Taiwan | Taipei

1 February 2019




From Kaohsiung, Kenting, to Tainan and Taichung, now we're moving further up north to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan to end our 17-day trip!

Unlike the past 1.5 weeks in central and southern Taiwan, Taipei's weather was a 'disaster' to us, which made the last part of our trip more challenging than ever. We nearly fell sick towards the end.

However, we found our way to mark a perfect ending to our Taiwan trip despite the bad weather and all. Read on to find out what we did for the last few days in Taiwan!

Travel Period: December 18, 2018 - January 3, 2019


    A lot of foreigners travel to Taiwan end of December mainly for the New Year's Eve Countdown in Taipei, like us. At first I hesitated about my decision to travel during this period as I was told by many that weather in Taiwan would be rainy and windy everywhere.

    According to my experience, it was all good and perfect in central and southern Taiwan during December. However, it was a disaster for us in Taipei, as it was raining EVERYDAY all 7-8 days during our stay! Not just the rain, but it was also the strong wind and the crazy amount of tourists that all flocked into Taipei for New Year.

    We were quite unlucky that the cold current 寒流 arrived exactly on the day we got to Taipei, which made the temperature drop 10 degree Celcius within just a day.

    It was cold, rainy, and windy, and crowded everywhere. Definitely not an ideal season to travel here if you plan to see coastal sightseeing spots like us. My itinerary in Taipei was all about sceneries mostly near the coasts, which would only be nice if there's clear blue sky and calm waters. It could be dangerous when it's rainy and windy.


    It's highly recommended to get an EasyCard 悠遊卡 if you want to get around Taiwan using public transport. You can use this card to take trains and buses, which are the most convenient ways to travel within Taipei.

    However, if you plan to do day trips outside of Taipei city, like Jiufen, Shifen, and Keelung, it would be wise to hire a driver to take you around as public transportation is less accessible from Taipei. You will save time by having someone to pick you up, drive you right to places you want to go, and drop you off at your hotel after a day trip. You can choose either a half-day or a full-day tour and customize your itineraries.

    I hired two different full-day private drivers for my day trips near Taipei:
    Read on to find out about my experience with each of them.


    Day 1 - 3:  Part I - Kaohsiung & Kenting

    Day 4 - 9:  Part II - Tainan, Taichung & Nantou

    Day 10:
    Taichung to Taipei
    Accommodation: Airbnb next to Qizhang MRT

    Day 11:
    Ximending 西門町
    Accommodation: Airbnb next to Qizhang MRT

    Day 12:
    Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道  ➡  Bitoujiao Trail 鼻頭角步道  ➡  Nanya Rocks 南雅奇石  ➡  Yin Yang Sea 陰陽海  ➡  Golden Waterfall 黃金瀑布  ➡  Tian-jian-che Ruin 天間車遺址  ➡  Jingmei Night Market 景美夜市
    Accommodation: Airbnb next to Qizhang MRT

    Day 13:
    Elephant Trunk Rock 象鼻岩  ➡  Chaojing Park 潮境公園  ➡  Keelung Miaokou Market 基隆廟口  ➡  Zhengbin Fishing Port 正濱漁港  ➡  Wangyou Valley 忘憂谷  ➡  Shenkeng Old Street 深坑老街
    Accommodation: Airbnb in Shenkeng

    Day 14:
    Yehliu Geopark  ➡  Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布  ➡  Shifen Old Street 十分老街  ➡  Jiufen Old Street 九份老街  ➡  Countdown at Taipei 101 台北101跨年
    Accommodation: Airbnb in Shenkeng

    Day 15:
    Taipei 101 台北101  ➡  Beitou 北投
    Accommodation: Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou 北投亞太溫泉飯店

    Day 16:
    Staying in for hotspring in Beitou 北投
    Accommodation: Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou 北投亞太溫泉飯店

    Day 17:
    Home time


    DAY 10

    Taichung to Taipei

    Arriving in Taipei in the late afternoon, I immediately felt the COLD weather and even my shawl wasn't enough to keep me warm. Watching all the well-dressed people walking at a fast pace, I started to feel stressed. It wasn't a good sign to see everyone in proper autumn/winter clothing, boots, and umbrellas, while I was only wearing my summer dress. Is that why everyone looked at me in a weird way? Lol.

    Some other differences I noticed were, the amount of non-Asian foreigners and English signboards in Taipei. I then realized, foreigners (excluding Malaysians, Singaporeans and Hong Kong tourists) usually travel to Taipei only when they come to Taiwan, probably due to the language barrier in other parts of Taiwan. For the past 2 weeks, I did not see much English other than in Taipei (and Tainan). I do hope more foreigners travel outside of Taipei as there are so many other beautiful places in Taiwan.

    By writing this blog in English, I hope I can provide some helpful information to assist those of you who can't read Chinese.

    Stepping out of the station we arrived in, we were welcomed with rain and gloomy weather. Thank God our Airbnb was not far from the station. It was literally a walking distance, which made it convenient for us to get around.

    After checking in, we decided to stay in and be lazy that evening, partly due to the weather.

    DAY 11

    Ximending 西門町

    Expecting the weather to be rainy and cold again, today I put on my heat-tech, stockings, long sleeve, a pair of long pants, and a jacket. Unfortunately all these were not sufficient. I was freezing to death and I totally did not expect it to be this cold.

    We had a very easy day today just walking around Ximending Youth Shopping District as Shibby needed to find a product for his sister. Earlier, I planned to bring him to Tamsui Fisherman's Wharf 淡水漁人碼頭 too but it was rainy and too cold for me to have any mood to go anywhere. The wind made it felt like 10 degree Celcius colder. My hands and ears were suffering from the cold. Eventually we had to go to Uniqlo and Shibby bought me a very thick jacket. *thankful

    It was nice to have an excuse to shop as I didn't bring enough warm clothes. Lol.

    Having this kind of weather, I was actually quite worried about all my upcoming day trips to the coast. *Pray for the best

    DAY 12

    Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道  ➡  Bitoujiao Trail 鼻頭角步道  ➡  Nanya Rocks 南雅奇石  ➡  Yin Yang Sea 陰陽海  ➡  Golden Waterfall 金瓜石黃金瀑布  ➡  六坑斜坡索道  ➡  Jingmei Night Market 景美夜市

    Haplay Tour 哈旅行

    For these two days, we did our road trips with Haplay Tour. I hired their driver for 2 full days (8 hours per day) to bring us to the beautiful Northeast coast of Taipei, where all the great sceneries are. I got to customize my own itineraries before the trip by telling them places I needed to go.

    It was really professional of them I have to say. Two days ago, they emailed me a nicely arranged itinerary table showing the route and places they would bring us. They didn't have any problems at all when I requested to make changes to the plan. After some discussion and amendment, they sent me the final copy of the itinerary for my reference.

    This is important as you have to make sure your driver acknowledges and agrees with your plan to avoid any misunderstanding. Also, it's good that you leave it to the expert to finalize your itinerary, plan the best route, and estimate proper duration for each spot.

    They then gave me a heads up that their driver would contact me the day before the trip. Indeed, the driver sent me a text message yesterday introducing herself and reminding us to bring warm clothes as it would be cold. I really appreciate how they kept me informed all the time so I would be ready. Also it was a really nice gesture for the driver to remind us to bring warm clothes!

    We agreed to depart at 10 am today. The driver, Ms Lim was so punctual she arrived 10 minutes earlier! It was a clean car with little curtains, and we were provided with water bottles and cold canned coffee (too bad I don't drink coffee, but it was so kind of her).

    Talking about our itinerary, given the rainy weather, Ms Lim commented that she was surprised to see so many coastal spots. To make sure we would not get disappointed by the weather condition later, she asked us if we wanted to change our mind to visit the city instead. Well I knew what my intention was, so I insisted to proceed with the original plan.

    Ms Lim is the most entertaining driver ever. She talked, shared stories and introduced places in an interesting way which made us immediately feel comfortable being with her. She was also very caring to always remind us to wear jackets whenever we got off the car haha. She was all the time like a friend to us. She would buy us lunch (for free), took pictures for us, never rushed us, waited patiently, and sometimes if necessary, stopped by 7-11 or Family Mart along our way just to casually get tea/coffee with Shibby. I know some drivers like rushing and not willing to add extra stops so they could go home earlier. This is not the case with Ms Lim, as she was also very flexible with places we wanted to go to.

    Old Caoling Tunnel 舊草嶺隧道

    This is the furthest spot in our itinerary, as it's located in Fulong 福隆, 1.5 hours away from Taipei. Ms Lim stopped us at a bike rental shop 2 km away from the tunnel. It was drizzling a little bit, but I really wanted to experience the tunnel by cycling - the must do thing when you visit here.

    If you are less fit, you should hire an electric bicycle as there are steep roads which will require more strength to cycle. I got an electric bicycle (300 NT$) while Shibby got a traditional one (100 NT$). Haha! Lucky me.

    It was a very nice ride in the quiet countryside to the tunnel, with no cars. I enjoyed it so so much!

    A picture before entering the tunnel!

    The 2 km dark tunnel felt like an air-conditioned trail, opening up to nice scenic views of the sea at the other end. This tunnel used to be part of a railway project during the Japanese Occupation, to connect Yilan and the greater Taipei area. However, it was later abandoned after the construction of New Caoling Tunnel.

    After a short break enjoying the view and using the washroom, we returned to where we rented the bicycles by going through the same tunnel again. If not mistaken, you can continue the route and do the full loop around the easternmost tip of Taiwan, provided you have more time.

    Made it through the tunnel!

    That's my electric bicycle!

    The new railway tunnel is to the left 

    After exiting the tunnel, you will get a good view of the Yilan coastline with Turtle Island off shore.

    We returned and met our driver, who was waiting patiently in the car. She was so nice that she treated us the famous Fulong lunch box 福隆便當 and urged us to eat in the car while we were on the way to the next spot! *touched

    Fulong lunch box 福隆便當 treated by our kind driver

    Bitoujiao Trail 鼻頭角步道

    To be honest, I didn't even know that we had to hike in Bitoujiao, but the view was all worth the climbing!

    There are two ends where you can start the 3.5 km trail - one at the fishing village, another one at the Bitou primary school. They both are connected. You start at one end and finish at the other. My advise is, start from the primary school as it's easier! 

    Our driver dropped us here at the trailhead near the primary school

    Our driver stopped us at the side of the road, which led us to the primary school and the start of the trail. It was a beautiful easy hike up from the school, where we got to enjoy spectacular coastal landscape along the way. Please be careful when you approach the second half of your hike, as it becomes more and more steep as it goes higher. The wind can get really strong, make sure you hold on tight to the railing. Approaching the peak, it will open up to a dramatic view of the cliffs and wave-cut platforms hugging the shoreline. STUNNING VIEW! We were all the time savouring the 360° scenic beauty around us. There are a number of pavilions along the way for you to catch your breath and the views.

    Exhilarating view!

    Cold and windy but it didn't stop me from enjoying the stunning landscape!

    Beautiful view of the coastline and the fishing port where we the trail ends

    The trail will then lead you down the 'endless' wooden steps to the fishing port. This is the reason why I suggested you to hike up from the other end as walking down steps is MUCH easier than climbing up those hundreds of steps right to the top! I pitied those people who were constantly stopping at the steps trying to catch their breath. I can imagine how tiring it would be!

    What you will see at the end of your trail - fishing port

    Nanya Rocks 南雅奇石

    Ms Lim then drove us to our next spot - Nanya Rocks! They're located just next to the coastal highway and you have to park your car across the street. I like that most of the places we went around this area are open to public, so you don't have to pay any entrance fee. Be careful as you step on those slippery rocks especially when strong wind hits. 

    Nanya Rocks have very graceful weathering patterns that they look like paintings. Due to weathering and erosion, the surfaces have different shades which make them look like earth-color paintings.

    My driver kept reminding me to put on my jacket lol

    Yin Yang Sea 陰陽海

    This totally wasn't in our itinerary but Ms Lim was really kind and enthusiastic to show us this spot while we were on the way.

    As getting closer to Jinguashi 金瓜石, the old mining spot, you can see beautiful sceneries around formed by all the earth minerals in this area. Yin Yang Sea is a natural occurrence formed by minerals, featuring the “half gold, half bluish green” sea water. It happens at the river mouth all year long where the river from Jinguashi mountain area (which is high in minerals) meets the sea.

    The weather was really gloomy when we were there. Trust me if you come in clear weather, you will get vibrant colours of blue sky and yellow+blue sea water!

    Yin Yang Sea 陰陽海

    Jinguashi Golden Waterfall 金瓜石黃金瀑布

    There were so many tourists when we came here! This waterfall is located just on the side of a small road. The road was jammed with buses and cars, the waterfall was full of tourists! It would be a nightmare if you drive here by yourself, as you would not be able to find a parking. I felt so relieved we had a good driver who was willing to drop us RIGHT IN FRONT of the spot and waited for us patiently on the road despite the traffic! She did not even try to rush us or anything like that. How nice of her!

    There's a huge rock in front of the waterfall. It is said to consist of gold, so the locals believe that touching and rubbing it will bring you good wealth luck! Well, no harm trying, so we touched and rubbed it as much as we could haha.

    Given the crowd, I seriously didn't think we would be able to capture any nice pictures without strangers in it. Good job Shibby was able to take a few nice shots for me though. However it was challenging to take our own photos with the tripod. After trying a few shots, my driver got off her car, grabbed my camera, and shoo-ed all the tourists away and took pictures of us! Lol.

    Lovely shot (without any strangers) taken by our driver!

    Tian-jian-che Ruin 天間車遺址

    All located in Jinguashi area, it was really fast to travel from one place to another. I can't find any information about this place in English, as it's a very new Instagram-worthy spot in Jinguashi 金瓜石 that has only become famous among local youngsters recently. You get a very nice view of the sea from here!

    Basically it's a ruin that was part of the old mining tramway system called 六坑斜坡索道 (Liu-Keng-Xie-Po tramway). If you have time and like hiking, you can check out the incline tramway just behind the ruin. I did not do it because the weather was bad, cold and windy, plus it was getting dark already. We had to leave quick as it was raining.

    Be careful when you take pictures. If you feel unsafe, don't try to climb on those old bricks.

    Also, a lot of foreigners have recommended hiking the Teapot Mountain 茶壺山. Its trailhead is around here too.

    To make it easier for you, I am attaching its location (red pin) in the map below. I hope it comes in useful:

    Jinguashi is actually very close to Jiufen. When we were leaving, we passed by Jiufen and saw TONS of tourists waiting in the rain for buses. Those waiting lines were INSANE. As the road is very narrow here in the hilly Jiufen, the traffic was so bad - packed with tourist buses, public buses, and cars! Our driver told us that it's not a good idea to come here by public transportation especially in this kind of rainy cold weather. Amount of tourists in Jiufen is no joke as you will probably end up stranded here without having any transportation to go back, since there are limited taxis here too. Taxis you see in Jiufen are mostly reserved for people who rented them for day tours.

    Fortunately we had a driver booked for our tour to Jiufen on New Year's Eve, but sometimes your trip will not go as smooth as planned, due to some unforeseen reasons or pure stupid mistakes. Read on to find out why we wish we came to Jiufen earlier! *sigh

    Jingmei Night Market 景美夜市

    It was already evening by the time we got out of Jiufen's traffic. We really wanted to go to Shilin Night Market for dinner, but the weather wouldn't allow us to. Ms Lim then recommended to drop us at Jingmei Night Market, which is a sheltered night market, and close to our Airbnb! Perfect!

    Duck noodles

    DAY 13

    Elephant Trunk Rock 象鼻岩  ➡  Chaojing Park 潮境公園  ➡  Keelung Miaokou Market 基隆廟口  ➡  Zhengbin Fishing Port 正濱漁港  ➡  Wangyou Valley 忘憂谷  ➡  Shenkeng Old Street 深坑老街

    Today we went on another day tour with Ms Lim from Haplay Tour again! Like yesterday, she came 10 minutes earlier and we started the trip at 10 am.

    The weather today seemed to be even worse than yesterday. It was raining and very windy, and I got more and more worried about our itinerary.

    Elephant Trunk Rock 象鼻岩

    It was not that far to come here from Taipei city. When we got here, we saw so many tourist buses and tourists. Plus, it was really gloomy, cold and EXTREMELY WINDY. Doesn't seem to be what I expected at all. :(

    To get to see the Elephant Trunk rock, you need to do trekking along the coastal rocks. There is no proper trail, and due to the rain, those rocks got even more slippery than usual. Also be aware those rocks are uneven, you have to be careful with every step you take!

    Under that windy and rainy condition, we had to be extra cautious while trekking with many other tourists too. The slope was all wet and muddy.

    Do not wear heels when you come here. Nobody wears heels for climbing!

    Look at that harsh weather and strong waves

    You will then reach the top where you will see the big 'elephant trunk'! My goodness it was so so so so so windy, the waves were so so so strong they were hitting hard on the cliff and water was splashing so high many people got wet. Ms Lim said she had never seen such strong waves here before.

    As much as you want your perfect Instagram pictures, do not go near the edge and risk your life! It was quite chaotic with so many people, the strong wind, the rain, and the fierce waves. After this experience, I would not recommend you to visit this place during rainy weather. It can be dangerous. I wish I came on a good sunny day.

    We were lucky to have Ms Lim to find good spots for us to take pictures without being photobombed. After a few quick shots, we left.

    Elephant Trunk Rock 象鼻岩
    Trying to pose calmly when I was actually struggling to balance myself due to the SUPER strong wind

    Awkward poses when you try to look good in a harsh weather condition

    Chaojing Park 潮境公園

    Chaojing Park is next to the famous sea-eroded terrain of Badouzi, where you can clearly see traces of wave erosion. It's a really nice relaxing area for you to take a stroll and get nice views of the sea. If you come on a sunny day, there will occasionally be fishing boats coming and going and kites flying.

    Art installation of giant flying brooms

    Keelung Miaokou Market 基隆廟口

    It was around noon time when our driver reminded us to have lunch. She recommended and dropped us at Keelung Miaokou (in front of Keelung temple) which is famous for their street market.

    There were so many food stalls we didn't know what to eat! However due to the rainy weather, we decided to dine in a Teppanyaki shop. Shibby was trying to look for Sweet Potato balls 地瓜球 but we could not find any stalls selling even though we circled the market for 3 times!

    Zhengbin Fishing Port 正濱漁港

    Rain started to get more and more heavy. Thank God we went to the Elephant Trunk rock earlier!

    Zhengbin Fishing Port was built by the Japanese long time ago, and it was the biggest fishing port in Taiwan during the Japanese era. What made it famous today is their cute colourful houses. 

    The rain was getting heavy I could not get out there without an umbrella anymore. Luckily Ms Lim had an umbrella in her car, and she was waiting very patiently on the side of the road for us to take pictures.

    Wangyou Valley 忘憂谷

    This was not in my itinerary, but Haplay Tour suggested to add this spot as I had a lot of spare time left.

    The name itself means "the valley of forgetting about worries". Probably it's because visitors are often so overwhelmed by the magic-like sea views around this place that they have no time to worry about other thingsMs Lim told us that this is one of the most scenic trails in Northern Taiwan, similar to Bitoujiao.

    However, we could not proceed to go down as the rain was too heavy! *cry

    Even the umbrella did not help, as the rain was flying in every direction we were getting drenched! Shibby was not happy when I insisted to take pictures in the rain, lol. We left after just staying here for 5 minutes.

    Trust me, this place is worth visiting during clear days. I have seen pictures on the internet and they look so different from what I see below. :(

    Pictures in the rain

    Shenkeng Old Street 深坑老街

    We actually had a lot of time left, but we did not want to continue the tour anymore as it was getting difficult to move about. So we decided to ask Ms Lim to drop us off at our next accommodation in Shenkeng. Why Shenkeng? Because everyone flocked into Taipei for the New Year and we did not have a better choice. *sigh

    It was a homestay with an elder lady. There was no public transportation around, but thankfully our host was really kind and nice. She drove us to Shenkeng Old Street for dinner and picked us up when we were done!

    Everyone told us that it's a must to try Shenkeng's specialties - bamboo shoots 竹筍 and stinky tofu 臭豆腐. We did not like the latter one, so we ordered bamboo shoots at the restaurant. It tasted really sweet, quite similar to white radish in my opinion.

    Shenkeng Old Street 深坑老街
    Bamboo shoots 竹筍


    Yehliu Geopark 野柳  ➡  Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布  ➡  Shifen Old Street 十分老街  ➡  Jiufen Old Street 九份老街  ➡  Countdown at Taipei 101 台北101跨年

    The last day of 2018! Today was supposed to be an exciting and happy day, but it turned out to be the most difficult day of our Taiwan trip.

    We had our day tour booked with Klook - private car charter for Taipei. Like any other Klook activities, I just went to their mobile app (or website if you don't have one) and made the booking before the trip. For private car charters, you are required to fill in places you want to visit.

    Unlike Haplay Tour, nobody contacted us before the tour. I was kind of worried yesterday so I decided to make a call to Klook support in Taiwan by using my host's phone. Luckily they were able to provide me with the driver's details and phone number. I then called the driver to make sure he would come to pick us up the next day.

    Probably we were already so used to the friendliness and fun characters of Ms Lim (our driver from Haplay Tour), it was a bit awkward when we got on the car with this mid-aged male driver from Klook. He was really quiet since the beginning. At one point, he told us that he's only a driver, and he's not good in talking and introducing places like a tour guide. We could understand so we did not expect much.

    However it was a nice comfortable car, Toyota Camry.

    Yehliu Geopark 野柳

    Without questioning us, he then brought us to Yehliu. Before getting off the car, we were told to wait in front of 7-11 at a fixed time, which is quite different from Ms Lim, who never fixed time for us or told us to be back by a certain time.

    It was still nice of him to offer us his umbrellas though.

    But lord oh lord, the rain was even worse than previous days. It was our 5th day in Taipei and the weather only got more and more terrible.

    I personally have been here to Yehliu before. It was a solo Taiwan trip a few years back so I came here alone. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the chaotic and messy condition in Yehliu Geopark with all the heavy rain and strong wind! There were still SO MANY tourists!! We were already wet before we even managed to reach the rock formations. Everyone was struggling to walk and screaming.

    Run. Run for your life!

    Most parts of the geo-park were closed and monitored by security guards due to the rain. I don't understand why it was still open to public in this condition. We had to pay an entrance fee to get in!

    Of course we did not see the Queen's Head. I considered ourselves lucky to have been able to see a few rocks. We did not continue to walk further in as it was unarguably a wiser choice to escape from this place.

    But please don't skip this place if you are here during good weather. I spent many hours here when I was here alone on my previous trip.

    Shifen Waterfall 十分瀑布

    Shifen is well known for the Shifen Waterfall, a 40 meter tall waterfall that creates a rainbow as it splashes into the lake, widely regarded as the most scenic in all of Taiwan. However when we were there, we could not see any rainbows at all, due to the rainy weather, what else.

    The walk to the waterfall is a real beauty. You will pass two suspension bridges surrounded by luscious green mountains and countless photo spots.

    Due to time limitation set by the driver, I felt quite stressed having to run from one place to another in the rain, not being able to fully enjoy my experience.

    Strong water flow probably due to the daily rain

    Shifen Old Street 十分老街

    Who releases lanterns in the rain? We do.

    It's not like we had a choice anyway. It had been in my list for a long time that I wanted to send a lantern to the sky in Shifen. Since it was the last day of 2018, I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to make New Year wishes.

    Before getting to the lantern releasing spot, you will pass by their old street where plenty of delicious and tempting Taiwanese street snacks await you.

    There were so many lantern shops and it was FULL of tourists in spite of the rain. Well, tell me where in Taipei has no tourists during New Year?

    Not even the rain can stop tourists from doing what they need to do

    There are many different types of lanterns that you can choose - each represents different meaning and a wish you'd like to come true. A lantern costs 150 NT$ for one colour or 200 NT$ for 4 colours. We chose a red one that represents joy and health.

    After paying for your lantern, you will be directed into the shop to write your wishes on the lantern with Chinese brush and ink. It takes a while for the your writings to dry up so you have to wait after that. Then you will be brought outside to take pictures with your lantern and release it!

    Jiufen Old Street 九份老街

    I thought nothing could be worse than what we had experienced so far today. But this is actually when the real nightmare began.

    We were happily on our way to Jiufen from Shifen, only to find out that the road up to Jiufen was closed because it was New Year's Eve and too crowded! *scream

    Even our driver got so upset I felt like he was more mad than us, because his plan was to leave Jiufen by 4pm to avoid traffic that could be caused by road closure and bad traffic on NYE. Well, it was already 2.30pm when we got blocked from going up and redirected to an open car park, where they expected everyone to take the public shuttle to go up to Jiufen.

    Our driver was being grumpy and telling us not to waste time by going up as we would not be able to make it back down on time, and he did not want us to delay his working hour. We spent good 10 minutes in the car discussing what we should do. In the end, Shibby and I decided to stick to our plan and go ahead visiting Jiufen.

    We ran off our car and waited for the bus in the rain with a lot of other Korean tourists (all in raincoats). We were shouted at by that tour leader as he thought we wanted to cut queue, when in fact we were actually trying to stand under the shelter to avoid rain.

    Shibby and I were literally all drenched from head to toe and shivering in the bus. This is when I started questioning myself if this was all worth it. I was just so cold.

    The scene in Jiufen was a disaster when we arrived. It was soooo windy and raining heavily, and we were lost. We did not know the way! So we just followed everyone and flocked into a street selling all the snacks and souvenirs. I guessed that must be the Jiufen Old Street.

    We literally had 30 minutes to spend in Jiufen. It was a total mess. The street was PACKED. We could not even move. Everyone was literally pushing and being pushed. It was not 100% sheltered so rain was dripping everywhere from the roofs and everyone's umbrellas. Imagine in a very narrow street. You can't avoid when you get poked by umbrellas from every direction while you are trying to avoid the rain. I became clueless why I was there, and where I was.

    I really wanted to see the typical Jiufen views, but I wasn't able to see it this trip as it was a mission impossible.

    So I pulled Shibby to a random alley so we could catch some breath. We were so hungry we did not have lunch yet. There was no chance for us to stop to buy food in this long food street because we constantly got pushed from behind. Unbelievable.

    Trying to smile while I was crying inside

    We did not get anywhere after being pushed for 20 minutes. I suggested to leave as I was worried that the driver would leave without us. Before exiting the street, I luckily managed to quickly grab a few buns to fill our stomach.

    The bus was about to leave and the driver kept waving 'No' to me as we were approaching, probably thinking that we were taking the wrong bus. Thank goodness I know Mandarin! I talked to them and told them I wanted to go to the parking, so they let us in. The bus was so full we had to stand. Luckily we made it on time! But we both were looking like wet zombies already.

    On the way down from Jiufen

    Taipei 101 (NYE's Countdown) 台北101 跨年

    After being picked up by our driver, I gently turned to Shibby and asked him if we should still go to Taipei 101 for countdown, since we were all wet and I was worried we would get sick if we didn't get changed immediately. It was a hard decision as spending NYE in Taipei 101 was the main reason why we wanted to come to Taiwan.

    If we went home to Shenkeng, we most probably would not have been able to come out anymore due to road closures and heavy congestions. If we proceeded to Taipei 101, we would have to wait 8 hours in our wet clothings until the countdown. We didn't mind our wet clothes, but our wet shoes were really ruining our mood. We felt really uncomfortable.

    As we were thinking about our decision, our car was slowly approaching Taipei 101 already. Well, looks like we didn't have to decide anymore.

    I went to buy a new pair of stockings and socks. Shibby also got a new pair of trousers and sandals to replace his totally wet Nike Flyknit that is made of yarn material.

    At only 5pm, the mall of Taipei 101 was already full of tourists and people waiting to see the fireworks. So many even sat on the floor in the mall and had 'picnics'. After dinner and some shopping, not knowing where else we could go, we randomly chose a cafe to spend time while waiting. As the mall was closing at 10pm, there were security guards shouting and shoo-ing people out of the mall. I felt like a homeless kid.

    So we went out and waited in the rain. I still can't believe we did not have our own umbrellas after 5 days of being out in the rain.

    On a positive note, we were lucky to have a very nice homestay host. Since yesterday, she had been sending me guidance notes and instructions on how to go back to Shenkeng by taking public transportation after the countdown. She promised to pick us up from a bus/train station.

    Since there were changes to the public transportation schedule and location for New Year countdown, while waiting for the fireworks, Shibby and I made good use of the time to walk around and find the exact location of the bus that we should take later so we could avoid the long queue for buses and getting lost in the crowd after the countdown.

    Being paranoid, we'd rather wait for the fireworks close to the bus stop but far away from Taipei 101 as we wish to leave as soon as possible after the fireworks. But that means we could not get a nice full view of Taipei 101, which we didn't mind.

    In spite of all the sh*tty experience today, I felt grateful that I was able to spend the last day of 2018 and step into 2019 together with Shibby in Taiwan! It was the most memorable and dramatic experience ever! Lol.

    It was rainy and foggy, and we did not get the full view of the fireworks, but we were happy!
    Happy New Year 2019 from Taipei!

    We then ran to the bus and we were so happy that we were one of the first to get on! And we got to sit! This is probably the best achievement we had done today! Haha. Sometimes it's the little things that make you happy.

    Our host was kind enough to come and pick us up at 12.40am from the bus stop. Now time to shower and rest!

    DAY 15

    Taipei 101 台北101  ➡  Beitou 北投

    On the first day of 2019, we both woke up with a sore throat and flu. Guess it's because we were in the rain for too long for the past 5 days. After checking out of the accommodation, our lady host sent us to Taipei 101 train station so we could store our luggage here. She also made us buy a big bottle of 舒跑 (a kind of sports drink from Taiwan), which she said would help to heal us when mixing and drinking it with hot water.

    We stored our luggage in Taipei 101 station, and went to Elephant Mountain 象山 (only 1 stop away), as I wanted to bring Shibby go hiking and enjoy a good panoramic view of Taipei. When we first got out of the station, the weather was not too bad though a little gloomy.

    Just 5 minutes later, it started raining again, which made us cancel our hiking plan eventually. As expected.

    No Elephant Mountain, so a few pictures with Taipei 101!

    Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou 北投亞太溫泉飯店

    Shibby and I had been anticipating for this day to come, as we would be staying in a hotspring hotel located in Beitou, which is near to Yangmingshan and famous for its hotspring!

    After days of running around, we certainly deserved a good pamper.

    Coming out of Beitou station, we got on the free hotel shuttle which would bring us right to our hotel's door step. How convenient!

    Hotel shuttle from Beitou station

    We were so excited to find ourselves heading uphill for a lavishing rejuvenating experience in Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou. It's a newly opened hotel located hidden away from the bustling cities, stood among the lush mountain forest landscape of Dan-Feng Mountains.

    We were welcomed with the warm smiles of their staff at the entrance and counter. After the check-in procedure, one of the receptionists showed us to our room and explained all the features in detail. We were totally impressed by the hotel room we got. Shibby was jumping in joy as he always appreciates good hotels and resorts.

    The room we got was Deluxe Double. And believe it or not, every room here in Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou has a private hotspring tub! This hotel was actually designed by a Japanese architect, which explains the simple and elegant Japanese style to every room. I also loved that they provided a pair of Japanese yukata for men and women. Totally put me in the mood for hot spring already!

    Shibby was too tired and a bit sick (both of us), he fell asleep right away on the very comfortable bed after drinking a glass of warm 舒跑 as recommended by our previous lady host.


    Here comes my favourite part - the hotel's dinner in Green Restaurant. After Shibby's nap, we went down to the ground floor to have our semi-buffet dinner. There was no line at all and we went straight in to the restaurant. We got to choose from the menu our main course. If it's not enough, there's a wide selection of food waiting for you at the buffet section - including seafood too! My favourite is the squid, so tasty! The dinner is a Chinese fusion cuisine and their chef exhibits Guangdong flavours to the fullest.

    Have I also mentioned that I love their desserts too? Basically nothing from the dinner disappointed us!

    Hotspring First Trial

    After we got back to the room, we were already so tired but we could not resist going for a dip in the hotspring. Shibby got so excited and jumped into the tub, and naturally stayed in there for a long time like he would in a pool, even though I warned him not to do that as it happened to me in Japan before when I got really dizzy after soaking in the hotspring for more than 10 minutes.

    At the same time, I was taking a hot shower, ready to jump into the hotspring as well. It was really nice and soothing at first but I began to feel dizzy after just 5 minutes, so I immediately got out. I didn't enter the tub again as I was feeling nauseated, probably due to the full tummy after dinner.

    Shibby did not want to get out until he finally started to feel dizzy. Sometimes the only way to learn is through the hard way. He was complaining and cold sweating on the bed for 10 minutes before he got better. *serves him right for not listening to my advise lol

    Looks like our evening did not end gracefully according to plan. *embarrassing

    DAY 16

    Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou 北投亞太溫泉飯店

    It was such a good night's sleep, not sure if it was due to the hotspring. Also, we were slowly getting better from our sickness. I mean, usually the cold and flu would have kicked in already by then, but we actually felt better! Must be the 舒跑 and the hotspring! Thank you Shenkeng lady host, thank you Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou, haha.

    We were really looking forward to this morning's breakfast as we were still drooling over last night's dinner. The breakfast was primarily Western buffet style and there was a huge variety of choices.

    Spa Treatment

    Today all we wanted to do was to chill out and enjoy the hotel's facilities. I booked myself a spa treatment at Jing Spa located on the second floor. We were welcomed with hot essential oil towels and hot tea to help relax us. First, I had a consultation with the therapist. She made sure to understand my health conditions before customizing a spa treatment for me.

    Welcome tea and towel
    I was then brought into a single treatment room (while Shibby was waiting outside haha) where I was asked to change. The therapist also offered me choices of essential oils to choose for the treatment. Even though the treatment only lasted for 30 minutes, I almost fell asleep because the massage was really soothing and rejuvenating.

    Private Hotspring

    The hotspring has got to be the highlight of our stay. We just couldn't get enough of it. Straight away after the massage, we went back to our room for the hotspring again in spite of our failures last night.

    But, one thing I noticed was, our skin felt so so so smooth right after the hotspring! Later I learned that white sulphur hotspring is the best for your skin. Not everywhere in Taiwan offers sulphur hotspring, which can only be found near volcanoes.

    Yangmingshan National Park is the only park in Taiwan that has volcanic geography and sulphur hot springs. That explains why Beitou and Yangmingshan are paradise for hotsprings.

    There are many other types of hotsprings in Taiwan like sodium carbonate springs, ferrous springs, and mud springs. Be careful when you book a hotspring place in Taiwan and watch out for fake hotspring water. You don't want to pay money for nothing.

    From yesterday's experience, we learned that you should:
    • never use the hotspring immediately after your meal as it will affect your digestion process
    • never jump into the hotspring tub without first showering your body with hot water
    • never stay in the hotspring for more than 5 minutes at one time
    • keep your hotspring water temperature below 40 degree Celcius
    • keep rehydrating yourself by drinking enough water
    In Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou, there are three choices of water you can use. You can choose between spring water 溫泉, cold water (mountain water) 泉水 and hot water 熱水. This way, you can adjust the water temperature as you please. A cute duck thermometer is provided for you to keep an eye on the water temperature.

    Another thing I really loved about this hotel is the mountain view and the greenery that you get to enjoy from the comfort of your room and spring tub. It was the icing on the cake.

    This is the ideal kind of holiday where you only have time for relaxing, hotspring, massage, entertainment and games, good food, great sleep, and enjoying peaceful scenery. You will totally forget about all your worries being here.

    In paradise looking at paradise

    The cute duck thermometer for your spring water

    Hotspring, chill, sleep, repeat.

    Room Types

    There are several different room types in Asia Pacific Hotel Beitou such as Superior Rooms, Japanese Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, and Suites - all with a private tub in each room!

    If you are looking to experience only the hotspring without staying overnight, you can try their Outdoor Hotspring Room which is my favourite (looks Instagram-worthy)! Unfortunately they are not available for staying guests, only for walk-in customers who wish to use the hotel's hotspring. You can also choose the Japanese Hotspring Room as an alternative.

    They have so many other rooms that you can check here.

    Deluxe Room (They have one with two beds which can fit up to 4 guests!)
    Japanese Room
    Outdoor Hotspring Room for guests who wish to use only the hotspring


    This hotel is actually Taiwan's first hotel setup with virtual reality experience spaces. On the first floor, there's this facility area called LOHAS World, which offers AR/VR experience game zone, table games, DIY classes, public hot spring, and a pool lounge.

    Families with kids will definitely love this place. My favourite were the air hockey table game and the VR boxing game.

    Table games 
    VR football

    AR 'Paint the Ocean' - where you get to draw your own fish and see it floating in the virtual ocean

    Pool lounge

    Public hotspring divided by men and women

    Manlai Hotspring Ramen 滿來溫泉拉麵

    The hotel provides free shuttle bus out to Beitou and Xin Beitou stations, so we decided to make use of this facility to get dinner outside. Since we were in Beitou, we had to try this famous ramen shop located not far from Xin Beitou station. There was a long queue outside and we reasoned that the food must be good.

    We ordered two bowls of ramen and the compulsory hotspring egg. To be honest I felt that the food was only average. Well, still worth a try.

    Hotspring egg

    DAY 17

    Home time

    We woke up today feeling so refreshed. Shibby was happily telling me how well he slept these two nights. Usually he will wake up in the middle of the night, but these two nights he slept all the way through, which rarely happens. Maybe it was the super comfortable bed, or it could be the hotspring that relaxes his body. Either way, thanks to the hotel for giving us the perfect ending to our long Taiwan trip, and the best way to start our New Year 2019!

    After checking out, we got on our pre-booked private transfer (from Klook) to the Taoyuan airport. It saved us so much time and hassle of taking the public transportation. Unlike the previous driver we got on NYE, this driver was extremely friendly, enthusiastic, and professional!

    Can't believe this has come to an end. It was a fun and memorable 2.5 week journey full of highs and lows. I feel like we went through all 4 seasons within this short period of time (except snow), lol. From the sea to the mountains, from the cities to the countrysides, it's proven that Taiwan has everything you need (and good food) for a great holiday!

    I can't wait to come back and explore the east side of Taiwan next time!


    1. Hi Rachelle, I love all your blogposts and I truly appreciate your effort to create such beautiful content. Don't mind me being straight forward, may I know how you took shots that have you and your bf together in the frame? Did you ask people around or by using a tripod? Thank you :)

      1. Hey, thanks for dropping by!
        I use a tripod for our couple shots, easier for me to arrange the composition etc. :))


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