Blog by Charlotte Anne. This blog is a place where I keep all my stories chasing dreams behind the glasses one place at a time. I am thrilled to promote the travel community, fashion brands, bloggers, and businesses of all sizes, and as long as you are a good fit in the overall aesthetics of my blog.
Crete, the grandest island of Greece and the greatest of the Mediterranean - an island of legendary kings, mythical legends, and natural gems. It holds glorious history and civilizations, mouth-watering gastronomy, distinctive culture and heritage. Located at the southernmost part of Europe, this island is more than just a page turned in a book.
Here's my travel guide on Mysterious Crete
How to get there To get to the lovely island of Crete and to its key cities, tourists are advised to fly down to the Athens International Airport then to the Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion through airlines such as Olympic Air, Aegean Airlines, and Athens Airways, taking a maximum of 45 minutes. Chartered flights from other European airports going to Heraklion and Chania are also available from the months of April until mid-November.
Getting around Bus: Explore the island by using Crete's bus system which run across the north to south and vice versa of the island. One of the best thing is the buses are reliable and stick to their timetables, and if lucky, the drivers serve as tour guides - straying from the marked routes to enter little villages if asked. The buses have A/C, comfortable seats, and they also have luggage compartments to store your bags. You may visit the KTEL website for routes and timetables. Tickets can be bought at the bus stations as well as on board.
Car rental: Car rentals and driving around Crete gives you pretty much convenience as long as you have your driver's license. There are available car hire in Chania. If you are good at driving manual, then get one instead of the automatic. Manual cars are half cheaper. Whilst the bus system works well, renting a car does allow much more flexibility.
Taxi: Taxi services are also available in Crete. It comes in a steep costs, albeit it is also a good way to travel since drivers may be directed to go to some off-beaten destinations.
Ferries: Ferries are a thing here too, as the island is filled with many harbors.
Scooter: For short distances, you may want to opt a scooter. Scooters are commonly rented in and around the towns of Crete.
Things to do 1. Discover Minoan Culture at Knossos Knossos Palace was the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan Civilization during the Bronze Age. This ancient capital and the ruins are some of the oldest in Greece. The archaeological site is about 20,000 square meter and has over 1,500 rooms, as well as old village ruins around the palace complex. So be prepared to walk a lot. The site is magnificently preserved and some of the original colors are still visible on the walls.
2. Explore Samaria Gorge The walk down the Samaria Gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea is very tough but the beautiful views and rewarding finish at the beach town are well worth it. Try to avoid midsummer as the heat it tough to bear. The walk takes between four and seven hours
Most people are totally unaware that Crete is home to Europe’s longest canyon, Samaria Gorge National Park. It’s a paradise for hikers ad nature lovers. The National Park is 10 miles long, and is situated in southern Chania Prefecture’s White Mountains. The entire hike can take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours so be sure to bring plenty of water and supplies with you.
3. Be smitten by splash white Loutro On the south side of Crete, this village offers beautiful and sweeping views and a clean, white sand beach. It’s a nice place to relax away from the crowds for two or three days.
Perched on the south coast of Crete, Loutro is a tiny little fishing village that you have to visit. I mean, it’s a total throwback to old Greece and the town doesn’t seem to have loads of development for visitors, it really does feel like a hidden gem.
One unique thing about the village is that it’s inaccessible by land and you’ll have to get there by boat (or ramble across the mountains). When you’re there, take some time to relax on the waterfront, enjoy the views and grab some seafood on the front itself.
4. Explore Gerontospilios Cave 5. Fall in love with Chania Chania is the most poetic city of Crete and encompasses exotic sceneries.
Where to stay Crete is vast and offers plenty of options regarding accommodation. Our team has created a diverse collection of hand-picked luxury villas in Crete's hottest locations. Whether you are looking for an isolated holiday villa with a pool where you can sit back and take in the Mediterranean sunshine away from the summer frenzy, or a luxury private villa that offers tranquility but is at the same time minutes away from some seaside town buzzing with activity, our Greek Villas team will find the ideal home for your perfect holiday.
The verdict Amon
Among all of the Greek islands, Crete is perhaps the only one that offers such diversity, both in terms of scenery and lifestyle. The northern coast of the island is the more populated and popular part. Heraklion, the island's capital and main port, has one of the country's best archaeological museums. A few kilometres away lays the palace of Knossos, a place of legend and home to the Minoans, one of Greek history's greatest civilisations.
Chiayi 嘉義 is sandwiched between Yúnlín 雲林 and Tainan 台南 in south western Taiwan 台灣 and its sleepy Chiayi City is centrally located in the heart of Chiayi County. For many tourists—especially those from abroad, there is no sufficient reason to visit Chiayi City. The unruffled city was long referred not a destination itself worth spending much time in, but a gateway for places with more distinguished names, notably popular Alishan in the mountains to the east.
This unassuming yet relaxed city doesn't mean it has nothing to offer. It's a quintessential paradise for anyone who dotes an an off beaten track adventure. The city's trove is rich of Southern charm and traditional well-preserved culture all through out. Read on to get to know more about Chiayi...
How to get to Chiayi Via Kaohsiung International Airport: The nearest international airport to Chiayi is Kaohsiung International Airport. There are direct flights from Manila via China Airlines, Seoul via Jeju Air, Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific, and more.
From Kaohsiung International Airport, you can take a train bound to Gangshan South (TWD50, 30 mins.) to Zouying MRT Station, from there you can walk to Zuoying HSR Station (23 mins.). As of this writing there is no THSR station yet in Kaohsiung.
Alternatively, you can take bus 301, it will take you from Kaohsiung airport to the new Zuoying train station (which is connected to the Zuoying THSR station).
Via Taoyuan Airport: Usually visitors from Manila will come from Taoyuan International Airport.
From Taoyuan International Airport, take the Airport MRT System going south to A12 or A13 THSR Taoyuan Station (NT$30; 20 mins). Another option is to take the airport shuttle bus (NT$15 one way; 25 mins).
From THSR Taoyuan Station, purchase a ticket going south to THSR Chiayi Station (NT$445-NT$1260; 63 mins). Since THSR Chiayi Station is located in Taibao City, which is the county capital, it’s easy to get to where you want from here.
* You may want to book an unlimited THSR pass especially if you’re staying longer in Taiwan and plan to visit other places.
How to get to Chiayi City from THSR Chiayi Station:
From THSR Chiayi Station, you can take a taxi or a bus to Chiayi City for a price. Alternatively, you can get to Chiayi City via the FREE shuttle bus (BRT shuttle buses) going to Chiayi TRA Station Rear Exit (the rear exit is where the bus terminals are located). This is the last stop of BRT shuttle buses.
From the Rear Exit, go one floor up from the bus station and cross the foot bridge to Chiayi TRA Station Front Exit. From there, you can take a taxi cab or walk to your destination. (You might find this Chiayi TRA Station floor map useful.)
Getting Around Chiayi The Chiayi TRA Station is a major area to catch the highspeed line, and has a free shuttle bus (BRT buses) that will take you to THSR Chiayi Station and vice versa. You'll find the bus terminal by crossing the foot bridge from the front exit of Chiayi TRA Station to the rear exit.
One of the best ways to tour around Chiayi is practically choosing a ride that is the most favored transportation in the whole of Taiwan which is a scooter or a bicycle. You can rent a scooter or a bicycle to save your feet the hassle and you won't have to worry about the traffic. When you have a scooter or a bicycle it’s extremely easy to zip around your neighborhood or even the city.
Best Time To Visit Chiayi Summer (June through August) The middle-year months have very comfortable weather with high temperatures that are quite warm. These months see the most precipitation with 10 to 13 days of precipitation per month. June – August is fairly slow season for tourism in Chiayi City, so lodging and other accommodations may cost slightly less.
Fall (September through November) Fall daily highs range from 89.2°F (31.8°C) and 76.5°F (24.7°C), which will feel very nice given the humidity and wind. It rains or snows a normal amount: 2 to 5 days per month. Tourism is the busiest during these months due to the weather, so hotels may be higher priced.
Winter (December through February) Weather is somewhat cool this time of year in Chiayi City to be enjoyable for warm weather travelers. The average high during this season is between 77.3°F (25.2°C) and 69.8°F (21°C). On average, it rains or snows a smalll amount: 1 to 2 times per month. These times of year are the slowest with tourists.
Spring (March through May) Humidity and temperatures combine to make this season feel warm. Highs range from 87.3°F (30.7°C) and 74.2°F (23.4°C) with warmer temperatures in the later months. Rain is somewhat common with 1 to 8 days of significant precipitation per month. Spring is the second busiest for tourism, which makes it a good time for those looking for things to do.
What to do in Chiayi 1. Hinoki Village 檜意森活村 The Hinoki Village or Cypress Forest Life Village is a cultural village park in East District, Chiayi City, Taiwan. It consists of 28 wooden Japanese-style dormitories that serves as the remnants left behind from the logging activities decades ago. These structures were built using hinoki (cypress wood) which is known as highly resistant to rot, a beautiful deep burgundy, and whose oil gives off a citrus-y woody smell for an invigorating feel.
Today, there are some shops and dainty cafes and restaurants, as well as mini-museums. You'll find locals peddle their creative works that are a perfect fit as souvenirs in the village. The village also holds art exhibitions and Instagram worthy art installations from time to time. You can also rent a kimono for a fee and experience a dip in their Japanese style public bathhouse. If you want to experience a taste of Japan then Hinoki Village is for you.
Location: No.1, Linsen E. Rd., East Dist., Chiayi City 600, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Opening Hours: 10:00-18:00 Price: TWD 0
2. National Chung Cheng University 國立中正大學 One of the reasons why I am enticed to go to Chiayi is because of National Chung Cheng University. If you know the Taiwanese drama series, Meteor Garden 流星花園, this university is one of its major campus film location and it is known as Ying De University on film. Meteor Garden became so popular in the Philippines way back in 2001 and getting to relieve your Meteor Garden fantasies finding Dào Míng Sì 道明寺, Dǒng Shān Cài 董杉菜 or even Huā Zé Lèi 花澤類 is one of the most surreal moment as you explore this beautiful campus. The buildings are truly unique and its surrounded by beautiful scenery. It's right out in the middle of nowhere and you can get there by bus for pretty cheap.
Location: No. 168, Section 1, Daxue Road, Minxiong Township, Chiayi County, 62102, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Price: TWD 0 How to get there: From Chiayi City, you can take bus number 7309 from a bus stop station adjacent to the TRA Chiayi Station's front entrance.
3. Wenhua Road Night Market 文化路夜市 Wenhua Road Night Market is Chiayi's most popular local night market, although not as famous as Taipei's Shilin Night Market 士林夜市 and not as bigger as Taichung's Fengjia Night Market 逢甲夜市. Every night, peddlers offers the newest fashion and variety of goods, as well as hawkers selling local delights 小吃. In a blink of an eye, 500-meter long road is turned into a hustling thoroughfare. Stores by the road and hawkers serving steaming hot gourmet snacks attract flocks of people every night.
Location: Wenhua Road, East District, Chiayi City 600, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Price: TWD 0
4. Alishan National Scenic Area 阿里山國家風景區 Alishan National Scenic Area is located in the far east part of Chiayi County almost near the border of Nantou County 南投. It's dominated by the majestic Alishan Mountains and ridges of Yushan 玉山 (Jade Mountain, the highest mountain in Taiwan) which features stunning sunrise, bewildering sunsets, sea-of-clouds peaks, and lush green valleys.
The area is home to Tsou aboriginal villages, known for tea production. There are many forest trails inside the recreation area, providing great opportunities for travellers to get close and appreciate nature. One of which is The Giant Tree Plank Trail boardwalk which winds past huge cypress trees, including the fallen Alishan Sacred Tree. There are also picturesque lakes inside the area providing a magical experience, one of which is the Sisters Pond.
You can book a hassle free day tour from Chiayi City to Alishan via KKDay which includes an Alishan Forest Railway ticket, Alishan Forest Recreation Area admission fee, bento lunch, transportation, and insurance so you can enjoy a stress free trip. You will also get the chance to stop over these additional locations: Fenqihu and Hinoki Village.
Location: 605, Taiwan, Chiayi County, Alishan Township, 中正村59號 Opening hours: 24h every day Booking:KKday for a hassle free tour (Includes Alishan Forest Railway ticket, Alishan Forest Recreation Area admission, lunch, transportation, and insurance) How to get there: If you want to explore Alishan on your own, you can go to Chiayi TRA Station and take a direct bus (Alishan Route B) to Alishan for TWD300 (per way), which runs between 10:00am to 11:30am. Alternatively, you can take non-direct buses that cost TWD221 per way. Travel time to Alishan is about 2.5 hours. Take note that the lust bus to Alishan is at 2pm and the last bus back to Chiayi leaves at 5:10pm (found near Alishan's 7-Eleven shop). Alishan Forest Recreation Area Admission Fee: NT$150 per person via public transport, NT$200 per person via car, and NT$100 per person for concessions.
5. Minxiong Ghost House 民雄鬼屋 In a countryside, north of Chiayi City, in a small town called Minxiong, on a nearly endless expanse of rice paddies of Chainan Plain 嘉南平原, there's an old abandoned traditional Taiwanese courtyard mansion — well known in the area as a haunted house — the Mínxióng Ghost House, also known as Liu Family Mansion 劉家古厝 for some. This old baroque revival style red brick three-story home is one of the most famous ruins in all Taiwan and it was built in 1929 for Liú Róngyù 劉溶裕, a businessman with seven children. The house has been empty sometime in the early 1950s since the Japanese colonial rule and is now slowly being reclaimed by nature.
Price: TWD 0 Location:Minxiong Ghost House, Xingzhong Village, Minxiong Township, Chiayi County 621, Taiwan (R.O.C.) Nearest public transport: Minxiong TRA Station Opening hours: 24h every day How to get there: Getting to the old haunted house from Chiayi City or from downtown Minxiong is best if you have a scooter or a bicycle to save you more time. So it is recommended that you might want to rent a scooter or a bicycle or charter a taxi. If you want to go there via public commute you can to, but not advisable. I am not sure if they allow bicycles on buses and trains, probably not. From Chiayi TRA station you can get to Minxiong TRA Station by train (TWD15). Alternatively, you can ride bus number 106 (TWD62) going to TRA Minxiong Station. From there, follow Wenhua Road southward for about one kilometer, you'll see a sign (in Chinese only) pointing to the left. Take this road. After a few hundred meters, there's a small T-junction. You'll easily see the red brick haunted house behind some trees to the left end of the lane.
Where to stay in Chiayi For first time travellers to Chiayi, finding an accommodation can be really tricky, especially if you plan to stay for a night or so. It would be best to choose a hotel, hostel, or an Airbnb near the Chiayi TRA Station. Here are some options which you can choose from:
Hotel Liyaou 里亞行旅 For our first night in Taiwan, we stayed at Hotel Liyaou. It's walking accessibility to Chiayi Train Station (Chiayi TRA Station) and it's close proximity to restaurants, cafes, shops, Wenhua Night Market and other tourist attractions, makes this hotel an absolute "must-stay" in Chiayi, Taiwan.
Airbnb You can book also book an Airbnb rental in Chiayi and you may want to get a PhP1,600 travel credit when you sign up at Airbnb via my referral link.
In every great city, there lies a great hotel. A hotel that sits a clear mile above the rest offering a standard of excellence that can knock the socks off anyone lucky enough to experience it. To be that hotel in a city as affluent, dynamic and cultured as Taichung, it has to be a damn good hotel. This is my experience of the Hotel Se7en in Taichung...
The LocationFor our final night in Taichung City we checked in to Hotel Se7en. Located at 45 Fuxing Nord Road, the hotel was conveniently located at Xitun district. It is very close to nice restaurants, stylish cafes, and it is only an 8 minute walk to the famous Feng Chia Night Market.
First ImpressionsBefore arriving, I already knew that Hotel Se7en was exactly the type of hotel I love to stay in: modern, sophisticated, and stylish. Unbeknownst to us, we had saved the best to last in Taichung before we head to Taipei the next day.
After our chartered car pulled up outside Hotel Se7en, I was immediately in awe as I saw the inside from the car. The "7" logo glowed in white lights on the left of the entrance. After being greeted by two attentive doorman who took our luggage, we quickly checked in inside the calm and elegant lobby.
The Loft SuiteI was ecstatic as I tap my key card to a new hotel room, and walking through the doors of the loft suite at Hotel Se7en was a pretty special moment. The spacious loft spreads at 33 square meters and had a stylish and contemporary interiors. The bathroom was equipped with lush fluffy white towels, hygiene kit, and a bathtub. The floor to ceiling windows provides a picture perfect sight, which means the Taiwan sunshine poured in from sunrise. On our first morning at the hotel I got up super early and managed to catch the first golden glow of the day. It was equally magical especially during at night too.
The spacious lounge area was propped with two sofa-beds and a lazy chair on the corner. Right next to the clothes rack is a mini kitchen with a microwave, tea drinking facilities, and a mini-bar. The beautiful suite exceeded all of my expectations, but there was one more surprise left for us to discover.
Upstairs of the suite is a large double bed and it was without a doubt the best bed I slept in during my time in Taiwan. The sheets were silky soft, the pillows were fluffy and the mattress below felt like a cloud. There was no better feeling than crashing into this bed after a day exploring Nantou. I loved that the suite is overlooking a picture perfect city.
Shoot The TargetDuring our stay, we discovered a toy gun on the bed side table and we were actually wondering what is that for. My first thought: "Maybe, someone just left it". My second thought: "Maybe, it's a call or emergency button where you press the trigger. You know, those one-touch button and they would actually connect you to the front desk or something". Little did we know, that the toy gun was actually for the alarm clock.
Here's how it works! Every morning you can wake up to one of three games. When the alarm goes off, the Gun O'Clock target pops up, and you have to grab the gun in time to shoot it to turn the clock off! It's a great way to bring you to your senses when the snooze button simply isn't an option. We actually had fun playing it.
A Sumptuous BreakfastThe Buddy Butty is Hotel 7's main and only restaurant and cafe. It looks stylish on the outside and equally as stunning inside. I love how they designed this restaurant cafe and how the upside down theme effortlessly transcended throughout. We enjoyed a breakfast here on our first morning. The heavenly breakfast offerings is vast and I remembered getting every dish to taste on my plate. It was just so sumptuous and truly a taste of heaven.
The Haagen-Dazs and other luxurious extrasDuring our stay, we received a complementary sweet treat from the hotel and it was the high-end Haagen Dasz ice cream. These personal touches gave a much needed respite from the outside heat.
The hotel also has an entertainment room and a sun terrace, both of which is located at the 9th level. The entertainment room has various game tables like Foosball. It also has a treadmill and an elliptical trainer. Next to the entrance is a self-service bar where you can get free over-flowing coffee, milk tea, tea, and chocolate drink. I am obsessed with milk tea and this 24/7 service makes me love this hotel even more. The sun terrace provides an awe-inspiring view of Taichung. After a tiring day, it was just perfect to come up here at night under the stars, sipping a warm milk tea from the bar, and enjoying the magnificent view.
The VerdictOnce we came to Hotel 7 our stay in Taichung got even better. Hotel 7 is a true haven in a trendy area of Taichung: well-designed and maintained. After an exhausting day trip to Nantou, it was nice to come back to a nice and calm hotel, and just relax at the sun terrace during the night.
The over-all service was great and the hotel staffs are very friendly and helpful (they even provided a laptop charging cable to my friend who left hers back home). Nothing felt too much trouble. In a nutshell, Hotel 7 deserves my seal of approval and I couldn't recommend them more.
If you’re looking for a quiet and a relaxing stylish hotel, with impeccable service in Taichung then Hotel 7 is ideal for you.
Rates at Hotel 7 Taichung start at TWD3,599(USD120; PHP6,200) per night for a standard room and TWD4,600 (USD153; PHP8,000) per night for a deluxe family room. The closest airport is Taoyuan International Airport, which is just about 40 minutes train ride away.
amba Taipei Ximending (yes, it starts with a small letter "a"), is a hip and boutique hotel located in the Taipei's Harajuku district and it seems to be a hot topic in the Ximending district. It is a part of amba Hotels & Resorts group chain by Qun Xin Properties Limited. Prior to my most awaited Taiwan adventure, I honestly stalked amba until our trip. Truth beholds that no amount of digital wanderlusting could express my feelings how excited I was.
Here's my experience of amba Taipei Ximending...
First ImpressionsAfter our adventure in Chiayi, Nantou, and Taichung our next stop is in Taipei. We booked a reserved seat train ticket via THSR and headed to Taipei. In just an hour we arrived at the iconic Taipei Main Station and hailed a taxi cab to the hotel.
Located in Wanhua District, within the corners of Wuchang Street and Kunming Street, this amba hotel is in the heart of Ximending's buzzing shopping and entertainment scene. Despite its amazing location, the unassuming main entrance on feels tucked away from the hustle and bustle. From the busy streets of Wanhua district to the hotel’s arrival courtyard on the right of Eslite Wuchang main entrance, we took an elevator to the 5th level, and we went from broad daylight into a warm and cozy lobby of amba Taipei Ximending.
A jolly man, Mr. Mark Li, greeted us with a warm welcome that reminded us that we are in good hands. As we are checking in, a beautiful lady, the hotel's general manager also rewarded us her warm welcome, which gave a personal touch that immediately made me feel at home. There is a cool hotel vibe that hits you as soon as you enter the building, and I was picking up what they were putting on.
The RoomOur Large Room was surprisingly huge at 29 square meters for a Taipei hotel and thoughtfully curated into a masterpiece. The room was filled with interesting design features, such as the dark metal wardrobe rack and the roundtable which actually looks like a vintage vinyl. The two plush single bed had plump cushions and luxurious bed linen, which I couldn't wait to dive in to. The complimentary slippers are not your ordinary hotel slipper but it is actually a nice, durable, and comfortable flip-flop you could take home.
The bathroom is separated from the toilet and both are compact but featured the most beautiful black tiles. What I like the most is the rainforest shower and this is the best rain shower I had during my whole stay in Taiwan.
Waiting in our room were the loveliest welcome gifts, including a handwritten note from the hotel management, a jar-full of noodle crunch, and two bottles of Taiwan's sparkling drink. These personal touches definitely didn't go unnoticed.
Leisurely breakfastI absolutely love starting my day over a leisurely breakfast, so when it comes to hotels, a good breakfast buffet is always high on the priority list. amba Taipei Ximending's Chiba restaurant offers an expansive breakfast buffet and Chiba had it spot on. An interesting fact is that "chi" means "to eat", and "ba" is actually a reference to the hotel name.
Chiba restaurant rewards you with the most interesting interiors you have ever laid your eyes on. A combination of the hip and youthful Ximending, and modern touches made the whole dining experience oozing in style and jaw-dropping. Chiba's extensive buffet offerings were adventurous but I opted for a starter breakfast on our second day: mixed rice dish, bacon, and fried nuggets. On our last day, I chose to have corn dogs, vegetable greens, bread and butter, and kimchi. The fried nuggets and mini corn dogs were magically encased in crispy breadcrumbs, and both tasted tender and fresh. It's an explosion of taste in the mouth.
LaundryNot all hotels offers laundry service for free, and most of the time, the laundry price per apparel is sky-rocketing. That means you have to wash your clothes and underwear on a dirty hotel sink. As a world traveller, who actually enjoys longer trips than shorter trips, I prefer hotels and B&Bs that offers free self-service laundry service, and that makes amba taipei Ximending standout. It's a very convenient service especially if you don't want your smelly and dirty clothes mixed together with your fresh ones.
The VerdictXimending has so much diversity in terms of shops, restaurants, and entertainment, but amba Taipei Ximending has become a potential standout destination hotel that is a draw in its own right. I am so glad that we stayed for two nights in this hip and stylish hotel in Taipei. With a fantastic team of staff who provided genuine service and incredible attention-to-detail, this hotel has style and substance.
During my two-nights stay, I slept through each night without a disturbance and definitely think that the sleep I got was deep quality sleep. The whole experience at amba Taipei Ximending was an indulgent treat. It's safe to say I'll be back for the genuine hospitality and its convenient location. Taipei was actually our last stop before we head home to the Philippines, and having the chance to stay here over others, I can say we have saved the best for last.
Rates at amba Taipei Ximending start at TWD2,700 (USD90; PHP4,700) per night for smart room and TWD3,100 ($103; PhP5,400) per night for a deluxe family room. The closest airport is Taoyuan International Airport, which is just about 40 minutes train ride away.
I decided to kick start my pre-birthday trip by taking a little escapade to Taiwan, starting from Chiayi and ending it in Taipei. It only made sense to find a casual respite as our first base in Taiwan. This is why we decided to call Hotel Liyaou home for our first night in Taiwan. Read on to know more about my experience of Hotel Liyaou in Chiayi...
The LocationThe Hotel Liyaou was built with three things in mind: thoughtful, contemporary design, and luxurious touches. The walk from Chiayi Train Station to Hotel Liyaou took 5-10 minutes (whilst fabulously donning a huge backpack on my back) and made me appreciate how amazingly located this hotel is. The Chiayi's night market located in Wenhua Road is just 15-20 minutes walk from the hotel. It's close proximity to restaurants, cafes, shops and other tourist attractions, makes this hotel an absolute "must-stay" in Chiayi, Taiwan.
First ImpressionsAfter landing in Taoyuan International Airport, we booked a 2-hour train ride via THSR to Chiayi. After a grueling flight and an exhausting train ride, we hopped on the free BTR shuttle service from THSR Chiayi Station to Chiayi Train Station. During our transit, we met Amanda, a university student, whom we asked for directions to our hotel. With her help we where able to find our hotel in a breeze, which is just a few minutes walk from the Chiayi Train Station.
As we walk past the hotel's main entrance and the automatic sliding door, I found my self enveloped with the hotel lobby's cool air, which is a much needed respite from the heat. The reception of Hotel Liyaou felt warm, inviting, and cozy. It's the kind of hotel lobby you actually want to spend time in, winding down with a cold lemon-infused water after a long day of biking. I went straight to the front desk where I was greeted by Kevin. He gave us a genuine warm welcome and immediately provided us a smooth check-in which is very vital for weary travellers who flew thousands of miles.
The Deluxe Family RoomOur spacious Deluxe Family Room spread over 33 square meters. Inside, the contemporary design is oozing yet again luxurious and cozy. Every piece of furniture felt like a design piece in itself. The added pastel picture frames and apple green seat contrasted just right and never looked to boring.
The 2 queen-sized bed had cloud-like bedding and I found myself drifting away to dreamland as I laid on it. I equally loved the bathroom with its electronic smart toilet. The hot and cold shower can easily be operated to suit your perfect shower temperature in a breeze.
Delightful Breakfast OfferingsHaving breakfast at Viaggio was definitely one of the highlights of our whole Chiayi trip. I have never enjoyed having breakfast as early in the morning but this definitely enhanced the entire experience. The breakfast was oozing with goodness to set you up for a day of biking and exploring Chiayi, with an extensive Taiwanese and Western buffet and hot dishes cooked to order. The dishes were a work of art, curated meticulously for every taste.
Bike & Other Extra TouchesOne of the best thing about this hotel is that they offer bikes for you to use at no extra cost. Having an easy and free access to one of the most favored transportation in Taiwan was very convenient. This service definitely felt like a luxury service. You can roam around Chiayi on your own using Hotel Liyaou's bicycles. The added basket storage in front is for you to put on your stuffs while exploring the city.
Hotel Liyaou also offers a place for guests with children to experience exciting, creative and fun activities. Dubbed as 'The Playroom', it provides an ideal area for reading, playing, doing arts and crafts, making friends, and exploring new things. There are toys and games that can stir up any kids' excitement. From the ball pit area, building blocks to solving puzzles, they can explore and learn how to sort, arrange and find solutions while having fun so boredom is not an option.
Along with an unlimited 24/7 complimentary access to the Hotel Liyaou's self-service laundry room was another huge benefit of staying here as opposed to others. So once you feel the need to wash your clothes, all you need to do is propped your dirty clothes inside the washing machine (laundry detergent is also provided for free) and let the machine do the hard work for you.
The VerdictMy stay at Hotel Liyaou was incredibly at par with five-star hotels I am used to. The delectable dining offerings, the simplicity yet grand touches, and the 5-star service, it offers a level of luxury lifestyle that goes far beyond Chiayi City itself. It's a great option for families, or those that wants a much needed respite after a long trip. It's cosy, stylish and exactly the kind of place you dream of after a biking day around the laidback Chiayi city.
I commend Kevin and Sonia, who went above and beyond to exceed all of our expectations. The hotel staffs are also very knowledgeable about the best places to eat and explore around Chiayi. They are truly passionate about their work and everything in it. Those added extra touches came just right. Hotel Liyaou definitely deserves my seal of approval.
Rates at Hotel Liyaou start at NT$5,500 ($184; PhP9,600) per night for a standard room and NT$8,300 ($277; PhP14,500) per night for a deluxe family room. The closest airport is Kaohsiung International Airport, which is an hour to two hours drive away.
As I seat on my bed, feeling every bit of fiber swathed around my body, I am counting how many days are left before I will head for my most awaited adventure of the year to Taiwan. It has been months since I last set foot for a feat, seven months to be exact, yet it feels like a hundred years. As I count how many times my mind is insinuated with thousands of pictures that I have never seen, itching to see the world again, and yearning to quench my wanderlust. It is about time!
"Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you - sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever." ― Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium
Flight tickets are booked, reservations has been made, every detail planned out, waiting for that day. As I anticipate that escapade, it came right in time. I caressed the smooth dark charcoal packaging, and I though to myself, it was as if it was made out of velvety rose petals. My heart is beaming with excitement, I immediately grabbed a pair of scissors and opened the parcel. To my delight, the sweet scent of wood welcomed and teases my nose. I lift the intricate burnt umber wooden cover and there it was.
When JORD reached out to me for a partnership. I was so elated as we shared our mutual interest regarding our future travels. With their meticulous branding, attention-to-detail masterpieces and my weakness for luxury mementos... how could a girl say no? Their gorgeous wooden timepieces are to die for. As I scanned JORD's website for my own hand-made timepiece, I was overwhelmed because there's a lot to choose from. Made from 100% natural wood, ranging from ebony, golden camphor, rosewood and more, and modeled after a contemporary lifestyle. As I scrutinize my senses, finding myself a connection to an opulent watch for a bond that will lasts trough time and space. I took a deep breathe, "breath in, breathe out", I said. That hue I am currently obsessing over came to my mind. I am infatuated with the turquoise color and before another decision could be made, I have chosen a creation from JORD's Cora Series Collection in Zebrawood and Turqouise.
The small things do matter. Those tiny little pieces of perfection that add complexity and color to your everyday, they matter. Every facet and feature, every unexpected element, and every last detail will not go unnoticed. Dive into the cool Turquoise tones of our Cora, perfectly balanced by the warm and untamed Zebrawood grain. Crafted to be adored, this timepiece was created for you.
Having such a gorgeous timepiece wrapped around the wrist is a classic piece to any ensemble. The watch itself is lightweight, handcrafted with sapphire crystal glass, swarovski crystal markers, and premium quartz, chronograph to an absolute masterpiece. Having also learned that the watch is splash proof it was just perfect for any travelling folk.
If you are looking for a premium and unique gift for the wanderer soul in you or for someone special in your life, then JORD wood watches are just the thing for you. Each watch comes beautifully packaged in a wooden keepsake box that voices that this exquisitely piece tells more than time.
The Giveaway To celebrate my adventures, I have partnered with JORD for an amazing giveaway - a $100 gift card which you can reward yourself a little keepsake of your choice to savor your time and travels. Oh, I forgot to mention that it comes with FREE SIZING and FREE SHIPPING.
The best thing? Every participants will receive a $25 e-gift which you can use to purchase a hand-crafted perfection. You may also use the code: CHARLOTTEANNE upon check out. You have until May 11th to enter this JORD watch giveaway!