An Enjoyable City Hopping Trip In Taiwan
Because I couldn’t resist the urge to set my foot in Taiwan any longer, I decided to get myself a round-trip ticket to Taipei for a 6-day journey. Lucky me, I got Airasia promo fare with only Idr 2,650,000 for a return trip from Jakarta to Taipei.
Some fellas wanted to join the trip but the promo no longer existed. So, a solo it was. The positive side of having a solo trip is I can arrange itinerary selfishly, but lately I found myself too ambitious in making travel schedules. Exploring 4 cities in 6 days! And I was confident enough to beat it.
I made sure all of these were done 1 month in advance of the departure date:
- Printing the e-tickets
- Making travel itinerary with estimated expense details. I got the rough details from other people’s blogs and tripadvisor then searched through the official websites for more details.
- Making hostel reservation:
– Booking.com for Kaohsiung Backpackers Inn: NT$ 700/2 nights
– Airasiago for Taipei Next Hostel: Idr 410,000/2 nights
– Airbnb for Runner’s House of Sunmoon Lake: €18/1 night
- Applying Taiwan Visa: I did it through Bayubuana Tours, they only charged me 5% of official fee. I often used them for applying visa considering the hassle of leaving the office. In less than 5 days, I already got my visa!
- Buying THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) tickets online for Taipei-Kaohsiung and Tainan-Taichung on THSR. The train tickets can be printed at any THSR station, 7-11, Family Mart and several other appointed places with charge.
– Taipei – Zuoying (Kaohsiung): NT$ 1,630.
– Tainan – Taichung: NT$ 710
– Printing cost at 7-11: NT$ 20 for 2 tickets
- Buying TRA (Taiwan Railway Administrasion) tickets at 7-11 when I just arrived in Taipei, because I already tried 3x to buy them online but always failed at payment stage.
Kaohsiung – Tainan: NT$ 32
Taichung – Taipei: NT$ 392
- Exchanging money to NT$ (New Taiwan Dollar), I didn’t get as much as I wanted so I withdrew some cash from atm in Taipei.
Getting lost at night in Taipei was not part of my plans especially on the arrival day. They only got me more lost by giving wrong direction, but at least there were some people around the streets. After several times going around those blocks for an hour without any clue where to go, I was saved by a taxi that later sent me to the hostel door. I slept at 2 am that night.
With a sleepless face, the next morning I visited Guandu Temple, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and Lungshan Temple. As a bonus, after walking for 5 minutes from Lungshan I found a pretty temple, Bangka Qingshan Temple.
From beginning when the itinerary was made, I already thought of leaving other sights to be visited on my last day in Taiwan before returning home to Jakarta. Actually there were still some small temples to visit around Lungshan Temple but I had to catch the train to Kaohsiung in the afternoon.
Expenses in Taipei:
MRT – 10 trips: NT$ 240
Others: NT$ 894
After picking up my bag from the hostel, I straightly went to Kaohsiung by HSR train no. 231 which departed at 17:53 from Taipei and arrived in Kaohsiung at 19:30.
That night, I went to Jin-zuan Night Market by a free small shuttle bus that parked in front of KMRT Kasyuan station. I saw so many local snacks and ended up only buying pineapple juice and an NTD 50 mint choco ice cream.
In the morning of my third day in Taiwan which was also my first morning in Kaosiung, I spent an hour at the hostel lobby, using its wifi trying to search on google how to reach Ciqing Island and which nearest subway station to the pier after the hostel receptionist couldn’t satisfy me with her direction. She asked me to reach the pier by taxi because she was too lazy to see the map. And why didn’t I borrow her map?
I gambled by going to Sizihwan station and was satisfied with what I picked. From the station, I happily saw the pier after a 10-minute walk behind other touriests ☻
The ferry took me to the island with fare NTD 15 only, a very cheap one as mentioned by people on tripadvisor forum.
I decided to rent a bicycle for going around Ciqing Island as suggested by previous tourists on tripadvisor. It had been ages I hadn’t biked, no wonder I needed some time to adjust the body balance and almost hit a tree ☻
After a while, finally I enjoyed the ride. Ciqing has a nice wallking and biking trails so I felt secure wandering around by myself. But the 3-hour bicycle trip made my groin numb for 2 days ?
After going back to Kaohsiung from the island, I was conveniently going around the city using KMRT.
From Zuoying station, I took the red bus no. 51 to Lotus Pond Lake. The sky was so blue over Kaohsiung that afternoon, thank God the weather forecast was wrong.
Expenses in Kaohsiung:
– MRT – 4 trips: NT$ 87
– Others: 260
I had only several hours to explore Tainan before departing to Taichung. From the start I had doubted I would have enough time for the whole sights, so only having Anping Complex was already great.
Anping Gubao Ancient Street was a little bit crowded that day. From Tainan station, I took shuttle bus no. 99 to Anping based on the map and shuttle bus direction that I got from the visitor information centre at TRA station.
Expenses in Tainan:
– Local train – 3 trips: NT$ 105
– Left baggage at station: NT$ 80
– Others: NT$ 479
Leaving Anping in a rush for the THSR train to Taichung that afternoon, I ran from the baggage locker to the train platform on the 2nd floor. Even though I was used to exploring places in tight time, this one was really terrible. I ran into the train before the door closed, almost missed it. It would be horrible if I did, because I already planned to reach Sun Moon Lake before 17:00 to catch the last round-the-lake bus. I could make it ontime to hop on the last bus to Ita Thao.
The hostel, Runner’s House, is actually located 30 meters away from the main street of Ita Thao, but no body knew it even though I showed them the address in Hanzi (Chinese characters). I texted the manager and she decided to wait for me in front of the hostel.
As one of National Scenic Areas in Taiwan, Sunmoon Lake (was also known as Lake Candidius in the past) is a famous weekend getaway and honeymoon destination. It was named Sunmoon Lake because the lake resembles sun and moon and ever renamed Jade Island by Japanese government. It’s also the home to Thao tribe, a small group of Taiwanese aborigines.
My first thing to do in the morning was sunrise hunt. I went out at 5 am and walked to the Ita Thao pier. The sunrise was too shy to see us, didn’t care about me being frozen because I was too brave going out only in a camisole and shorts while others wore jackets.
I started the halfday trip of the lake by taking the 1st round-the-lake bus at 07:00 am. I wanted all targets accomplished by mid day because I had to go to the train station in Taichung as soon as possible to amend the departure time so I could arrive at Taipei Main Station earlier than my initial schedule.
The day pass and schedule of round-the-lake bus can be found here. I didn’t buy the day pass because I didn’t do a whole-day tour, I paid cash NT$ 26~4o depending on the distance.
Wenwu Temple was the 1st sight that I visited. After two old temples were torn down and rebuilt by Japanese government, the temples were merged to become one, Wenwu Temple. The front hall of the 2nd floor is dedicated to the First Ancestor Kaiji and the God of Literature . The rear hall is dedicated to Confucius. The central part is devoted to the God of War and the Warrior God Yue Fei.
My 2nd target was Xuanguang Pier. From the temple, I could get the picture of Lalu Island, a tiny island in the middle of the lake.
Actually the last object was Ci’en Pagoda, but getting there is a bit tricky, buses don’t stop by the pagoda. Based on the map that I got from Emily of Runner’s House, the nearest bus stop was at Xuanzang Temple. I got unplanned chance to get photos of Xuanzang Temple before going to the pagoda.
After asking several local people how to get to Ci’en Pagoda, I did a little trekking uphill from the right side of Xuanzang Temple.
46 meters tall, Ci’en Pagoda was built by Chiang Kai-shek in memory of his mother and completed in 1971. Emily also told me that I could see the whole lake view from the top floor of the pagoda.
I hurriedly checked out of the hostel as early as possible to the Tourist Center of Sunmoon Lake and bought a bus ticket to Taichung. While waiting for the departure, I sneaked out to the pier to get some nice photos.
Gladly, I successfully got my ticket to Taipei amended to earlier departure with additional charge NT$ 50. I really needed to rest early that night.
Expenses in Sunmoon Lake:
Nantou Bus Taichung – Sunmoon Lake (round trip): NT$ 340
Round-the-lake bus – 6 trips: NT$ 182
Others: NT$ 178
LAST DAY IN TAIWAN: HELLO AGAIN, TAIPEI!
Having failed to go to Terrace of Three Immortals due to timing, I was suggested to go to Yehliu Geopark. Getting there is easy, I took Goguang (Kokuang) bus from Taipei Bus Station to Jinshan and I said to the driver that I wanted to go to Yehliu. After a 10-minute walk, I saw the geopark entrance. While walking, I spotted an old temple above the harbour and spent about 5 minutes taking some pictures.
Leaving Yehliu for Taipei with a good mood, I decided to have a stroll around National Park Museum until the city got dark but unpredictably, I finished it faster than I had thought.
While I still got several hours left before my flight departure, my feet guided me to Taiwan 101. I didn’t try to go to the top floor to enjoy the city view like others. This skyscraper has mrt / subway station with same name, so it’s not hard to find this place.
Overall I was satisfied with this trip. I felt secure wandering around by myself even after midnight. Zài jiàn, Taiwan!
Expenses for a day trip in Taipei:
MRT – 6 trips: NT$ 120
Kokuang Bus (Taipei Main station – Jinshan) – round trip: NT$ 192
Ko Kuang bus to airport: NT$ 125
Others: NT$ 350