Travelling in Taiwan

Taiwan is known for many things. It was the first ‘China’ to hold a seat at the UN (1945-1971) and it has some of the best hiking in the world. You’ve also probably heard about its amazing street food and booming electronics industries. But mostly, it’s just a really cheap, cool place full of friendly and helpful people. I’ve visited many times. Here’s a little flashback to just one of the times I went travelling in Taiwan.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Flying into Taiwan

A little Bit Of Background

Just to set the scene, in 2013 my father had been diagnosed with cancer and didn’t know how long he had, so he decided to travel to some new countries with me, against his doctor’s orders. Both my father and I wanted to go to Vietnam, but the doctor, who was eventually swayed on the ‘no travel’ order, advised that Vietnam was a no-no. We had to go to places with the medical equipment and know-how to deal with any issues that may arise. That meant about half of South East Asia was a no-go. East Asia was looking pretty good though.

Making a Plan For Travelling in Taiwan and Japan

I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for weeks to convince my dad that we should go to Japan. No matter how much I sang the praises of the country and it’s people, dad just was not as enthusiastic about it as I was. That was until I found an awesome deal in internet land. The deal included return flights from my home in Hong Kong, to Taipei in Taiwan, then a cruise from Taipei to Okinawa in Japan and back. Dad had never been on a cruise, so he was sold on that idea.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Welcome to Taiwan

This was not my first visit to Taiwan, so I already knew how much of a wonderful place it was. Dad was also impressed. As he had stayed with me previously in China, he was using this as his basis for comparison. He noted that people seemed to be much more friendly and helpful in Taiwan than China. We had been stopped no less than two times when taking transport and asked if we needed help getting anywhere. Something that had definitely never happened to me in years of living in China.

Getting Ready to Cruise

As we had arrived in the afternoon and our cruise was due to depart the next morning, we decided to stay in Taipei New City 新北市, which was closer to the Keelung Port than Taipei. One thing I had noticed on previous visits to Taipei, was that everything gets eerily quiet around 10pm. No cars on the roads, no pedestrians on the footpaths. All that’s left open after that time are copious amounts of Family Mart and 7eleven convenience stores. This was amplified in Taipei New City, effectively making it a ghost town after 9pm. That was fine as we hadn’t planned on doing anything but having dinner and relaxing anyway.

The next morning, dad wanted to get to the port as early as possible as our boarding information said that we should be there two hours beforehand. We ended up sitting around in the small terminal building for a very long time before boarding.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Keelung Port

You can find out all about the cruise in my next post, A Scenic Cruise to Okinawa.

Returning to Taipei

We returned to Keelung after the 4 days on the cruise. This time we had decided to stay closer to the Taipei city centre as there were some things that we wanted to see there. The first of them being Taipei 101. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s the tallest building in Taiwan and the tenth tallest in the world.

Travelling in Taiwan – Taipei 101

I had already visited the Taipei 101 building on a previous visit to Taipei but my dad was eager to visit, so off we went. On the way, we came across some interesting sculptures and signs on the footpath.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Art Installation K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Art Installation

As far as buildings go, Taipei 101 is quite an interesting one. When it was completed in 2004, it was the world’s tallest building. It held that title until the Burj Khalifa came along in 2010. As Taipei is in both an earthquake and typhoon (cyclone) zone, it was made to be strong, yet flexible. That means there’s a huge dampener in the middle of the building on the 89th floor that’s designed to absorb strong winds. It’s actually the largest wind dampener in the world!

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Taipei 101 Wind Dampener

Another cool thing about Taipei 101 is its lift, which takes you from the 5th to the 89th floor in 37 seconds. It was the fastest lift in the world for a little while. Let’s say there was some ear-popping going on during the ascent. I guess that’s why they dimmed the lights and made the ceiling of the lift look like the night sky.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travel in Taiwan. Taipei 101 Lift Ceiling

As it is one of the very few high rise buildings in the city, Taipei 101 is quite noticeable from almost anywhere in the city. That means you can see most of the city from the observation deck on the 89th floor. Unfortunately, you have no control over haze level during your visit.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Hazy Day View From Taipei 101 K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Hazy View From Taipei 101

I do think that it looks better at night though.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Night View From Taipei 101

Maokong Gondola 貓空纜車

Not far from the city centre in the Wenshan District is a cable car called the Maokong Gondola. I believe ‘mao kong’ translates directly as ‘sky cat’. I wondered if the fact that the gondola line starts at the Taipei Zoo had anything to do with the name. Until I realised that the service runs to a place that was renamed to Bakan (Japanese)/Maokong (Mandarin) during the Japanese occupation. It’s previous Hokkien name meant ‘cat surface’ due to the copious amount of civet sitings on the nearby mountain.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Maokong Cable Car

You can see Taipei 101 to the right as we first started moving away from the city. As we got further up the steep incline, the buildings started to almost blend into the hills.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. View From the Maokong Cable Car

The entire line for the Maokong Gondola is just over 4 kilometres long, but it’s very scenic. You can also use the Taipei Metro card to ride on it. These days it’s around NT$100 which is cheaper than public transport in some European cities.

Travelling in Taiwan – Window on China 小人國主題樂園

Now I’m a bit of a fan of theme parks. I guess I got that from my father because he tasked me with finding a theme park for us to visit while we were travelling in Taiwan. Dad had enjoyed Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park when he had visited a few years prior. We had also visited the Happy Valley Theme Park in Shenzhen and found it to be neither a valley, nor happy. That’s a whole other story for another post. Maybe. Point is, we weren’t really sure what to expect from Taiwan’s version of a theme park.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Mini Road K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Mini Airport

My first impression was cute. It’s no Disneyland, but the attention to detail was pretty amazing. I mean, look at the righthand side of the road where ‘people’ are dealing with an ‘accident’. Or the details of the airport. It put a smile on my face.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Taj Mahal K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China American President

Then there were some famous landmarks from around the world. Probably the most entertaining part of the day at the park was the indigenous acrobatics show. These guys were amazing and seemed to be enjoying what they were doing.

K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China Indigenous Acrobatics K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Window on China More Indigenous Acrobatics

Even when they had to play Fire Limbo.
K in Motion Travel Blog. Travelling in Taiwan. Indigenous Acrobatic Fire Limbo

There really wasn’t much in the way of exciting rides though. In fact, they all looked like kids rides. That would make sense seeing as the Chinese name of the park is literally ‘Little Person National Theme Park’.

Final Thoughts on Travelling in Taiwan

As someone who speaks Mandarin, I’ve found it easy to travel in Taiwan every time I’ve been there. I suspect it may be a bit harder if you don’t speak Mandarin, but it does seem that people who do speak English will approach you to see if you need any help. I’d definitely recommend Taiwan as an easy to navigate, budget destination sure you bring you joy.

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If you’ve smiled at all during this travelling in Taiwan post, please share the smiles with your friends and click the picture you like to Pin It for later! :o)

Find out what makes Taiwan an amazing budget destination in East Asia. #taiwan #eastasia #budget #budgettravel #travel Check out what makes the East Asian island of Taiwan so awesome and why you need to put it on your bucket list right away! #taiwan #eastasia #scenery #budget #budgettravel #travel Are you looking for a friendly East Asian destination that's easy on the wallet? Look no further! #friendly #taiwan #eastasia #budget #budgettravel #travel Visit the scenically beautiful, budget friendly city of Taipei on the East Asian island of Taiwan. #budget #taiwan #taipei #budgettravel #travel See some of the things that the friendly city of Taipei in Taiwan had to offer, including its most famous building, Taipei 101. #taipei101 #taiwan #budget #budgettravel #travel Explore Taipei and it's cute little theme park, Window on China. #windowonchina #taipei #taiwan #budget #budgettravel #travel

46 Replies to “Travelling in Taiwan”

  1. This is such a great (and informative) post. I visited Taiwan for a brief 24 layover but have wanted to go back ever since. I found the people to be SO friendly as well!

  2. Thanks for sharing. This took me right back to my trip to Taiwan last year. I loved Taiwan. The people there were some of the friendliest I’ve ever met.

  3. Travelling on a cruise to Taiwan is such a special experience and I’m so glad your dad enjoyed Taiwan. There are definitely many things to see and you’re lucky you speak Mandarin.

    1. Taiwan is awesome! It was instantly one of my favourite places from the first visit!

      I might also do some posts about other areas of the island. They have some awesome hiking there!

  4. Taiwan has been on my bucket list for a few years, but unfortunately with the current world situation it will take me some time to visit. The Taipei 101 building looks super interesting to visit. :)

    1. I could actually visit Taiwan quite easily right now, if I wanted to do a 2 week quarantine when I got back home.

  5. I love to visit Taiwan for the street food and with the photos you showed, it has its distinct character. I’m happy to read trips with parent/s. It’s a great moment with your loved ones. Hope your dad is OK. Take care!

    1. The street food is amazing and cheap in Taiwan.
      Unfortunately my dad lost his battle with cancer several years ago.

  6. Taiwan looks amazing, I have never thought about coming here, but you’ve convinced me to add it to my list.
    Thanks for sharing

  7. Felt like made a small trip around Taiwan. The night time photo is awesome and same cable car too. These places were and are on the bucket list, not sure tough would it ever happen

  8. Taiwan looks incredibly beautiful!! I was planning on visiting this year to see my close friend but then COVID hit. I can’t wait to visit and eat all the good and see the beautiful landscape.

  9. I have always wanted to visit Taiwan and was actually supposed to go this year to visit a close friend. I can’t wait to visit to eat all the good food and see the beautiful landscape.

    1. You should see if you can do a trek into the interior. There are hundreds of mountains over 3000m. I’ve been to two so far, haha.

  10. When you were describing the elevator or lift as you call it in the Taipei 101 building being the fastest one in the world, I suddenly had visions of the Elevator scene in the classic Charlie and the Chocolate factory where Willy Wonka shoots them out of the Chocolate factory in the floating elevator! haha. Besides exploring this remarkable building in Taiwan, I think I would love to ride the Maokong Gondola. I can only imagine the views you can see from up there.

    1. Haha. I think I may have had a similar thought!
      The gondola was nice as so much cheaper than its counterparts in other countries.

      I may actually get around to posting about my trips to other cities in Taiwan one day :oP

  11. I would love to visit Taiwan one day. Every time I read about this small country, I feel like it’s so different than other countries in the area, and it’s pulling my attention. Thanks for the information!

  12. We traveled Taiwan by train about 10 years ago and I remember that many people did not speak English, but I eventually always found someone I could talk to.
    We actually spent the majority of our time outside Taipei, traveling from the south to the north and we really liked it. I am glad your dad got to see Taiwan.

  13. What a memorable experience to share with your dad. His determination to do this is admirable and shows his love and strength to you. I love how the name in Chinese for the amusement park translates to Little Person …. I’m guessing the reference is for children.

    1. I’m glad I was able to show him a couple of great places in East Asia.

      I’m guessing it was aimed at little kids, but big kids like it too!

    1. I’ve only ever travelled Taiwan by road or train, but it is quite easy to get around. English is not widely spoken, but people who do speak English will help you instantly.

  14. I’m sorry to hear about your father’s illness but how lovely to have been making this journey with him! My best friend in the UK is originally from Taiwan and I was planning on going there with her in January/February 2021 but with things changing so rapidly at the moment, nothing is certain anymore of course. But it always sounds like such a well organised and beautiful country so I really hope it will be safe to travel there next year. Thanks for the inspiration :-)

  15. Great post K!

    I would really love to go hiking and explore Taiwan. Those mountains look amazing, and I love that the gondola is a sky cat! :D It’s funny, I keep hearing that Taiwan has lots in common with Japan (rather than China) as you have been to both, what did you think?

    1. I did a three day hike to the highest lake in Taiwan several years ago. It was amazing. I might write a post about it one day.

      They love Japan so much in Taiwan. I’ve met a few people on my travels in Taiwan that speak some Japanese and their Japanese restaurants have the best Japanese food outside of Japan. It’s much cheaper than Japan though!

      The history is a bit weird, in that both China and Taiwan were occupied by Japanese forces during WWII, but Taiwan ended up loving everything about Japan and it’s culture while China ended up hating it. To the point where Chinese people driving Japanese branded cars were attacked in the streets during some demonstrations.

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