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 🙂
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.
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.
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)