3 years ago, we took our wedding photos in Taiwan and did not have much time to explore Taipei and beyond, so this time round, we were glad we went to more places and brought home many fond memories.
May is really not a good month to visit because it rained EVERYDAY when we were in Taiwan! I need to psyche myself every day to just carry on with my travel plans and enjoy the trip despite the weather since we were on a holiday. August is not good either due to the typhoon season. September and October would be pretty good months to visit.
We all know that Taiwanese people are really warm and helpful and I want to share some of my personal experience with you here. The moment we touched down in Singapore and arrive at our block after taking a cab from the airport, J remarked that if we were still in Taiwan, the taxi driver would definitely helped us with our luggage. Our Comfort cab driver just waited in his seat comfortably while we unload our own luggage.
In Taiwan, the staff of Hotel 53 Taichung would personally shelter us with an umbrella to our taxi waiting outside and also walk us to the hotel lift and then gave us a 90 degrees bow as we enter the lift. These were some fine examples of the level of service and hospitality we received from the Taiwanese service staff.
In this post, I will share travel tips, driver contacts, hotel recommendations and how I get to some places since this was a free and easy trip that took me months to plan. We had some of the best gastronomic experience at restaurants in Hualien and Taipei at such affordable prices that would definitely have cost us much more for the same quality back home.
Hualien & Hotel Bayview
So upon our arrival at Taoyuan Airport, we went to collect the Wifi Egg which I have booked beforehand with KLOOK that only cost around $23 for 8 days of usage for the both of us. We then took a bus to Taipei Train Station to catch the TRA train to Hualien, but unfortunately, we missed our Puyuma train as I didn’t know the bus ride from the airport would take so long (around 1.5 hours).
We managed to change the timing to a later one but this train would take 3 hours plus instead of 2 hours and we need to stand as there were no allocated seats for us unless we buy brand new tickets!
Prior to this, I had informed the Hotel Bayview staff to fetch us at Hualien station at 5 pm but now our ETA was around 9 pm! I hurriedly email the hotel and Juan promptly replied that they would send someone to fetch us at 9 pm.
I was really thankful to choose Hotel Bayview as our accommodation for the first 2 nights as the hotel is strategically located close to Chishingtan Beach where we enjoyed strolling and searching for pretty heart-shaped pebbles at the beach.
The hotel is also located near Mu Ming Restaurant which I highly recommended that you go when you visit Hualien because they serve such amazing omakase aboriginal food! Juan gladly helped me make a 7 pm reservation at NT $500 per person for a 10-course dinner. Sorry, I was too busy eating and enjoying the dinner with J that I did not take any photos.
By the way, do not stay at Hua Lien Bay Minsu. This was the first place I booked but after waiting for so many months, the owner of the Minsu didn’t even bother to reply my emails about whether he could pick me up at the train station, a stark contrast to the prompt service we received at Hotel Bayview.
I reinstalled WeChat app because a lot of Taiwanese people uses the app and I used it to communicate with my Hualien driver, Jason (Contact: +886 963 800 617).
Jason speaks quite okay English and even volunteers to help us take nice photos but we find his charges a little high. When we chatted with him, we found out that he was quite an athlete in the past as he used to participate in cycling marathons across Taiwan.
For NT $3000, he brought us to Taroko Gorge, Xiazhuilu Trail, Shakadang Trail, Swallow Grotto, Cimu Bridge, Huliu suspension bridge and Lushui Trail. However, he charged us an additional NT $500 just to visit the Qingshui Cliff simply because it’s a different route from the Taroko Gorge! If you find NT $3500 is still reasonable for a 9-5 pm day tour, you can contact Jason.
This concludes part I of my Taiwan Travelogue. For Taichung, Cing Jing and Taipei recommendations, please read Part II.