Taiwan 16 days Itinerary

It is about 11 years ago when I first went to Taiwan.  I met a middle aged woman in a bus who has stuffed a handful of small change to me because she worried I might not have enough small change for the rest of the bus journey.  In the later years during one of my trip re-visited Taiwan, I encountered a serious tyhoon attacking Taipei and I experienced how hard the hotel staff (The Landis Hotel) moved our heavy luggage to higher floor by climbing up staircase in emergency exit.  I met numerous friends who has sincerely shared with us the nice places and food of Taiwan.  We have numerous late supper with sweet potato porridge and shabu shabu together with friends and colleagues after fighting for whole day with tight work schedule.   At some point in time, I already set to see more about Taiwan.

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One of my favourite singer Bobby Chen (陈昇)has mentinoed – “Every men in Taiwan have 3 things to accomplish to call themselves as man.  There are to swim across Sun Moon Lake, to climb Yushan (Jade Mountain) and to cycle round the island”.   I did not plan to do any of them in my 16 days Taiwan trip. Trust me, you have more than that to do and see in Taiwan that can simply make you feel great as being a man.  Here are just some of them for you to experience while you are there –

1.  How such a small island can accomodate more than 200 mountains higher than 3000 meters.

2.  How the Taiwanese managed to survive in such a tiny island with so little of plain and still need to fight with all sort of natural disaster (earthquake and tyhoon).

3.  How the best of Chinese Culture continue to grow here (in response of Culture Revolution of China) with the influence of 50 years of Japanese culture and mixed with the indigenous peoples of Taiwan.

  1. How the old meet new at the old capital of Tainan built by Dutch from 1624 to 1662 when Taiwan was called as Formosa

5.  How the friendliness of Taiwanese.   As what people say, the more you move toward the south, the friendliest the people. Itruly feel this in my 16 days trip in Taiwan and even more.

6.  And there are many more..

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Here are how my journey started from Taoyuan Airport –  The international airport of Taipei:

Day 1 (Sat) 20 Oct 12 –  Singapore – Taoyuan- Taichung 台中

Taichung is our first destination.  We took the high speed train from Taoyuan Airport to Taichung.  The journey takes only about 1/2 hour.  The shutter bus from Taoyuan Airport to Taoyuan High Speed Train Station take around 15 minutes.   It is easy to manage.   We took a taxi from high speed train station and it takes only NT220 (USD 7.60).  In around 15 minutes, we reached Hung’s Mansion.   Our accomodation in Taichuang.  If  your budget is tight, there is shutter bus connecting to town centre and there is a stop opposite Hung’s Mansion.   It is free to take the shutter bus from town centre to high speed station and again there is a stop right in front of Hung’s Mansion.

You can check the high speed train schedule and book the ticket online but I don’t see any reason why we need to.  Even we arrived at Saturday (around 1:30pm), we had the next available train left within around 1/2 hour  – http://www.thsrc.com.tw/en/ticket/tic_how_online.asp

Accomodation –

Hung’s Mansion (台中商旅).

Highlights of my trip –

勤美誠品綠園道

Taoyuan airport to Taichung

Source: Google Map

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Day 2/3 (Sun/Mon) 21/22 Oct 12 – Chingjing 清境

Taichung to Qingjing

Source: Google Map

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Hotel –

Sun Shine Vacation Villa (見晴花園渡假山莊)

Referenece –

此生必去,台湾山林旅游秘境. A book about “Must Go Country and Mountain Secret Places in Taiwan” by Clare. The relevant blog written by Clare about Sun Shine Villa.

Note –

Two days in Chingjing is too long for me and I found Chingjing is a bit commercialized.  I would have spent one of the day in Sun Moon Lake or increase a day in East Taiwan (Yuli, Taroko Gorge or Chihshang) or totally give it a miss.  I have met some friends on the road and most of them told me – “Sun Moon Lake is commmercialized but it is still a nice place to visit especially in the morning.  Furthermore, it is such a famous place in Taiwan and it is a pity not to visit”.  One of them who gave this comment is actually a famous photographer in Taiwan who is specialized in Sun Moon Lake.  Our driver Stone (who is also a photographer) who drove us from Chingjing to Taroko Gorge suggested us – “If you really want to stay Chingjing for 2 nights, I would suggest to include a sunrise visit to He Huang Mountain (合欢山).  You need to wake up really early for this (probably around 3am) and you can have a good rest and lazy around at Chingjing after the sunrise trip.  It is best if you could stay He Huan Mountain for a night so you can take in sunrise and sunset”.

Day 4 (Tue) 23 Oct 12 – Chingjing to Taroko Gorge 太鲁阁

Qingjing to Bulowan

Source: Google Map

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The journey from Chingjing Farm to Taroko Gorge is one of the greatest journey of our 16 days trip (I would ranked it as No. 1 of my trip in term of scenary).   It looks like Europe (Europe Alps) at one part and Huang Shan (黄山)in China when approaching Taroko Gorge.  Stone (our driver cum photographer) has specially arranged a side trip for us to climb He Huang Mountain (合欢山)- 3416 meters high.  It take only around one hour to reach the summit from the main road so it is worth to spend the energy for the climb.  The scenary at the summit is amazing.

There is no direct public transportaion from Chingjing to Taroko Gorge or Hualien.  If you took the public bus, most likely you may end up need to stay overnight at Tayuling because there is only one public bus to connect to Hualien from Tayuling.  The best way is to have your own transport or hire a driver.  I managed to contact Stone (highly recommended).  He has helped us to arrange sharing his car with another group of 4 from Malaysia since he was with them at Chingjing and was going back to Hualien.

Stone’s contact ( mainly for transport from Hualien to Chingjing) –

http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/van2338

More stories about this journey will be published in near future.

Day 5 (Wed) 24 Oct 12 – Taroko Gorge to Hualian 花莲

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Photo above –

Leader Hotel Taroko in early morning.

Accomodation –

Leader Hotel Taroko (布洛湾月村邨)

The reason why I stayed at Leader Hotel Taroko is because one of book about East Taiwan Home Stay – “Blowing in the Pacific Wind” has recommended this place and it mentioned this accomodation is Brigitte Lin’s (林青霞) favourite.  I totally agree after the visit.  It is a very nice place to stay and I would stay here for at least 2 nights next time with family.  The same hotel has been recommended in another book about Taiwan best 50 home stay (eventhough Leader Hotel Taroko is not really a home stay).

More information about Leader Hotel Taroko will be published in near future.

Day 6 (Thur) 25 Oct 12 – Hualian

Bulowan to Hualian

Source: Google Map

Accomodation –

Errantry Lodge (怡然居民宿)

During the trip I heard there are over 2000 home stay in just Hualien County itself.  There must be some reasons why Errantry Lodge can be ranked as No. 1 in TripAdvisor in Hualien County.   It is a home stay specialized in photo studio because the owner himself is a photographer.  I like the music he choose to play in the room and the books he read too.  Not to mention the breakfast.  It is equally nice.

I will publish more information about Errantry Lodge in near future.

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Photo above –

The studio in Errantry Lodge.   The owner was taking my picture in this photo.  You entitled for 10 studio shots if you stayed 2 nights or more there.  What a good expenrience.

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Photo above –

Time second bookshop (时光二手书局) in Hualien (I could not find the English name of the bookshop so “Time” is just a direct translation from the Chinese name).  One of the nicest second bookshop I ever seen.  A must for book lover.

Day 7 (Fri) 26 Oct 12 – Hualian to Changbin 长滨

Hualian to Adobe

Source: Google Map

Hualian to Adobe 2

Source: Google Map

From Hualian to Adobe Home Stay, based on Google Map, the distance is 81.5km and the driving time is 2 hours and 53 minutes.

For car rental, here is the information I got from Lonely Planet Taiwan – Most scooter shops ask for a Taiwanese driver’s licence.  If you don’t have one, go to Pony Leasing & Rental Group (886-3-8262538) 小马租车.  For some reason staff here will still rent scooters to foreign visitors with just an International Driver’s License.  They charged NT 2000 per day for a Toyota Vios car.  You can rent the car from Hualien and return to their branch at Taitung with additional admin charge (I cannot remember the exact charge but I think it is about NT 1000).

Accomodation –

Adobe (阿朵避 or 海的避居)

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Day 8 (Sat) 27 Oct 12 – Changbin to Dulan 都兰

The distance from Adobe Home Stay to Windy Home Stay in Dulan is 68.7km based on Google Map.  The estimated driving time is 1 hour 58 minutes.

Adobe to Windy home stay

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Chengkung (成功)- Every afternoon between 2pm – 4pm the daily catch is uploaded and goes on auction.  All the noice, excitement and various species of deep sea fishes makes the auction entertaining to watch.  I missed the 2pm to 3pm auction which is the time slot for smaller fish.  Stay after 4pm.  The stalls around the fish market sell fresh sashimi cut right away from the catch of the day.

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Accomodation –

Wind (来吹凉风)

Dulan is a hidden gem in East Taiwan.  Some western travellers have decided to stay longer than they expected in Dulan.  It is a little town next to Pacific Coast with slow place and with Dulan Mountain at the backdrop.  Some people from city have decided to stay at Dulan by converting the farm house at the foot of Dulan Mountain to a simple house.

The Dulan Sugar Factory, once a busy plant has now converted to a place for local artists and craftman to showcase their craftworks and art pieces.  Every Saturday night there is live music at Dulan Sugar Factory.

My favourite acitivities in Dulan is to stay at the communal kitchen at our accomodation to chat with other guests and prepared breakfast together.  Sit at the balcony to enjoy sea and mountain breeze.  I also enjoyed to wash and hang our clothes in the wild.   This is another place to stay for a few days if you enjoyed the simplicity of life.

Day 9 (Sun) 28 Oct 12 – Dulan to Chishan 池上

 

Windy home stay to Zhi Shang 2

Source: Google Map

The distance from Dulan to Chishang is 74.6m based on Google Map.  The estimated driving time is 2 hours 8 minutes.

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Accomodation –

Crop Ripening  莊稼熟了

East Taiwan continue to give us surprise when we reached the little town of Chishan (池上).   The local said Chishan produce the best rice of Taiwan.  It is true.  I would also say Chishan has the best rice paddy field scenary in Taiwan.  We were lucky to witness the paddy field turned yellow.  Just one week before the harvesting according to the owner of Crop Ripening (the homestay we had in Chishang).

Day 10 (Mon) 29 Oct 12 – Chishan – Taitung – Kaosiong 高雄

The distance from Chishang to Taitung Railway Station is 52.2 km based on Google Map.  The estimated driving time is 1 hour 29 minutes.

Taitung to Kaosiung

Source: Google Map

There are quite a number of train to travel from Taitung to Kaosiong.  Because of that, it is not really a need to book the ticket earlier especially during weekdays.  I might be too confident to say this because we failed to get the faster train (Tze-Chiang Limited Express) left at 14:22pm when we arrived the station at 1:30pm and only managed to get the slower one (Chu-Kuang Express) left at 15:00pm.  Anyway, the slower train is only half hour more as compared to the express train.  If I did it again, I would still prefer to allow more freedom with the schedule instead of fixed the time by pre-booking the ticket.

This is the website to check the train time table and purchase ticket online –

http://twtraffic.tra.gov.tw/twrail/English/e_index.aspx

How to book train ticket online step by step –

http://www.alectravelguide.com/2011/09/22/how-to-book-railway-train-tickets-in-taiwan/

Accomodation in Kuosiong –

Hotel Dua

The best deal of business hotel of our trip.  The best breakfast, design and location of all.  I would come Kuosiong just for Hotel Dua.  A new hotel opened in year 2012.

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Day 11 (Tue) 30 Oct 12 – Kaosiong to Tainan 台南

Between Kaosiung and Tainan is a short and easy journey.  The local train take only about 1 hour and the frequency of the train is a lot.   Based on Google Map, the distance is 49.2km.

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Accomodation –

铁花窗 (Wrought Iron Window)

A 3 stories old apartment with roof top in 1970’s art deco.  I felt like we were staying in an apartment in Wang Kar Wai (王家卫)’s movie “In the Mood of Love” (华样年华).  You owed the whole apartment to stay here and the owner will only appear during the first day when you arrived.   The old LP player at the living room plus the old LP collection by the owner made me really excited.   A number of famous people have signed the visitor book.  Including the famous director Tsai Ming-Liang (蔡明亮)  and Doze, Niu Chen-Zer (钮承泽).

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Day 12/13 (Wed/Thur) 1/2 Nov 12 – Tainan 台南

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Tainan is the first capital of Taiwan.  There are a number of old houses here and have been converted to cafes, galleries, shops, restaurants and etc.  One of the best past time in Tainan is to visit the old houses in your own pace.  Not to mention the old traditional foods here.  A 3 days stay here to search for all the nostalgic taste was totally insufficient.

Recommended –

Cafe / Restaurant / Breakfast – Mao Keng 毛铿  ( Website link 1Website link 2 )

Second hand book shop – CaoJi 草祭二手书 (Website link 1, Website link 2 – The Image world of Y.H.Chen)

Shop / Cafe – TaiGu / TaiKoo 太古百货店 (Website link 1, Website link 2 )

Day 14 (Fri) 3 Nov 12 – Tainan to Taipei 台北

Day 15 (Sat) 4 Nov 12 – Taipei 台北

Day 16 (Sun) 5 Nov 12 – Taipei to Singapore

Finally we are going to our last destination of our journey – Taipei.  Based on Google Map, it takes about 4 hours 42 minutes to drive from Tainan to Taipei.  The distance is 316 km.   Thanks to the high speed rail.  The travel time has been cut short to only 2 hours.  Furthermore, the ride is quiet, comfortable and enjoyable.  Just like poeple travel to Japan must at least try out the bullet train.  I would also recommend people who travel to Taiwan try at least once for their high speed train.

Note – Based on Wikepedia, the Taiwan high speed train is built with technology based mainly on Japan’s Shinkansen system mixed with European standards and system components.  The THSR700T train series is a variant of the 700 Series Shinkansen and was built by a consortium of Japanese rolling stock manufacturers).

tainan to taipei

Source: Google Map

Accomodation –

The Landis (亞都麗緻大飯店)

 

My favourite Japanese eating place at Taipei –  Addiction Aquatic 上引水产

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My new found favaorite traditional breakfast place at Taipei –

Fu Hang Dou Jiang (Soy Milk) 阜杭豆漿

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Useful site –

8 secrets Taipei is hiding from you by Deborah

Experiencing 50 cool things in Taipei City in 5 days 

28 Days to love Taipei

 

 

 

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8 Comments on “Taiwan 16 days Itinerary

  1. Hi. Can give me Stone’s contact? The link brought me the yahoo mainpage

  2. Thanks. We were very interested with Errantry Lodge too but unfortunately they dont take children under 10. Can I check with you if is possible to engage Stone from Cing Jing to Sun Moon Lake then to Taroko & Hualien?

    • Hi Cowie, sorry for late reply. I suggest you to check with Stone directly. Have you already done with the trip? If not, I can try to find out another driver. My aunt went to Taiwan last year and she also managed to find this driver that take them from Taipei to Chingjing and Sun Moon Lake. The driver is from Hualien so I am sure he can fit into your request.

      • Hi do have the contact number that you mentioned your aunts travel to Taiwan?

      • Hi James. The driver was arranged by Leader Hotel at Taroko (布洛灣山月村). Not sure this is the correct one. You can try to contact 王會賓先生 電:0928575458.

      • Hi James. You can also try to contact 黃國信先生. Mobile: 0937-977749. He is the initial driven provided by Leader Hotel but it was changed at the later part.

      • This is the charges of the driver in year 2013 (Chinese New Year period) for reference –

        From Taipei to Taroko Leader Hotel: NT$6000.
        From Taroko Leader to Chingjing: NT$5000.

        There were 4 people in a car at that time.

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