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6D/5N in Taiwan | A Travel Diary

For the second time in  a row, I celebrated my birthday away from home. This time, I went  overseas, spending 6 days and 5 nights in Taiwan. 

Since Taiwan is still visa-free for Filipino passport holders, the preparations I made are minimal. 

I just prepared my budget for the trip, bought the tickets, and packed my bags. The total money I had with me was Php 15,000 which I opted to convert prior to the trip in two currencies - Taiwanese Dollars and US Dollars. 

My pocket money in total was NT$ 3000 and USD$ 200. And I’m happy to report that I went home after 6 days and 5 nights in Taiwan with NT$700 and USD$ 100. Roughly Php 6000 extra money for me. Wiii!

It was my eldest sister who pre-arranged all the accommodations we have during the trip. She was already spending an entire week early in Taiwan before I arrived because of work. So to my sister, thank you so much. 

This also meant that for the first time, I was travelling alone on an airplane. It was both scary and exciting experience for me.

Day 1 | Arrival in Taoyuan Airport, Miramar Entertainment Park, Shilin Night Market

Taipei is just an hour and a half away from Manila, Philippines. The flight I went in was a 3:30am Eva Air. Although I arrived really early in NAIA, I was at the wrong terminal upon checking the gate. I was asked to either take a taxi or wait for the NAIA Airport Shuttle. 

Since riding a taxi might take hundreds of pesos away from my budget I opted to wait for the NAIA Airport Shuttle. True enough, one arrived after about 30 minutes. Whew.

Another crazy thing that happened to me was that I didn’t know I had to pay the Tourist Travel Tax. All along I thought it was part of the plane ticket I bought. Wahh! I was about to pay through my debit card but it was not functioning. Good thing I still had some extra pesos left enough for the Php 1700 travel tax. 

So lesson learned, always have at least Php 2000 pocket money when going abroad!

Upon arriving in Taoyuan Airport I immediately contacted my eldest sister. Since my arrival was too early, around 6am, I got a bit scared she might still be sleeping haha. But we fortunately met just in time. 

My sister brought me to the hotel where she was staying for the conference. And that’s where we will stay overnight since she planned for us to go to Tainan, province in the south-most part of Taiwan, the next day. 

Miramar Entertainment Park and Taipei Eye

Miramar Mall houses the gigantic Ferris Wheel called Taipei Eye. It emits green lights which looks really good in person.

We didn't try to ride the Ferris Wheel but we had a closer look to it by going to the 5th floor of the mall. 

Should you wish to ride the Ferris Wheel I highly recommend buying in Klook for some discounts. Experience the breathtaking view of Taipei cityscape for just Php 350 per person.

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market is a night market in Shilin District, Taipei, Taiwan, and is often considered to be the largest and most famous night market in Taiwan.

You can easily go to Shilin through Taiwan's Metro Train (MRT). You can get off at Shilin Station and walk your to the market. Or take the MRT to JianTan station  instead and your night market journey begins.

Oh my, Shilin is just one of the many night markets you can go to when in Taiwan. It reminds me so much of Myeongdong although not so much of the fancy shops. Here are photos and price tags of what we tried going around Shilin Night Market.

Brown Sugar Milk Tea 

Shaved Ice with variety of toppings 

Large Fried Chicken Chops

Stinky Tofu

King Takoyaki
Candied Fruits

Day 2-3 | Hello Tainan, Taiwan!

When I travel with my eldest sister it's always legend-(wait for it!)-dary! She just makes every trip unforgettable. 

In Malaysia instead of doing all the touristy trip in Kuala Lumpur, she made me experience culture by staying at Penang. 

Now for Taiwan, we did the majority of our exploration in the province of Tainan.

Tainan is one of the oldest cities in Taiwan. It used to be the capital of Taiwan back in Qing Dynasty and where the name of the country originated.

I cannot believe that a trip to the southern part of Taiwan only takes two hours from the city! Thanks to the High Speed Train which we got to experience going to Tainan. 

The price for the ticket is around  NT$1490 or Php 2533. Pricey, as it seems but imagine you are already traveling to one of the provinces in Taiwan. This is like going to Cebu apart from just strolling the capital city. 
Anyway, I had the most comfortable trip inside the High Speed Rail. We had some milk tea (of course!) for the whole period. I was able to get the window seat (thank you, Ate!) and saw just how rich and vast Taiwan is. 

Finally, after about two hours we arrived at the station. 

Since we went to a lot of places when we were in Tainan, allow me to just give you a quick walkthrough of all the memorable locations I was able to visit.

Places To See in Tainan

Tainan Grand Mazu Temple

The Grand Matsu Temple, also known as the Datianhou or Great Queen of Heaven Temple, is a temple to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, the deified form of the medieval Fujianese shamaness Lin Moniang, located in the West Central District of Tainan in Taiwan. The Main Hall is dedicated to Mazu, flanked by her two guardian demons Qianliyan and Shunfeng'er.

It is open seven days a week, with free admission.

Taiwan Confucian Temple

Each of Taiwan's cities and counties has at least one Confucian Temple. The one in Tainan was the first Confucius temple and school in Taiwan.

What separates the temple from the others is that the gate door in the Confucius temple do not have no ghosts or deities. Still, the deep respect of the Taiwanese people to the wise teachings of Confucius can be seen and felt.

I wasn’t able to get photos inside but Taiwan Confucian Temple was actually huge. There were a lot of tourists inside roaming around. 

One trivia is that the Taiwan Confucian Temple is the only institution in Taiwan that still practices the offering of three different animals, which are goat, pig and ox, to worship Confucius.

Hayashi Department Store

Built in 1932, Hayashi Department Store was the biggest department store in Tainan and was known to the locals as “The Five-Storey-House”. It was named after the Japanese  owner, Mr. Hayashi. The Department store was so beautiful. It had this ancient fell from the outside, more like an aristocrat mansion. 

Hayashi Department Store

Fort Provintia rebuilt as Chihkan Tower

One place we really enjoyed going is the Fort Provintia, a Dutch outpost on Formosa at a site now located in West Central District, Tainan, Taiwan, which was later rebuilt and called Chihkan Tower. I didn’t know that part of Taiwan was once under the rule of the Dutch. The place is kept really clean and good through the years. For only NT$ 50 you can roam around the place, learn its historical value and take photos. 

Anping Old Street

Anping Old Street is a day and night market narrow shopping street in the Anping area of Tainan where visitors can eat and shop.

It was the smaller version of Shilin Night Market where fresh food and drinks cooked before your eyes. You can also find a lot of cultural items and souvenirs. 

One area we didn’t miss to visit was the Anping Old Fort, called before as Fort Zeelandia. We also successfully witnessed the sunset which was a memory forever embedded in my heart.

Tianhou Temple

The Tianhou Temple, also known as the Kaitai Tianhou or Mazu Temple, is a temple to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, the deified form of the medieval Fujianese shamaness Lin Moniang, located in the Anping District of Tainan in Taiwan.

Experiences To Try in Tainan

2019 Tainan Fiction Short Award

Another great thing we did in Tainan was to watch the 2019 Tainan Fiction Short Award. We were staying in this hotel and saw the campaign booklet for the festival, and found out that there was a Filipino short film in the list. 

Since it will be shown just in time with our stay in Tainan, we went and it was the best decision ever. The film showing was for free and we got to watch three short films. 

We watched Lovely Sundays which is a story of how Filipinos in Taiwan spend their day off. My sister and I agreed that the portrayal is true especially of the Filipino heart and culture that still remains no matter where we are in the world. Since the film is in Tagalog, we didn’t have a hard time understanding the whole movie.

The rest of the movie shown were in Mandarin Chinese already so we kind of just nod and I think even fell asleep at one point. Haha. 

LUCfest 2019

Another memorable experience we had in Tainan was attending the LUCfest 2019 wherein indie music artists gathered for almost a week of shows.It is an annual music showcase in Taiwan and this year it was held in the basement of Tainan Arts Museum. 

We were able to hear Yellow, with their popular song BKD Club and 9M88, who reminds me so much of Up Dharma Down’s main vocalist Armi. 

Location of the LUCfest 2019

Food To Try in Tainan

My 3 days and 2 nights in Tainan, Taiwan will not be complete without sharing with you all the food places we’ve visited. As soon as we get off the High Speed Train, we were given this map guide of Tainan food places to try. 

What me and my sister did was to kind of do an “Amazing Race” around Tainan and visit each and every place, as many as we can. So allow me to share with you the best food places in Tainan you shouldn’t miss. 

Lily Fruit Shop

This place has been a favorite local dessert shop for years. They offer a wide array of shaved ice desserts with the sweetest fruits ever plus eye-catching presentation. We ordered the banana and mango shaved ice and it was really good. What a great way to end our first day in Tainan. 

Fuji Bawan

Fuji Bawan was sort of dumpling with meatballs inside. The sauce it came with was brown, thick, and sweet. We didn’t enjoy this one since the sauce was too sweet for our liking but a very famous and always a local favorite.

Klin Taiwan Baozi

This has been a favorite of mine! Baozi is a type of filled bun or bread-like (i.e. made with yeast) dumpling in various Chinese cuisines. I really liked Basil Cheese and the Classic Pork Baozi and for roughly NT$ 30 a piece, I highly recommend trying them. 

I wasn't able to take photo of the food since we were really hungry but this is
the menu picture I found in TripAdvisor for your reference.

BaoGe Hei Lun Stir-Fried Instant Noodles

Found near the Taiwan Confucian Temple is BaoGe Hei Lun Stir-Fried Instant Noodles. We went here without even seeing the word “instant” in the map so we were surprised when we saw the noodles to be just like the regular packed pancit canton we have here in the Philippines. But it tasted really good so no regrets.

YongLe Market

For our last morning in Tainan, we went to YongLe Market. YongLe Market is a local market in Tainan  West District and we roamed around trying different street foods before going back to the hotel and pack. 

Day 4 | Back to Taipei, Ximending Night Market and Taiwan Hot Pot Experience

Our trip back to Taipei was the afternoon of my birthday. We were actually late at the High Speed Train Station due to miscommunication with the hotel staff. Thankfully, we were allowed to catch the next train back to Taipei without any additional fees.

My sister booked an Airbnb for our stay in Taipei and it was in Guting Station, almost near every other landmarks we can visit in Taipei. At night we decided to head out and kind of celebrating my birthday as well by eating some good food. 

We strolled first Ximending Night Market which will remind you of Shibuya and Myeong-dong at once. There we were able to see up close The Red House. Since it was already night time, the photo didn’t do that much justice with the vibrant red house. The Read House was actually a theater in Ximending District.

The Red House as my background

Ximending Night Market
Sumptuous Hot Pot
My sister had her Taiwanese friends whom I met during my first day in Taiwan. They decided to have Hot Pot and as it was my birthday, I thought it would be a fun experience as well. 

We also went to NET which is like a counterpart of Surplus here in the Philippines. NET sells different fashion items from clothing to accessories at reasonable prices. I was able to get myself a dress with their Buy 5, Get 50% Off to All sale. Cool, right?

Right after, we went to a local bar. Again, I was with my eldest sister and her friends and I try to get along where they want to go. I don’t drink but I do enjoy dancing plus it was a fitting first time experience to celebrate my 26th birthday.

Day 5 | National Palace Museum, Chiang Kai Shek, Sun Yat-Sen, Taipei 101 and Liaoning Night Market

My sister and I decided to spend our last day relaxing so the eve of our flight back home was jam packed with well-known landmarks. Here are the places we visited:

National Palace Museum

First on our list was the National Palace Museum. We had a pretty adventurous way going to the place as it was situated on top of a mountain. We had to go on different bus routes just to get there and still had to walk about 15 minutes to get to the top. 

The National Palace Museum houses thousands of pieces of ancient Chinerse imperial artifacts and artworks. Although we didn’t go to the museum itself because the price of the entrance is not within our budget, we did find ourselves amused with the souvenir shop inside. I was able to buy a couple of souvenirs for myself at a discounted price. 

The place was huge and you can take a lot of good photos. Try to come as early as you can and not on a weekend so you the trip can be more enjoyable without the crowd.

Souvinir shop inside the National Palace Museum

View from the main museum

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall 

Of course, one can’t miss Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall when it Taiwan. The Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is one of the iconic landmarks and must-see places in Taiwan. 

The park is dedicated in memory of the former President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-Shek. After President Chiang’s death, the government of Taiwan decided to build a memorial hall and park in honor to his name. I also read somewhere that the design of the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall won awards and it surely should because it was really beautiful.

Upon entrance, you will be surprised as to how massive the open area is. Aside from the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the National Theater and National Concert Hall are located opposite side of the hall. Both were home of the biggest and grandest exhibitions and musicals in Taiwan.  

We were also lucky to witness the changing of guards which happens every hour. 

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park

On our way to Taipei 101, my sister led me to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park. Sun Yat Sen was a Chinese philosopher, physician, and politician, who served as the first president of the Republic of China and the first leader of the Kuomintang.

I definitely remember memorizing his name and his description during my high school Asian History subject. Haha. Anyway, Sun Yat Sen has one of the best views of Taipei 101 in my opinion. I was able to get a nice near shot of Taipei 101 without problem. 

Taipei 101

I used to just read and see in pictures Taipei 101. Never have I imagined I will be able to see the former tallest building in the world upfront and personal. 

And it was magical. 

The photos you see online or offline cannot put justice to how beautiful Taipei 101 is in person. From its shape to size to its mermaid color, it truly reflects Taiwan as a nation. Proud but warm at the same time. I can gaze at the tall building all afternoon if I had to. Really feel great to see Taipei 101. 

Liaoning Night Market

For our last night market experience in Taiwan we went to Liaoning Night Market. Liaoning Night Market has some old favorite eateries like the oyster omelet we had. We also had shaved ice with mochi balls in sugar syrup. After our Liaoning Night Market, we went to a coffee shop and spent almost the wee hours there. 

Day 6 | Bye Taiwan!

For our last day, we were dead tired from yesterday’s itinerary and woke up pretty late. We went to Chia Te Bakery. Chia Te Bakery has been well known for its pineapple pastry, a delicacy popular among tourists as well as locals. 

After our short trip at Chia Te Bakery we went straight to a popular brunch place near where we stay. My sister and her friends agreed to have lunch together before we go. I had the best pesto pasta with melted cheese on top!

We bid goodbye to our Airbnb in Guting just in time for our 3pm flight back to Manila.

Taiwan Travel Thoughts

Overall, I had a wonderful time in Taiwan. I can't even begin to express the gastronomic pleasure I had staying in Taiwan for 6 days and 5 nights. I’ve been to South Korea and Malaysia but I can confidently say the trip I had in Taiwan was the best among the three. There was no wasted moments. Thank you to my eldest sister for being with me.

What do you think of my travel to Taiwan?

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