TaiwanMoreTime!

It was no wonder that I wanted to travel in Taiwan again this year as Taiwan government declared no visa entry for Filipinos until July 2020. I traveled in Taiwan last year and for me it was a comfort to visit this country again.

Last year, my aim was to relive Meteor Garden memories, this time, it was another dream to come true! But what the heck a traveler like me wants to visit Taiwan again? The real answer is for the pandas!

I never thought that Taiwan has real life panda! It was a shame for me to not to know this on my first travel in Taiwan. This time, I will not let this moment to skip again! My fascination with panda started when I watched one of the travel shows of Samantha Brown when she was in China. She got the chance to feed and hug a panda! It seems very therapeutic to enjoy a moment with this creature. Nonetheless, I know Taiwan can bring forth other adventures on my way. ❀

How did I get there?

I booked my flight from Philippines to Taiwan via AirAsia. I used to book flights from AirAsia for layovers like when I traveled to Myanmar and India. This is also what I like about Taiwan, a direct flight! πŸ™‚ No more layovers and the flight will take less than 2 hours.

It was a midnight flight and I arrived very early at Taoyuan International Airport by 2AM. I did not booked any hotel pick up or a taxi as I wanted this travel as cheap as I can. I waited for the airport MRT that will be open by 6AM.

There are many areas where you can wait at the airport like hallways, food court or even at the gate of the MRT. Right in time, MRT gates were open before 6AM.

The train left exactly at 6AM from Taoyuan to Taipei. Express Train will take you 30 minutes and Commuter Train will be for an hour. I chose the Express train as I was very sleepy and tired. Luckily, I still have my EasyCard that I bought last year. I just topped up an amount at the Information Counter at the MRT so I can use it again.

Where did I stayed?

Since I will be in Taiwan for 8 days, I divided my stay in Taipei into two – arrival and departure days. For the arrival day, I booked the same hostel I had last year so I will not have difficulty to find it on an early morning. Hotel Fun is the best hostel for me in Taiwan! πŸ™‚ It is near Zhongshan Elementary School MRT Station and convenience stores. But what I love the most is their comfy bed! You will not feel that you are staying in their dormitories.

Their facilities like bathrooms, lockers, common area and laundry are very efficient to everyone. And who will not love their buffet breakfast! πŸ™‚

On my departure day, I booked Mr. Lobster’s Secret Den Hostel near Taipei Main Station. This place was really a secret as it was difficult to find. It took me more than 30 minutes to find this place. I booked a bed in their dormitory room and thank God I will just stay here for 2 nights only.

Compare to Hotel Fun, this hostel is a bit unclean. The hostel is located in an old building. Bathrooms are limited and there were ongoing constructions of facilities. The breakfast is good but nothing to compare with Hotel Fun. Their staffs though were accommodating and friendly. Nevertheless, a day or two in this place is worth your money.

Where are the place I traveled?

What I love the most in Taiwan is their transportation. As what I did last year, most of my transports were via trains. Going around the city or nearby is manageable for everyone. All MRT stations are accessible even for those who have disabilities, pregnant women or senior citizens.

All escalators and elevators are working. There are signage in English that you can understand very well. This year, I have traveled to places that I haven’t been last year. It was still a privilege to return to some places but all I know was I need to see these places now!

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Museum

I visited Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Museum last year but when I arrived the statue of the great Shek was on construction until October. Chiang Kai Shek is one my childhood hero as he was on every history books I read that my father had.

It was raining on that afternoon and a platform is being set for a concert. Good thing, I arrived on time to see Shek!

Taipei 101

You never visited Taiwan if you haven’t seen Taipei 101. Last year, I bought a ticket to be inside Taipei 101 Observatory but this time I want to stare at it from afar.

My original plan on that day was to climb Elephant Mountain but due to bad weather, I just went outside Taipei 101 to say β€œHi” again.

Raohe Street Night Market

It is considered as one of the oldest night market in Taiwan. You can visit this night market starting 6PM and accessible via Songshan MRT station. With a bit of rain, I enjoyed this night market as you can see a lot of different items.

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Raohe Street Night Market – July 2019

It was smaller than Shilin Night Market yet compact with street foods, clothes, shoes, gadgets and many more!

People are everywhere – eating, shopping and or just taking photos. It was a wonderful sight to see a street market for me as the authenticity of a culture is mostly seen here.

Maokong Gondola

Maokong Gondola station is near Taipei Zoo. It was a great way to see Taipei with a lots of greens and woods. It was my first time to ride a cable car and it was fun!

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It was not on my plan to ride a cable car but as it was near Taipei Zoo and I can also pay with discount using my EasyCard, so I just hopped in. It was about 10 minutes ride for me as I stopped at Taipei Zoo station.

Taipei Zoo

The much awaited Taipei Zoo has finally come! For me, this was my highlight in my stay in Taiwan this year. Taipei Zoo is the largest zoo in Asia. It will take you 4-5 hours to enjoy the zoo with all of the attractions inside.

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Taipei Zoo is also accessible via MRT so this place is jam-packed with families, friends or even schoolmates every day especially on weekends. There are shuttle rides that can take you around the zoo for easier access.

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My first entrance was at the Amphibian and Reptile House. It was a relief from the heat outside as this attraction is fully air-conditioned suited for all the amphibians and reptiles that needs cold environment.

There were numerous kinds of snakes, frogs, turtles. Kids will enjoy this attraction as they will see more live animals.

I wasn’t expecting penguins in this Zoo but when I read the signage of Penguin House, it was a delight! It was my first time to see penguins too! πŸ™‚

Who doesn’t love the movie Happy Feet that features too cute penguins! I was like a kid to see them in person! It was a pleasant surprise to see them!

There is this bird and night animals sanctuary that I enjoyed too! It is a big area to enjoy nature in an indoor place. I was very happy to see this kind of architecture.

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The most awaited part was to see the panda! It took me more than 30 minutes to find the panda as I thought that I need to walk further. After reading all the directions, I already passed by at the Panda House. At last, it was a genuine joy when I see the panda in person! πŸ™‚ There are two pandas inside. All tourists are lined up to see them personally. As for me, I have to line up twice so I can see them again.

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I never been to #AmazonForest but that place is part of my bucket list. #TaipeiZoo reminds me of it. I pray that someday I can see animals not just in a zoo but in actual wild which I know is their real home. But as #Amazon forest is burning now, that bucket list may be erased. Let's spread the news so others who are most capable of helping the forest hear us!!! Our Earth is dying and cannot be replaced! I do not want my nephew, upcoming niece or another nephew or even my future children to breath on a gas mask! They deserve fresh air! The are also communities in Amazon who are affected and will be homeless. If this fire is part of climate warming or any shitty greedy people's fault, YOUR SOULS ARE BURNING THE MOST NOW. YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS TO TAKE AWAY LIVES! Let's help the Amazon to be heard!!! #PrayforAmazonas #PrayforAmazon #travel #solotravel #panda

A post shared by Jesselle Santos (@heartofjess) on

The first panda is enjoying his food, of course, bamboos! The second one wants to play and was everywhere! He keeps on playing with his toys and wanted to lay down.

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I wish these pandas are the one like in China that roam around a natural habitat, can be feed and can be hug same as what Samantha Brown had. But I guess, the climate in Taiwan pushed the zoo to place the pandas inside an air-conditioned sanctuary. They may not bear the heat or rain. Nevertheless, to see these pandas was pure joy! Another bucket list checked!

Outside the panda sanctuary is a souvenir shop that is full of panda items. There are stuff toys, shirts, caps, coffee mugs, refrigerator magnets, name it! They have everything! Who can resist not to buy a panda stuff toy after seeing the real panda!

Shilin Night Market

Shilin Night Market is one of the famous night market in Taiwan. I visited this place last year but I thought of getting back again. This time around, I have to taste the famous Wellyen BBQ Chicken. Last year, I was not interested to eat it as the queue was very long. But it seems there was a reason why people flock here.

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I posted a photo in my Instagram last year with the long queue of people and someone added a comment that he misses this BBQ chicken. So this time around, I have to taste it and it was worthy! To eat this chicken is a must when you visit Taiwan!

Apart from having my BBQ chicken, I also need to be in Shilin Night Market to buy a rubber shoe. My rubber shoe got torn apart when I was at the zoo so I need to have one. Good thing, Shilin Night Market offers not just street foods but also shoes, clothes, souvenir items, gadgets and many more.

Elephant Mountain

Before leaving to Manila, I promised myself that I have to climb Elephant Mountain. It was actually part of my first DIY itinerary when I arrived in Taipei but the weather is bad thus I skipped it. When I get back to Taipei, sun is shining brightly and it was a perfect time to see Taipei from above.

To warm up, from Xiangshan MRT station, I walked to the entrance of the mountain. It took me 15 minutes to reach Xiangshan Hiking Trail. From the entrance of the trail, it says it will take you 15 minutes to reach the top, but for me, it was a joke!

Maybe because I was out of shape and rest too many times, it took me 40 minutes to reach the top. Some part of the stairs are steep, some has no hand rails, and some are too high. So, it will be a bit of challenge to reach the top. But it was an incredible feeling to finish the trail and to see the view! ❀

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It seems Taipei 101 is just beside you! It was a rewarding feeling for me as I am afraid of heights and falling from a high place. On the top of the mountain, tourists flocked to take their photos. But as for me, I just need to stare at this view and I am beyond satisfied. πŸ™‚

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Last year, I was inside Taipei 101 Observatory. This year, I can still see Taipei 101 with the whole city in a different perspective. ❀

It was a surprise as well to bump a former co-worker while going down the mountain. What a small world it is!

To get down of the mountain, it took me 25 minutes. To those who will climb the mountain, either bring extra clothes or a lot of towel and also a big bottle of water to be hydrated.

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Though I was bloody disgusting that time because of all the sweat, Elephant Mountain was worth the climb! πŸ™‚

Taipei beauty will always remain in my heart. It was a grateful and successful moment for me to be on the top of Elephant Mountain. ❀

Ximending Shopping District

It was a brave idea to shop after you sweat a lot from climbing Elephant Mountain. This was my last day in Taipei and for some reasons β€œpasalubong” is a must! However, when I arrived at Ximending Shopping District, it seems all things are expensive!

With that, I just enjoyed the strolling around and doing window shopping. Hahaha. Most of the high-end stores and boutiques of clothes, shoes and bags are here. There are street food too but I enjoyed the one from the night markets. Milktea is everywhere too so I gave in to get one for myself.

I have spent less than an hour in Ximending. It seems souvenir items from Taipei Mall which is accessible in MRT are cheaper. But if you have money to spend, Ximending is a nice place to do it so!

Between my entry and exit in Taipei, I have traveled south to Kaohsiung. To know more about my travel in Kaohsiung, click here.

To have an idea of how much you can spend in Taiwan for a 8 days, here are the details.

Taiwan 2019 Expenses
Airasia round-trip flight
(including 20 kilos baggage)
6,801
Travel tax 1,620
Total in PHP 8,421
Accommodation
Arrival Day in Taipei
Hotel Fun
3 nights
1,241
Departure Day in Taipei
Mr. Lobster Secret Den Hostel
2 nights
756
Single Inn Kaohsiung
3 nights
1,903
Transportation
Arrival Day in Taipei EasyCard load 800
Departure Day in Taipei – EasyCard load 60
EasyCard load in Kaohsiung 200
Train (Taipei to Kaohsiung) 843
Train (Kaohsiung to Taipei) 650
Food
Arrival Day in Taipei for 2 days 582
Departure Day in Taipei for 2 days 711
Kaohsiung and Cijin Island for 4 days 1,166
Attractions
Taipei Zoo EasyCard
Others
Towel 160
Panda souvenirs 435
Rubber shoes 390
Pasalubong 990
Laundry 100
Toiletries 140
Total in Taiwan Dollar 11,127
Grand Total in PHP 26,965

Sharing these not to brag but to inspire you to save money as your travel fund! Also note that you can bring less than PHP 20,000 as your pocket money! You do not need to have a luxurious vacation as backpacking is the answer! You do not also need to be a super cheap traveler, you just need to have some research, comparison of prices and viola! Everything will works! For this travel, I had less than a month to prepare for my itinerary but believe me, Taiwan is easy to navigate!

For my second time in Taiwan, it was a pleasure to relive memories with some places and to gain new experiences! ❀ My 8 days stay in Taiwan has given me the opportunity to breath again and to rejuvenate myself! ❀

It was a grateful time and Taiwan is worth the second chance! ❀

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