I was particularly intrigued about Taiwan and wanted to do something special for our wedding anniversary. Since I was going to spend almost a month away from work on holidays, we had to keep this trip short. There is lot to do in Taiwan especially if you drive a few kms in either directions of Taipei. We kept our trip restricted to surrounding areas.
Day 1: National Taipei University of Technology > Sun Yat Sen Memorial
There are multiple ways to commute in Taipei. If you are on a budget trip, the MRT is extremely convenient. Since we were short on time, we wanted to maximize our experience and hence took taxis for commute. After a delicious lunch at road side restaurant, we went out to see the National University of Technology. If you are not a tech buff, you can skip visiting the University.
After spending about 45 mins at the temple, we reached Sun Yat Sen Memorial. It is a massive memorial to the Republic of China’s National Father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and was completed in 1972. It attracts a lot of tourists and locals who swarm the place for short outings and family gatherings.
It is also one of the great places to see changing of the guards. The gardens look splendid with variety of colors in the mix. We could easily spend about 1.5 hours at the memorial.
Day 2: Yamingshan National Park > National Palace Museum > Longshan Temple > Dalongdong Baoan Temple > Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
We started our day with a visit to Yamingshan National Park. It is a beautiful trek to the memorial and can take anywhere from 30 mins to an hour depending on your number of stops. Once you reach at the memorial, you can enjoy beautiful views around the memorial. There is also a restaurant. We took a short break and treated ourselves with coffee. Since we were short of time we booked a taxi which picked us up from the memorial. If you have more time for your trip, you could easily spend half a day at this National Park.
Our next step was at National Palace Museum. We could potentially spend half a day here. There was so much to see. The museum gets crowded in afternoon when it gets hot outside especially during summers as we went in July. There is a café inside if you are craving for a quite bite or coffee. The museum has over 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese imperial artifacts, making it one of the largest of its type in the world. We took an audio guide and got a great overview of the museum.
It was now time for a religious tour of Taipei. We reached Longshan Temple. It is one of the oldest religions religious temples for Chinese and has intricate designs carved on the walls. The temple glows like a giant golden structure in the evenings and is a sacred place of worship.
There is another famous temple which you must see, Dalongdong Baoan Temple & Taipei Confucious Temple. I loved the compound and enjoyed observing the religious practices. The last stop for the day was at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. It is a famous national monument and tourist attraction. We did not spend too much time here as we overspent our time in the museum. It would be best if you can carve about 45 mins for walking around in the campus.
If you still have energy left and are a shopaholic, visiting night market at Shilin or Ximen could definitely do the trick.
Day 3: Yehliu Geopark > Jiufen > Shifen > Golden Waterfall
Our 3rd day was very different than our first 2 days. This is what makes Taipei very unique. The transition from culture & history to natural landscape was very dramatic. We took a day tour through Klook and thoroughly enjoyed the roadtrip. The northeastern coast of Taiwan looks amazingly calm in the morning. After an hour and a half, we reached Yehliu Geopark. I had seen the pictures and I couldn’t contain the excitement as the scenery started to unfold in front of my eyes. The landscape is artistically carved by the sea to form variety of shapes such as piano, shoe, queen’s head, princess head etc. from mushroom rocks. Queen’s Head is by far the most famous formation. It is being said that since erosion is happening at a faster rate, the head might collapse one day. We felt privileged to be able to see it.
It was hard to leave this place. I could have easily spent another 2 hours to just admire these beautiful creations of nature. It almost felt like I was on another planet. One thing to note is take the earliest possible tour or coach so that you can enjoy the place by yourself before the crowd hits at 10AM.
After a great morning, we were all set to wander around the Jiufen hill village. The streets are so narrow in the old street and is flooded with variety of eateries of all kinds.
We enjoyed our lunch break and couldn’t wait to set off a colorful glowing lantern along a Shifen railway. Shifen railway was extremely crowded and the whole lantern experience looks to be very commercialized. Regardless, I enjoyed writing our messages on the lantern and setting it off. Though as I reflect now, it does cause pollution as it might be polluting the nearby waterbodies. For us, the next stop, Golden Waterfall was a disappointment as it was low rain period. The waterfall sight didn’t really do justify to how it is meant to be. Another natural marvel is the scenic view of Ying Yang see as you cross the city of Taipei. It was incredible to watch such a starkling difference in the shades of water.
Day 4: Thousand Island Lake > Pinglin Tea Plantation
We spent our last day for a roadtrip to Thousand Island lake. If I were to do this day again, I would rather do Yamingshan National Park and Elephant Mountain trail instead of this day trip for the simple reason that I have seen too many tea plantations and really nice ones. However, if you have never seen one before, it is a good consideration.
I loved the views of the enchanting Thousand Island Lake, also known as Qiandao Lake. The green hills surrounding the lake make it look as if it’s home to numerous floating miniature islands.
We stopped by at Pinglin Tea Museum where we indulged and saw artistic way of brewing perfect pot tea.
While it was a short trip, we maximized our quality time together as a couple. The variety of experience we could pack within the short 3 days is only scratching the surface. There is so much more to do in Taiwan and we hope to visit again!