{Taiwan} 1 mth Family Vacation

Every year we take a 1 month vacation and last year we picked Taiwan for many reasons but mainly to see family, friends and Mandarin Chinese immersion. The kids never got to see the extended family on the grandfather’s side (we always see the grandmother’s side) and it would be a great opportunity for them both to start being immersed in Chinese.

After mustering up the courage to go all the way to Asia with 2 small kids on two flights spanning 18 hours with 3 hours of layovers we decided very last minute on December to January.  What can I say? You play things out in your head multiple times but reality always proves differently. You just cannot prepare for all the random events, last minute changes, sicknesses and problems traveling especially with others.

We quickly realized this, as the perfect start to the trip of being in First Class was ruined. We got unto the plane and decided yes it’s an overnight flight so we can all sleep in our own beds. We had a whole row to ourselves. But right before take off, our older son starts crying how he is too far away and can’t see Mommy and Daddy and is scared…Downgrading to Business Class would have been awesome if we had thought of it in all the haste of getting settled.

Everything that could go wrong did; too far apart, food wasn’t kid friendly (but air hostesses were so accommodating we couldn’t complain), the toddler saw the plane as a big playground and didn’t want to sleep. He sleep 3 hours out of 18 hours and decided that he wanted to be Daddy’s boy for the whole month. This meant that he only wanted Daddy for mealtime, naptime, bedtime and playtime.

With the negatives aside, we enjoyed flying first class with Eva Airlines (the Taiwanese airline). We got PJs to change into, slippers, unlimited food and drinks that were pretty good and great service.

Taiwan is definitely the place for everyone. A small island off mainland China with a mix of adventure, leisure, kid friendly, foodie, tropical, beaches, hot springs, Mandarin Chinese culture and language immersion, clean, orderly, efficient, traditional, modern, East meets West…, technologically advanced, busy city and quiet countrysides, cheap, expensive and everything in between. We hope you like our itinerary and tips below.

{4N3D Taipei}

Due to the rough start to the trip we focused primarily on adjusting to the time difference and new environment. We spent the days at the neighborhood park and only had the welcome dinner with family. There are a few known parks throughout the capital city of Taipei which are lifesavers traveling with young kids.

Given it was high season and we planned the trip 1 week before leaving, we were fortunate to find a modern, centrally located hotel close to the Central Metro Station, a known park, Starbucks and Friday’s restaurant. We didn’t want to jump right into eating Chinese food for breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday just yet. Friday’s came in handy right across the street. Beauty Hotel B7 had small rooms but worked for 3 nights. The breakfast made up for it with a wide variety of hot, cold, western and eastern options.

{4N3D Hualien}

Located in the north eastern part of Taiwan.

Like the metro the Taiwanese rail system is very efficient with many speed trains. December is known to be during hurricane season. Hualien had a hurricane watch and rained everyday we were there.

Activities: Group and private tours can be booked from the hotel but should be done in advance if traveling during high season. Rental vehicles is an option as well. We opted for a full day private tour as we wanted to travel at our own pace.

The Chateau de Chine hotel was the absolute family hotel. There was a whole floor dedicated to play rooms for kids. Rooms were kid friendly with lower beds and tables. Restaurant offered too many food options making everyone comfortable.

{4N3D Chiayi}

Located on the south western part of Taiwan. To travel from Hualien to Chiayi there are 2 options. Going back through Taipei Central station or going south through the mountains which is very long time wise (the shorter distance is deceptive). Whereas going through Taipei, we got to ride the high speed train not to be confused with the standard rail system. Chiayi is known for tea and wood crafts.

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If not wanting to stay in Chiayi, Taichung is the next option but farther from attractions.

Attractions:

  • Ali Shan Forest Park & Mountain – the sunset and sunrise are breathtaking so it’s best to stay at hotels in the mountain.  There are not many good options so book early.

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{4N3D Beitou}

– just outside of Taipei is known for hot springs. The hot spring water can be found in many places; in the local parks, the streams as well as local bath houses and spa hotels. The number of people and the line to enter the bath houses vary by price; the cheaper ones have 3 hour wait times. Some are also open 24 hours. A must try and one interesting highlight in the bath house is having fish eat dead skin off your feet.

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Metro artwork showing hot springs.
Fish eating dead skin off of feet.
Fish eating dead skin off of feet.
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hot spring origin.

{16N15D Taipei} – the capital city

Food is important to every culture and especially important to the Chinese. There are many options for the adventurous and non adventurous foodies.

For this longer duration, we rented the Heping condo with 2 bedroom 2.5 bath (a full living room, kitchen and dining room and 3 beds).  It worked very well for our family and also had security on ground floor, a media, exercise and business centers in the basement and a roof top deck with view of Taipei 101. It is conveniently located within walking distance to the largest park in Taiwan, Da’an. It is also a university town with many restaurant options and frequent metro and bus options.

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A simple layout of all Taipei has to offer.
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Known as a foodie destination. Map shows nigh market food sampling.
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One night market stall selling snails and squid.

Whatever you fancy, you will not be disappointed. Taiwanese food was the cheapest but the other options varied in price and were all excellent. A must try is Din Tai Fung; Taiwan’s famous world renown restaurant chain for xiao long boa and  beef noodle soup.

Must See Attractions include:

  • The Taipei Zoo with Hello Kitty Gondola rides at Makong.
  • Taipei 101 – Was the world’s tallest building from 2004 to 2010. If high season purchase the special pass to skip the long lines. The restaurants and food court offer a wide variety and are all excellent.
  • Sun Yat Sen Memorial – traditional palaces in the middle of the modern city with a statue of the founder of Taiwan. Concerts and performances are held here.

Other Must See Attractions:

  • Leofoo Village – Taiwan’s version of Disneyland with wildlife safari park.
  • Yehliu Geopark – located in the north of the island, a park with various shaped rock. Some look like people. There is also a spot to paraglide.
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Panoramic view of Geopark
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View of Queen’s head in the center

[Must Do]

Taiwan is known for professional studio photos. Many travel back to have wedding photos and family photos taken.

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[Accommodations List]

– note the various ways of writing the address, Traditional Chinese, Pinyin and English just in case there is a communication barrier.

Beauty Hotels B7
叙美精旅
Xù měi jīng lǚ
台北市中正區重慶南路⼀一段111號
Táiběi shì, zhōngzhèng qū, chóngqìng nánlù, yīduàn, 111 hào
No.111, Sec. 1, Chongqing S. Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City 100, Taiwan Tel +886-2-2383-2088

Chateau de Chine Hotel
翰品酒店
Hàn pǐn jiǔdiàn
花蓮市永興路2號, 花蓮, 花蓮, 台灣
Huālián shì, yǒng xìng lù, 2 hào, huālián, huālián, táiwān No. 2, Yongxing Road, Hualien City, Hualien, Taiwan + 88638221171

Solo Singer Inn
獨唱歌⼿手旅館
Dúchàng gēshǒu lǚguǎn
溫泉路21巷7號, 北投區, 台北, 台灣, 11241
Wēnquán lù 21 xiàng 7 hào, běi tóu qū, táiběi, táiwān, 11241 No. 7, Ln. 21, Wenquan Rd, Beitou District, Taipei, Taiwan, 11241 +866228918312

Opohills Boutique Apartment – Heping Hepin East Road. Section 1. #185. 2F-3 Hépín dōng lù, 1 duàn, 185 hào, 2F-3 +86623223189

See hotels on Google Map

Continue unto Taiwan Part 2

 

 

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