Previously, I shared travel tips, driver contact & hotel recommendations in Hualien in part I of our Taiwan Travelogue and in this post, I will touch on Taichung, Cing Jing and Taipei leg of the trip.
Hotel 53 Taichung & Miyahara Ophthalmology Department (宫原眼科)
I like the clean, modern design and spaciousness of our room at Hotel 53 and even though there was no wardrobe and zero view to speak of from the small window in our room, I had a comfortable stay in this hotel.
The main reasons to stay in Hotel 53 are:
- It is a 10 minute walking distance from the Taichung Train Station.
- It is located directly opposite from the must-visit Miyahara Ophthalmology Department (宫原眼科) where you can indulge in delicious ice cream, restaurant food at the second level, buy Taiwanese pastries as souvenirs and also marvel at the interior of what used to be an eye hospital during the Japanese Occupation.
- We were blown away by the excellent customer service provided by the staff of Hotel 53 (I mention some examples in part I of the post).
Julie’s Garden & Cing Jing Farm
The staff at Hotel 53 gave us a map to show us the way to get to the Nantou bus stop which is a 10-minute walk from the hotel. This bus will bring you to Cing Jing under 3 hours. The staff told us that the last direct bus to Cing Jing was at 12:15 pm. If you miss that bus, you need to take a Nantou bus that goes to Puli and transfer to another Nantou bus that goes to Cing Jing.
We were approached by a cab driver at the Nantou bus stop who suggested that we shared his cab with another 2 tourists from Hong Kong at NT $500 per person and it would be a lot faster to go to Cing Jing. So don’t worry if you miss the Nantou bus as there are always cab drivers at the Nantou bus stop looking for passengers to co-share the ride to Cing Jing with other tourists. If you were to book the cab on your own, you need to pay around NT $2000 from Taichung to Cing Jing and vice versa!
Although it was more expensive than the NT $200 plus for the bus ticket, the cab driver added value to us by bringing us to buy Taiwanese pastries. He said that it was definitely better tasting and cheaper than buying them in Taipei and advised us not to buy pastries from touristy places like JiuFen.
He brought us to 一福堂 (Yi Fu Tang) in Taichung which has been existing for more than a century! They provide free sampling and free packing and delivery to any hotel in Taiwan if you purchase more than NT $3000 so that you do not need to lug them around during the entire trip if you are visiting many places. We bought NT $4600 worth of pastries for our friends and family back home!
You can contact our driver Mr Chen (+886 954 076 006) if you are going to Taichung and he does bring people to Kaoshiung, Tainan & Kengting from Taichung.
So we spend one night at Julie’s Garden Cing Jing and their service was really good and friendly.
The Minsu had many cats and dogs and even a swan! They also loan us a hand phone to call them so that they can pick us up from Cing Jing Farm back to the Minsu. The only thing I don’t really like is their toilet which badly needed an upgrade and their bathroom towels were quite thin.
At Cing Jing Farm, I managed to take a photo with this well-coiffed and handsome sheep as many of his sheep friends all had their fur sheared for performances every week, which we felt quite sad to watch them as they don’t resemble sheeps anymore. Again, it was raining and super foggy at Cing Jing farm when we were there.
For the Taipei leg of our trip, I booked a half day tour to Yeliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen with KLOOK at SGD31 per person. Since there were only the two of us, I feel that this is cheaper than booking a cab for half a day. You need to manage your expectations with KLOOK as well, as the driver would only drive you from point A to point B and would not engage in small talk with you or help you take photos, at least ours didn’t.
By the way, do not go to Five Cents Driftwood restaurant because they are permanently closed since MARCH 2017. We went all the way to the restaurant located near Miramar Taipei to find ourselves staring at a dark, dilapidated semblance of a building.
We went to Ikki Japanese restaurant located near our hotel (CityInn Ximending Hotel) because it was ranked high on TripAdvisor. I highly recommended this place for their value for money 8-course lunch set at only NT $698 per person.
For the same quality of food back home, it would definitely have been much more expensive. We couldn’t wait to return to Ikki again the next time we visit Taipei. Again, I didn’t take any photos of the food because I left my camera in the hotel as I thought J was only bringing me to eat beef noodles or pork chop rice downstairs!
Beitou Hot Spring Resort
Another highlight of our trip was to go for a private hot spring experience at Beitou Hot Spring Resort which cost NT $1180 (weekday rate) for 2 people for a 90-minute indulgence. There was even a shower and resting area in the room! We also love the complimentary cake and drink that comes with this package at the hotel café. The cake was really delicious and so pretty to look at!