Here’s the first post to my travelogue on Taiwan 8 Days Trip. This series will contain in-depth information and logistics details. I like this to be useful for those planning for a free-and-easy trip to Taiwan, and especially so for a solo traveler.
Before reading my travelogue, why not check out this post on travel tips, my thoughts on solo-traveling and how I’d decided on the places to go. Without any further ado, here’s Day 1 of my Taiwan Travelogue in chronological order.
Typhoon on Eve of Taiwan Trip
Taiwan was hit by Typhoon Dujuan on the morning of 29 Sep 2015 which happened to be the eve of my trip to Taipei. I was so lucky to have missed the full-blown Category 4 typhoon that brought strong winds of at least 150 miles per hour and torrential rains to northern Taiwan.
However, that doesn’t mean that I would escape unscathed. The weather reports which had initially predicted sunny weathers during my 8-day trip were now showing tiny icons of rain or thunderstorms on 7 out of my 8 days there.
How destructive was that to my planned itineraries? Being a lover of outdoor activities and sight-seeing than indoor ones, I’d to alter 50% of my itineraries. I needed to find more indoor options as backups.
That was done on the eve of my trip when I was supposed to be finalizing my packing. Now, you can probably tell why I wasn’t that pleased with Ms. Dujuan’s sudden arrival.
With little sleep the night before due to the last minute research, I arrived at Changi Airport Terminal 1 feeling excited but yet ready to hit the hay. The soonest would be at 1am, the ETD of my overnight flight via Jetstar.
Cabin Luggage for 8-day Trip
For the next 8 days, I would depend on whatever that was squeezed into my 6.8 kg carry-on cabin bag. Would this be sufficient for all my intended purchases in Taiwan?
Likely not. But not to worry, as I would be activating my large foldable bag on the return trip. Why not just bring along a large 28″ luggage? First of all, I reckoned a smaller bag would be easier for a petite and first-time solo-traveler to maneuver. Secondly, I did not need to pay $30 for baggage allowance that I didn’t need in the first leg of the trip. It’s a win-win, isn’t it?
TIP: As a solo traveler on free and easy, it’s important to stay mobile. Try carrying a backpack instead of a hard-shelled luggage and you’ll have your hands free to do a lot of things. I’ve been using this lightweight, durable and classy backpack for 2 years and super love it! This 44L backpack saved me money too when I’m travelling on budget airlines as I didn’t need to buy extra checked-in baggage. I’m highly-recommending it to you!
Taiwan Solo Female Travel Begins (Day 1)
After hugs and kisses, I entered the departure transit lounge.
I’d never ever been so well-prepared in a trip. This was the first time I had an amenity pouch (containing a toothbrush, facial wash, comb, makeup, makeup remover, face mask and hand cream) and a snack bag (water, biscuits, snacks).
While I normally spend my “transit” time shopping for DFS beauty products, I was so excited that I proceeded straight to the boarding gate. Over there, I had ample time to write my diary, do some research, brush my teeth and look forward to a wonderful trip with myself.
Solo Travel Tips: How to select seats on flights?
Although I was assigned a window seat, I allowed the guy who was already sitting in the middle to take over mine. In this way, he just needed to shift in. He was really thankful. I was happy too as I thought this would mean easier access to the loo, right?
No. Sitting in the middle seat in an overnight flight means you can neither lean to the left or the right when you sleep. It certainly didn’t help when I was sandwiched between two big guys. What if I’d “accidentally” leaned and drooled on their shoulders? OMG.
I also didn’t have any armrest that was exclusively mine. The guy sitting by the window had his window armrest, and the one by the aisle had his exclusive armrest too. What about me?
Both armrests were not exclusively mine. The gentleman on my right was not much of a gentleman by the way, taking over both the armrests and stretching his legs into my space. He went on to fall asleep and drop his head into my space. That’s the disadvantage of being petite and being a lady. You may at times get “bullied”.
How inexperienced of me as a solo traveler. I was too used to leaning on the shoulder of my dearest that I didn’t anticipate the need and space of a solo-traveler.
What’s the price of ignorance? I didn’t manage to catch a wink the entire night. Need to watch out for the guy on my right. He certainly didn’t mind drooling on me.
TIP: Choose an aisle seat for easy access to loo. Or grab a window seat if you think you have strong bladder. Never opt for middle seat. Avoid overnight flight if you are a lady.
Arrived at Taipei Taoyuan Airport
My plane landed at 5.30am, but the plane took an hour to find an available parking lot. Not sure if this is typical of Taoyuan Airport. If so, then there certainly is room for improvement in its operational efficiency. By the time I exited the immigration, it was around 7.20am.
Get DATA & WIFI Card at Airport
My initial plan was to buy WIFI card from the telecom shops at the airport. But they would only open at 8am. Since online resources mentioned that WIFI Prepaid Card is widely available at convenience stores (7-11, OK, Family Mart, Hi-Life), I decided not to waste my time waiting and boarded the bus to Taipei Main Station.
On hindsight, it was a very bad decision because it took me 2 days to get a WIFI Prepaid Card. None of the convenience stores I’d approached carried any (and I’d approached quite a few, in multiple locations). Even the telecom shops at Taipei Main Station said the cards were fully sold. How strange!
How about iTaiwan WIFI, the free wifi that’s offered in several key tourists destinations and train station? It didn’t work for me. I’d successfully registered and activated the account. But the line wouldn’t connect at all.
TIP: Get your WIFI Prepaid Card at the Airport. You can also book a 4G Sim Card or Pocket WiFi online and collect them at Taipei Taoyuan Airport. I’ve used the latter in my latest 2019 Taiwan trip and here’s my review of Taiwan 4G Pocket WiFi.
Bus from Taipei Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station
Right after exiting the immigration, there was clear signage pointing one to “Bus to City”.
If I can still recall correctly, it was located one level below arrival hall. After paying for the bus service (NT125) at a counter, I boarded Kuo Kuang Bus 1819.
This bus has a frequency of 15 minutes and would take about 55 minutes to reach Taipei Main Station (last station). Unfortunately, my experience on a weekday morning peak period was much longer. The bus arrived at the destination after 1hr 40 mins.
Some passengers lamented about how they would miss their train. The bus driver appeared agitated and explained that he wasn’t in control of the traffic condition, which unfortunately was true.
Thank god, I had no train or plane to catch. With an open schedule and an itinerary that went according to my own terms, I was at ease and could enjoy my ride without any worries.
Sitting on the clean and spacious bus, I started my little “onboard breakfast picnic”. Munchies, munchies…the snack bag finally served its purpose.
TIP: Cater more time for travel between airport and city.
Transport Options: Train or Private Car from Taoyuan Airport
(Updated on 27 Sep 2017)
Train Service from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station
Good news. Taiwan now has a train service that connects Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station. You can either opt for an express train service (purple color) or commuter service (blue color). The former takes just 35 minutes to reach Taoyuan Airport while the latter would take longer since it stops at all stations. You can skip the queue and get the express train ticket online for a lower price (as at time of writing).
How do you decide if you should take a train or bus to/fro the airport? I would take the train as long as I’m traveling during its operating hours. Otherwise, I’ll fall back on bus service which tends to run 24 hours daily.
Private Car Transfer to Taipei Hotel – Suitable for Family
If you are travelling as a family or in a group (max 4 pax), there’s a private car service that would bring you right to the doorstep of your accommodation.
My First Meal in Taiwan
I would be staying within walking distance to Taipei Main Station for the first four nights. On my way to the hostel, I passed by McDonald’s and thought it would be good to try out Taiwan McDonald’s Breakfast options.
The one I’d chosen was disappointing. The Egg and Chicken Toast (NT49) was served cold and was pretty much tasteless. It ended up being the worst meal of my trip.
Hostel Near Taipei Main Station
Based on my itinerary, I would be out most of the time on the first four nights. I would also be making day trips out of Taipei. Therefore, a lodging located just 3 minutes’ walk from Taipei Main Station was chosen.
To get such an ideal location at an affordable price, I’d to sacrifice on my creature comforts. It’d been a while since I’d traveled in backpacker-style. The good thing about my lodging in Neosoho is that it provided a private sleeping area, with shared facilities. So I didn’t have to sleep in bunk beds with 7 other people. I’ll dedicate a detailed review of my experience at Neosoho in a separate post, later.
Back to the story, I checked into NEOSOHO, took a shower, relaxed a bit, explored the facilities and then started my Day 1 adventure.
228 Peace Memorial Park (二二八紀念公園)
My itinerary for the day would include orientation and visiting easy-to-reach places. I’d to factor in that I had not slept well for two consecutive nights.
The first place to visit was just 3 minutes’ walk from my hostel – 228 Peace Memorial Park (二二八紀念公園). It was never high on my list as a sight-seeing destination as the online reviews weren’t that great. But since it was so near, and I was too tired to travel far, I thought why not?
It was a small park with some pretty sculptures, pavilions and some tall monuments.
What mesmerized me the most were the friendly squirrels that gathered by a tree and would approach human for food.
When I squatted down to take their photos, they would walk right next to my feet. I’ve never seen squirrels that won’t run away from an approaching human. They must have been used to getting food from people.
As you can tell from the number of photos above, I did spend quite a bit of time with these friendly squirrels and taking selfies with them. A good 20 minutes maybe?
Thereafter, I moved on and passed by some pavilions, which I didn’t exactly know how to appreciate.
Along the way, there were fallen leaves, twigs and broken branches, which were clearly the work of Ms. Dujuan (Typhoon).
The 228 Massacre Monument was a short walk away. It was an artistic and modern-looking piece, built to commemorate the tragic death of thousands of civilians beginning on 28 February 1945 as a result of an uprising and open rebellion against Kuomingtang.
I then passed by the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum (台北二二八紀念館).
With the temperature soaring to a high of 35 degrees, I thought it’ll be good to hide from the heat while learning more about the 228 incident. Not much respite as the indoor air-conditioned environment was 30 degree Celsius. Oh wow…someone needs to upgrade the air-conditioner. No wonder the admission fee was just NT20.
And what happened to the forecast rainy weather? It was sizzling hot…hotter than Singapore. Hotter than Bangkok. Ok…better than torrential rain. I shouldn’t complain.
Is the museum worth a visit? Even for a Chinese, I’d found it a little difficult to comprehend the 228 incidents. Perhaps, it’s because the descriptions were in traditional and not simple Chinese. If you can only read English, it may be even more challenging as the English descriptions were overly-brief. For those who have a love for history and a more relaxed schedule, there’s no harm dropping by though since admission is close to being free.
Throughout the entire visit, there was only one other visitor. At one point (on upper level), it became a little scary for me as I was alone facing a wall of black and white photos (of the deceased…I think). I dashed through that section! Timid me.
1) From Taipei Main Station, walk 4 mins via Gongyuan Road
2) Alight at NTU Hospital Station
I ended my little tour of 228 Memorial Park by 2pm. Stay tuned to part two of Day 1 where I’ll cover the rest of the attractions and also reveal a tip on getting EasyCard (MRT Card). If you like to get notified of newly-published beauty reviews and travel stories, just click the button below to subscribe. Don’t forget to pick up your free gift. See you there!
- Day 1 (pt 2): Get EasyCard, Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Q Square Mall
- Day 2 (pt 1): Jinguashi Gold Ecological Park
- Day 2 (pt 2): Golden Water Fall, Jiufen, Ximending
- Day 3 (pt 1): Maokong
- Day 3 (pt 2): Taipei Zoo and Shenkeng Old Street
- Day 4 (pt 1): North Coast Tour (Shimen Wedding Plaza, Shimen Arch, Jinshan Old Street)
- Day 4 (pt 2): North Coast Tour (Yehliu Geopark, Keelung & Miaokou Night Market)
- Day 5: Wufenpu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 6: Songshan Cultural Park, Xiangshan, Tonghua, Raohe Night Market
- Day 7: Taipei City Hall Shopping District, Wufen Pu, Raohe Night Market
- Day 8: Easiest way to get from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan Airport