Editor’s note: This is the continuation of the “5 Days in Taiwan” article.
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Josh and I didn’t have a concrete itinerary on our third day but we had two destinations in mind: the Beitou Hot Springs at Beitou District and the Zhongshe Flower Market at Houli District in Taichung.
The former was about 20 to 30 minutes away from the Taipei Main Station, and you can reach it by taking the MRT Tamsui-Xinyi Line to Beitou Station and transfer to the Xinbeitou Line, which takes you to the Xinbeitou Station in Beitou’s hot-spring resort area. The fare from Taipei Main Station to Beitou Station, from what I recall, is TWD35.
The fare going to the Zhongshe Flower Market is a little more expensive. A Malaysian family we met at the Taipei Main Station told us that the fastest way to travel from Taipei to Taichung is via the High-Speed Rail (THSR), but the ticket would cost TWD740 each, compared to the local train (TRA) ticket which is only TWD300-350 each.
Now, if you’re visiting Taiwan for the first time and can get as clueless as I am, you need to know that Taipei City’s metro system is served by High-Speed Rail (HSR), railway (TRA) and Taipei Metro (MRT) train services. The only location where all three types of trains converge is the Taipei Main Station.
We thought hard about our options and we ended up going to the Zhongshe Flower Market since we wanted to see the rural district of Taichung. This is also the part where our trip got tricky.
Here’s the route we took: From Ximen Metro Station, we took the MRT to Taipei Main Station, where we bought our TRA tickets to Taichung (we decided to go with the TRA since the HSR tickets are expensive). In Taichung, we boarded the Line 801 Train going to Houli Station and then took a cab (we paid TWD350) from there to the Zhongshe Flower Market. The trip took about four hours in total.
Also, a little tip: Instead of going to the Houli Station, go to Tai’an Station, which is only a few minutes away from the Zhongshe Flower Market, also known as Houli Flower Farm or Chungshe Flower Garden.
The flowers here change depending on the season, and every year from January to March, tulips, and lilies come into full bloom so I think these months are the best time to go.
Aside from its beautiful, manicured gardens, the market also has a flower viewing area, art props, potted plants area, seasonal flora sea, lotus farm, and a cafe.
It is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, while the barbeque area just outside is open until 9:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The admission fee is priced at TWD120.
We arrived late in the afternoon so we only had about a couple of hours to get around. Nonetheless, we were still able to take good photos in the flower fields!
It was already dark when we arrived at Tai’an Station and we were worried that there’ll be no more trains going to the city and we don’t have an EasyCard (a smart card you can use as payment in Taipei Metro, buses, and other public transport services in Taipei). Luckily, we met locals who speak English and they told us to just wait for the train. As per our tickets, they advised us to just go to the information counter at Taipei Main Station where we can pay.
Since we only booked Renny’s Airbnb apartment for three nights, we had to transfer to Caesar Metro Taipei on our fourth day.
The hotel is only a three-minute walk from MRT Longshan Temple Station (Exit 2), and one metro stop ride from the Ximending Shopping District. Two street night markets—Guangzhou and Huahsi—are in close proximity to the property, as well as Bopiliao Old Street.
Believe me when I say that it also has the best view of Wanhua District, and the staff was kind enough to upgrade us from a Two-single-bed Suite (it was cheaper) to a Double-bed Suite.
That night, we mostly just strolled around Guangzhou Night Market and we went back to the Ximending Shopping District where we scored good deals on Off-White shirts and Adidas hats.
We still had plenty of time to roam around on our last day because we booked an overnight flight going back to Manila.
It was freezing at the time but I somehow convinced Josh to go to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, built in honor of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, former President of the Republic of China.
The ground level of the memorial houses a library and a museum documenting Chiang Kai-shek’s life and career, with exhibits detailing Taiwan’s history and development. The upper level contains the main hall, in which a large statue of Chiang Kai-shek is located, and where a guard mounting ceremony (or “changing of the guards”) takes place every day and every hour from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Equally interesting is the architectural design of the place. The Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall has a blue and octagonal roof, a shape that picks up the symbolism of the number eight, which is traditionally associated in Asia with abundance and good fortune. Two sets of white stairs, each with 89 steps to represent Chiang’s age at the time of his death, lead to the main entrance.
It is also flanked on the north and south by the National Theater and National Concert Hall.
- I recommend staying in Wanhua District if you want to be near the main shopping hubs and tourist attractions in Taipei. Zhongshan District is where the posh buildings and hotels are (kind of like Bonifacio Global City or Ayala Avenue in the Philippines), including the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The hot spring resorts can be found in Beitou District.
- They don’t have Grab in Taiwan but they have Uber. The cash payment option is not available there, though, so it will be better if you already have WePay, PayMaya, or credit card.
There are metered taxis in the city but for rural districts like Houli, where the Zhongshe Flower
- The market is located, the fare is fixed. It’s okay, though, just consider it as a way to help their local tourism.
- There are lots of unique and delicious food items in 7/11 and Family Mart. Very cheap, too! Our favorite was the Tuna Wasabi Onigiri and Coco Ichibanya’s curry meal.
- Booking activities through Klook and KKday, from my experience, is cheaper and more convenient than doing DIY itineraries, especially when you’re not that familiar with the places you’ll be visiting. You can always find reviews and price comparisons online, so you have nothing to worry about.
- If you’re lost, approach the locals. Many Taiwanese professionals, as well as service workers, can speak and understand English.
- Buy an EasyCard, it’s the most convenient thing you can use to go around.
Taiwan, truly, is a beautiful place to wander. Take not only good photos with you but also good memories.