Taiwan

1 Week in Taiwan: Our Itinerary

Our week in Taiwan seemed to come and go in a flash. Both Veeran and I have been excited to visit the country for a while, having heard great things from friends who had already been. As it was a holiday, we decided to take it slow and focus on just a few places, rather than rushing around trying to see the whole country. As Taiwan is relatively small, it’s easy (and cheap) to see a lot of in a short amount of time. You can go from tropical beach to mountain range to huge, bustling city in just a couple of hours. For us, though, we just stuck to 3 main areas. and left the rest for another trip. Here is how we spent our short time there!

Day 1

Historic Areas – Ximen – Shida Night Market

Our first day in Taiwan was spent in Taipei. We woke up late and, with no plan in mind, got ourselves acquainted with the city.

Where to Stay in Taipei Hostel

We stayed at Eight Elephants and Dreaming Dragons Hostel in the Guting area of Taipei. This is a cute, studenty area with loads of cheap, local eateries and independent shops nearby. It’s conveniently located just a few stops away from Taipei Main Station, so it’s the perfect choice for budget travellers with itchy feet!

Our hostel was within walking distance from Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall so the first thing we did was take a walk up there to see one of the most famous buildings in all of Taipei. We wanted to explore the city on foot and get a feel for our surroundings so we spent most of the afternoon wandering around until we ended up in the Ximen neighbourhood. Ximen is one of the most central commercial areas and has lots of western shops and restaurants. I loved this area for its bright lights which reminded me of Shinjuku in Tokyo. I was also happy to find a few street food stands dotted about so I could get my first taste of Taiwan’s famous food.

Taipei 1 Week Itinerary

Chiang Kai-shek Building

My first Taro Milk Tea in Taiwan! Was pretty shocked that it wasn’t bright lilac like in Korea….

 

Later in the evening, we explored Shida Night Market since it was right next to our hostel. This is a great place to pick up cheap clothes and accessories. Even if shopping isn’t on the cards for you, it’s a fun place for a bit of window shopping, especially since it’s pretty much full to the brim with cuteness. I dare you not to buy anything! Shopping is the main focus of this night market, though there are still a lot of places to enjoy some street food! Since this night market is more popular with locals and not really aimed at tourists, English signage is sparse.

Taiwan1 Week Itinerary

So much cuteness and randomness at those night markets!

Where to Stay in Taipei Hostel

Day 2

Songshan Culture Park – Elephant Mountain – Shilin Night Market

Having heard so much about the culture parks in Taipei, we decided to head to Songshan on our second day in the city. Although we did enjoy it, it did feel a bit like a big shopping centre with a background of art. I compared it to a cross between Seoul’s Insadong and Berlin, which is a weird but kinda accurate comparison. You’ll find abandoned, repurposed buildings and warehouses transformed into art spaces, you’ll see people break dancing and skateboarding. But you’ll also find overpriced upmarket craft shops. I didn’t really know how to feel about it.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Songshan Creative Park

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

To be honest, this can be easily skipped if you have a lot of time in the city as we didn’t feel like there was much to see. A lot of things are aimed towards kids although the garden areas are lovely!

What you definitely should not miss, however, is a trip to Elephant Mountain! This is the absolute best place to get iconic shots of Taipei 101. We went around sunset time and got some great night shots of what was once the tallest building in the world. Don’t miss this on your trip!

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Yup, I pretty much hiked in heeled boots and yes, it was accidental. Korea is rubbing off on me!

After your hike, you’ll have worked up quite an appetite. There’s no better place in Taipei for hungry tummies than Shilin Night Market, the city’s largest night market. Shilin is huge and it can be overwhelming. Just follow the crowds and see what tickles your fancy. There was so much yumminess that we pretty much ate until we popped. #noregrets

When you buy sugar coated fruit lollipops and your BF gets strawberries and you accidentally get…. cherry tomatoes :'(

Day 3

Ooh Cha Cha – Maokong Gondola – Huashin Culture Park – Rahoe Night Market – Taipei 101

Have I mentioned how much we loved the area around our hostel? Little local areas in the hearts of big cities always win me over and Guting was no different. I particularly loved the variety of veggie food restaurants around and wish we’d had the chance to try more! After clogging our arteries with deep-fried food, we wanted some nutrients back in our bodies so we headed for Ooh Cha Cha and, oh man, it was good. I especially loved their raw vegan cheesecakes. So hipster, so delicious.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Oooh Cha Cha! Amazing vegan lunch. Exactly what I needed!

After filling ourselves up at Ooh Cha Cha, we made our way South to the Taipei Zoo area and took a cable car to Maokong. Maokong is an area famous for tea cultivation and, although you’re close enough to the city to see the iconic Taipei 101, you feel like you’re hours away. Talk about the best of both worlds.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Still dying with cuteness at my amazing new Totoro hoodie I found at the nightmarket!

 

Although the cable car is a bit touristy, it’s still worth doing on your trip. One thing I’m starting to hate now that I’m in this weird travel blogging sphere is how people always put down touristy stuff. Guess what, sometimes touristy stuff attracts a lot of people for a good reason and that is definitely the case here. Anyways, rant over. Let’s digress!

We had some local Taiwanese tea at the most adorable teahouse perched on the end of a mountain with amazing views over Taipei. At 200 NTD for a pot, it wasn’t the cheapest tea I’ve ever drunk but it was worth every penny, even if just for the experience. I thoroughly recommend it.

We decided to give Taipei’s culture villages another go and head for Huashain. Again, it was a cute area with a lovely park and I think I would enjoy it if I lived in the city. However, I felt for adults with no interest in shopping there wasn’t a whole lot to do. Since the culture parks are so centrally located, I would definitely visit one on your trip but don’t dedicate too much time to them. 

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

When the sun went down we headed back to (yup, you guessed it,) another night market! In a city with so much awesome street food, it’d be a shame to ever eat in a restaurant! This time, we had our sights set on Rahoe, which is the oldest night market in Taipei. This market was smaller and a bit more intimate than Shilan. I found it a lot less overwhelming and with a much more condensed variety of food.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

From Rahoe, it’s not too far to walk to Taipei 101. We really needed to sweat off all the food that we had eaten so decided just to wander in its direction. I love skyscrapers, especially at night, so I was glad to see it one more time from ground level!

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Day 4

Jiufen – Keelung Night Market

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Just an hour away from Taipei is Jiufen, a charming old colonial seaside town. Studio Ghibli fans will recognise it as the backdrop for Spirited Away and this is the main reason that we wanted to visit. I’ll be honest and say that we were a bit let down by Jiufen. We were expecting to be blown away by it but I think our expectations were too high. I should point out that most people love Jiufen and site it as the highlight of their trip and we’re glad that we went and saw it for ourselves.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Taiwan really challenged my new minimalist habits… wanted to buy everything!

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

These wee lads wanted to interview me for their English assignment. So cute!

 

Although Jiufen can easily be visited in a day from Taipei, we decided to stay in that area for the night. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that our hotel was a short train trip away from Keelung; an area famous for its foodie-focussed night market that’s a hit with the locals.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

We loved the atmosphere and authenticity of this place. Ironically, this night market had the most English signage out of all the ones that we visited, which is weird since it attracts a lot less foreign tourists than the likes of Shilin and Rahoe. We also found an amazing vegetarian stand that was recommended on The Caffeinated Vegan’s blog. (Guys, if you’re looking for veggie food around Taipei, check out her posts.) It was so nice to finally get a good feed rather than filling up on things just because they don’t contain meat. Ya know, like sugar coated cherry tomatoes.

Day 5

Travel to Taroko Gorge

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Finally found vegetarian dumplings!

Day 5 was a bit of an off-day for us. We arrived at our hotel around lunchtime and, after our journey from Jiufen, thought it would be best to just rest and dedicate a full day to hiking in Taroko Gorge. This day was mostly spent relaxing around our hotel, drinking whisky highballs in our room, watching Chinese rom-coms and catching up on work. It’s easy to get burnt out when you travel, particularly when you base yourself in big cities.  I think it’s important not to deny yourself lazy days like these.

Day 6

Taroko Gorge

1 Week Taiwan Itinerary

Taroko Gorge is a place that you have to visit on your trip to Taiwan. We both wish that we had spent a bit more time there as the national park is stunning (and we spent a lot of time getting lost and missed a lot of it- oops.) I have so much to say about Taroko Gorge that it deserves its own blog post highlighting how to navigate this monster national park! Later in the evening, we took the train back to Taipei and checked into Meander hostel which I’ll be writing a full review on soon!

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

Meander is based in the Ximen area of Taipei so it’s right in the heart of the action. Staying true to character, we spent the evening hunting down more street food! Veeran was desperate to try something that he had saw advertised as a “face big”- basically a chicken cutlet the same size as his face. I was more interested in finding Taiwan’s main culinary hero- stinky tofu!

Face big- a chicken cutlet the size of your face! (of course…)

When we got the stinky tofu we realised that I had actually eaten a weaker version of it a few times but hadn’t realised what it was. I guess all the kimchi I’ve been eating in Korea has gotten me used to fermented flavours. I expected it to be a lot worse but it just tasted like tofu with a weird stilton-esque after taste. Not as bad as it smells!

Day 7

Chinese Breakfast – Dadoecheng – Beitou Hot Springs – Vege Creek- Longshan Temple – Huaxi Night Market

Our last day in Taiwan came around far too quickly! And, although we spent a total of 5 days in Taipei, I still feel as though there’s a lot to see and we would love to visit again one day!

Following the recommendation from the guys at Meander, we started the day in style with a traditional Taiwanese breakfast. I can’t actually believe that it took us so long to try this! Breakfast in Taipei is basically deep fried carbs inside deep fried carbs washed down with a glass of soy milk. We headed to a place in Ximen which seemed to be really popular with locals and tourists alike. It was so good that we headed again the following morning before our flight.

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

After getting all carbed up, we took a walk up to Dadoecheng to burn off our calorie-packed breakfast. My Taiwanese friend Jasmine, who I met in India, had recommended we check out Dadoecheng; a more traditional part of the city where we could experience old Taipei. We visited her mum’s Puppet theatre museum and witnessed a proper local market and some Lunar New Year’s celebrations.

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

In the “Ugly Room” at the Puppet Theatre Museum

The Puppet Theatre museum was a great find that we might not have bothered about if it weren’t for Jasmine. We loved being kids again and getting some pics with the puppets! It’s always great to see the more local side of a city so big thanks to Jasmine for her recommendations!

The Puppet Theatre museum was a great find that we might not have bothered about if it weren't for Jasmin. We loved being kids again and getting some pics with the puppets! It's always great to see the more local side of a city so big thanks to Jasmin for her recommendations!

Next, it was up to Beitou Hot Springs. Taiwan is famous for its hot springs and these are the closest ones you’ll find to Taipei. As you can imagine, a good soak was exactly what we needed after a jam-packed week of sightseeing and we were pretty buzzing to chill out. Annoyingly, though, when we got there, we got turned away from the public baths! Turns out that swimming shorts with pockets aren’t suitable public bathwear, so Veeran couldn’t get in. After this major annoyance, I was in no mood for bathing. (I’m pretty stubborn and grumpy when I want to be.) Plus, I would rather have been eating anyway so we went on a quest for food!

As you might know, Taipei is a great city (as far as Asian cities seem to go) for vegetarians. I had been reading sooo many good things about a restaurant called Vege Creek online and wanted to experience it for myself. Vege Creek is a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant- you take a basket and fill it with all the vegetables that you like and then it’s cooked up for you. After eating so much deep fried food, it was great to actually fill my body with nutrients again. Plus, it was pretty cheap. I’d recommend this place to any vegetarians visiting Taipei needing some greens in their life!

1 Week Taiwan Itinerary

Following on from our much-needed health boost, we decided to end our week in Taiwan as we had started it and head to another night market to fill our bodies with even more junk! This time, we went to the Huaxi night market as it was the closest to our hostel. We enjoyed the amount of food on offer and managed to find some vegetarian dumplings so it was a succesful trip! Huaxi nightmarket is located close to Longshan temple and Bopilao Historic Block so you can fit in some sightseeing too!

1 Week Taiwan Itinerary

Bopilao Historical Block

1 Week Taiwan Itinerary

Longshan Temple

Day 7

Hometime! 

Taiwan is a country that we were sad to leave but can definitely see ourselves returning to in the future. Although my love affair with Korea is well and truly over, I still can’t scratch the itch that I have for its neighbouring countries. Taiwan has a lot of the charms that we love about Japan, plus loads of its own little quirks, too. We love the affordability and its proximity to other countries that we’d love to visit. There is a very high probability that we’ll be back longer term in the future. Watch this space!

After our trip to Taiwan, we travelled from Taipei to Osaka to begin our 5-day journey around the Kansai region! Flights between Taiwan and Japan are very reasonable since there are quite a few budget carriers flying between them- it’s well worth visiting them both at once if you have the time.


I hope this post has helped you plan your trip to Taiwan and, as always, get in touch if you want any more info!

Let me know, have you been to Taiwan? What was your favourite spot in the country?

Taiwan 1 Week Itinerary

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    7th February 2017 at 12:02 am

    You guys covered alot in a week! The weather kept messing up our outdoor plans but we lucked out when we went to Taroko. Taroko ended up being a 3 day trip with us including transportation! I wish we would have made it to some hotsprings too! This itinerary is perfect for anyone going for a week! I’ll be sure to share and pin!
    Megan Indoe recently posted…A Complete Guide for Where to Stay in SeoulMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 10:51 am

      My biggest regret is that we didn’t make it to any hotsprings- if only Veeran’s swimming shorts didn’t have pockets and I wasn’t so stubborn haha. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Christine
    9th February 2017 at 11:04 am

    I’ve never been to Taiwan but it’s been on my list for awhile! I love your photos and the food looks amazing. I also really need that cute sweater of yours!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks so much Christine! Taiwan is an incredible country but I feel like I’ve only seen a tiny little portion of it. Those nightmarkets have so much good food (and extremely cute clothes that you need to buy haha!)

  • Reply
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    9th February 2017 at 11:10 pm

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  • Reply
    Laura Nalin
    11th February 2017 at 10:33 am

    Love it!! I think it’s so cool you met Jasmine in India – and awesome that her mom owns a puppet shop! I still haven’t seen Totoro, but I just told James as I type this that we should watch it next week. I feel so left out. I haven’t seen Spirited Away, either! WHO AM I?!
    Laura Nalin recently posted…Where to Stay in HanoiMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      13th February 2017 at 11:41 am

      Awww man Laura, you guys have to have an anime night soon! Both movies are so so good!

  • Reply
    Samantha Elisabeth
    13th February 2017 at 7:17 am

    Ahh so jealous you’ve visited Taiwan! It’s been on my wanderlist for ENTIRELY too long. Half me wants to go just for those night markets and maybe a smallll part is hoping to run into my favorite Taiwanese celebs of my earl teens :p

    Also YES to that Totoro hoodie!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      13th February 2017 at 11:49 am

      Hahaa night markets and Taiwanese celebs sounds like the perfect combo! I wonder if I saw any on my trip…

  • Reply
    Sarah
    13th February 2017 at 11:06 am

    I think it’s great that you chose to just explore three places and really get to know and explore them! It’s a struggle to say “no” to seeing certain places but in the long run, it’s totally worth it. Such a great itinerary…Hopefully I’ll get to Taiwan one day and will be able to put it to use 🙂

    Best,
    Sarah

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      13th February 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Thanks Sarah, slow travel is the way forward! Hope you make it to Taiwan one day, too!

  • Reply
    Anne-Sophie Piris
    13th February 2017 at 5:43 pm

    Love this post! Now I really want to visit Taiwan. The views, the food, the night market… It all looks very cool.
    Totally agree with you, as much as I hate a tourist trap, some places are full of tourists simply because they’re great to visit!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      14th February 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks Anne-Sophie, Taiwan is awesome! Especially those nightmarkets.. so much food!

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    13th February 2017 at 7:04 pm

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  • Reply
    Kayti Clayton
    17th February 2017 at 1:45 pm

    You are the cutest! Not planning on going here anytime soon but it’s definitely on my list now.
    Kayti Clayton recently posted…10 Romantic AirBnBs To Book In Time For Valentine’s DayMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      19th February 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Thanks Kayti, you make me blush! Taiwan is an awesome country, I hope you get the chance to go!

  • Reply
    Cody @ Travel Devoted
    20th February 2017 at 10:05 am

    Definitely have to go back. The east coast of Taiwan is incredibly beautiful! We just did Chinese New Year in Hualien for five days. It’s a perfect home base to easily get up to Taroko park by bus. Taroko is our favorite place, but not so easy to navigate! This was our second time out there and we did a tour that we found in Hualien. No English spoken but we got to see so much more of the park! We love Taiwan. It’s a special place.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      21st February 2017 at 12:43 pm

      Sometimes tours are the best way to go, I don’t think you need any English translation when the whole place speaks for itself really!

  • Reply
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