After a 4-year hiatus, I am finally blogging again! The pandemic has restricted everyone to travel, but it has pushed me to try out new activities and also spend time again on things that I’m passionate about, and one of them is writing. 🙂
Given that, this is apparently a long overdue post. Last 2017, I accomplished one of my ultimate goals: to travel solo! I impulsively booked a flight in February 2017 because I was having a quarter-life crisis, and I thought traveling alone would help me figure things out (It did not haha!). After 2 months, I found myself sitting on a plane headed to Taiwan, a country that I had never visited before.
Located in East Asia, Taiwan is an ideal destination for a solo trip because it is safe, affordable, and easy to navigate through via public transportation. I spent roughly PHP 13,000 (USD 270) on airfare, accommodations, food, tours, and shopping for a 5-day trip to the cities of Taichung and Taipei.
Taichung is Taiwan’s second largest city that is centrally located in the western half of the country. On the other hand, Taipei is the capital and the largest city located in northern Taiwan.
Day 1 – Taichung
Since I had a red-eye flight, I arrived at Taoyuan International Airport past midnight already. I decided to take a nap there while waiting for the first bus to operate in the morning. I purchased a bus ticket at the Kuo Kuang Bus counter and boarded Kuo Kuang Bus 1860 before 6 AM. The travel time took about 2.5 hours en route to Taichung. I alighted at Taichung Railway Station and walked toward my accommodation (TC Hotel) to leave my luggage.
- Zhongshe Flower Market
Zhongshe Flower Market is a 6-hectare flower farm featuring landscaped garden beds with various colorful blooms throughout the year.
– Admission Fee: January to March – NT$ 150 (Adults)/ NT$ 75 (Children, Seniors, PWDs), April to December – NT$ 130 (Adults)/ NT$ 60 (Children, Seniors, PWDs)
– Operating Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM daily
– Address: No. 333, Sec. 5, Sanfeng Road, Houli Dist., Taichung City
– Getting there: From Taichung Station, take the train on the west line to Tai’an Station and walk toward Zhongshe Flower Market for about 20 minutes.
- Miyahara Ice Cream
This is easily one of the best ice creams that I’ve ever tasted. Aside from its delectable flavors, what makes this place more than just an ice cream parlor is its interior that resembles Hogwarts from the Harry Potter films. Fangirl mode activated!
– Operating Hours: 10 AM to 10 PM daily
– Address: No. 20 , Zhongshan Rd., Central Dist., Taichung City
- Fengjia Night Market
One of the perks of traveling solo is you can rest without feeling guilty. Because I was exhausted and sleep-deprived, I took a nap in the afternoon before going to Fengjia Night Market for dinner. This market offers various food selections as it is claimed to be Taiwan’s largest night market.
– Operating Hours: 4 PM to 2 AM (Tuesday to Sunday), 4 PM to 1 AM (Monday)
– Address: Wenhua Road, Xitun District, Taichung City
– Getting there: From Taichung Station, take Bus No. 25 or 35 to Feng Chia University stop.
Day 2 – Taichung/Taipei
- Rainbow Village
Rainbow Village was my last stop in Taichung. It is a local village that was painted solely by a former soldier to suspend demolition. It has been eventually preserved and has become a cultural area and a tourist attraction. Unfortunately, I only saw a few parts of it as it was under maintenance when I visited.
– Operating Hours: 8 AM to 6 PM daily
– Address: 408, Taiwan, Taichung City
– Getting there: From Taichung Station, take Bus No. 27 or 40 to Lin Tung University, and walk toward Rainbow Village for 5 – 10 minutes.
It was almost nighttime when I arrived in Ximen which is the neighborhood where my accommodation (Angels Hostel) in Taipei is situated. I got kind of lost because I was supposed to take the train from Taichung to Taipei, but it was confusing so I decided to take the bus again instead from Taichung Station.
- Ximending Shopping District
I had a quick dinner in Ximending which is within walking distance from my hostel. It is one of my favorite areas in Taipei because it reminded me of Myeongdong in South Korea.
Address: No. 14, Emei St., Wanhua District, Taipei City
Getting there: Take the Taipei MRT Bannan Line or Songshan – Xindian Line to Ximen Station (Exit 6).
Day 3 – Yangmingshan and Beitou
Yangmingshan National Park is a home of numerous parks, hiking trails, wildlife, and hot springs located in northern Taipei City. I was only able to visit two (2) scenic spots, namely Zhuzihu and Xiaoyoukeng, and then I headed to Beitou afterwards.
Getting there: From MRT Jiantan Station, leave Exit 1 and walk to the bus station on the left side. Take Bus R5 or small bus S15 or S17 to Yangmingshan Station. Note that Bus S15 travels past the main station to other destinations such as Xiaoyoukeng, Lengshuikeng, and Qingtiangang.
Zhuzihu is a local farming village known for raising calla lillies. The foggy and misty weather made my visit extra relaxing.
Getting there: From Yangmingshan Bus Station, take Bus 131, S8, or S9 to Zhuzihu.
Xiaoyoukeng is a post-volcanic geological park known for fumaroles, hot springs, and sulphur crystals.
Operating Hours: 9 AM to 4:30 PM daily
Getting there: From Yangmingshan Bus Station, take Bus 108 or 124 to Xiaoyoukeng.
- Beitou Thermal Valley and Beitou Library
Beitou Thermal Valley is one of the sources of acidic sulfur hot spring in the Beitou area, and could reach a temperature of up to 90 Celsius. The smell was quite bothering though given that it releases sulfuric steam.
I also got some rest at a library nearby, Beitou Library. It is built mainly of wood and is structured with French windows that allow natural lighting and a view of the lush greenery.
– From Yangmingshan Bus Station: Take Bus S9 at the bus stop across 7-Eleven.
– From Taipei City: Take MRT Red Line to Xinbeitou Station.
- Shilin Market
On my way back to Taipei City, I stopped at Shilin Market first to have my dinner. Shilin Night Market is one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taipei where you can find general merchandise and enjoy local cuisine. I no longer had the energy to roam around so I just had chicken skewers and milk tea. I think I got sick of night markets already LOL.
– Address: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City
– Getting there: Take THSR (or TRA) to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to Jiantan Station. Take the Taipei Sightseeing Bus Blue Route to the MRT Jiantan Station stop.
- Yehliu Geopark
Yehliu Geopark is a must-visit tourist spot in northern Taiwan where you can see geological formations including the iconic “Queen’s Head”, located along a cape stretching out for over 1,700 meters.
– Admission Fee: Php 130 (You may book from Klook.)
– Operating Hours: 8 AM to 5 PM daily
– Address: 207, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Wanli Districts
– Getting there: From Taipei West Bus Station – Terminal A (located at Taipei Main Station), go to the KuoKuang (國光) window and purchase a ticket for NT$96 to Yehliu Geopark (野柳地質公園).
- Jiufen Old Street
Jiufen Old Street is lined with food stalls, teahouses, shops, and hanging red lanterns along narrow alleyways. This is where I tried the peanut ice cream roll for the first time which is the best Taiwanese street food in my opinion. Jiufen Old Street is also usually associated with Hayao Miyakazi’s Studio Ghibli film, “Spirited Away”. I was ecstatic because I’m a huge fan of his works! Amei Tea House, a 100-year old landmark, particularly resembles the bath house in “Spirited Away”.
– Operating Hours: 8 AM to 7 PM (Monday to Thursday), 8 AM to 10 PM (Friday to Sunday)
– Address: Jishan Street, Ruifang District
– Getting there: Take the MRT blue line to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station Exit 1, then take bus 1062 to Jiufen Old Street Station.
Wishing upon a sky lantern was another bucket list item of mine. However, I admit that during this time, I wasn’t responsible enough to educate myself about its potential hazards. I don’t suggest releasing sky lanterns as it can actually harm animals and cause environmental pollution. You may visit the Shifen Waterfall nearby instead (which I wasn’t able to do), or buy souvenirs and eat street foods along the old street.
– Address: 226, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Pingxi District
– Getting there: From Taipei Main Station, take a northbound train (except Keelung-bound trains) towards Ruifang Station. Transfer to the Pingxi Line (平溪線) and purchase a One Day Ticket for the Pingxi Line, NT$52.
- Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
This memorial hall was built in memory of the first president of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-Shek. It is a famous historical landmark and tourist attraction in Taiwan, with its picturesque landscaped gardens and spectacular architecture.
– Operating Hours: 9 AM to 6 PM daily
– Address: No. 21號, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
– Getting there: Take THSR (or TRA) to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station. Take the Taipei Sightseeing Bus Red Route to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall stop.
- Wufenpu Shopping District
This shopping district is a wholesale garment market where you can buy apparel in incredibly low prices.
– Operating Hours: 1:30 PM to 11 PM
– Address: Alley 9, Lane 443, Yongji Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City
– Getting there:
a. Travel to Songshan Station (松山), terminus of the Green Line 3. Walk straight from Exit 3 until you cross Songlong Road. The shopping complex is located within the maze of alleys and lanes to your front and left. Wufenpu is also reachable from Houshanpi (後山埤) on Blue Line 5.
b. From Taipei Main Station, take any local train northbound (區間車) to Songshan Station (松山).
- Elephant Hiking Trail
Elephant Hiking Trail is an alternative to the Taipei 101 observatory if you prefer to admire the impressive view of the city plus Taipei 101 itself. I actually backed out halfway because of the rainy weather and I got scared considering that it was already dark when I arrived and I didn’t have any companion. I was also terrified of the frogs that leaped out of nowhere haha please don’t judge.
– Admission Fee: Free
– Operating Hours: 24 hours daily
– Address: Alley 342, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City
– Getting there: Take the red line on the MRT all the way to Xiangshan. Take Exit 2 from the MRT station and follow the signs for the hiking trail to the left.
WHERE TO STAY:
1. TC Hotel in Taichung
TC Hotel is a walking distance from Taichung Railway Station. I stayed in a “Single bed in female dormitory” room type for 1 night. Coincidentally, I didn’t have a roommate that time so I got the room all to myself which was pretty convenient because the room is quite small.
2. Angels Hostel in Taipei
Angels Hostel is conveniently located near Ximending Shopping District. This time, I had around 13 female roommates.
- Cebu Pacific Manila-Taipei Roundtrip Airfare = PHP 3,439.55
- Accommodations: TC Hotel = PHP 585.66 (1 night), Angels Hostel = PHP 1,383.56 (3 nights)
- Pocket money for 5 days (Shopping, Food, Tours) = PHP 8,000
One of the joys of solo travel is you are free to do whatever you want, whenever, and wherever at your own pace. It can be nerve-wracking sometimes when you get lost and confused but know that it is pretty normal especially when traveling alone. Fortunately, I met friendly locals and fellow Filipinos who were willing to go out of their ways to help me and take photos of me haha. The downside though is it can also get lonely when you don’t have anyone to talk to, but this just means that it is also an opportunity to know yourself more intimately. By the time you get back home, you’ll be proud of yourself for being independent and courageous to step outside your comfort zone.