Thankfully, from my flat, I’m a 10 Minute walk to the train station, then an 8 minute ride to the high speed rail station of Hsinchu – making it extremely convenient!
The high speed rail journey time from Hsinchu to Taipei is 35 minutes, it’s fantastic! The seats are huge and if you manage to get a window seat the views are lovely.
If you buy the ticket on the day you have to go in the final 3 carriages, for ‘unreserved seats’. I’ve heard when it’s busy it’s really tough to get a seat and a lot of people cram into the cart and stand. Thankfully, I didn’t experience this. People come along selling food and drinks, they come and collect rubbish, there’s a few vending machines along the train and also a breastfeeding room. So it’s fair to say they’ve done as much as possible to make the journeys comfortable!
Once I arrived at Taipei Main Station is was fairly busy, but not mental. It was easy enough to find the MRT station and my sister’s AIRBNB was only 17 minutes on the blue line – no changes! I’d never been to the area before so it was interesting to see a little temple in a shop, a KTV (karaoke bar) inside an apartment block (not cool at 3am!) and the top of 101 behind hundreds of little shops and houses. The apartment was well equipped with a good shower, fridge and a half-working aircon.
Only 30 seconds from the MRT station Houshanpi (it exists. I’d never heard of it before 😂) and 5 minutes walk to the nearest bus stop, connecting you to pretty much anywhere.
I needed books. The key word is need. I was desperate for a book. Or maybe 10. My sister knew some second hand book stores and we went in search of them around Gongguan (near NTNU).
First stop, as always with my sister lol, was food! We went to an old favourite Sababa Pita Bar. It was so delicious! We had pita breads and hummus, potato wedges, salad. And the staff are all so friendly!
Next we found Mollie’s Used Books – I thought I was in heaven! They’re mostly Chinese language books but they do have a good selection of English stories, travel books and also language learning books too. I was happy. And because I’d spent over 500元 I got to open a membership account which gives me 15% discount.
We walked and walked, stopping in Hi-Life to cool down with Apple Sidra (my absolute favourite drink). It’s great that most of these convenient stores have seating or cafes now. Very convenient.
We didn’t have time to go back to the flat, so I was headed to dinner in super short shorts and an oversized tee – it’s fair to say I felt like a tramp (autocorrect just changed this into trampoline- wtf?) but the food was SO GOOD.
We went to The Diner – at AT&T mall.
I had the Caesar salad (no chicken or salmon) and it comes with garlic bread (NT$180), also potato wedges (NT$120) and a banana and mango smoothie (NT$160)
The wedges were soggy and weird, so they were a complete waste of money but nevermind. The salad was great. Good atmosphere and good customer service. Would definitely go back.
On Sunday we were lazy AF until about 11 before heading to, wait for it, CHUN SHUI TAAAAAANG 春水堂 – for veggie noodles and braised cabbage in green tea – my favourite and basically the only meal I can eat there NT$80 per each dish. The only thing I dislike is how the waiting area was lined up next to our table and the girls were taking selfies with me in the background. Like, RIGHT THERE. So not cool.
And on the floor above was a Mr Potato Head corner… so of course we stopped at the photo booth…
One thing I really enjoy is walking around Taipei Main Station underground mall, which was thankfully extremely quiet due to the holiday. There are so many souvenirs, clothes, make up items, phone cases, books and food stalls. It’s crazy!
And the second place I really like is the area around Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT – there are so many shops and food stalls. Whatever you need you’ll find.
Street churros, coffee roasters, GAP, GU, IKEA, Sogo, Coco, stalls, 7-11s… everything!
Definitely worth going to whether it’s your first or twentieth time in Taipei.
Then in the evening we went to our favourite restaurant in the entire world, with two of Nat’s friends, the Kunming Islamic Restaurant (tripadvisor here) on Fuxing North Road.
We’ve been going to this restaurant for 20 years as a family and it is amazing. So many dishes to chose from and it doesn’t matter if you don’t speak English or Chinese – the owners are so hospitable and kind! Their menu is in English, Chinese and it also has pictures.
They open from 11:30 – 13:00 and 17:30 – 21:30
Our meal always consists of:
Samosas, fried chicken, green beans, vegetable curry and naan bread.
The Taipei 101 area is always really busy at night, whether it’s coffee drinkers, shoppers, clubbers or whoever. It’s busy, but has a great buzz as there is so much to do. Most of the shops are open until 10 or 11pm, and the bars and clubs stay open long into the night.
A first for me this weekend was a trip to Raohe Night Market – at Songshan MRT station. The temple there alone is a stunning sight, but the market is jam packed with stalls selling everything from squid to sandwiches, phone cases to Adidas rip-offs. It’s definitely worth a visit, whether you spend 15 minutes or an hour and 15 there.
If you’ve never been to Taipei before, you’ll never see it all. If it’s your second or third or tenth time, you can start dividing the city up in sections.
You could easily spend 3 days in Yangmingshan, walking the mountains, going to the spa, etc.
You could spend a day in Tienmu drinking coffee or wandering through Takashimaya dept store. Have a picnic at the baseball stadium park or look around the quieter shops.
Gongguan area is where most of the students are but is fantastic for food, drinks, books and pretty much everything else.
Zhongxiao Dunhua / Fuxing is the trendy, more hipster(ish) area I mentioned above.
If anyone has any places or ideas they think I should include in this post, please let me know!