This is my third time to Taiwan in ten years. I have been to all the major tourist attractions, save for Taroko Gorge. Nevertheless, I managed to put together a 9 days itinerary that worked well.
Our trip began with sampling the beef noodles at Ling Dong Fang. At 9pm, there was still a queue. Waiting time was 20 minutes or so.
I have tried Yong Kang beef noodles on my previous trip and i must say, Ling Dong Fang is better! The beef is more tender and taste is balanced.
Breakfast the next day was at the infamous Fuhang Soy milk. As mentioned in reviews, the queue started near the MRT exit. Queing time was about 40 minutes, which was not too bad actually.
Having been to Taiwan so many times, i have never visited the CKS memorial hall. It’s a 20 minutes walk away from Fuhang Soy milk, so why not?
Another 20 minutes’ walk brought us to Ding Tai Fung, which is our must-visit restaurant in Taipei. Enroute, we picked up coffee from Cama coffee, a coffee joint that does bean roasting on-site. I believe this is a trend others will start to imitate soon.
You should install the Ding Tai Fung app to get real-time updates on the queue number. There was a park in the neighbourhood which was good for people watching on the Sunday afternoon we were there.
We spent the rest of the day meeting up with a friend. Taipei is mostly about food, and a single day was more than enough for me.
After picking up the rental car early the next morning, we headed straight to Yang Ming Shan. This turned out to be a very good idea, as it started to get packed after 1130am. At this time of the year, it is the season for the Calla Lily flower (海芋).
Miao Bang (苗榜) is probably the best place to view the Calla Lily, and they lure you to do lunch in their premises by allowing you to offset your bill with the amount you paid for entry (this is the practice throughout Taiwan). Having read some negative comments (although i think the food wouldn’t be terrible), we did lunch across the road at Mama Wei (媽媽味餐廳). The actual place i intended to have lunch (原鄉私房餐館) was closed for the day. We did still go into Miao Ban to view the Calla Lily (plus a dose of caffeine).
The other attractions of Yang Ming Shan are nearby. We took a walk on the trails around Lengshuikeng Hotspring (冷水坑). There’s actually a hotspring here where you can dip your feet into.
From Yang Ming Shan, you have only two logical options – either backtracking to Taipei or going further north (east). I chose the latter and headed to Jinshan.
Since my original plan to have the duck for dinner didn’t work out, the next best option was 兄弟食堂. The food was honest to goodness.
Shifen and Pingxi (along with Jiufen) are among the most visited attractions in Taiwan. I had to visit to check them off the list.
We did lunch at 豪哥肉麻面 which was an excellent choice. They’re located further away from the rail tracks area which were jam packed with tourists.
I wasn’t so keen to see Shifen waterfall, since i’ve seen it so many times on Facebook photos, and the waterfall looks artificial to me because it is dammed up. The trek to the waterfall was longer and more tiring than expected, especially with the hot weather and the crowd.
We drove to Luodong, Yilan to stay for the night. The plan was to check out Luodong night market, but it was a major disappointment – the food was not particularly nice. Anyway, i took the route across the Pinglin mountainous area instead of following the suggested quicker route on Google maps, and we were rewarded with being able to buy tea leaves from a tea plantation. This was exactly what we were hoping for.
Luodong night market is wraps around a park. The famous stalls here are Sanxing spring onion and mutton soup.
Day 3 – Taroko Gorge. There was roadworks going on, which limited the time we had to check out the Baiyang trail. Nevertheless, we had a good time at Yanzikou trail. I suppose one cannot claim to have been to Taroko Gorge if one hasn’t been to Yanzikou.
I made an attempt to rush to Hualien to grab hold of the famed fried egg onion pancake, but alas, they were closed by the time i got there, around 630pm or so.
The place i chose for dinner was 大后山深夜食堂, as i was more interested in trying the common local dishes. Decent food and reasonable pricing, since the restaurant caters to locals.
Before heading off the next morning, we had breakfast at 山东豆浆大王.