Finally, CS and I made it for a Taiwan trip, something we had wanted to do for years but stuffs always cropped up. Our one week in Taiwan went by too fast. We had fun and enjoyed almost every moment there. If Taiwan is ever on your mind, don’t hesitate. Just go. Before you go, read on for our Taiwan Itinerary for 7 Days.
TAIWAN ITINERARY DAY 1: TAIPEI
Our Taiwan trip did not start off on the right foot.
I haven’t fly AirAsia for two years and I forgot to buy checked baggage allowance when I purchased the tickets earlier. A late add-on was more expensive at MYR120 and I wasn’t sure if we will do a lot of shopping. In the end, we took our chance and went along with hand-carries only. We barely made it within the 7 kg requirement.
We arrived at Taoyuan Airport in noon. But the custom clearance took a long time and we happened to choose the slowest line. Then, we stopped at the telco booths to pick up a sim card, a 7-days package (unlimited data plan with TWD150 airtime) for TWD500. We chose Chunghwa as most bloggers suggested and the network coverage was quite good. There’s only once when I did not manage to get a signal.
Taoyuan Airport to Taipei City
To get to Taipei city, we took Taoyuan Airport MRT (TWD160 per way) to Taipei Main Station. We missed the Express Train and in the confusion, jumped onto the next available train, which was a slower Commuter Train. I was tired and totally forgot that we must take the express! Needless to say, it took us 1.5 hour to get to Taipei Main Station instead of my intended 38 minutes.
Tips: We need to pay attention to the announcement whether it’s an express train or commuter train.
Taipei Main Station
Taipei Main Station is huge, being the hub for a combination of MRT, Airport MRT, High-Speed Rail and Taiwan Railway companies. We found the layout maps displayed were less than helpful.
Coming out from Airport MRT platform, we saw a map which only marks shopping area within the station and a few unimportant exits for us. We were trying to find East 3 exit but it’s not in the map. On the other hand, maps we found nearby Taiwan Railway (TRA) area showed only exits associated to their train service.
After much trial and error, we finally came to East 3 Exit which was near to HSR ticket counters.
The exit codes started with M refers to Metro Station exits, the K refers to exits from K Underground Mall. Exits that derived from North, East, West, South will lead us to either the Taiwan Railway or High-Speed Railway. So, if you’re looking for exit M2, then follow the signage to Metro first.
Taipei Station Baggage Service Center
As we will travel outside of Taipei for the next 5 days, we needed a place to store our luggage. There were plenty of paid lockers in Taipei Main Station but they’re charged on hourly or 3-hourly basis, too expensive for us. Taipei Station Baggage Service Center is cheaper, at TWD50 to TWD70 per day depending on luggage size.
Smile Inn Taipei
Smile Inn Taipei was our accommodation for the night. We chose it for its walking distance to Taipei Main Station and Kuo Kuang Bus Station. Located on the 6th floor of a commercial building, there’s no short of shops and restaurants to try in the area. A 24-hour McDonald was right below it, with H&M and Innisfree were just a few metres away.
Initially, we booked for Fashion Double Room but got upgraded to Deluxe Double Room. The room was slightly bigger and the wash basin was in the room, instead of being inside the glass-walled bathroom. While the window offers no view, it wasn’t a problem for us.
Our priorities were for a quiet room, clean bathroom and comfortable bed. Smile Inn Taipei checked all the above. CS (the tv-maniac), however, did complained about the lack of channels on the TV but I couldn’t care less.
We booked for Smile Inn Taipei at about TWD1490 per night via Agoda. Check for latest rates on Agoda.
Dinner @ Old Trademark Beef Pulled Noodle
By the time we checked into Smile Inn, it was already 4 something. We headed out for late lunch (or early dinner) at Old Trademark Beef Pulled Noodle (literal translation). Finding the beef noodle stall was a task itself, due to its hidden location in a narrow alley.
The dingy atmosphere aside, the back alley offers a variety of Taiwanese classic – beef noodles, wantons, braised meat rice and few others.
Deciding on what to order from the long list of menus was another task. As we read through at snail speed, the staffs repetitively asked us what would we like to have. So we had a Beef Soup Noodle (TWD65) and a Beef Pulled Noodle Soup (TWD140).
Here, we learned something new; Beef Soup Noodles means it’s beef soup (no meat) + noodles. On the other hand, Beef Pulled Noodle Soup comes with 5 or 6 delicious tender beef chunks. We love the savory beef soup which was slightly spicy.
Old Trademark Beef Noodle 老牌牛肉拉麵大王
Address: No. 7, Lane 46, Chongqing South Road Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Ten Ren Tea
Happy from the full stomach, the walk to Ximending was easy breezy. On our way, we stopped for a cup of Ten Ren Tea’s Green Tea Latte. Maybe because I hoped to reminisce the fragrant Ten Ren Tea I had in Hong Kong, I was badly disappointed by this version in Taipei. The green tea lacked aroma, and the milk wasn’t rich nor smooth enough.
The crowd at Ximending on a Tuesday night was just right for us. Easy to stroll along while the street still packed with significant actions. We had barely digested the beef noodles, but already, we were heading for Ah Chung Mee Suah 阿宗麵線 .
Ah Chung Mee Suah 阿宗麵線
Sure, there’s a queue at Ah Chung Mee Suah but it’s very manageable, thanks to their systematic ordering system. Customers will pay and order at right counter, then collect their order on the left counter. Sauces and serviettes will be self-serviced. Once we had our full, we need to empty any leftovers into the prepared container, then only throw the packaging into the garbage bags. It’s no wonder that Ximending street is so clean.
Oh, and back to the taste. Ah Chung Mee Suah very much suited my palate. The silky mee suah or vermicelli were so smooth that they’re almost melt-in-the-mouth. There’s a hint of bud-pleasing bonito fish taste to the broth. The light-colored pig intestine wasn’t appetizing at first glance, but they were more delectable than I imagined. Just add a dash of vinegar and they’re good to slurp.
We came across the Modern Toilet Café which we were not interested. It says “Welcome to Eat Crap”. No thanks.
A guy was performing hat-juggling in the middle of Ximending. Sorry because my picture seemed to make him looked like he’s headless.
I peered into a Cosmed and was tempted to buy something, anything. Luckily, I resisted or I would have to bring them with me to Jiufen, Luodong and back to Taipei again.
Taiwanese really loves fried chicken. From Big Hot Star to 1973 Fried Chicken, there’s always a long queue awaits
We ventured into some back alleys and found some seemingly popular eateries. This Jin Man Yuan Pork Chop 金满园排骨 on Lane 82 of Wuchang Street was one of them.
We walked back to our hotel and did a little bit of exploring around the area. We came upon another 1973 Fried Chicken branch and CS saw that as his fate. Roll eyes. In my opinion, the fried chickens are okay only, because they were too sweet to my liking.
This is all for our first night. We turned in early since we need to wake up at 5 am tomorrow for Yehliu – Keelung – Shifen – Jiufen.