Taiwan Day 1 – Reference our Google Map for GPS and Aowanda National forest

We took 3 to 4 months to plan our Taiwan trip. After zooming down the number of days we can spare, we focus on the areas which we wish to visit.

(do read our 10D9N summary here)

Both me and Mrs wanted to explored the less touristy area, for a more memorable experience.  I planned for too much hikes and cycling, kids wanted some “shit” I-mean-Fun-novelty cafe, but the only thing we all agree was to sample more street food. Yes, Night Markets 🙂

aowanda national forest
Aowanda National Forest

 

Besides Taipei and Kaohsiung, many other cities have lesser developed public transport system, or the Metro is not as wide spread.
One good example is Taichung, which is better served by bus network rather than train.

You should plan to visit attractions which are nearer to each other. Taichung is huge and contain many attractions (Not including those in neighbouring Miaoli, Nantou, Tainan yet!)

Do visit our itinerary (Google sheet) and sample proximity maps for Ruifang and Tai Chung. The itinerary (with GPS) would help you pinpoint the attractions and rates, the maps will help plan your travel route.

** The Google Sheet and maps are in our GDrive folder.

1)Google Sheet link  (This reference is 95% accurate, as we improvised along the way). Column “G” contains the GPS, and Column “H” indicates the “location markers” .

2)Taichung Map (link) below. Please stay at least two nights in Taichung!

Example below, we should plan to visit (roughly) attractions denoted by location “1,”2″,”7″ and “10”.

3)Ruifang Map (link) below.

Refer to Google sheet link and get an idea of distance between Jiufen, Shifen, PingXi, Keelung Night Market etc. Once you decide on your “focus” area, plan nearby accommodation for easy hop.

 

Back to Day 1 Taiwan, we arrived at Taiwan at 0600.

Our driver 小李 picked us at Taoyuan International Airport and we headed towards Nantou, destination Aowanda National Forest (奧萬大國家森林遊樂區, GPS 23.954341, 121.169178)

A 2 hour + journey, we stop for breakfast at one of the traditional breakfast eateries. 豆浆油条 is nice. (not related to JJ’s song)

 

The highlight was 蛋餅 Egg Crepe (bottom right pic). Humble appearance (and price NTD20) with slight pepper powder, but the crunchy and chewiness soft egg taste so good!

What greeted us along the highway was endless ridges and more mountains, and marvelous skyline! Somehow, it is setting our expectations for more hilly roads ahead!

Google Map of hilly zig zag terrains! Our kids took turns to vomit in the van (ooops), plastic bags alert!

 

Reach Aowanda National Forest at a cool 15 degrees. This nature reserve is famous for Autumn maple leaves and a 180m suspension bridge.

Ticket pricing (Adult NTD 200 child NTD 150)

 

Leaves are still green and yellowish, with few turning red.

We underestimated the distance to the suspension bridge, and it was a brisk 60 min walk for the boys. Normal relaxing pace will take you 90 mins.

Mrs and girl was intimidated by the endless flights of stairs! It will be challenging to climb up on the return trip 🙂

They decided to wait for us near the carpark.

The steps are long, no wonder called “好漢坡步道” (Heroes trail).

While we enjoy the fresh air, we found some acorns along the way.

The plaque at the gate  indicated that not more than 110 person should walk the bridge simultaneously. Who’s counting?

Many Taiwanese were out to enjoy the beautiful park too.

180m long, but surprisingly the bridge did not rock too much, unless the kids purposely run or hop :p

Visitors can walk the whole length and admire the valley on both flanks. 

Patches of Autumn are in view, when will they turn Red?

At the other end of the bridge, pine trees greeted us.

 

Saw some campers on our way back. Although it was a cool 15 degrees, we had to remove our jackets along the walk. Tiring to climb stairs and brisk walking with Daddy.

However, we felt autumn leaves at Aowanda National Forest are not too spectacular (maybe wrong season?) and the meandering route might not be suitable for younger kids. If you really like to explore this forest, expect to spend 3 hours.

We love the photo opportunities, but there are many other National Forests which are easier to access. Taiwan is really blessed with nature and a dreamland for hikers.

On our way to our Bnb, we pass by this scenic dam and reservoir. As we climb higher, mist will float in and out out the road.

Lunch was Urn chicken (甕仔雞) on the way up to Cing Jing. 伊拿谷餐廳 (Inako Valley View) (gps 24.036825, 121.146705).

You will see many shops selling this type of chicken in Nantou, or in general Central Taiwan.

The chicken are roasted in the special urn,  We love the chicken and side dishes so much we went for dinner the second night! Many folks will actually takeaway the chicken to enjoy in their own room.


Soup is always welcome in the cold weather, kids love the crispy prawn (水晶虾)

A hearty meal, but the evening temperature to a cool 12 degrees! The wind along the corridor was chilling.

With a full tummy, we reseted in our Bnb before soaking at 廬山 Lu Shan later in the night. Taiwanese call soaking in Hot spring, 泡湯 (literally dipping in soup).

維多利亞溫泉會館 (Victoria Spring Resort, GPS 24.022925, 121.186482) , this is not the Japanese type on (naked) Onsen, but family friendly. We book two tubs for about TWD 1000, the big pool was unavailable then.

*take note transport fee could be NTD 1000 and above for the estimated 12 to 15km trip, we had a van to and fro for NTD 1500.

**All the resorts around has some sort of Hot Spring facility. Business was roaring until a devastating earthquake shattered the town in 2013.

Victoria was recommended by our BnB, our initial Hot Spring venue was “廬山正揚溫泉渡假飯店” because it has fish spa :p (those doctor fish which can nibble at your feet)

We noticed many tourist coaches were packed to Ming Lu, which has a much more luxurious exterior. Glad the kids enjoyed their Hot Spring soak in the cold weather 🙂  #TheirFirstOnsen :p

Hungry again after our dip, we walked 8 mins from our Bnb to Mist Plaza 清境商場 (GPS 24.043918, 121.157100).

This is actually a mini shopping area with limited food options. The dishes are decent and not too expensive (I had expected tourist pricing).

 

Maybe it is winter period, the blue dim leds and the mist added a fog of surreal experience for us.

The highlight for us was hot Chocolate and cheesecake at Starbucks 🙂
The 星巴克 Starbucks (GPS 24.043685, 121.156977) and 7-11 here are landmark for gathering points.

 

Enjoying Starbucks in cold weather is simply different from tropical Singapore. Hot chocolate and Cheesecake always taste nicer and warmer 🙂

Mist Plaza, really misty 🙂

 

We will share more about BnB and 清境 Cing Jing Farm in the next post.

Tip : The average rate for booking a car and driver ( full-day) is around NTD 6500 to 7500.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, XiMenDing, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
Day 7a Jiufen attractions
Day 7b Shifen attractions
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan
Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

 

 

Taiwan Itinerary for families

Presenting our 10D9N Taiwan Itinerary for families.

(the links to our photos and each day’s blog post are at the end of this page)

We love 台湾 Taiwan’s forest, mountain and waterways . Trails and hikes are simply refreshing for us, away from urban cities and just enjoying the great nature. We make an effort to spend more time to absorb the greens and fresh air in the mountains.

As it was near to Winter and with the high altitude, we were constantly blanketed with mist. So mystical and surreal, LOVE !

Boon Kang taking a breather at Aowanda

We last visited Taiwan as a family six years ago, read our precious itinerary here. Kids have all grown up and we can afford to add more sports and hiking into our itinerary.

[4 videos below]

YouTube link – 10D9N in 2 minutes, we Love Taiwan Day and Night, Dry or Wet

溪頭 Xitou’s mini hike was actually my second favourite activity, but I over-estimated our family’s fitness. Just amazing to see the bamboo forest :p

清境 Cing Jing farm, everyone knows about the sheep and fresh air, but did you know about the sheep poo :p  (It was still a lot of Fun for our family)

奧萬大 Aowanda National Forest’s famous suspension bridge, only 180m long.

Our 10D9N trip took us from Nantou to Taichung to Ruifang and back to Taipei. We plan for only 4 or 5 sights per day so that we can fully enjoy and appreciate each hop.

We are still sorting out the photos. Tips,  Venue and GPS will be added later. If you have any urgent requests, just drop us an email “andy@SengkangBabies.com”

Day 1 (Thu) – Dec 2017

Taiwan Itinerary for families start at 桃園 Taoyuan Airport. We hired a van to 清境 Cing Jing (Nantou).

1)Aowanda National Forest (奧萬大國家森林遊樂區) for hiking and maple leaves. The maples will not be as stunning as Osaka’s.
(Ticketed, recommend 2 to 3 hours, you need 1 hour to walk from entrance to bridge)

Taiwan Itinerary for families
Taiwan Itinerary for families

2)Do take note Carton King 紙箱王 and Swiss Garden 小瑞士花園 are closed till end December 2017.

3)Our Minsu 好家寨民宿, 8 min walk to 7-11 and Starbucks. One thing we quickly realised is we need a cab to get around. Would be challenging to drive when the fog sets in.

For meals, you can call the F&B outlet and they will provide complimentary transfers.

4)We visited 廬山 Lushan for a dip in their hot spring (aka Onsen, 泡湯, 溫泉).  Feels shiok to indulge in hot spring in cool autumn or winter period (be it indoor or outdoor pools).

Temperature can drop to 7 degrees in the evening, we all love our snug and heated blankets.

Day 2 (FRI) Cing Jing

5)青青草原 Green Green Grassland

Taiwan Family itinerary

We love the weather, the mist, the sheep and all the photo opportunities.
(ticketed, recommend 2 to 3 hours, including tea break)

Trailed 487 steps from horse ranch and walk back to 7-11. We did not try Sunset trail 4pm (Sun sets around 1705 during Winter time).

How come there are so few stars in the Winter evenings?

The cold weather  gave us the perfect excuse to indulge in Hot Chocolate and cheese cake. Visited 星巴克 Starbucks every night 🙂

Day 3 (SAT) Xitou and Sun Moon Lake

9)Visited 妖怪村 Monster Village and 溪頭自然教育園區(Xitou), they are side by side. Nature lovers can spend up to half a day here. Famous icons are the bamboo forest and 天空走廊 “Sky corridor”. (Ticketed, recommend 2 to 3 hours)

Families might find Monster village fascinating, like a Japanese popup neighbourhood. Look deeper and you will find all stuffs quirky and even crass haha. (1 hour should be enough)

 

Taiwan free and easy family

Love the mist which keeps floating in and out, so cool (literally).

10)We spent so much time at Xitou that we had to skip 車埕 and 貯木池.

11)Sun was setting and we had to forego cycling around 日月潭 Sun Moon Lake. If time permits, cycle towards “向山觀景台 天空步道” within 20 to 30 minutes. One round around the lake is about 25km, or 2 hours.

Rested at Sun Moon Lake 日月潭民宿 水社海 for the night (Homeaway link)

Day 4 (SUN) Taichung 台中

Finally, the SUN came out to play with us but temperature is still a cool 15 to 20 degrees YES!

12)苗栗大湖採草莓 Strawberry picking along Dahu (Miaoli). This is the first batch of strawberries so size is smaller and slightly more sour.
(Pay by grams, we recommend 30 to 60 mins)

13)勝隆客栈 (客家 Hakka restaurant) restaurant was recommended by our driver, Xiao Li. Love the old school feel and delicious home-cooked food.

Do visit the old Sheng Xin Station too, so nostalgic.
(1 to 2 hours, lunch and attractions)

14) 中社花海 Zhong She Flower Market (Take note this is different from 新社花海, which is free but open only in Nov/Dec). We found our Lavender field, pity too much photobombs.

(Ticketed, 30 to 60mins to pose with Piano and props :p )

15) 后豐鐵馬道,骑自行车 Houfeng Bikeway (my best Taiwan activity!)

We rented bikes (got eBikes too) and cycled South to the famous 九號隧道 Tunnel 9. Trains used to run through the tunnel!

(Go and Google Map “隧道口烤肉租車中心” for estimated bike rental location. The whole lane has at least 10 rental stalls, yet bikes can be fully rented during weekends!)  (recommend 60 to 90mins easy ride time)

The kids all agree that Taichung cycling was the best activity from our trip

(I had planned for goKart too, but did not have time to drift).

16) 逢甲夜市 Fengjia Night market

After a few days of hills, Tai Chung offered our first Night Market and YES, 泡泡茶 bubble tea.  Street food are best shared 🙂

The nights are still 15 to 18 degrees, huddle together to keep warm. Boon Kang (no2) mentioned he loves the aircon weather 🙂

17)台中逢甲葉綠宿旅館 Green Hotel is just 6 min walk from night market, plenty of food options around and dry cleaning washers downstairs.

Day 5 (MON) Taichung 台中

The Mrs prefer Taichung to Taipei, I can understand why. It is slightly more laid back, and the small lanes are packed with good food and boutique shops.

18) 動漫彩繪巷 Painted animation lane was recommended by my boy, pity many painting had been demolished. (30 to 45min is enough, Manga fans can spend more time with selfie)

19) 彩虹眷村 Rainbow Village

SengkangBabies started with Mummy and Daddy. Rainbow Village has a lot of mushy couplets, perfect for love birds. (we recommend 30 to 60mins)

 

20) Taichung yummy Food tours 🙂
From Famous ice cream, 太陽餅 Sun cake,  鳳梨酥 pineapple cake to 日出蛋糕 (cheese cake) , you must visit 宮原眼科 Miyahara.

Besides the “eye treats”, the building interior is also Instagram worthy 🙂
(recommend 30 to 60mins)

21)大東屋日本活鰻店 (Japanese style eel was not suitable for kids, too much bones) and 春水堂 Chun Shui Tang, rumoured to be the world’s first Bubble Tea 🙂
(recommend chill 30 to 60mins each)

Boon Xin (no 4)’s favourite activity is actually hunting for Bubble tea at all the night markets haha. Kids all love to catch a toy or two at the Night Markets’ arcades.

 

22)Optional tours in Taichung:
-新峰農場 Xin Feng  to pluck Grapes – not in Season during our trip
-高美濕地 Gaomei Wetlands (check the tides and sunset timing first)
-九二一地震教育園區  Earthquake Museum (educational tour)

Day 6 (TUE) Keelung

23)HSR Train 高鐵台中站 (Taichung->Taipei Main->Songshan->Keelung). Trains are never late, go early!  Instagram link

A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies) on


24)Many Train stations come with lockers, which are a life-saver for backpacker and heavy shoppers. The hourly rate are super cheap too.

25)Optional tours in Keelung, we had to skip due to rain :
-忘憂谷 Badouzi Wangyou Valley
-象鼻岩 Elephant Rock
-和平島 Heping island

26) Xinbei (ruifang) area and Keelung are famous for rain. Even Taipei got 100% confirm-rain forecast!

27)基隆廟口夜市 Keelung night market

It was drizzling non-stop and windy throughout our 2D1N stay around Keelung and Ruifang.  

28)Keelung 享住旅店 Just Live Inn  (6 min walk to Night Market). Keelung is a good base to explore Ruifang (Jiufen and Shifen)

 

Day 7 (WED) Ruifang

29) Skipped a few attractions due to rain and heavy fog.

-南雅奇石 Nanya rocks formation
-黃金瀑布 Golden Fall (10 mins)
-九份老街 Jiufen Old Street (60 to 120mins, inclusive lunch)

(Skipped)
-金瓜石黄金博物馆 Gold Museum  (trailhead for Teapot mountain hike)
-不厭亭 Buyen Pavillion

30)十分大瀑布 Shifen waterfall (15 mins)

十分天燈 Shifen Lantern + train (passes by hourly)
(we recommend 30 to 45mins)

31) Optional tours near Ruifang:
-鼻頭角燈塔 Bitou lighthouse  (previous blog link)
-猴硐貓村 Cats Houtong (for cats lover)

32)Taipei stay (Homeaway link) at Nanjing Fuxing Station (central location)

Play the Instagram video (slide to second picture below), felt like Christmas has come earlier. This Taipei Homeaway unit totally exceeded our expectations 🙂

A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies) on

33) Visited 遼寧夜市 Liao Ning Night Market (8 min walk from our unit)
34) Legs Massage (  shiok)

Day 8 (THU) Taipei

35)永康街 Yong Kang for brunch and ice mango (many famous food here). Maybe you can visit 師大夜市 Shida Night Market (1km South), for dinner and snacks after Yong Kang.

(60 to 90 min to explore the corners, just follow the queues)

36)西門町 Xi Men Ding, sightseeing and  阿宗麵線 :p
(recommend 60 mins)

37) Split- Gals went 五分埔 Wu Fen Pu (recommend 60 mins) , boys hiked 象山 Elephant Mountain (recommend 60 mins, including 30mins for slow climb)

38) Gather at 饒河夜市 Rao He Night Market for snacks again 🙂

Acting cute, kids always role play Assassin Creed with their hoods :p

 

 

Day 9 (FRI) Taipei

39) Christmas toys shopping 東東玩具百貨
(10min walk from Taipei Main Station)

40) 北投區 Beitou hot spring dip our sore legs for free (recommend 20 mins)
Beitou Hell valley hot spring 地熱谷 (di4 ri4 gu3) (20 mins for surroundings)

滿客屋拉麵 Full House Ramen, enjoy some good broth in cool weather. Do sit outside.

41)士林夜市 Shilin Night Market. Kids thought all Night Markets are the same until they visit the Mother of all Night Markets.

A pity I ran out of time to discover the Coffin Bread stall, it is now  located at basement near to prawn catching.

42) Back to Taipei 101 but minimum Christmas celebrations here.
“Frozen” special exhibit (ticketed) close at 10pm.

If you wish to soak in the Christmas festive atmosphere, take a train to 新北市板橋區 Banqiao Station (GPS 25.013666, 121.464886, Facebook link).

 

Day 10 (SAT) Taipei

43) walk around neighbourhood, no itinerary. Just anyhow explore.

Rest, eat, relax, eat and recuperate. This is our type of Holiday 🙂

Boon Yee (No3) is easy to feed. Just buy him 滷肉飯 (Lu3 Rou4 Fan4) and 鸡蛋糕 (Ji1 Dan4 Gao1)  :p

Boon Wee (no 1)’s favourite activity is exploring Night Markets, because of abundance of cheap and delicious food choices! Our 50th bowl of Lu Rou Fan.


Our kids actually prefer local “mixed rice” compared to fancy restaurant or cafes! So easy maintenance right.

We did notice there are many accessories for pet dogs. Why do Taiwanese like to parade their pet dogs?


* 44) Taiwan culture is best experience. Most folks are very hospitable and helpful. 人情味 is so strong in Taiwan, and I hope the kids remember the friendly guides, host, drivers and many other vendor, hawkers we met in Taiwan.

Taiwanese know we are from Singapore or Malaysia from our accent haha.

As the Sun set somewhere in Taiwan, we got 10D9N of memories to bring home. 台灣赞!

Additional tips :

a)Be it high in the mountain, deep in the forest or exploring some back alleys in Taipei, ChangiWiFi from Changi Recommends did not disappoint. We could connect up to 6 devices simultaneously.

ChangiWiFi could last us 4 hours easily before a recharge.

Being Online means we can utilise Google Map, Google Images, Email, Social Media and if parents allowed, online games for the kids :p

Rental of ChangiWiFi is only $5 per day for Taiwan, more details here www.changiwifi.com

b)YouBike is very popular in cities, but you need a Taiwan number for registration. When we were walking around in Taichung and Taipei, we love the dedicated bike lanes, there was minimum risk of being knocked over by a reckless eBike or eScooters.

By the way, bikes can only park at designated lots, thus no messy situation like Singapore’s bikes.

Easy connections via the Train routes 🙂

c)Lastly, we wish to recommend our guide and driver for 3 of the days, 小李 Xiao Li (from Hong Lee Tour).

He did not know we are blogger but he treated us like VIP because we were introduced by Angeline (https://www.lifestinymiracles.com). Thank you Angeline 🙂

小李’s Hello Kitty van is his trademark and he is very popular with Singaporean tourists.  Kids are comfortable around him and he never hard-sell any attractions. Do Whatsapp or WeChat 小李 +866 955 133572

We cannot guarantee that his price is the cheapest, but you will get honest recommendations and feedback, and most importantly “Peace of mind“.

d)Do follow our Instagram hashtag #SengkangBabiesTaiwan for all our Taiwan Fun episodes 🙂

Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

This page is the overview of our 10D9N Taiwan Itinerary for families. Too much Fun! , pardon the spam of photos.
Do pop by this page again as I will be updating the urls for new photos (on Facebook) and each day’s blog post.  We hope our itinerary will be useful for your planning and reference.

Photo albums :

Day 1 Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing
Day 3 Xitou Nature Education Area, Monster Village, Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Taichung (Zhongshe flower, ShengXin station, Cycling, Fengjia)
Day 5 Taichung (Animation Lane, Rainbow, Miyahara)
Day 6 Keelung 基隆
-Day 7 Ruifang, Jiufen and Shifen
-Day x Taipei HomeAway and Neighbourhood
Day 8 永康, XiMenDing, 象山, 饒河 Raohe
Day 9 and 10 北投 Beitou, Toyshop, 士林 Shilin

Blog posts :

** Taiwan Itinerary for families 
Day 1 Google Sheet, Aowanda, Cing Jing
Day 2 Cing Jing Farm
HomeAway Recommendations for Taiwan
Day 3a Xitou Nature Education area (溪頭)
Day 3b Monster village 妖怪村 and Sun Moon Lake
Day 4 Cycling Taichung 台中 
Day 4a 台中 Taichung  attractions
Day 5a 台中 Taichung food Ice cream and Bubble Tea
Day 5b 台中 Taichung Fengjia night market
-Day 6 基隆 Keelung
Day 7a Jiufen attractions
Day 7b Shifen attractions
Taipei Neighbourhood around our HomeAway Vacation Home

Instagram Hashtag #sengkangBabiesTaiwan
Instagram #sengkangBabiesTaiwan

 

ps..
for the two Homeaway links above (Sun Moon Lake and Taipei), use promo code “HomeAwaySKBabies” and enjoy 8% off your booking (Valid until 31 Mar 2018)