done here.
Address: Taipei 101, No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
For subway station exit at: Taipei 101/World Trade Center
After the visit to Taipei 101, the four of us went for a run and did a bit of exercise at the peace park which was located 2 min away from our hotel. we wanted to burn a few of those oyster omelette and hot star chicken that we ate from Ximending. It was quite interesting to witness how relaxed the locals were at the park on a Saturday night. They were chilling and taking their time absorbing positive energy around.
After our little work out sesh, we showered, got dressed and partied with the locals and foreigners in a club in Da’an district and experienced the city’s night life.
5. Addiction Aquatic Development
For the address and more details about the place just click on this link: Addiction Aquatic Development: why it’s a must for any seafood lover’s visit to Taipei
The third night was for SEAFOOD; Grilled seafood, sushi and sashimi. Divine place to eat fresh seafood with your family or friends. After our lovely dinner we went tattoo shop hunting at Ximending area but it was pretty late and everything was closed.
6. Din Tai Fung and 7. Rockink Tattoo shop
For the address and more details about this experience, click this link: Tattoo Experience at Rockink tattoo shop in Taipei
Fourth day was reserved for dumplings and xiao long bao at Din Tai Fung but the top priority for the day was to be able to get a tattoo. After Coldplay’s concert we went and got our tattoo’s at Rockink Tattoo shop and then we celebrated Bianca’s birthday with 7/11 wine, mochi and card games at our hotel’s lobby and then feeding squirrels and watching the locals practice tai-chi at 7 in the morning at the Peace park.
8. Family mart and 9. 7/11
Worth mentioning how they had such good variety of snacks and beverages at Family mart and 7/11. They even have those eggs in the counter soaked in soy sauce. If you see one, I know it might look scary or sketchy but I promise you… it is GOOOD. 🙂
In Taipei, I’ve experienced the best street food, the freshest seafood, the ever courteous and very disciplined locals, Taipei’s famous monuments, the ever peaceful and serene park in the middle of a busy district, their McDonald’s chicken nuggets (they had no idea what gravy is) and how people use their McDonald’s restaurant as a napping place at night, a tattoo experience we’ll never forget, Taiwan’s cold and rainy weather and getting lost and finding our way back again.
Also getting to experience the rich culture of Taipei and seeing how the locals are being so open and respectful to different cultures and races while at the same time keeping their spirituality intact and remaining respectful of their own. It has opened my eyes more and have gained yet another unique perspective of this side of the world. This country has such diverse collection of activities and food but it doesn’t overwhelm, it only makes you want to come back again and again. Not to mention how everything is affordable and pretty cheap for the quality you’re getting.
A few life lessons from the trip:
I have learned that there’s nothing that a bubble tea and your best friends’ company can’t fix, that trusting in yourself and your friends’ instincts will save you and you’ll be grateful you trusted.
One big tip: Do not go with foreigners you just met for a KTV Trip. It’s a scam and they will leave you with a hefty bill.
10. Experiencing Taipei with friends
And last thing on this story is the most unforgettable part of the trip: It wouldn’t be this unforgettable of an adventure if it wasn’t for my best friends that I got to experience it with. ❤