Okay, you’ve been in Taiwan for years now, you crave for that big juicy burgers, and it feels like it’s already an eternity that you haven’t eaten one. Well, we bring you Hometown Burger located in American Street Ximending area in Taipei. Although the lane where the store is located is hiding in the spotlight, it is not that hard to find. The store is very humble as it is just a small burger joint yet, it stays true to its American roots especially just by looking at the design of their signboard.
Once inside, you’ll be amazed as to how simple and artistic the set-up inside the shop is. There are unique cartoon images and frames compiled in every wall. Hometown mascot, toys, and some figurine collections can be found as well. If not because of those tables and the counter, you’ll think you’re not in a restaurant. Because of this, these interior designs create an outstanding atmosphere that let’s you enjoy the food without any pressure. Though located in Ximending, the store location is not that noisy creating a perfect site for you to relax and enjoy those cheesy burritos!
One of the most important things we need to do when traveling is preparation. We need to be as prepared as possible especially if you are traveling in a country you’re not familiar with. Taiwan is just a small country compared to others, however, when going to some remote and distant places, Mandarin is a must for communication. But how about the weather, internet, mode of transportation, the rate, etc. These are just some questions we usually encounter with our guests. We already made a blog about the top 5 tips you should know before visiting Taiwan but it seems not enough. Below are some frequently asked questions about taiwan for travelers.
Where can you have your money exchanged?
Unlike any other Asian countries, money changers here in Taiwan are very rare. The most convenient way of exchanging your money to NT$ is through the money changers inside the airport. Once you get out of the airport, the only option you have is to have it changed in the local banks which is only open during weekdays until 03:00 PM. (NOTE: Only Taiwan Banks accept PHP). You can also withdraw money from ATMs everywhere as long as you activate the international withdrawal service of your cards.
What are the modes of transportation from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei?
What is the schedule of Taipei MRTs and Buses?
Taipei MRTs: The first trains leave from their respected terminal stations at 6AM while the last trains leave from their respected terminal stations at 12AM midnight.
Taipei Buses: Each bus company has a different schedule for each route. In general, the first buses depart around 5AM and the last buses between 10PM and 12AM midnight.
Intercity Buses such as Kuo-Kuang Motor Transport, Ubus, Southeast Bus, Aloha Bus and Ho-hsin Bus (going to distant places like Taichung, Tainan, Kaoshiung) operate 24 HRS.
Where to buy an internet sim or wifi router?
You can buy an internet sim or rent a wifi router at the airport. You can actually purchase them ahead of time through Klook or KKDay.
What is the weather?
Taiwan has four seasons:
WINTER: December to Mid of March
SPRING: Mid of March to May
SUMMER: June to September
FALL: October to November
Is it practical to book a private tour? If going solo? If with group?
For those going solo, we would suggest to take the joiner tours available in KKDay or Klook as most of the beautiful places are away from the city and taking the trains might take forever for you to get there. These travel apps offer day tours that would perfectly complete your solo trip!
As for traveling in group, YES, it is practical and convenient to book a private tour. You can save time and you can be able to go to a lot of places as you don’t need to transfer from one bus/train to another. Actually, you can also save money because it would be an additional expense for you if you get lost and book a taxi instead. And one important factor is the language because not all Taiwanese knows how to communicate in English (but they’ll really try their best to help you!).
No exact hotels, but we would definitely suggest to book your accommodation within Ximen MRT Station. It is a convenient location where there’s a nearby shopping district, MRT Station, restaurants and convenience stores.
What are the famous night markets in Taipei and how to get there?
The three popular night markets in Taipei are the following:
Raohe Night Market: An epitome of a traditional night market, Raohe Night Market is filled with fun and interesting night foods and snacks, quaint shops and stalls, and carnival games with prizes. Take the Green Line to the Songshan Station (松山), exit 5.
Ximending Night Market/ Shopping District: This is a modern night market (also known as the “Harajuku” of Taipei) that’s more popular for shopping. Take Blue Line or Green Line to Ximen Station (西門).
Do you have any recommended itinerary for groups?
Zhongshe Flower Market
Needs to overnight within Cingjing Farm Area or Ren-ai, Nantou
Hehuanshan Sunrise Tour
Old England Manor Hotel
Then back to Taipei
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
National Palace Museum
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
Shifen Old Street
Jinguashi Golden Waterfalls
Jiufen Old Street
Or you can go hiking to Elephant Mountain
*If you want to book your private tour with us, you can check our tour packages here or visit our Facebook Page for promotions. Also, you can check some photos when we had this 4D Tour here.
How about for Solo Travelers? Any DIY itinerary?
The itinerary listed below can be accessible through public transportations (MRTs, buses, trains) in a day.
We all know that one of the many stresses before traveling is the itinerary. We search a lot about the places of that country so we could make the most out of our trip. Ever since we started blogging about Taiwan, many of our friends, or even strangers ask us for a perfect itinerary for their upcoming trip in the country. As fellow travelers, we want to help you save time, money, and somehow make your travels worthwhile.
And so, in order to lessen your stress, we prepared of what we think a perfect 4-Day Itinerary in Taiwan.
Usually, flights from the Philippines will arrive around 10:00 AM, and will be able to get out of the airport around 11:00 AM because of the long queues for the immigration, so actual tour starts here. Before proceeding to the scheduled tour, it’s better to take the lunch first since Taichung is a 2-hour drive. Below are the places we visited in Taichung:
ZHONGSHE FLOWER MARKET
Zhongshe Flower Market is available to all flower lovers out there. This is also a great spot for photography that features a colorful flower landscape of different kinds.
Rainbow Village is an unintended tourist destination in Taichung. It was designed by Mr. Huang because of boredom where he started painting the village with random murals of vibrant colors – animals, dolls, and other characters.
Xinshe Castle is a European Style Landscape located in the mountainous area of Taichung that’s definitely perfect for your prenuptial photos!
After the Taichung Tour, an overnight within Cingjing Area is necessary in order to join the Hehuanshan Sunrise Tour.
DAY 2: HEHUANSHAN and CINGJING FARM
Since not all buses or cars can be able to go through the mountainous journey to Hehuanshan Mountain, a separate shuttle bus picked us up at our accommodation around 04:00AM.
Taichung City is located in Central Taiwan and is a 2-hour trip away from Taipei City. Even though it is a long trip away from the city, there are still a lot of tourists visiting.
When we went to Taichung, we availed a private tour from Taipei since the best places are quite far from each other. Here’s the complete list below:
1. Lavender Cottage
According to stories, the Lavender Cottage was built by two young girls with full of dreams. They dreamt of living peacefully in a mountainous area and run a small restaurant business. After working for how many years, they both decided to make their dreams a reality and thus, Lavender Cottage was created.
As you enter the place, you will already smell the Lavender fragrance that makes the place more romantic and relaxing. The place just serves its primary purpose -to create a place to reflect and dream big!
For kids at heart, you will be thrilled to find a carousel in the middle of the forest. Go take a ride and reminisce your childhood memories. There will be an additional charge for every ride.
At the top of the hill, there’s a place where you can tie your wishes to. There are papers and pens provided for you.
ENTRANCE FEE: 200NTD with a 100NTD voucher that you can exchange with souvenirs inside.
Longing for a European experience? Then you should definitely visit Xinshe Castle, also known as Summit Resort. Located in the mountainous area of Taichung, this medieval-themed place is perfect spot for your prenuptial photos – from its large garden and lake, magnificent man-made waterfall to its Roman pillars and castle.
Even though it was a European-designed castle, it was not built or left behind by some Europeans who stayed in Taiwan. It was just built to serve as a perfect get-away outside the city to enjoy its panoramic view.
Macau is known as the “Las Vegas of Asia” with a lot of hotel-casinos anywhere in the country. Thus, tourists from the neighboring countries usually visit Macau with the intention to gamble. This country is more than just a little Las Vegas as Macau offers its tourists a rich cultural and historical experience as well.
Macau, a special administrative region of China, was leased to Portugal as a trading post in 1557, and it was only until 1887 that both countries come to an agreement that Macau is a Portuguese territory after 330 years of uncertainty. And in 1999, Macau was handed over back to China. And until now, it is still evident that Macau was once ruled by Portuguese through their language, names of the streets, and restaurants.
The country is just a 2-hour flight from Taiwan and we arrived late evening. Good thing that the hotel where we checked-in, Inn Macau, is just a 15-minute taxi ride from the airport. As we’re on our way to the hotel, we were in awe of the tall and bright hotel-casinos that we passed by. Also, most of the luxurious hotel-casinos in the country offer a free airport shuttle, and a free ride from one hotel to another.
As we only have a limited time in Macau, we made sure that we make the most out of it, and below is our itinerary for the whole day:
1. Macau Fisherman’s Wharf
This 133,000 square meter European-themed architecture has used to be the largest leisure and themed entertainment complex in Macau Peninsula. But now, this Wharf seems to be abandoned but the remains of the structures can be associated to the Colosseum in Italy. If you’re coming from Hong Kong, this should be first on your itinerary as it is only a 5-10 minute walk from Macau Ferry Terminal and Heliport.
Be sure to put your sunscreen on as the place is really hot in the morning, but it is all worth it as it is not that crowded. The place itself could serve as a great backdrop for your prenuptial photos, or even blogger poses!
2. The Ruins of St. Paul
Considered as the most visited tourist spot in Macau, expect nothing but a jam packed of crowd. The Ruins of St. Paul is used to be the biggest Catholic Church in East Asia and the “Vatican of the Far East” which is dedicated to St. Paul, the Apostle. The construction of the church started in 1580, but caught fire twice in 1595 and 1601 respectively. And in 1835, when a violent typhoon hit the country, the church caught fire for the third time leaving the front façade and the grand stone stairs only.
The Ruins of St. Paul is a constant reminder of the rich historical background of Macau which is a mixed of the East and West culture. And in 2005, the place is officially listed as part of the Historic Center of Macau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Senado Square
One of the largest four squares in Macau and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Senado Square is a great place to have your lunch and shopping. The square is surrounded by the European-style buildings, traditional Chinese restaurants, gift shops and stores where you can shop and haggle for cheap prices.
This 3,700 square meter-square is named after the Leal Senado, a meeting place for the Chinese and Portuguese in the 16th to 18th century. Having been Macau’s urban center for centuries, the square is a popular venue for public events and celebrations.
Check the “Hydrangeas Season” in Zhuzihu District which runs from May to June 2018. Located at an high altitude which is perfect for nurturing a wide variety of plants and different kind of flowers, an hour bus ride away from the city will let you have a wonderful experience with the natural resources. As this season is just for a short while, expect traffic and a flock of people that will also be visiting the area. The Hydrangeas Season comes right after the Callalily Season which also run from March to April 2018.
Hydrangeas are popular in Southern and Eastern Asia which are produced from early spring or late autumn. They come in abundant and diverse colors like white, blue, pink, red, and purple. The color of the hydrangeas are usually affected by the acidic substance of the soils. For example, acidic soils with a PH level of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers, while those with a PH level of greater than 5.5 produce pink flowers.
In Zhuzihu Area, there are a variety of flower farms that are open to public for viewing, and of course, for picture taking. Usually, the entrance fee is 100NTD per person and you can have your ticket voucher in exchange of coffee or a small bouquet of hydrangeas.
Here are some photos we took at the farm. Then make sure you have enough patience to wait for your turn and get that perfect shots!
Anj and I fell in love with this country that we decided to stay here a little longer after earning our Master’s Degree. It will be my 6th year in Taipei and my first few years here were never easy as I couldn’t speak their local language, Mandarin. Language Barrier was my main problem before but now, good thing I learned the basics to survive here.
The following are my mere observations on the signs that one has been in Taiwan for too long:
1. You make 7-eleven or Family Mart your one-stop shop.
Convenience Stores like 7-eleven and Family Mart can be seen in every corner of the streets, it’s almost everywhere. At first, I thought that those are just stores where you can eat snacks or buy a coffee, but actually, you can buy almost everything in one of those 24-hour stores like earphones, lunch box, facemasks, school supplies, etc. These stores also serve as your courier counters that let you deliver and receive things you ordered online. But wait, there’s still more to that! You can pay your electricity, internet, and other bills in these convenience stores. Run out of ink on your printer, don’t worry! You can just go over to these convenience stores to have it printed or copied!
2. You shower in the evening.
Taiwanese people tend to shower in the evening and you’re guilty of doing that too? Because why not? Back in the Philippines, we shower every morning as the weather there is too hot and we don’t like to start the day with sweat so we normally start the day fresh. However, in Taiwan it is different. During winter, showering in the evening makes more sense because as Taiwanese say, “Don’t go out if your head is wet during winter, you might get a headache” or so they say. That’s probably the main reason, but even during summer, they still shower in the evening as they might already used to it. Also, showering at night will give you ample time in the morning.
3. You own a motorcycle.
If you’re new in Taiwan, you’ll know that you need to get a bicycle so that it would be convenient for you to go to the MRTs, convenience stores. Been there, done that! But if you’ve stayed here longer, bicycles might not be enough anymore as you need to upgrade to a motorcycle or a scooter. But why not a car? Well, it is actually much appropriate to ride a scooter going to the nearest MRT station, then from there, take the MRT as it is more convenient to travel long distant places through trains. This means, no traffic. Actually, when I first arrived here, I was pretty shocked to see so many motorcycles parked anywhere in the city. Getting a motorcycle is easy as long as you have completed all the required documents to acquire a license.
4. You always bring an umbrella.
The weather here in Taiwan is so unstable that some locals don’t even trust the weather forecast anymore. I tell you, the weather here is as unpredictable as girls. Sometimes, it’s very warm in the morning and it will just suddenly rain in the afternoon. As a result, they always have an umbrella with them, just to be prepared. And yes, your umbrella is one of those items you checked before leaving your homes.
5. You wear a facemask in public, may it be sick or not.
Wearing disposable facemasks is a norm here in Taiwan and everyone’s doing it. Taiwanese people are very much conscious with their surroundings and if you wear one, it just means that either you are sick or just preventing others to hit you with a cold or illness.
6. You are already used to earthquakes
Taiwan is located in the junction of 2 tectonic plates and there is around a thousand earthquakes hitting Taiwan per year. When I was still a student and an earthquake hit Taipei, I was so scared that I literally shouted and about to do the Earthquake safety procedures, but to my surprise, almost all of my classmates were just looking at me and they just continued doing their own business, as well as our professor who was so calm discussing as if nothing happened. As I am still in a state of shocked, I asked my seatmate about it and told me they are already used to small earthquakes. Well if you already stayed here for too long, you’ll get used to it too, except for the stronger and more dangerous one of course.
7. You’ve once taught English or still doing it.
As you live here in Taiwan, you’ll probably noticed that there are a lot of foreigners. Most of them came here in Taiwan to learn Chinese, but in the long run, they will end up teaching English instead. As a foreigner in this country, they would think that..
“With gorgeous landscapes, charming scenery, and lovely trails, Cingjing Farm is absolutely incredible for those people looking for that perfect weekend away”
It was a fine cold weather when our friend invited us to spend the weekend in Nantou. As travel enthusiasts as we are, we didn’t have any second thoughts of going, especially that we haven’t explored more of this area in Taiwan. Nantou County is a 4-hour drive from Taipei City which is a mountainous area that offers scenic and absolutely stunning views of nature. Most of its popular destinations include the island’s most beautiful lake, Sun Moon Lake, and because the county is heavily dependent on farming, agricultural products are very abundant and there are a couple of recreational farm areas that are perfect for a family trip and weekend away like Cingjing Farm.
After leaving Taipei, we drove all the way to Sun Moon Lake first and had a quick tour there for a day (Keep posted for our blog about Sun Moon Lake). We went directly to Cingjing area which is an hour travel from Sun moon Lake after our quick visit. In order for us to join the Sunrise Tour to Hehuanshan (Mt. Hehuan) the following day, we stayed overnight at Cingjing Area.
It was all over the news during the past few days that snow has started to fall in Hehuanshan and there has been traffic control over the whole place since a lot of locals and tourists are heading to the mountain to witness the snowfall. Because of this, we were afraid that our scheduled sunrise tour might be cancelled, and guess what? It was really cancelled! Oh well, we might have lost this chance now to see the mesmerizing sunrise at Hehuanshan, but we’re still young and if time permits, we can still go back here and witness the sunrise.
Looking on a positive note, we woke up at around 08:00AM and then prepared for our Cingjing Trip. Good thing, there is a bus stop for Cingjing Farm located just outside our accommodation, Shan Shui-Yuan Vege Guest House.
Cingjing Farm is a famous tourist destination consisting of a beautiful grassy high plain which is situated at an altitude of 1,740 meters above sea level. Be sure to prepare yourselves with a lot of walking ups and downs through hills. This amazing farm offers close contact with animals and is a popular family retreat area especially for children. It has several attractions that includes Small Swiss Garden, Green Green Grasslands, and a lot more. Entrance fees are as follows:
Small Swiss Garden
As it is known to be Taiwan’s Little Switzerland, it is to no surprise that you can see a lot of sheeps roaming freely around the area. In order for you to take a decent photo with them, you need to feed them so that they will come closer. You can purchase boxes of pellet feeds from dispenser machines which is just visible anywhere in the area. One box costs 50NTD. Just be careful when feeding them as you might be attacked by other sheeps
Green Green Grasslands
Surrounding the whole area are green pastures. No wonder why they also called the farm an Evergreen Grassland as you are surrounded by grass with a wide beautiful scenery of the highlands. You need to be careful though as there are a lot of sheep roaming around the grassland and poops are everywhere. There were also available live shows like Sheep shearing and horse show performances. Some activities include pony back riding which kids can choose before the shows. Just be sure to check the schedule of the shows so that you can estimate your time.
Millennials nowadays invest a lot in traveling, whether they go into groups, on solo, or with their loved ones. Especially with the presence of social media, more and more people travel. Even though they earn less, they still find ways to visit the countries or places they have on their bucket list and I can say, Anj and I are part of these millennials.
When we started dating in 2011, we never really dreamt of being able to travel as we were already contented with what we have. Binge watching movies and talking all night were already enough for us to feel that spark of love from each other. However, it all changed when we both came to study in Taiwan. It felt really good to explore a distant place you’ve never been to with your partner. That’s the time we made a decision to travel the world together and exploring Taiwan and our home country, the Philippines, are the firsts of that long list.
Whereas many people our age choose to get married and build a family, we choose to work full-time, save money, travel, and develop our relationship. Traveling together make us more mature and help us understand more of each other. Here are 5 advantages of traveling together based from our experiences.
1. Knowing each other better
This is one of the obvious advantages when you travel with your partner. Traveling together lets you know your partner a lot better than you knew him/her before. You can pay close attention on how he/she handles or reacts towards a certain situation while in the road together. For instance, I found out that when we go for shopping, she makes sure that the price we’re paying is already the lowest or the last price. She’s really good at bargaining like when you thought it is impossible for her to convince the seller in lowering the price, but surprisingly she always succeeded. Through traveling, you can actually learn a lot from each other and you’ll going to see your partner for who he/she truly is.
2. Better photos of yourself
Encountering a breathtaking scenery behind you and you got no one to take a photo for you is very frustrating, then all you can do is to shot on arm’s length unless you’re carrying a Go Pro or a monopod. But, you can have lots of great photos of yourself in such beautiful locations when you are with your partner. Though we admit that we still have a lot of things to learn when it comes to photography techniques, doing some trial and error shots are out of the question as no one will scold you for taking a photo for too long (just to get that perfect shot) or maybe a little. It works both ways.
3. Creating more memories together
Of course, one of the greatest advantages of traveling with your partner is you can have someone to share your experiences with and creating new memories that will forever be engraved into your lives. There is nothing better than witnessing a beautiful sunset or visiting picturesque places with the person you love. Sometimes, when I travel alone and going to some new places without her, I always thought to myself, “How I wish she was here with me”. But now I am traveling with her, we built a lot of memories together to talk about and hopefully it will continue in the succeeding years to come.
4. Sharing of responsibilities
When it comes to traveling, we have to consider that each of us have our own strengths and weaknesses, and because of this, you can share responsibilities with your partner that will take a little bit of pressure off your shoulder. While on the road, she usually depends on me on which way to go, on what train or bus to ride as I am good at maps and she’s not. I am also the one in charge of budgeting our money on every trips and researching the places as well. However, she’s very good at organizing, like packing our stuffs and planning our trips. We can always rely on each other, removing some worries while staying in a foreign place.
Being one of the highest skyscrapers in the world, it’s no wonder how Taipei 101 is one of the most sought out destination of tourists in Taiwan. But for us, it is just crazy going to the top of Taipei 101’s observatory as it is so expensive. It costs around 700-800 NTD to go up to the 89th floor. There’s a catch though, you will be riding the fastest elevator in the world. Yes! In the world! With a speed of 37.7 mph, no wonder you will reach the top for only 30 seconds. Plus, you can go to the 91st floor for the Outdoor Observatory which can be reached through stairs from the 89th floor. But, it is only open on favorable weather. If it the wind and rain are too strong, they usually close it for safety purposes. But still, it is very expensive and you’re just paying for the fastest elevator and the view at the top. However, if you’re really curious of how the Taipei 101 was built, then you should definitely go to their observatory at the 89th floor where it houses a museum where you can learn about the 101’s design process and construction of other similar skyscrapers from all over the world.
Well, if you find this too expensive and not worth of your time, there’s another alternative for you. You might want to go instead to Starbucks at Taipei 101 which is located at the 35th floor. Actually, you can have the same view of the city and it’s way cheaper. Yet, there are rules in order for one to get there. Below are some of the important reminders, information, and tips on how to get to Starbucks in Taipei 101.
You need to have a reservation for at least one day in advance. You can call them at +886 2 8101 0701.
On your scheduled reservation, you need to be there at least 10 minutes earlier.
Do not lose your reservation number or at least, take note of it.
Once you get there, you will probably see a line at the lobby and a Starbuck’s staff will appear at the scheduled time with an attendance sheet and will ask you for the reservation number / name then they’ll give you a number.
Before, the one who gets out of the elevator first will have a chance to get to the window seats, but now, the order of people getting in the restaurant depends on the number they will give to you.
The minimum amount to spend is 200 NTD per person with a time limit of 90 minutes to stay and enjoy the view.
No shorts and slippers allowed. So you need to be on a proper dress code.
Last reservation slot is 90 minutes before closing time.
The Starbuck’s staff are mainly Mandarin-speaking so it might be better to have someone who can speak the language to reserve for you.
If you’re planning to get the window seats, you should have your reservation a week before so that you will be on the first few who can get in first.
Use the right entrance. Going to the mall entrance will never get you here. From the MRT Station, walk towards Exit 4, then take the elevator going to the main entrance of the Taipei 101.
When we called the reservation, it took us almost forever to get the phone answered. So it’s better to call around 17:00 – 18:30 when it’s almost closing time. Never ever call on weekends.
When your time is up, you can go around on the 35th floor, where you can see another view of the city.