I went to Taiwan from June 1-9 with my girlfriend and visited Hualien and Taipei. I booked the Tiger Airways ticket way in advanced in February and for two persons and they cost me SGD 900 in total. This included hot meals and 20 kg baggage check-in to Taiwan, and 25 kg baggage check-in to Singapore. The Tiger Airways plane was a bit cramp for me. My friend who went Taiwan two weeks before recommended Scoot but said they charged quite a bit for booking.
The travel itinerary went like this:
June 1: Flew from Singapore's T2 to Taiwan's Tao Yuan International Airport 1. Took a bus to Taipei Main Station, from there a slow train (3 hours) to Hualien Station and a taxi to Jimei Home Stay (a min su), where I stayed there for 4 nights. The home stay was good (SGD 100 per night) and the only problem I had was that all the TV channels were local.
June 2: Tour of Taroko Gorge using a local taxi guide (Tiffany Zhang), reserved via email. The gorge is a very beautiful place but gets boring after a while. Be sure to take the option of visiting the Baiyang Waterfall. It is about 45-60 minutes from the main road but there is a small waterfall to chill out. Plus you get moving since most of the tour is in the taxi. I would highly recommend Taroko Gorge if you are a nature lover type.
|One view from He Huan Shan|
June 3: Trip out to He Huan Shan using a local taxi guide again. This time, it was her husband who drove us to the beautiful mountain range of Taiwan. The journey there took 3 hours and was slightly bumpy. We were told that the stop point of He Huan Shan was just 40 minutes from Cinjing, a farm stay area with loads of sheep. But we did not plan for Cinjing because the travelling would have taken us one more day.
|Sign at the Pasture|
June 4: East Rift Valley Tour. Travelled out to Rui Sui and back. Visited Liyutan (Carp Lake where I got bitten by sandflies!) a hot spring (not very impressed), a pasture（吉蒸牧场), the Hualien Sugar Factory and some forestry museum. I got a private room at the hot spring and it is not like what you see on TV because of the lack of view. However, the other option of the outdoor playground was a bit uncomfortable with my girlfriend because the spring water was chelated (foam) but this occurs naturally in mineral rich water. The warning is that you can stay in the hot spring water for too long at a stretch as it will cause too much blood to rush to your head.
|Part of Wufenpu|
|Start of Raohe night market|
June 5: Took a train back to Taipei (2 hours 15 minutes!). The train was a faster service because it did not stop as many stations. You have to book early online to get the better trips. Stayed at a business hotel, Yomi Hotel, which had a good location to the MRT and some of the northern Taipei attractions.
Went to Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market. Wufenpu is the whole sale center for many shops although they do sell individual pieces at good prices. My only problem with it is that while the women's wear was fashionable, most of the men's clothing looked very gaudy. As for the night market which was a ten minutes walk from Wufenpu, it had a good deal of food to eat and is where the locals hangout. Had their bakuteh and oysters!. This place is a must go.
|Entrance of Gu Gong - National Palace Musuem|
June 6: Went to the National Palace Museum in the morning. You actually stop at Shilin MRT Station and take a local bus there. Be warned that there may be busloads of tourists. It was an extremely unpleasant time looking at the exhibits when there were throngs of others. The most memorable pieces were the "jade cabbage" and the "3 layer meat". Went to Taipei 101 at night for a very expensive dinner because it was Michelin 3 star
June 7: Went to Jiufen. Took a train from Main Station to Ruifang and took a local bus up to the stretch of shops selling everything touristy imaginable. I spent most of my money on buying Li Yik brand Taiyangbing (sun biscuits) as well as their pineapple tarts. Inside this stretch of shops, you those yam ball desserts, hand made ocarinas and places to enjoy a pot of tea (not worth it though!). After 3-4 hours, you will probably get bored of the place and head back to Taipei. We had planned to go to Ximen for shopping but my girlfriend got a bit nauseous from the bus ride up and we had to stay in.
June 8: Went to Ximen in the day and Danshui in the evening. For those who have been to Japan before, Ximen is really much like Shibuya district only that everyone speaks Mandarin instead of Japanese. having been there in my younger days, I felt that not much of Ximen has changed and most of the shops were selling the same things since I last visited the place 10 years ago. As for Danshui, it was a mildly disappointing place, probably because we went there a bit too late in the evening to explore the place. I was looking for fresh seafood since it was a port town but to my bewilderment, there was no sushi shops to be found at the pier area.
June 9: Check out of hotel and went to airport.
Total damage (per head) for the trip:
Tickets via Tiger Airways ~ SGD 450
Taxi Guide ~ SGD 240 (for 3 different days)
Hotels ~ for 8 nights SGD 450
Daily spend (not including shopping) ~ SGD 400
Let me know if you need any help planning for you trip there!