This trip was a special one. It’s the first official trip we took as a couple. As I started a new job last year, it was difficult to plan any trips together for a while. We hardly spend as much time as we’d like to so spending my days and nights for a good whole week together was just something I looked forward to in a long time.
Every day comprised of exciting moments and adventurous spontaneity as we explored the streets and sights of Taipei and Hualien. A really surreal and beautiful experience that I wish to keep in my memories. We can’t wait to visit again soon for the food, people and sights we didn’t get enough of this time round.
After checking in at our AirBnB at around 9pm, we wasted no time and embarked on our first (food) adventure.
Raohe Night Market (Songshan Station)
Raohe Night Market is not one of the large touristy markets in Taipei and is more frequented by locals. We love that it’s not as crowded and feels more authentic.
Our absolute favorites will be the black pepper pastry 胡椒饼, Flamed Beef Cubes and Herbal Pork Rib Soup. The 玉子烧 and Grilled Scallops are worth a try as well.
Gudetama is extremely popular in Taipei right now. It’s called 蛋黄哥 in Chinese LOL!
We got back to our accommodations at about 12 plus am and was so so so full we had to rest for quite a bit before going to bed.
Yong Kang Street – Jinguashi – Jiufen
Our AirBnB was located at Linyi Street (right outside Dongmen MRT), in a very authentic neighborhood and there is a marketplace right beneath. It’s bustling with activity early in the morning and we were quite excited to explore the market for interesting sights. Loads of fresh vegetables, fish and meat with mostly Taiwanese ahjumas shopping around.
Just a few minutes walk from the Dongmen MRT is the famous Yong Kang Street （永康街） where I’ve heard of in Taiwanese idol dramas and such. We saw this shop with long queues and decided to try it out. Turns out they are selling noodles and prata-ish pastry (葱油饼). We had the 葱油饼, and both of us agreed that it tastes exactly like Singapore’s prata, just that you can add fillings and sweet sauce.
The weather was pretty chilly, and what better to do in cold weather? SHAVED ICE of course! Smoothie House is apparently one of the most popular dessert joints in the area. It was barely 10am and the seats were mostly filled up by tourists or students already. Is it just a hype or really that good?
And the verdict is…. 10/10! ABSOLUTELY RECOMMEND! The shaved ice portion is made up of milk, which is tastier than just… ice obviously. The sorbet was unique and the mango was huge and fresh. Cost us approximately SGD10, which was slightly on the expensive side but since it was so tasty….
Day #2 – Day trip to Jinguashi and Jiufen
With our tummies filled, we headed to Taipei Main Station to take a train to Ruifang Station, a station you must go to in order to head to Jinguashi and Jiufen. These places are nestled in the mountainous areas and is dubbed a ‘must-visit’ if you’re visiting Taipei for the first time.
Once you reach Ruifang Station, just head straight out, cross the road and turn to your left. Walk till the first bus stop (like 5 minutes away) and wait for buses that says ‘Jinguashi’ or ‘Jiufen’ and hop on any of them. We headed to Jinguashi first.
Visitor’s center is right at the entrance of Jinguashi. Drop by for a map first!
What is there to do at Jinguashi?
It’s mostly finding out about the history of an old town – how they discovered mines of silver, gold and other mineral ores in the past and a whole town flourished because of it, and subsequently the decline of the town.
Notable places to visit are the Conjoined Japanese Houses (free of charge), Gold Museum (free of charge) and Old Mine (50TWD each) that was constructed to look like the actual ones in the past. You can obtain the map of Jinguashi at the visitor’s center for a clearer picture!
Jiufen – The Little Santorini of Taiwan
Jiufen is basically in the same area as Jinguashi, and it’s a small town where people are actually still living in right now. The Jiufen Old Streets are filled with food and souvenir vendors and is extremely crowded with loads of tourists.
If you visit the Jiufen Old Streets for food, there’re a few places you should try. The Lai Ah Po Yu Yuan (赖阿婆芋圆) is a dessert store that is very popular. It’s a little different from the Blackball or Jiufen dessert we have in Singapore but good in their own way. Also, try the Salted fried mushrooms (盐酥菇) as they were super juicy, tasty and fresh. We even went back for another portion cause it was so delicious! Ice cream lovers might want to give Ah Zhu Peanut Ice-cream rolls (basically ice cream with peanut shavings wrapped in a popiah skin) a go, as it’s quite refreshing on a hot day.
You can head up to the viewing deck to catch an overarching view of the whole town. Really beautiful. We tried to take some selfies but can’t really see the scenery behind so…. Overall, still a beautiful place to visit and great for photography memories.
We headed back to our accommodation before heading out to Shihlin Night Market for dinner. All I can say is the food was so disappointing at Shihlin we sort of left quite quickly, and headed back to Raohe Night Market AGAIN!
I know, we can be a little obsessive when it comes to things we like. Ahh, that herbal pork rib soup was so comforting in the cold. That’s basically the end of Day 2 for us, as we packed up for Hualien the next day!
Till the next post, xoxo