Grabbed my Taiwan return tickets when Air Asia first opened their Taiwan route last year April. RM101 per way per person, all-in fares including check-in luggage came up to RM391 return per person. What a steal! But if you do not like to cramp in such a small aircraft with so many people and so much noise, Air Asia may not be your choice then. Everything on board of Air Asia, you’ve got to pay. If it wasn’t for the air ticket price, I would have chosenMAS, which would make the whole journey more pleasant. I’ve decided to go for a week as I know that 5 or 6 days wouldn’t be enough for us. So, 8 days 7 nights it is. Anyway, let’s move on to Taiwan.
After the 5 hours of tiring flight, we reached Taoyuan International Airport (台湾桃园国际机场) around 3pm, 20th January 2010. It was a Wednesday, not so much of crowd in the airport. We then proceed to Hall 2 tourism center for the Digital Tour Buddy (宝贝机) and Youth Travel Card (青年旅游卡). I strongly encourage you to apply for the Digital Tour Buddy online 2 weeks before your trip to Taiwan. It definitely cut down a lot of waiting time and hassles. You will get a handphone, SIM card and a charger, absolutely free. You just need to top up the talk-time and voila! You can call to anywhere. You need to deposit your identification card/driving license with them upon receiving the handphone. Read the instructions on the website to apply. As for the Youth Travel Card, you can get a lot of discount with the card. You can’t apply for the Youth Travel Card online, you may apply for it at the tourism center in the airport. Youth Travel Card is for those who age from 15 to 30. If I traveled to Taiwan again next year, I wouldn’t be able to apply for it anymore. :(
We took FreeGo bus from Taoyuan airport to Ximending (西门町). FreeGo is the only one that stops right in front of Rainbow Hotel (长虹大饭店), not really right in front, few steps away. Hehe. It costs NTD140 for one way. We thought might as well buy return since it is convenient and we could get another thing off our mind. For 2 ways, it is NTD260, not as expensive as we thought it might be. It took 1 hour from Taoyuan to Ximending. But in the middle of the journey, we were asked to change to a different bus.
We have done a lot of studies and search on the hotels in Taipei city. Our first choice was CityInn behind the Taipei Main Station, but they didn’t have triple room anymore for most of the days. They have the trendiest look. Our other choices were Redcabin Hotel (红绫阁旅店), Miyi Hotel (名邑旅店) and Future Star Hotel (明日大饭店). Rainbow Hotel is a good choice. The double bedroom is a little small, but our triple bedroom is spacious! That surprised all of us. It is clean and tidy. Way, way, way better than we thought. All in all, it was a good stay. :) The staff there are friendly too. Breakfast was normal, but that seems to be the healthiest meal we had in a day. Hahaha.
After unloaded our luggages and bags, poof we went to scout for Ah Zong Mee Suah (阿宗面线) in Ximending! Finally found it! Just about 2 streets away from Rainbow hotel. It was delicious! Yes, my dream of eating the real original has finally came true. Hahaha.
After a satisfying meal, we went to Taipei 101. It is very convenient to stay in Ximending. The Ximending MRT station is just not more than 10 minutes walk away. Before everything, do remember to get the Easy Card from the MRT information counter. It costs NTD500, which NTD100 is deposit and NTD400 is the value. And please, please, please do take great care of your Easy Card. Bended, damaged or scratched card can’t be returned and your deposit will be forfeited too. It happened to one of us who got the card bended (but still usable) and they refused to refund the deposit because it is considered damaged. Also, they will charge you a NTD20 as handling fee for card returns in less than 3 months of usage.
From Ximending, we took the MRT blue line to Cityhall (台北市政府站). From there, we walked. We didn’t feel it was far as we were so thrilled with the Taipei city streets and views. The entrance ticket to Taipei 101 observatory deck can be purchased at the fifth floor of the Taipei 101 shopping mall. It’s NTD400 per person, but with the Youth Travel Card, it is NTD350.
After Taipei 101, we had a brief stop in New York, New York Department Store and Muji Store. Then we went back to Ximending to do some shopping. :D So, there goes our first half day in Taipei. :)
Ximending (西门町) – MRT blue line to station Ximending (西门町).
Taipei 101 – MRT Blue line to Cityhall, Exit 2, either take free shuttle bus or walk 10 minutes.
The last few photos were food we found in Ximending. The braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) in Taiwan is so delicious!!! Personally, I do not eat or like smelly tofu (臭豆腐). Wan Yi was kind enough to offer me a bite and I still do not like it. :D If you feel brave enough to try, go ahead. It’s the experience that counts. ;)