Singapore & Taiwan Trip (Day 9)

At Westgate Hotel, we had complimentary breakfast included. So on most mornings, we took advantage of their buffet breakfast. The dining area is very nice and they had quite a variety of choices. Of course S had to get his chicken steak!

For myself, I got a bit of everything. There’s really something for everyone. Plus I love their fresh juices.

After breakfast, we headed to Ximen MRT Station. Since it was our first day we had to purchase our transit pass. You can choose to get the Taipei Pass which gives you unlimited rides for a specified number of days or the EasyCard which is their touch and go card which offers some discounts compared to a single fare and is re-loadable. Simply purchase the card at a machine at almost any station and your initial purchase will require a NT$100 deposit. You can get this deposit back at the end with a small transaction service charge at the service booths.

We chose the EasyCard since we thought it would be a better deal for us based on our itinerary. I highly recommend getting one since you can use it on buses too. The MRTs are very clean and there is English on all maps. Super easy to use!

We took the MRT from Ximen to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station. Follow the signs and you’ll find yourself in front of the beautiful National Theater.

Continue walking and you will find the Liberty Square and also the National Concert Hall. It was burning hot this day so remember to bring your UV umbrellas and look super touristy! Liberty Square recalls the important historical role it played in Taiwan’s transition from one-party rule to modern democracy and is now used for mass gatherings.

Take the long walk down across Liberty Square and you will find yourself at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. The memorial hall was made in memory of Chiang Kai-Shek, the former president of the Republic of China who ruled Taiwan. There are 89 steps to represent the age at the time of his death.

When you get to the top, you will see a large statue of Chiang Kai-Shek. The ground level has a museum with history of his life as well as Taiwan and China history.

Be sure to plan your time when visiting because the highly viewed change of the guards occurs at the hour from 10am to 4pm daily. Pretty neat to see them do the performance but we found it a bit too long.

After watching the guard change performance, we took the MRT to Taipei 101 / World Trade Centre station. Upon exiting, you will see the grand Taipei 101! The building was the tallest building in the world in 2004 to 2009!

When you enter the building, you will find that there are many shops and restaurants. It basically houses a shopping mall now in addition to many offices. We decided to purchase tickets to go up on the observatory. This costs NT$500 for adults.

You will then be put in an elevator with other visitors and within 37 seconds, you will go from the 5th floor to the 89th floor. It is the fastest elevator in the world!

The view from the observatory on the 89th floor is breathtaking. It offers a 360 degree view of Taipei and I highly recommend checking it out. The 89th floor is located 382 meters above ground and you can literally see every direction of the skyline.

Take the stairs down to the 88th floor and you will find the world’s largest and heaviest wind damper as well as the cute damper baby. This is the structure that stabilizes the tower to prevent high winds and earthquakes from toppling the building. On the 88th floor, there is also a gallery of Taiwan’s carved coral and gemstones. We weren’t too interested in that though.

Now climb the stairs again and head up to the 91st floor. This is the highest floor they allow you to go up.

This is the tip of the skyscraper and you’ll exit to an outdoor observatory deck where you’ll feel the wind and again enjoy a beautiful view with no glass in front but rather metal bars. As it was quite windy that day, they blocked the area so we were only able to see around 180 degrees.

After the view, we headed down to the shopping mall and went to Din Tai Fung. Of course a trip to Taiwan wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the famous Din Tai Fung. The Taipei 101 location is super busy because of the tourists so expect a long wait. We ended up waiting almost an hour to get a seat for a late lunch.

The XLB restaurant has become such a tourist spot that they even have signs telling you where there’s good photo opportunities…like this one here where you can watch the chefs make your XLBs.

I don’t recall seeing this at the other locations, but they have their rice vinegar and brewed soy sauce. The server taught us how much to pour of each for the best taste.

They also provide you with a “how to eat xiao long bao card” for first-timers.

We ended up sharing a large bottle of Taiwanese beer. Mmmm cold and refreshing after a hot day.

We always get the same things here but they’re so good to not! So we got the Steamed Shrimp and Pork Shao Mai.

And their world famous Pork XiaoLongBao.

We also decided to try their Braised Beef Noodle Soup. I didn’t think this was as good as the one from Tao Yuan Beef Noodles though.

We also got the Pork Buns which was something new we tried. Not bad.

After lunch, we decided to head to the Tamsui district since we were way ahead of our itinerary. The area is also known as Danshui sometimes.We hopped on the MRT towards Tamsui station which is quite far (around 30 minutes or so). When you get off the station, you will need to transfer onto a bus (either Red26, 836, or 857) if you want to see the Fisherman’s Wharf which I highly recommend. You can use your EasyCard on the bus but it’s quite a ride especially if you don’t get a seat. I highly recommend going to see the sunset because it is absolutely beautiful. Take the bus to the last stop, where almost everyone else will get off, and you’ll see beautiful boats here.

One of the most famous attractions is the Lover Bridge of Tamsui. As the sun was starting to set, we decided to run to the bridge before we missed it. Luckily, we got the sunset and it was gorgeous. The bridge itself is beautiful and makes a romantic date night.

The Fisherman’s Wharf is absolutely beautiful and well worth the trip. There are also many seafood restaurants here which we unfortunately did not try.

Cross the bridge which is a short walk and you’ll find the beautiful love sign where couples took pictures. So romantic! Apparently this is also where Jay Chou filmed a video. Apparently at night, the bridge lights up with rainbow colours.

After the sunset, we wanted to check out Tamsui Old Street. I believe there is a bus that takes you closer to here, but we weren’t sure so we took it back to the Tamsui MRT station and took a short walk to this street. This pedestrian shopping area has a ton of restaurants, street food vendors, and souvenir shops.

We found a vendor selling these jumbo ice cream and could not resist! I’ve seen so many pictures of these ice creams!

When they say it’s tall, they’re not kidding! We got the mix of Matcha and Mango which was so good! Surprisingly, the ice cream didn’t taste cheap. Definitely quenched our thirst and is great to share.

After Tamsui Old Street, we continued wandering into the coastal town and found many more shops. Great place to walk around nice as it’s so laid back and a nice getaway from the busy streets in Taipei’s city centre.

At night, we decided to head to Shida Night Market as we thought restaurants in Tamsui would be probably on the pricier side. You can get here by taking the MRT to Taipower Building Station and taking Exit 3. We got a little lost but eventually found a bunch of shops and food vendors. We settled with Chicken Kings which appeared to be the only stall selling fried chicken.

Of course S got the Fried Chicken Steak. Not bad but we later found better ones.

For myself, I ate at this stall.

I got the famous Fried Stinky Tofu. It did smell, but the taste was fantastic. I love how the outside is super crispy and they poke holes in the tofu so that the sauce is absorbed in. It comes with a side of pickled cabbage and chili sauce. So good!

We also ordered from the Drink Monopoly Shop. Be warned that unlike in Singapore, most of the menus are in Chinese in Taiwan. Vendors are still friendly so it shouldn’t be a problem asking even though there may be a communication barrier.

We got a simple Milk Tea with Pearls for only NT$40. Such a deal for bubble tea in Taiwan! Probably not the best in town, but pretty good in our standards.

Shida Night Market actually didn’t’ have as much food as we’d hope for compared to many of the other night markets. However, it had tons of cheap and stylish clothes. This is the trendy neighbourhood since it is near the National Taiwan Normal University or Shida University for short. Great for the ladies who love to shop.

After dinner at the night market, we headed back to Ximending to walk around. Always so much going on here!

We also scored a box of Chicken flavoured Lays Chips. As a foodie, I’m always trying new flavours from different countries! Had some munchies and played some games in our hotel room and called it a night!

Details:

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall: Take the Yellow or Green Line to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall Station: No. 21, Zhongshan S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan β€’ 10048

Taipei 101: Take the Red Line to Taipei 101 / World Trade Centre Station: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

Din Tai Fung @ Taipei 101: B1 at Taipei 101

Tamsui Fishermen Wharf and Lover’s Bridge: Take the Red Line to Tamsui/Damshui Station (last station) and transfer onto a bus (either Red26, 836, or 857) and get off at the last stop, Fisherman’s Wharf:

Tamsui Old Street: Turn left when you get off Tamsui station and it’s a short walk: Section 1, Zhongzheng Rd, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 251

Shida Night Market: Take the Green Line to Taipower Building Station (Exit 3) and walk 5-10 minuntes along Shida Rd: Lane 44, Taishun St, Taipei City, Taiwan 106

 

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