It has been two years since I first visited Taiwan. I started writing the draft of this post a few days after that trip. Somehow I got so busy with other things that I have forgotten to finish it. On my first visit, I spent two days in Chiayi County and four days in Taipei. Two weeks ago, I was in Taiwan for the second time. This time it was in the southern part of the country. There are so many things I love about Taiwan- the food, the weather, the transport system, and the sights. It is such a beautiful country with so many sights to see and six days is not enough to cover everything.
Before I start writing about my travel itinerary in Southern Taiwan, let me share this post first. Here is how I spent my six days in the Land of Meteor Garden:
Day 1: Arrived in Taoyuan; Travel to Chiayi County then to Fenchihu
I arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at past three in the morning. I waited for the first trip of Ubus 706 which is 5:55AM to get to Taoyuan TRA and from there took the train to Chiayi County. The train trip took three hours and 15 minutes. From Chiayi Train Station, I boarded the bus to Fenchihu. After an hour and 40 minutes of travel, I arrived at Fenchihu.
Fenchihu is located in Zhuqi Township, Chiayi County. It is located 1400 meters above sea level and is famous for its unique railway culture, delicious food on the old streets and trail system with enriched natural resources. I stayed in Fenchihu overnight. To know more about my experience in Fenchihu, check out this post.
Day 2: Explored Alishan National Scenic Area then traveled to Taipei
On my second day, I woke up early to take more pictures of Fenchihu and also so that I won’t miss the bus to Shizhao. Shizhao is the place where I waited for the bus to Alishan National Scenic Area.
Alishan is famous for five wonders: the railway, forest, cloud sea (sea of clouds), sunrise and sunset glow. I didn’t stay overnight at Alishan because the accommodations there are expensive (especially when you are alone) so I didn’t get to experience the sunrise and the sunset glow. To know more about Alishan and my experience there, check out this post.
After exploring Alishan, I traveled back to Chiayi by bus and from there took a train to Taipei.
Day 3: Explored Yehliu Geopark; visited Cixian Temple then explored Shilin Night Market
On my third day, I explored Yehliu Geopark, which my college classmate Leo told me not to miss. Yehliu Geopark is home to a number of unique geological formations and is located along a cape stretching out from the town of Wanli. The geopark is really big, but it is full of tourists. In front of the gate of the geopark, there is a food market.
Most of the tourists stay long at the most famous formation in the geopark, the Queen’s Head. I hate crowded areas so after taking a picture of the Queen’s Head from afar, I checked out the other formations such as the mushroom rock, candle rock, ginger rock, ice cream rock, and tofu rock. I saw lots of fossils too.
Afterward, I hiked the Turtle Head Mountain, which is located inside the geopark. It is where people go to do bird watching. The view on top is really nice.
After visiting Yehliu Geopark, I decided that it’s time to visit the night market. I went to Shilin Night Market. It is considered to be the largest and most famous night market in Taiwan. Located in the night market is the Cixian Temple. So before sampling out the street foods, I made a quick visit to the temple. Cixian Temple is a Taoist Temple dedicated to the goddess Mazu.
There is a wide range of food in the Night Market. There are also souvenir shops, tea shops, and game shops. One of the reasons I visited the Shilin Night Market is to look for the shop A Piece of Gayke. It is a shop that sells penis-shaped waffles. It wasn’t hard to find it because it is quite popular. The shop also sells penis-shaped soap, edible sanitary napkin, and other strange/interesting stuff.
Day 4: Jiufen-Pingxi-Shifen
On my 4th day in Taiwan, I visited Jiufen then Pingxi then Shifen. I didn’t manage my time well on this day. It was raining, and I overstayed in Jiufen. The place was super crowded. People were having a hard time moving because the alleys were full of people. Somehow I still managed to enjoy checking out the shops that I forgot I still had two places to visit. Then when I went to the bus stop, the line was super long.
When I got to Pingxi, I was welcomed by people selling sky lanterns. It was still drizzling but sellers told me releasing a sky lantern is still possible so I bought one with four colors. Each color represents a meaning such as health, peace, happiness, and wealth. You write your wishes on the lantern then you release it. It was funny though because everything happened so fast when I released the lantern and the rain made things difficult so my pictures were a bit blurry.
View this post on Instagram
One of the things I was looking forward to in this trip was releasing a sky lantern in Pingxi. Unfortunately, it had been raining the whole day. But the lantern sellers still approached me so I purchased one with four colors: pink, yellow, orange and limegreen. I excitedly wrote my wishes in the lantern. When it was time to release it, everything happened so fast and the rain made everything really difficult so the pictures are a little bit blurry. But still I'm happy. I hope all my wishes will be granted. #travelstories #traveltaiwan #pingxi #skylantern #pinxioldstreet
Because I still had plenty of time before the arrival of the train that goes to Shifen, I decided to check out the other shops in Pingxi. Unlike Jiufen, Pingxi has very little tourists. While there, I also searched for the post office that has a 60+-year-old mailbox. There I dropped the postcard for myself.
View this post on Instagram
The postcard I sent myself at Pingxi District in Taiwan has arrived. The mailbox at the Pingxi Post Office is a 60+-year-old mailbox and has long served local residents, from the time when Pingxi was a thriving mining town in the early 20th century until today. #postcard #travelpostcard
My last destination for the day was Shifen. When I got there, most of the shops were already closing. Because it was already dark when I got there, I was not able to check out Shifen Waterfalls. I went to the Jingan Suspension Bridge but didn’t cross it because the wind was strong and it was still raining. And I was not able to take a nice photo of the bridge because I didn’t have a good camera phone at that time.
Day 5: Hiked Qixing Mountain in Yangmingshan National Park
I don’t wake up early when I’m traveling alone but I had to do it on my 5th day in Taiwan. On that day I scheduled my hike to the highest (dormant) volcano in Taiwan, the Qixing Mountain. It was raining that day but I still went on with the hike because I included it on my 40 Before 40 bucket list.
Qixing Mountain is located in the center of Yangmingshan National Park. Its main peak is 1,120 meters (3,675 ft) above sea level. I have read that in good weather when you reach the top you’ll be fascinated by the breathtaking views of Taipei – including its famous landmark, Taipei 101. Unfortunately, though, it was raining when I climbed so I didn’t see anything. It was actually scary at the summit because the wind was so strong but I’m glad that I was able to reach it.
To know more about Qixing Mountain and my hiking experience, check out this post. After the hike, I was super tired that I didn’t do anything at night. I just stayed in my hostel room. That night I was alone in the room. All my roommates checked out already. I had my dinner at the 7-11 near the hostel, then planned my itinerary for my last day.
Day 6: Presidential Office Building-228 Peace Park-Liberty Square-Longshan Temple-Dalongdong Baoan Temple-Elephant Mountain-Ciyou Temple-Raohe Night Market-Rainbow Bridge
On my last day in Taipei, I tried to see as many as I could. This meant I had to plan my route well. The night prior, with the help of Google maps, I prepared my route starting from the one closest to the hostel, the Presidential Office Building.
Presidential Office Building
The Presidential Office Building is less than a 5-minutes walk from my hostel. It is a baroque-style building completed in 1919 during Japanese rule and home to the President’s office. I’m not sure if you could go inside the building. I didn’t. I just admired the building from outside then continued walking to 228 Peace Park.
228 Peace Park
228 Peace Park is a really nice park with a playground, benches, arched bridge, museum, and pond. I stayed there for a while, watching the squirrels play while I ate my breakfast. Then I checked out the antique locomotives on display on the park, the amphitheater, and the 228 Memorial Monument before walking to my next destination, the Liberty Square.
The Liberty Square
The Liberty Square is a 13-minutes walk from 228 Memorial Monument. It is a public plaza, home to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, National Theater & National Concert Hall. At the east end of Liberty Square stands the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. It is flanked by the National Concert Hall on the north and the National Theater on the south. Surrounding the plaza is a park and surrounding the site is a wall.
Dalongdong Baoan Temple
From Liberty Square, I took the Red Line of the MRT to get to Dalongdong Baoan Temple. The temple is devoted to the worshipping of Baosheng Dadi “Great Emperor Protecting Life”. It was renovated and reconstructed numerous times throughout Taiwan’s history, leading to a 2003 induction into UNESCO for cultural heritage conservation. Important architectural elements around the temple grounds include stone carvings, stone lions, dragon columns, stone bamboo windows, and wood, stone, and clay carvings. (https://guidetotaipei.com/visit/dalongdong-baoan-temple)
From Dalongdong Baoan Temple, I took the MRT Red Line again to get to my next destination, the Elephant Mountain. The Elephant Mountain is 183 meters high and has a hiking trail about 1.5 km long. It is a very easy hike, takes about 15-20 minutes to the top. And the reward of the hike is that you get the best view of Taipei City, including Taipei 101. I went there late in the afternoon, just before sunset, which is normally a perfect time because you get to watch the sunset and see the amazing nighttime view of the city. However, it was drizzling when I went there so the top part of Taipei 101 was covered with fog. Still a nice view though.
The last area I visited was the Songshan District where Ciyou Temple, Raohe Night Market, and Rainbow Bridge are located. Ciyou Temple is a folk temple dedicated to the goddess Mazu, the goddess of the sea. It is one of the most beautiful and popular religious sites in Taiwan and is well known for its intricate design.
Located close to Ciyou Temple is the Raohe Night Market. It is one of the oldest night markets in Taipei. It is not as big as the Shilin Night Market and is not as touristy so it is easier to navigate. Just like Shilin Night Market, it also has a wide range of food to choose from.
About 5 minutes walk from Raohe Night Market is the Rainbow Bridge. It is a steel cable suspension bridge featuring a wide pedestrian walkway. The bridge is well lit at night and has really nice river views. It was super windy when I went there but I had to cross it as it is part of my 2017 bucket list. It was a fun experience, a nice way to end my Taiwan trip.
Where to Stay in Taipei:
Different types of accommodations are available in Taipei. During my trip, I stayed at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel for two nights and Space Inn Hengyang for my last two nights. Space Inn Hengyang has a very nice location. It is walking distance to the Presidential Office Building, 228 Peace Park and Liberty Square.
I enjoyed staying at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel more though. It was my first time staying in a capsule room. And the pod was really cool. It has it’s own flat-screen TV, a safe and a mirror. For other accommodations in Taipei, you can check out Booking.com or Agoda.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my Chiayi County and Taipei solo travel itinerary. If you have any questions, feel free to write it down in the comments section. Subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss any of my posts. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates.