The next morning, we took the THSR to Taipei 台北. We hadn’t pre-booked our tickets this time, but it was easy to purchase the tickets on the spot at the machine. The ride just takes under 2 hours from Taichung and cost under $30. We ended up purchasing some snacks to enjoy on the train ride and I picked up Chun Cui He 純萃。喝 from 7-Eleven. I was attracted by the pretty bottle, but turns out this has been the hype in many Asian countries. I got the Green Milk Tea but they have various other flavours and it was very creamy and smooth. I wouldn’t say the tea flavour was very strong though. I liked how it was capped, so you didn’t have to finish it all at once.
We arrived at Taipei Main Station which is quite a large station. We ended up booking an Uber to take us to our hotel but taxis in Taipei are also quite reasonably priced.
We arrived at Westgate Hotel which we stayed at the first time we visited Taipei. Back then, the price was actually pretty reasonable but now it costs $160 a night for their smallest room which is called Cozy Room. It has no windows but still features a Queen sized bed.
I was hesitant to stay here because of the price, but the location is extremely convenient being a minute walk away from Ximending Station and the bustling young atmosphere. The hotel itself is also very clean and modern with great service and free breakfast.
When you walk in, the sink and mirror will actually be right in the middle, exposed. It’s a bit weird but works out great to save time when one person is using the bathroom. Even the shower and toilet is separate so it’s a pretty practical design.
The queen sized bed was very comfy and spacious. As you can see on the left, there is a fake window with lights on the inside to make it feel like there’s natural light coming in. Still, we didn’t find the windowless room to be a problem.
The toilet and shower are side by side with their own doors so very time saving when you’re traveling with another guest. No need to wait for the bathroom!
The shower also featured a very nice faucet with strong water pressure. The size of the shower was just right without it being too tiny.
When you walk out of the hotel, you are just steps away from Ximending which is one of our favourite areas to chill. It reminds us of the Shibuya of Japan, with lots of young people, shopping, and street food. As we had visited Taipei recently, we did not do too many touristy things this time around. Instead, we visited spots that we enjoyed last time and some new spots we found.
The last time I visited, I was obsessed with the pineapple cakes from ChiaTe Bakery 佳德糕餅. The bakery is a bit out of the way with not much to do in the area though. It is near Songshan Station so I suggested we take a trip there so I could purchase all my souvenirs. However, as we approached the shop, it had the longest line up ever. Not sure if it was because people were also purchasing some limited edition items for Mid Autumn Festival since the day was approaching. We decided to skip this unfortunately. You can read more about this bakery from my previous visit.
Since we were in the Songshan area, I suggested we check out Polar Cafe which I first found on Instagram. If you know me well, you will know I’m obsessed with polar bears. Well, for all you polar bear lovers out there, you’ve got to check out Polar Cafe when you’re in Taipei. It’s all polar bear themed inside!
I mean, look at this little light on the oustide!
Polar Cafe is a cozy cafe with mostly coffees and some other beverages. The interior is simple but check out their little kitchen area. There are polar bear things everywhere up top! Even their soap dispenser is a polar bear…
I ended up getting a Black Sugar Latte which was $180NTD and paid an extra $80NTD to add the polar bear marshmallow. The drinks here are definitely not cheap at almost $8 CAD for a latte. The marshmallow itself also cost another $3CAD. But if you’re crazy for polar bears like me, then it’s all worth it. Even the sleeve and napkin are so cute!
S got the Mango Slush which was $150NTD, so around $6.50CAD. It was pretty good, but nothing special. But it also came in a super cute cup!
I think the cutest thing is there are polar bear plushies lying around the tables and chairs. And you can enjoy your coffee with one of them! This themed cafe definitely has higher prices, but it’s justified by the amount of thought they put into making the ambiance filled with polar bears! A cute cozy spot to relax for the afternoon for all you polar bear lovers like me.
As we were getting hungry, we decided to head to Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市 for dinner. This is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei and also closer in the city than Shilin Night Market which is another favourite of ours. Just for convenience sake, it made more sense to go to Raohe this time.
It’s no surprise that S’s first snack would be Fried Chicken Cutlet. We found a stall tucked away in the side called Monga 艋舺ㄟ雞排. Turns out it is co-owned by a celebrity host and therefore has many autographs of other celebrities who have visited the stall. They offer a variety of deep fried goods like chicken, mushrooms, and nuggets.
Of course, S got the big Fried Chicken Cutlet that was the size of a face. The chicken was piping hot, so unfortunately we didn’t get a good picture of it. However, you can choose different seasoning flavours as well, but we stuck with the classic salt and pepper. Crispy and juicy!
Feeling the heat, we decided to go for some cold dessert which had sit in space. This dessert shop featured mainly shaved ice with pretty much any topping you could think of.
Of course, we had to go with the signature Mango Shaved Ice. So much mango with condensed milk and syrup on top of a pile of fluffy ice. A great way to quench your thirst!
Before we headed out, I noticed a bun stall at the entrance of the night market with a long line up. Of course I had to see what was going on! Turns out it was Fu Zhou Shi Zu Pepper Buns 福州世祖胡椒饼. They are translated as Black Pepper Buns. The vendor prepares the buns on the spot, by filling the dough with minced meat, scallions, sugar, soy sauce, and black pepper. Then they are baked in front of you in these well looking ovens. It’s pretty cool because they just stick the bun on the side of the well and it cooks! The line moved quite quickly as once a batch was ready, a bunch were ready to be served. We ended up taking this back to the hotel to enjoy as I was already quite full and these were still piping hot and absolutely delicious! It’s a bit spicy because of how much black pepper they put but the bottom is very crispy because of how they cook it. A must try at Raohe Night Market!