10 days in Taiwan this March

We did stop at the Sugar Factory there, but it was a weekday, so nothing going on. Didn’t go to the beach, we probably should have? In general I love Taitung and Hualien, especially the coast of Taitung, so recommending Dulan is fine in my book, though it strikes me more as a place for people who live in Taiwan, not for tourists who want to go on a few-day round-the-island trip.

We did eat at a very nice restaurant last time we were in Taitung, the one with ship-shaped minsu. Not easy to get there without your own ride, though, and you need to make reservations in advance.

kenalice0110.pixnet.net/blog/pos … 9%E7%90%86

Fair enough about Dulan for a short trip but what think people aren’t recognizing is that the emergence of little backpackers/traveller hubs like Dulan have dramatically changed travel in Taiwan (Dulan has for example made Taitung superflous as a base). Before you had a few bases: Taipei, Hualien, Kenting, Taitung, Tainan etc.

Now with new transport options, including the tourism shuttle buses, and of course greater food and accom options, places like Jiufen, Wai’ao, Jiaoxi, Xincheng (just at the base of Taroko), and Dulan have created a string of great little towns you can use as you travel down the coast.

So maybe Dulan isn’t where you necessarily want to go but if you want a break from the long trip from Taroko to Tainan, or just a base to explore Taitung County, it’s a great option.

Don’t get why you guys are so harsh on Alishan. Who cares about the village and the tourists, you still got the scenery, the trees, the cool refreshing air, the train, the tea plantations, the sunrise/sunset, etc.

And then you suggest Dulan of all places to visit on a 10-day trip? :unamused:[/quote]

I love the Alishan area, which I visit frequently because some of Taiwan’s best cycling rolls through there. But the good parts of Alishan like Laiji, Shanmei, Dabang, and even Tatajia are basically inaccessible if you don’t have your own transportation and probably wouldn’t be easy to find or experience for visitors. But the highway up from Chiayi and Alishan village are pretty awful. I do recommend the train though and Fenqihu and the area are OK.

We did stop at the Sugar Factory there, but it was a weekday, so nothing going on. Didn’t go to the beach, we probably should have? In general I love Taidong and Hualian, especially the coast of Taidong, so recommending Dulan is fine in my book, though it strikes me more as a place for people who live in Taiwan, not for tourists who want to go on a few-day round-the-island trip.

We did eat at a very nice restaurant last time we were in Taidong, the one with ship-shaped minsu. Not easy to get there without your own ride, though, and you need to make reservations in advance.

kenalice0110.pixnet.net/blog/pos … 9%E7%90%86[/quote]

The beach in Dulan itself is nothing special but pleasant. The beach at Jinzun about 8 km north is spectacular. Access it from the road just south of the Visitor’s Center. If you just ‘stop at the sugar factory’ you will completely miss what Dulan is all about. You need to spend some time there. I think many visitors would enjoy a couple of days there to experience another side of Taiwan. The area above town (especially just to the south) is very beautiful.

There is also an eclectic selection of food some of which is quite good. The Vietnamese resto at the end of town is excellent and cheap. Pitstop serves expensive but tasty fusion Indian food, the Japanese place at the sugar refinery (to the right) is a great place to hang and has some good food. There is a good Thai restaurant nearby run by a Thai lady.

Three days in Taipei is probably not a bad idea. The YMS/Beitou suggestion is a very good one. Although there are fancier options, I highly recommend a night at Whispering Pines. The food is very good as well there so be sure to order in room.

Another day can be spent in central west Taipei. Hangout at Cafe Libre near Yongkang St, and explore the area (including the Formosa Vintage Museum Cafe) before going on to CKS Memorial and the 228 Museum followed by a couple of drinks in the Red Theater area plus a stroll around Ximending and maybe a meal at Yitiaolong, Daguanyuan, Yaroubian (best goose in Taipei), or beef noodles on Taoyuan St.

[quote=“Mucha Man”]Hannes have you been to Dulan? It’s Taiwan’s only real arty hippy village, a place with a real alternative culture based on carving, music and aboriginal heritage. It’s organically growing not dictated by the ministry of culture. It’s unique and set in a beautiful area, with a good local beach, and has a good range of food and accomodation. It’s also English friendly and becoming a centre for the emerging surf scene.

It’s a place to meet cool Taiwanese and foreigners, immerse yourself in natural beauty, and hang out in a genuine community.

Feiren, I would suggest 3 days in Taipei. One day should involve a morning hike in Yangming Shan followed by hot springs in Beitou. There’s a shuttle bus between the two. Get off at the Beitou Folk Art Museum. Lovely Japanese era teahouse, and hot springs next door with beautiful views.

Since the couple are interested in culture I suggest a puppet show or Taiwanese opera at the theatre on Dihua Street.

Tamsui is also worth a visit. Get off at Hongshulin MRT station and walk there along paths through the mangroves. Outstanding natural views if the emerald Guanyinshan across the river.[/quote]

Yongkang Street for sure. The Formosan Vintage Cafe is excellent. For food James Kitchen is highly recommended for top end Taiwanese dishes in a quaint homey wood house.

Or Yongkang Beef Noodes. I prefer these to Taoyuan Street.

Oh and in Ximending visit Zhongshan Hall. Site of the Japanese surrender and also you can have a drink on a terrace where Chiang Kai Shek used to deliver speeches to the masses. Much more interesting than CKS Hall.

Oh anc Huashan 1914, a retro chic venue for restaurants, bars and performance space set in an old sake distillery.

I do think that the 228 park is a nice little park and easy to get to from either Ximending or Taipei Railway Station, but instead of the 228 museum I would rather go to the Taiwan Museum at the other end of the park, unless you are really interested in local history and politics. Same goes for CKS Memorial Hall (well at least that one is big and impressive and you can see guards standing there motionless and doing their silly routines).

If you go to Tamsui, you can take a boat to the other side of the river (Bali) and on to the Fishermen’s Wharf where the sunset is really nice on good days. There’s also a hotel with a tall tower the elevator of which might malfunction, keeping you up there for hours (no extra cost for the additional time :wink: ). The views are great.

Yangmingshan can be crowded during the flower season, especially on weekends (went there today, and our small bus was packed with people going to see the cherry blossoms), but it’s really nice up there, so different from the city, and you can see those interesting sulphur pits too.

If you like going for a walk/hike up steep stairs and enjoy a grand view of Taipei’s east district with Taipei 101 in full view, consider going to Elephant Mountain. It’s really easy to get there now from the new MRT Xiangshan Station.

[quote=“Feiren”]I’m sorry to hear that Petrichor had a frustrating experience at Taroko navigating the transportation system. It can be tough to get information on the ground. But I think if you are prepared with some basic information in advance, you can enjoy this beautiful area easily using public transportation or a bicycle.

Here is a page on the park website has all of the information you need in English for the public bus and the tourist shuttle bus (download the excel file).

It clearly explains that the drivers do not make change. This is the case on every bus I have ever taken in Taiwan. Yes, you need to keep your ticket for when you get off. This is the rule on all buses in Taiwan outside the city. If you lose your ticket, apologize profusely and the driver will rarely if ever make you pay again.

According to the schedule, you can only by tickets for the shuttle bus at Hualian Railway station. This seems incredibly stupid. So just take the regular public bus.

It is much more convenient to get off in Xincheng (Taroko) near the gorge rather than 20km away in Hualian.

Consider renting a bicycle from the Giant shop next to the station. Ride up early in the morning (6am) before the tour buses arrive.

Lukang is similar to Tainan. I would choose Tainan. Consider doing the City Paddle with Barking Deer. barking-deer.com/citypaddle.htm

The town of Alishan is a grotesque tourist trap. Avoid at all costs. However, if the Alishan train is running up to Fenqihu, it would be well worth taking. It is one of the most spectacular train rides in the world. Fenqihu is touristy but pleasant compared to Alishan.

You should also consider a stop in Dulan near Taidong for chilled beach vibe. Saturday nights are especially good for the music at the Sugar Factory Cafe. Tiehua Music Village in Taidong is also good. Check the Friday Taipei Times for listings.

You could also consider going to beautiful Orchid Island.

You should really also go to one of Taiwan’s many hot springs. Beitou (Taipei) is very accessible. Zhiben in Taidong and Guanziling in Tainan are also possibilities. There’s an incredible amount to to do in Taiwan. I’d suggest a day in Taipei, followed by a couple of days in Taroko, a couple of days in Dulan, two in Tainan and a side trip for a hot spring.[/quote]

Sorry but maybe the point of my post wasn’t clear. Our experience of the tourist bus in Taroko was fine because I knew the drivers don’t give change, I could speak to and understand them, and I’m anal about getting to bus stops way too early. My point was that for a non-Chinese speaking tourist from a developed country the service still has a way to go, particularly in the lack of sticking to the timetable, which risks leaving tourists stranded if they think the bus is going to arrive at the time stated.

I loved Taroko Gorge as a place, but it also made me feel really sad because the opportunity to really impress foreign visitors with efficient, reliable, impressive services was almost completely wasted. Taroko must be in the top three most-visited places yet what does it showcase? Tianxiang has a few shops with sausages barbecuing on the pavement, and I think one souvenir shop with 3 things to buy in it. And let’s not forget the almost impossible to locate tourist information office containing a shelf with a few maps on it. What foreign businessman is going to think Taiwan is a great place to invest after visiting Taroko? It caters to Taiwanese expectations and interests, but it doesn’t go much further than that. /rant

[quote=“Petrichor”]Sorry but maybe the point of my post wasn’t clear. Our experience of the tourist bus in Taroko was fine because I knew the drivers don’t give change, I could speak to and understand them, and I’m anal about getting to bus stops way too early. My point was that for a non-Chinese speaking tourist from a developed country the service still has a way to go, particularly in the lack of sticking to the timetable, which risks leaving tourists stranded if they think the bus is going to arrive at the time stated.

I loved Taroko Gorge as a place, but it also made me feel really sad because the opportunity to really impress foreign visitors with efficient, reliable, impressive services was almost completely wasted. Taroko must be in the top three most-visited places yet what does it showcase? Tianxiang has a few shops with sausages barbecuing on the pavement, and I think one souvenir shop with 3 things to buy in it. And let’s not forget the almost impossible to locate tourist information office containing a shelf with a few maps on it. What foreign businessman is going to think Taiwan is a great place to invest after visiting Taroko? It caters to Taiwanese expectations and interests, but it doesn’t go much further than that. /rant[/quote]

We’ve been testing many of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus routes over the past 2 years and for the most part the experience has been good. We’ve met some nice and helpful drivers and also used some fairly new and comfortable buses. The service can be quite different because the bus operators (local bus companies) are different for different routes. I think its great that there is a Taroko shuttle bus at all, because before it was much more difficult to get there by public transport.

As to the service at Taroko, you have to understand that it is a national park and not a national scenic area, which is a big difference. The national park’s job in Taiwan is to protect the environment and to keep the area as intact as possible whereas the national scenic area’s job is to develop tourism. So, the folks at Taroko are not really to be blamed for not providing a good service, cause technically that’s not their job. Last time we went there I ask for good hiking maps of the area, and only after lot of persuasion they opened a drawer reluctantly gave me the good stuff. :slight_smile:

I do think that the 228 park is a nice little park and easy to get to from either Ximending or Taipei Railway Station, but instead of the 228 museum I would rather go to the Taiwan Museum at the other end of the park…[/quote]

I’m into Taiwan’s history but found the 228 Museum pretty worthless. Yes, the National Taiwan Museum (both the original part and the new annex in the old bank building) is quite good.

Thanks to all of you, I’ve come up with an itinerary for our trip. Owing to the availability of lodging in Taroko, we’ll be spending more nights in TPE than you all suggested, but I’m sure we can use it as a base and make some interesting day trips from there based on your suggestions. And from what I’ve heard, I could probably spend a whole day in the National Museum.

Here’s what it looks like at this point:

Saturday, arrive TPE late afternoon
Sunday through Wednesday, TPE and vicinity. I’m thinking a couple of days focused on the city, and a couple of days of side trips depending on weather.
Day trip options–some, not all: Yangmingshan, Pingxi Branch Rail Line & Sandiaoling waterfall trail, Sansia & the Tzushr temple (if we can bike there), Jiufen & Jinguashi (worth it?), hike part of the Caoling Historic Trail (may be too far afield for a day trip)
Thursday, train to Taroko. Thursday and Friday nights at Leader Village Hotel
Saturday, train to Yuli. Saturday and Sunday nights at Wisdom House Homestay. Bike to Antung hot springs Saturday, visit Walami trail Sunday.
Monday, train to Tainan, as early as possible to maximize time in Tainan. (Anybody have specific advice about the train in this area? I’ve been having a little difficulty finding schedules.) Monday night in Tainan.
Tuesday, city paddle with Barking Deer in the morning; see more of Tainan for the rest of the day. HSR to TPE international airport Tuesday evening for an early morning flight on Wednesday.

We were torn between Dulan and Yuli, but my husband’s not a beach guy so we opted for the Rift Valley based on the poetic descriptions in LP.

Thanks again for all your help, and please chime in if you’ve got any reactions to what I’ve outlined. (I feel like I should take you all out for a drink!)

Jiufen is quite charming - and worth a few hours! On my second trip to Taiwan I plan to stay there in a bed and breakfast

[quote=“hannes”][quote=“Petrichor”]Sorry but maybe the point of my post wasn’t clear. Our experience of the tourist bus in Taroko was fine because I knew the drivers don’t give change, I could speak to and understand them, and I’m anal about getting to bus stops way too early. My point was that for a non-Chinese speaking tourist from a developed country the service still has a way to go, particularly in the lack of sticking to the timetable, which risks leaving tourists stranded if they think the bus is going to arrive at the time stated.

I loved Taroko Gorge as a place, but it also made me feel really sad because the opportunity to really impress foreign visitors with efficient, reliable, impressive services was almost completely wasted. Taroko must be in the top three most-visited places yet what does it showcase? Tianxiang has a few shops with sausages barbecuing on the pavement, and I think one souvenir shop with 3 things to buy in it. And let’s not forget the almost impossible to locate tourist information office containing a shelf with a few maps on it. What foreign businessman is going to think Taiwan is a great place to invest after visiting Taroko? It caters to Taiwanese expectations and interests, but it doesn’t go much further than that. /rant[/quote]

We’ve been testing many of the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle bus routes over the past 2 years and for the most part the experience has been good. We’ve met some nice and helpful drivers and also used some fairly new and comfortable buses. The service can be quite different because the bus operators (local bus companies) are different for different routes. I think its great that there is a Taroko shuttle bus at all, because before it was much more difficult to get there by public transport.

As to the service at Taroko, you have to understand that it is a national park and not a national scenic area, which is a big difference. The national park’s job in Taiwan is to protect the environment and to keep the area as intact as possible whereas the national scenic area’s job is to develop tourism. So, the folks at Taroko are not really to be blamed for not providing a good service, cause technically that’s not their job. Last time we went there I ask for good hiking maps of the area, and only after lot of persuasion they opened a drawer reluctantly gave me the good stuff. :slight_smile:[/quote]

I wasn’t blaming the folks at Taroko, Hannes. Everyone was lovely to us on a one-to-one basis, as has nearly always been my experience in Taiwan. The OP is a non-Chinese speaking (I think) visitor from a developed country, so I was thinking about visiting Taroko from that perspective, and from the wider perspective of Taroko’s role in representing Taiwan to foreigners.

Back to OP - your itinerary looks good to me, though I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment on your travels down south. The Leader Village will pick you up from Xincheng station if you book ahead. Another place around Taipei to consider is Wulai. There’s a regular bus from Xindian station, and a tourist train up to the hot springs hotels area (haven’t tried any of them). The train doesn’t run some days, Tuesdays in my experience, but taxis can take you up or you can walk it. Then past the waterfall and the village there’s a beautiful national park. This website has plenty of useful, hands on information on hiking in Taiwan: taiwandiscovery.wordpress.com/

I think it’s worth it, though Jiufen is swamped with tourists. If you have a little more time take the bus down to the coast from Jinguashi to Shuinandong and further to Bitou Cape, there is a really nice and scenic trail up there.

If you only want to walk part of it, take the train to the small stop Dali at the coast and walk from there, great views of the ocean (even better than Bitou Cape).

We are going there next month. Anyone has recommondations for places to stay and visit?

[quote=“alanyara”]Thanks to all of you, I’ve come up with an itinerary for our trip. Owing to the availability of lodging in Taroko, we’ll be spending more nights in TPE than you all suggested, but I’m sure we can use it as a base and make some interesting day trips from there based on your suggestions. And from what I’ve heard, I could probably spend a whole day in the National Museum.
[/quote]

You can but be prepared for crowds. I would say a morning there combined with a hike in the afternoon on YMS. You could take a taxi from the Palace Museum up to Fengguikou and then hike over to Qixingshan. There is a public hot spring there and a bus down.

All of these including the Caoling trail are doable in day trips. The first part of the Caoling trail from Fulong to Dali is nothing special. The second part from Dali to Daxi is spectacular on a clear day. You might want to start from Dali.

You can bike to Sanxia and the Tzushr temple along the bike paths for most of the way. Too far for a Youbike though. Although I like Sanxia and the temple, I would recommend going to Longshan Temple in Taipei. It is even more active and is also in a very interesting area. An alternative is Xingtian Temple. Both are near MRT stops.

The Catholic Church’s hostel and the China Youth Corps hotel are both options if the Leader is booked. They are also cheaper.

The rift valley is very beautiful and well worth exploring on bicycle out of town.

[quote]>

Monday, train to Tainan, as early as possible to maximize time in Tainan. (Anybody have specific advice about the train in this area? I’ve been having a little difficulty finding schedules.) Monday night in Tainan.
Tuesday, city paddle with Barking Deer in the morning; see more of Tainan for the rest of the day. HSR to TPE international airport Tuesday evening for an early morning flight on Wednesday.

We were torn between Dulan and Yuli, but my husband’s not a beach guy so we opted for the Rift Valley based on the poetic descriptions in LP.

Thanks again for all your help, and please chime in if you’ve got any reactions to what I’ve outlined. (I feel like I should take you all out for a drink!)[/quote]

I think this is a great itinerary for this time of year. I might take a day out of Taipei and spend it down south. Better chance of good weather.

-edited-

According to the train schedule, the most direct trains stop at Yuli in the morning (departing at 7:33 and 9:49) and go all the way to Kaohsiung (arriving at 11:30 and 13:29). Connecting trains leave from Kaohsiung to Tainan at noon and 14:00. There are also other trains that connect through Taidong to Kaohsiung and from Kaohsiung to Tainan, it just takes more time.

The best way to see Tainan’s historical downtown area is simply walking around the streets and alleys. Many of the main sights (Confucius Temple, Chihkan Towers, Koxinga Shrine, Wufei Temple) are within easy walking distance of each other. I would also recommend making time to stroll around the alleys and lanes of nearby Anping which has well preserved neighborhoods with interesting traditional architecture.

The Tainan HSR station is far outside of town. The quickest way to reach the HSR station is to take the Shalun train line from the Tainan train station (about a half hour).

The hike across the coastal mountains from Dali to Daxi is spectacular indeed, but it’s about 13km long and you walk a lot of steep stone steps. So, unless you are super fit or you want to spend most of the day up there, I would suggest you just walk to the first or second pavilion you see from the saddle where the Caoling Trail goes down toward Fulong, when you start your hike at Dali. Weather is important, if it’s raining, don’t go there, it can get windy, cold, and slippery. If the sun is out, note that there is not shade up there, save for the pavilions. So chances are it’s either cold and wet or really hot. So you have to pick the right day.

We are going there next month. Anyone has recommondations for places to stay and visit?[/quote]

Wisdom Garden is a lovely guesthouse overlooking the valley. If you want a hot spring guesthouse stay in New Life Hot Spring Resort, which is designed like a wood lodge. If you can splurge go for the double with en suite hot springs. You get your own rock garden style hot spring attached to your room.

The nearby Luntian Recreation Area also has nice spacious duplex style house/cabins for rent.

I stayed at this place in Guanshan and it was quite pleasant. The west side of Guanshan is cute, with lots of old wood houses about.
www.cornerhome.url.tw

Of course hike the Wallami Trail but don’t miss Sixty Stone Mountain. It’s one of Taiwan’s most magical landscapes (just Google and look at the pics; they don’t exaggerate), but you need to drive to the top.

Loshan is a beautiful rice growing valley. The Luye Plateau is also stunning.

If you are heading to Taitung just past Luye turn and cross the river and head down County Rd 197 then 東 45 into the Liji Badlands. More magical landscapes.

Noon is the best time to start a visit as the tour groups go for lunch. Also Saturday night the museum is open till 9pm and all the groups go home after 6pm so you have 3 very free hours. You may want to consider a visit there the first night.

[quote]Here’s what it looks like at this point:

Saturday, arrive TPE late afternoon
Sunday through Wednesday, TPE and vicinity. I’m thinking a couple of days focused on the city, and a couple of days of side trips depending on weather.
Day trip options–some, not all: Yangming Shan, Pingxi Branch Rail Line & Sandiaoling waterfall trail, Sanxia & the Tzushr temple (if we can bike there), [/quote]

You can’t bike along the river paths all the way there and it would be complicated to find your way after the paths end. Also, if you are interested in art and temples Taipei temples are superlative. Bao’an is the best showcase of southern temple design and decorative arts. The next door Confucian Temple is also beautiful being designed by a famous Fujian master carver/architect in the 1920s. Some of the ceramic decorative reliefs are also made by Hong Kunfu, one of the masters of cochin pottery in the ealry 20th century.

At Bao’an Temple also look for Hong’s powerful ceramic cochin dragon on the right of the main shrine. And the 36 wood carvings of celestial gods in the main shrine are also masterpieces. The Musee d’Orsay once asked to take them for display in Paris.

Finally, visit the Xiahai Temple (tpecitygod.org/en-about-xia-hai01.html)on Dihua Street and the nearby cafes and shops. The old street has some new life in it these days.

If you visit Longshan, Baoan, the Confucian and Xiahai temples you will have seen some of the best southern style temples, and best examples of the decorative arts in Taiwan (or anywhere for that matter).

Jiufen and Jinguashi are very worth visiting. I can recommend some good places to stay if you want. The place in the current LP is a bit inaccessible if you don’t have a car.

Caoling Trail. Outstanding but a full day and a bit tricky getting there from the train station in Fulong. If you do the Sandiaoling waterfall trail, Walami, Yangmingshan, and hike in Taroko you can skip this.

[quote]

Thursday, train to Taroko. Thursday and Friday nights at Leader Village Hotel
Saturday, train to Yuli. Saturday and Sunday nights at Wisdom House Homestay. Bike to Antung hot springs Saturday, visit Walami trail Sunday.[/quote]

All good. If you want to stay at a hot spring I suggest the one I mention above. Note that this is up a hill so a little steep for biking. Oh and you certainly don’t need a full day at Antong. It’s a small area. Consider instead renting better bikes at the Giant shop and riding down to Loshan and Chihshang and then back up to Antong for hot springs.

[quote]

Monday, train to Tainan, as early as possible to maximize time in Tainan. (Anybody have specific advice about the train in this area? I’ve been having a little difficulty finding schedules.) Monday night in Tainan.
Tuesday, city paddle with Barking Deer in the morning; see more of Tainan for the rest of the day. HSR to TPE international airport Tuesday evening for an early morning flight on Wednesday.

We were torn between Dulan and Yuli, but my husband’s not a beach guy so we opted for the Rift Valley based on the poetic descriptions in LP.[/quote]

Yes, for a day or two Yuli is better.

We are going there next month. Anyone has recommondations for places to stay and visit?[/quote]

Wisdom Garden is a lovely guesthouse overlooking the valley. If you want a hot spring guesthouse stay in New Life Hot Spring Resort, which is designed like a wood lodge. If you can splurge go for the double with en suite hot springs. You get your own rock garden style hot spring attached to your room.

The nearby Luntian Recreation Area also has nice spacious duplex style house/cabins for rent.

I stayed at this place in Guanshan and it was quite pleasant. The west side of Guanshan is cute, with lots of old wood houses about.
cornerhome.url.tw

Of course hike the Wallami Trail but don’t miss Sixty Stone Mountain. It’s one of Taiwan’s most magical landscapes (just Google and look at the pics; they don’t exaggerate), but you need to drive to the top.

Loshan is a beautiful rice growing valley. The Luye Plateau is also stunning.

If you are heading to Taidong just past Luye turn and cross the river and head down County Rd 197 then 東 45 into the Liji Badlands. More magical landscapes.[/quote]

Thanks for the suggestions! I want to go now! Hot springs and hiking, great combination. Cycling recommended too? Hopefully our budget will allow us to splurge…