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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Die die must go places in Taiwan 打死都要去的台湾景点

One year ago, I stepped foot on a land name Taiwan :D
Even until today, I still rave about every awesome moment that happened over there. Beautiful places, awesome people and of course, yummylicious food! I know I've been spending too much time talking about Taiwan over here, but sue me, I'm gonna do one more hahahahaha
Just can't seem to extinguish the "Taiwan ambassador" in me LOL

Well my juniors are now the ones going on exchange now and when they ask me where to go, I always feel super excited to share, so why not make a blog post out of it?
Here's the top 20 places that I think you die die must go if you are in Taiwan followed by a list of things to do in Taiwan. No matter if you're there for exchange or just a vacation, do keep these places in mind! Well I know there's a lot of similar posts out there, but here's my list based on my experience. :)

1. 50 shades of blue at Kending 垦丁
To be honest, I've only been to Malaysian beaches before going to Taiwan and so i have never seen any other type of landscape next to the ocean. Over here, it's amazing to see the waves hitting the steep cliffs, massive mountains surrounded by dark blue waters, super super blue skies. Love the scenery here. And not to forget the awesome water sports at South Bay.

2. Taroko National Park 太鲁阁
Another bizarre natural sight to me, super massive marble caves that look like they can just drown you any moment, with grey waters that streams down like a strong current. This is the place where you feel mother nature is more powerful than you think.

3. Alishan 阿里山森林公园
Oh another pretty sight for suagu like me who've never stepped out of Malaysia and thought every forest look like the tropical ones haha. Loving the nature here, the slim and tall trees, the mossy ground, the cool weather and of course the best part have to be the rustic railways.

4. Tamsui 淡水
The monuments of Taiwan's colonial era, I fell in love with the red brick buildings, how the place looks so western-ish but everything else is just very Taiwan. The food, the market, the people. The Tamsui Old Street is a great place to spend a day trip, enjoy awesome food and take a stroll along the Tamsui River. The Tamsui river ends at the Fishermen's Wharf which is quite a romantic place and there's a Lover's Bridge as well. If you love history, do check out Fort San Domingo and the British Consulate Building.


5. Cijin Island 旗津岛
Okay this and Tamsui are actually at the same rank. Why I love Cijin so much, it's because of the awesome views over here and the fact that I can cycle along the coastline and enjoy the wind beating against my face haha. And the best part is of course the mesmerizing sunset that never gets boring despite my 3 trips.

6. Qingjing 清境农场
Beautiful mountain landscape against the bright sun and blue skies in the background, the chilly weather makes it better. It's a place for a short getaway if you'd like some sunshine and nature. Not to forget there's friendly sheeps to greet you :D

7. Gaomei Wetlands 高美湿地
I remember I was just wearing a cardigan when I went there and the taxi driver was wishing me good luck. Crazy winds but it was worth enduring. Manage to catch the sunset over here. It's also known as the 天空之镜 - Mirror of the Sky, nuff said.

8. Chiayi City 嘉義市
Personally think this is the one city with the best food, every meal was awesome. Apart from that, the city is less crowded as compared to mainstream shopping districts like Ximending. I did a lot of my shopping over here. Do check out the area around Wenhua Night Market. Hinoki Village is also a beautiful place to hang out if you love Japanese culture or buildings.

9. Moonworld 月世界
This place seems to be underrated and I notice there's less foreign visitors over here. But this Geo-park is really so cool. Would never expect such place exist in Taiwan. It pretty much lives up to its name, barren earths with no signs of life, just like the moon. You can try visiting at night as well as they have special illuminations that make the Geo-park look like a sci-fi movie set.

10. Taipei Zoo 台北市立动物园
Ok this is a die die must go place. Not only just for the cute pandas, which you have to pay like what 50 ringgit to see in Malaysia, there's cute penguins, adorable red pandas and koala bears and loads of other animal friends. Did I mentioned I only paid 30TWD (student price)? Worth it or not you tell me?

Tuan Tuan 团团

so much swag from her back "Nope I ain't gonna turn around"

11. Jiufen 九份山城
When I first arrived at Jiufen, I was quite put off by the amount of people over there. It's just crowded, but the moment I stepped in and when the night falls, it's hard to not fall in love with this strange stretch of shops up along the mountain slope, the bright red lanterns lining the streets and once you are at the top, you'll be overlooking the beautifully lit city of Jiufen against the pacific ocean. And honestly, who doesn't wanna feel Spirited Away haha

Sue me for my lack of experience in visiting bookstores but Eslite Bookstore is just such an elegant premises to trigger the bookworm in you. If you're too tired from all the sightseeing or just wanna go out and do something simple, just find an Eslite Bookstore near you and read something that you're interested with. It's not a crime to browse and read the books without buying it, just go and find some interesting books that you like and stay in those pages for a few hours. I'm not a fan of books haha, so I've picked up some magazines and I read half of Beautiful Disaster (yes they do have English books) over there and was smiling to myself hahahahahaha (idiot me)

13. Tainan - Anping 台南安平
If you love to learn about history, this is the place to go. There's many historical buildings and monuments around the area, both from the Dutch and Japanese colonisation era. This is where you use the 成语 (chinese idiom) - 古色古香 haha


14. Chihsingtan 七星潭
Another beautiful beach in Taiwan. I swear Chihsingtan looks both dreamy and gloomy. You know like places that will come out from emo novels. Well maybe it's because of the weather, but I really do love how the powdery blue sky, grey waters and dark round stones on the beach forms a very...gloomy yet very calming picture. Aiya I wish I know better english to describe this.

15. Maokong 猫空
Well it's not like a die die must go lar, but if I ever get to visit with my parents, this is a place I will bring them. If they are not scared of heights, I'm gonna take them up via the Crystal Carriage Cable Car haha. Love the chilly weather and how the place has lots of cafes and tea houses for chillax time.

While in the cable car....

16. Shifen 十分
Well not Shifen in particular, but any of the town with the railways where you can experience lighting your own sky lantern 天灯. Another popular town is Pingxi 平溪which was the filming location in You are the Apple of My Eye 那些年我们一起追过的女孩. I didn't do light the lanterns though, guess I was put off by the amount of people doing the same thing haha. But it's still fun to observe.

17. Visit movie sets! 电影场景
Yes If you are a drama/movie fan like me haha. Don't miss the chance to check out the sets of many popular Taiwanese films.

Cafe Waiting Love 等一个人咖啡 - The actual cafe @Taipei

Cape No. 7 海角七号 - 阿嘉的家 Ah Jia's Home

Secret 不能说的秘密 - Aletheia University 真理大学姑娘楼

Well I guess this is one place to understand the religion while enjoying beautiful view.

19. Bopiliao Historical Area 剝皮寮历史街区
OOTD igers must visit. 

20. Jiangjunfu 将军府
Another super underrated place. It's just a restored Japanese house that is opened to visitors without admission charges. Do support them on their fundraising activity if you visit there. If you are a Insta person, go try their Kimono for TWD100 only and take as many photos at the Japanese style house! (that's the price last year at least). I'm really hoping they could get enough funds to restore the surrounding old Japanese houses.

Extra hehe...
Top 10 things to do or experience in Taiwan 
Spending four months in Taiwan wasn't exactly a long period but it was enough for me to have a taste of Taiwanese living. Personally think Taiwanese really do know how to enjoy life and have fun, and that's why there's the saying of 吃喝玩乐 which literally means Eat Drink Play Fun (EDPF). Here's 10 things you can do to embrace the value of EDPF

1. Breakfast 早餐
Definitely gotta embrace Taiwan's breakfast culture. So much to choose from. The more unique ones are definitely Egg Rolls 蛋饼 and Rice Rolls 饭团.

Breakfast Sandwiches in many forms. French, Danish, Hotdog, Burger etc 

2. Bubble Tea 珍珠奶茶
Don't leave Taiwan without bubble tea. Even if you are not a fan of milk tea, just go to one of the many beverage chainstores out there and try an iced oolong tea 乌龙茶 or iced black tea 红茶. I really think it taste very different from what we have here. If you have tried their milk tea, you will realize that they use fresh milk for milk tea, unlike what we have here which uses creamer most of the time. By the way Bubble Tea is truly a norm here, one neighborhood has like at least 8 bubble tea shops and dont even worry about whether the competition is bad, everyone has their fair share. Btw one of my friend told me that KOI is actually Taiwan's 50岚 omggggg

Tea Renaissance 茶艺复兴 @Sizihwan

HuaDa Milk Tea 桦达奶茶 @Yanchengpu

QQ Pearls Milk Tea (QQ蛋奶) @ Kending 垦丁 

3. Stinky Tofu 臭豆腐
I swear every stall's stinky tofu taste good. Way better than my favorite stall in Malaysia haha. Crunchy on the outside, but soft and fluffy on the inside, together with the spicy sauce and sour pickles. Oh and most important, they are so cheap!!! Goshhh, mouthwatering now.

4. Night Markets 夜市
Try going to one of the less touristy night markets to enjoy both food and fun. Usually the tourist night markets have more food stalls but what the locals really do at night market is both enjoying food and playing games at the arcade stalls. Remember what I said about EDPF?

5. Claw Machines 娃娃机
I guess this is the only country where Claw Machines are not cheating and you can really grab something back. Okay I admit I still got cheated 95% of the time, but the claw machines here comes in all sort of sizes and all sorts of prizes (plush toys, power banks, speakers)! It's difficult to stop myself from trying out haha.

6. Flower Fest 花海
Flower fest is happening all year round in Taiwan, in different province. Do make sure you check one out if you're like a suagu like me who hasn't bury herself in a sea of flowers before. One of the most popular flower fest would be 新社花海 Xinshe Flower fest in Taichung.

Qiaotou Flower Fest 桥头花海 @Kaohsiung 

7. Convenience Stores: 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Hi-Life 超商
Oh yeahhhhh almost every Malaysian who went Taiwan will rave about Taiwan's convenience stores. Like really, their definition of convenience is just a whole new level. Not only you have a wide range of ready-to-eat meals and drinks, you can buy train tickets and call taxis, buy brewed coffee, you can buy stockings and heat tech shirts. Best part is their stamp system where you can exchange really cool gifts!

Even their coffee cup gives the same vibe as Starbucks (in fact 7-11's owner owns starbucks) 

Family Mart Sandwich 

One quarter of the ready-to-eat selection at Family Mart

The stamp collection system: Before I left, they were giving out Frozen themed merchandise and I bagged 3 of these charms with Swarovski Crystals. Guess how much they cost? 50twd each for every 5 stamps :D 

8. Travel by Train and enjoy food 火车旅行
Personally think Traveling by train was a very pleasant experience, especially when you travel with numbered tickets. It never gets boring staring out the window, I guess train to Hualien was awesome as railway runs parallel to the coastline.

Taichung Train Station 台中车站

Complete the experience with the Railway Bento

9. Newyear Countdown! 跨年
This is really a one-time thing for me, but damn you really gotta experience it. I attended the countdown concert in Taipei, awesome music and there was Taiwanese pop diva A-mei omggggggg It was like her concert seriously. And as if that's not good enough, the fireworks show at 101 continues to impress. So pretty and it's like this moment of "sparking the new year", feeling so motivated and positive haha.

Taipei 101 Fireworks 台北101跨年烟花秀

10. Ride a Bike and explore places 骑自行车
Definitely gotta do this. Taiwan is quite a cyclist friendly country. Bikes are pretty cheap for rental and there's special rental pods like U-Bike. But it gets quite scary if you're on a main road without cyclist lane. Personally find cycling in Cijin and Hualien was awesome. Cycling is really just getting the best of both worlds of taking in scenery and just going to wherever you want.

Fisherman's Wharf 渔人码头

Cycling Path at Hualien. Favorite cycling course, there's nothing urban within 2km radius, just bushes and trees and you seriously don't know where the winding road leads to.

Phew...that's me sharing my favorite places and things to do in Taiwan! I apologize that the photos may not be superb but they are all photographed by me or my friends during my trip and hence this piece is really all my genuine thoughts and opinion. I know I still have lots of places to explore in Taiwan, but for now, these are the places that I really recommend. Let me know what you think too and share in the comments if you have any other die-die-must-go places :)

For the full list of the places I have been to, please click the tab on top "Taiwan #carmenxtw" or just head to this link:

*side note: I have began writing this since August haha, took me 2 months to fine tune my choices of places to go. Really 呕心沥血之作ok!!*

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