[Announcement Oct 8 2017: We are giving away free Taiwan Jiufen Guided Tours worth S$95 each to 3 lucky fans! Click HERE to participate the giveaway!]
Here is the first part of our Taiwan Itinerary! After a few months of planning for our Taiwan trip, we finally kicked off our trip with endless fun and food! We had so much fun and filled our stomach with A LOT of delicious food. If you’re planning to go on a free and easy trip to Taiwan, do not miss out on our travel guide! Let’s kick start our first day in Taiwan.
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1
Taoyuan International Airport
Din Tai Fung
Our Taiwan itinerary is considered a bit packed for 8D7N. The itinerary can also be stretched out to 9D8N or 10D9N if you have flexibility. If you do plan to follow our Taiwan itinerary, you may wish to adjust the pace accordingly and we would advise which places are worth going and which you may skip.
Related: What To Eat at Taipei Ximending 西门町
Taiwan Itinerary – Air Tickets And Hotel Bookings
This time, we decided to fly with Jetstar for our Taiwan trip. We bought the air tickets during Jetstar’s 1-for-1 promotion. We paid S$436 for a return trip for both of us including checked baggage. As for our hotel booking, we booked most of our hotels for this Taiwan trip through Agoda.
Related: Taiwan Travel Guide: 8D7N Trip Summary, Expenses and Handy Tips
Taiwan Itinerary – Taiwan Dollar Exchange Rate
The currency exchange rate for TWD during our travelling period was actually pretty bad. Please note that the exchange rates in Taiwan are better than most other countries. For us, we exchanged some at a money changer in Singapore’s Chinatown and exchanged more on our arrival in Taiwan. The rate in Taiwan was better by about 1-3%.
If you can read Chinese, you may download the 銀行即時匯率(android) app on your phone to check the real time currency exchange rate at all the banks in Taiwan.
Taiwan Itinerary – Where To Exchange Taiwan Dollars?
In Taiwan, currency exchange can be done at the banks and money changing outlets run by the banks. Except for certain department stores, you can hardly encounter private licensed money changers in Taiwan. The best place to exchange Taiwan dollar is at the banks in Taoyuan International Airport. There’s a processing fee of NT$30. But if you take into account of the rate difference, it is still worthwhile to do it at Taiwan Airport rather than in your home country.
Based on the above app, the bank that offers best exchange rate for converting Singapore Dollars to Taiwan Dollars is DBS bank. For other currencies, do check the app for the bank with the best rates. For the Singaporeans unfortunately, there’s no DBS bank in Taoyuan International Airport. You can find other banks like Bank of Taiwan and Mega International Commercial Bank in the airport. The currency exchange service is available 24 hours. See here for their locations. You may try to exchange Taiwan dollar at banks at other locations in Taiwan, but bear in mind that many other banks don’t accept SGD. Otherwise, you can also use your ATM card (if it has the Cirrus or Maestro logo) to withdraw Taiwan dollars.
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Which SIM Card To buy In Taiwan?
We arrived at Taoyuan International Airport around noon. To our surprise, the queues at the immigration counters were incredibly long and we took around 45 minutes to clear the immigration. Upon the exit of the immigration hall, we were greeted with booths of Taiwan mobile service providers.
We purchased a prepaid SIM card from Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信). They are the largest telecom company in Taiwan and the coverage seems to be slightly better than the rest.
We chose Package E – 10 Day Pass with unlimited data + airtime worth NT$100. This package is just nice to cover our 8-days stay in Taiwan and it only costs NT$500.
Here’s the list of Chunghwa Telecom’s prepaid packages for you to choose from:
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – From Airport To Taipei Main Station
The Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT System (the subway) is scheduled to begin the service during the first few months of 2017. From then on, you can take MRT from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station and Zhongli district. The estimated journey time is only 35 minutes!
If you are in Taiwan before the MRT subway system is ready, taking a bus from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station is the best solution. The journey takes around 55 minutes.
[Update March 18, 2017]: The Taoyuan International Airport Access MRT System has officially launched on March 2, 2017. You may now take the MRT from the airport straight to Taipei Main Station! For more information about the service and special offers (limited period), see HERE.
To take the bus from Taoyuan airport to Taipei Main Station, head to B1 Arrivals in Terminal 1 or the northeast arcade of the 1st floor Arrivals lobby in Terminal 2. We took Kuo-kuang bus number 1819 to Taipei Main Station. The bus intervals are around 15-20 minutes.
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Where To Get Freebies Before Travelling To Taiwan?
For those who reside in Singapore, here’s a tip for you! Before you travel to Taiwan, you can get some freebies from Taiwan Visitors Association at Chevron House. They are giving out different freebies from time to time. The freebies range from theme parks discount vouchers, attractions entry tickets to airport transfers.
To avoid disappointment, do give them a call to check for the available freebies before heading down! You may check out their Facebook Page as well. You will need to bring your identity card together with your flight details or hotel bookings for redemption of the free gifts.
We got the one-way airport transfer and a free fruit picking tour package as our freebies!
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Taipei Main Station
The bus dropped us at the bus station near Taipei Main Station, Exit East 3 (東3出口).
The temperature in Taipei was 22 degrees celsius that day, but we felt much colder than that due to the chilly wind and there was a drizzle of rain!
Taipei Main Station is really huge! There are several department stores that branch off in different directions from the center of the station.
As soon as we reached Taipei Main Station, we went to collect our train tickets to Hualien at the ticket counter. If you are buying train tickets online, you will have to collect the tickets in advance at the ticket counter. More details about buying train tickets online will be covered in an upcoming post! Stay tuned.
There’s a LINE FRIENDS store at Breeze, Taipei Main Station!
So many cutesy stuffed toys and accessories available here!
Before we head to Ximending to try some delicious street food, we dropped off our luggage at our hotel near Taipei Main Station.
Morwing Hotel is where we will be staying from day 5 to day 8, but not tonight. We were told that we could leave our luggage under their care as well even on the days where we would not be staying the night. We are going to take the train to Hualien tonight after exploring at Ximending and trying the famous Michelin-starred original Din Tai Fung branch in Taipei.
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Ximending Shopping District
Do I even have to mention that this is a MUST GO place in Taipei? Do make sure to insert this into your Taiwan itinerary!
Ximending – the famous shopping district in Taipei, is not just popular among tourists but also a place where the youngsters in Taipei are clustered. Trendy fashion, delicious food and all kinds of entertainment can be found here. Ximending has just too much to offer.
You must at least try some of the street food here! There is a lot of street food around this happening district. So please remember to spare some space in your stomach when you visit.
For a list of food to hunt for, see our main food article for Ximending – What To Eat At Ximending.
Ximending is also known as the Harajuku/Shibuya of Taipei. You can find traces of Japanese culture everywhere, from fashion trends to the food in Ximending. Girls who like to shop can allocate some time for shopping here besides eating 🙂
First place to go to — Ah Zong Mian Xian!
See HERE for our detailed review of food that we had at Ximending!
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Dinner At Din Tai Fung Original Branch
Our first dinner in Taiwan was at the original branch of Michelin starred Din Tai Fung (Xinyi Road). As expected, the restaurant was extremely crowded. Just what so special about this place where the famous Din Tai Fung originate? We have a special write-up coming soon!
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – From Taipei To Hualien By Train
There are three types of train services in Taiwan:
- Conventional rail by Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) – older service that connects most cities in Taiwan forming a loop around the island
- High Speed Rail (HSR) – new high speed service that connects the major cities on the west coast of Taiwan
- Mass Rapid Train (MRT) – short distance commutes inside the bigger cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung
Eating and drinking are allowed on both HSR and TRA trains. It is a common sight to see people purchasing lunch boxes or snacks to eat on the train. If you feel hungry during the journey, you can also buy from the food carts on the train.
To travel from Taipei to Hualien, the fastest way is to take the train by TRA. We bought the fastest class of train – Puyuma Express operated by Tze-Chiang Limited Express. The journey takes around 2 hours and each adult ticket costs NT$440.
The train tickets can be purchased online around two weeks in advance. One thing to bear in mind is, the train travelling between Taipei and Hualien is quite popular so I would recommend that you buy the tickets immediately the moment that they are available for booking. I will post a step by step tutorial on buying train tickets online, please stay tuned.
Both HSR and TRA trains are usually on time. The TRA train tickets you buy online need to be collected at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. So to play safe, do remember to reach the train station earlier!
If you plan to visit Hualien at the beginning of your trip in Taiwan, I would recommend that you spend at least a night in Taipei before heading to Hualien. It was a little bit too rushed and tiring to take train from Taipei to Hualien on the same day as we touched down Taipei. But due to our packed schedule, we had to do so.
Once again, I would like to emphasize that our 8D7N Taiwan itinerary is considered pretty packed because our priority is to visit as many places as we can. So if you prefer to plan a more relaxing trip, we recommend you to stretch our 8D7N Taiwan itinerary to 9D8N or 10D9N!
Taiwan Itinerary Day 1 – Hotel Bayview In Hualien
Upon reaching the Hualien train station at around 10pm, we took a taxi from the train station to Hotel Bayview, our hotel choice in Hualien. Hotel Bayview provides complimentary pick up service from the train station to the hotel up till 8pm. But our arrival time was too late for that. The 15-minute taxi ride cost around NT$200.
After the long day, we could finally have a good rest. After researching the hotels by the Chishingtan beach, Hotel Bayview came up as our first choice. Hotel Bayview is really beautiful and it is situated right beside the famous Chishingtan scenic area.
Here’s how our room looks like:
That’s all for our first day in Taipei! On the next day, we will be heading to one of the most popular attractions in Taiwan – Taroko Gorge, as well as Hehuanshan and Wuling.
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