A Travellerspoint blog


Taiwan 2010


Temple decorated for Chinese New Year, Taipei.


Lion dancing for Chinese New Year.

Taipei is an interesting location, but we did not visit at the best time of year. We went at Chinese New Year and the weather was terrible ­- constant rain. The other disadvantage of Chinese New Year is that things can get very busy and crowded with most of the population being on holiday. Most things remained open during the holiday ­ but some shops and museums were closed.

Lion Dancing

Lion Dancing

The biggest advantages of Taipei are it has lots of interesting street markets which sell goods at very reasonable prices; it has got some of the best decorated, most elaborate Chinese temples in the world; the people are very helpful and friendly though English is not that widely spoken, and although Taipei is modern, you can still see a lot of traditional Chinese shops and customs. Oh and the MRT is 100% user friendly and very convenient for getting you almost anywhere in Taipei.

We have been to Taipei twice. On our most recent visit we stayed in two hotels. The first was the Yo Mi Hotel. We stayed in the Yo Mi Hotel for four days. The hotel is 2 minutes walk from Shuanglian MRT Station. It is also conveniently located for the airport bus. Take the Eva Evergreen bus from the airport and get off at the third stop. The staff at the Yo Mi are very friendly and helpful and in many ways the hotel goes that extra mile to make your stay enjoyable. Rooms were very comfy with large flat screen TVS and a DVD player provided. Rooms had safe deposit boxes and tea/coffee making facilities. As well as providing free mineral water the hotel provided free snacks on a daily basis, such as: noodles, pea crackers, seaweed muffins. The hotel also stocked a wide range of phone chargers which could be borrowed from reception. It provided the free use of bicycles for hotel guests. In the breakfast room there was an excellent free massage chair which I made use of every morning. There was also a tiny gym with a treadmill and a couple of other machines. I liked the Yo Mi's breakfast buffet, but it did not really cater to western tastes. I found the many vegetable dishes provided each morning quite tasty and loved their pickled vegetables especially pickled seaweed and pickled bamboo slices.

On the negative side the hotel has very thin walls and you can hear everything that's going on in neighbouring rooms. Also while the bed linen and bathroom were very clean, the floor was not cleaned properly and the furniture was a bit dusty. The previous occupant of our room left her false eyelashes on the table. This gave us quite a nasty shock when we first discovered them I can tell you. On the whole though we would definitely stay here again.

Our second hotel was the Dong Wu Hotel. The Dong Wu Hotel is in quite an interesting and convenient location. It is right next door to a 7­-eleven. It is very close to a large Wellcome supermarket. It faces towards a Chinese Temple which was interesting during Chinese New Year as lots of festivities took place there during the festival.

The Dong Wu is about 10 minutes walk from the MRT and is convenient for buses. The staff at the Dong Wu are friendly and helpful. The hotel is spotlessly clean and the rooms are very quiet and comfortable. In the room there was a large TV, an in ­room safe and tea/coffee making facilities. The only downside to this hotel, in my opinion, was that the food at the breakfast buffet was invariably stone cold on each morning of our 4 day stay here. Other than that the hotel was very good and I would happily stay here again. Oh and the hotel is located in the second oldest area of Taipei with many interesting temples, shrines and old streets filled with interesting craft shops nearby. Address: No.258 Section 2, Yan­Ping North Road, Taipei 103, Taiwan

We started our holiday by visiting Taipei Zoo. We visited Taipei Zoo mainly in order to see their giant pandas. The zoo is very easy to reach. Take the Muzha line of the Taipei MRT to the last stop Taipei Zoo. Entrance to the zoo was very cheap at only 60 Taiwanese dollars. We went on a weekday which I would recommend as I think the zoo would be very busy at weekends. We could visit the pandas freely, but we saw the barriers outside for the waiting line at weekends and they stretched a long way.

The zoo is large and well set out. You can travel to the top end by shuttle and work your way down. There is an excellent penguin area. There is an area for desert animals ­ all in hiding due to torrential rain when we were there - ­ the poor things. There is an African animals area, a nocturnal animals area, a Taiwanese animals area, an insect area and many more. The zoo possibly has the loudest gibbons in the world. Boy can they make a racket. There is a McDonalds and a Family Mart inside the zoo.

We visited the pandas 3 times during our day at the zoo. On the first visit they were sound asleep. All we could see were panda bums. On our second visit they had come to life and were running around crazily leaping in their pools, rolling around on the ground playing with branches, racing round their enclosures both indoor and out. On our third visit they had obviously tired themselves out and we were back to panda bums. For me this was the first time I have ever seen pandas and I loved it. However, if I'd gone on a weekend and queued for hours to look at 2 large black and white bottoms I may not have been too pleased.

Pandas, Taipei Zoo.

Elephants, Taipei Zoo.

Penguin House, Taipei Zoo.

Taiwan has some of the best Chinese temples in the world. There are so many in Taipei. The ones we enjoyed most are as follows:

Guanda Temple. ­To get here take the Danshui line to Guanda Station. The temple is 20 mins walk from the station. It is well ­sign­posted. The temple is huge with 2 large statue lined tunnels as well as the main temple hall. Across the river from the temple there was an interesting market.

Longshan Temple is also lovely. To get here go to­ Longshan Temple MRT Station. This is the oldest temple in Taipei, located in the oldest area near herb alley, snake alley and Guangzhou Street night market. The temple contains a Guanyin image that has survived earthquakes, bombings and riots. There is also a shrine at the back to the matchmaker. People pray to him in order to meet their ideal partner.

Qingshan Temple ­is a beautiful temple on 3 floors. By climbing upstairs you can see the temples's elaborate roof carvings of dragons and gods. This temple is within walking distance of Longshan temple, close to the end of Snake Alley. A very pleasant Taiwanese lady showed us round and showered us with food when we visited on Chinese New Year Eve.

The Confucius Temple is also very good. ­ To get here take the MRT to Yuanshan Station on the Danshui line. It's 5 minutes walk. This is one of the simpler, less ornate Chinese temples, beautifully peaceful and with pleasant gardens.

Boan Temple is ­ opposite the Confucius Temple. This is­ hugely ornate, covered in beautiful paintings and carvings. This is very well worth a visit.

Chinese Temples.

Chinese Temples.

Chinese Temples.

We also visited Beitou Hot Springs. To get to Beitou take the Danshui line to Beitou then switch to the line that goes to Xin Beitou Station ­ one stop from Beitou. Beitou is famous for hot springs. A huge bubbling pool of water feeds into a stream that runs picturesquely through Beitou Park. The area is filled with spa hotels in which you can bathe in the waters. There are also several museums including the hot springs museum and two Taiwanese Aboriginal museums. Beitou is worth visiting for the spas or just for a walk around.

Beitou Thermal Stream.

Hot Springs Museum in Beitou.

Me next to the hot springs.

After visiting Beitou, we went to Danshui. This is located at the end of the Danshui Line of the MRT. It is a port located on the Danshui River and has many buildings of historical interest as well as some interesting Chinese temples and busy shopping streets. Buildings of historical interest include: The Red Castle ­ now a restaurant. This picturesque building was originally built by the British. As a restaurant. It has quite good food and excellent views. Fort San Domingo is an ­ interesting and well preserved building originally built by the Spanish, then taken over by the Dutch, then turned into the British Consulate. It is well worth a look.

George Leslie MacKay was a Canadian missionary based in Danshui. He built many hospitals and schools in the area and is held in high regard by people in this area even today. There are lots of old buildings associated with George Leslie MacKay including Oxford College (located inside the campus of Alethia University), Danshui Church and Tamkang High School which includes MacKay's grave and a small foreigner's cemetery. Another lovely building is the little white house . This beautiful old building used to be the port's customs house. There is a statue of MacKay in the middle of town.

Fort San Domingo, Danshui.

Me at the Red Castle.

There are large numbers of night markets in Taipei which are well worth a visit, because they sell very reasonably priced goods. They also have some interesting snack stalls. Most of the night markets are very crowded. We enjoyed our visit to Shi lin Night Market and made quite a few purchases there. Snake Alley behind Longshan Temple is also worth a look. This night market has several snake restaurants hense its name.

Posted by irenevt 22:52 Archived in Taiwan

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents


And another place we are planning to go to on 2019. So thanks for the blog,

by MAd4travel

Hope you get better weather than we did. All the best, Irene

by irenevt

This blog requires you to be a logged in member of Travellerspoint to place comments.