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taiwan in a week tour

taiwan in a week tour

Hello! This is the first post of a series to document our Taiwan trip! We spent 8 days in Taipei & Taiwan.

Here is a map of some Taiwan spots with 3 layers:

  1. Places to Visit (recommendations from friends that I did not squeeze into the schedule)
  2. Taipei: places we visited
  3. Attractions from 5 Day Best of Taiwan Tour 

This post will cover:

  • The Best of Taiwan Tour
  • Currency Exchange
  • Getting Around

Best of Taiwan Tour

I highly recommend this tour on TripAdvisor/Viator: 5 Day Best of Taiwan.

I typically do not travel on tours and like to plan our own itinerary. When I was browsing through the highlights of Taiwan, I noticed many were around the country, especially Southern Taiwan. To save myself some hassle of mapping bullet train schedules, figuring out a reputable taxi service, and find good accommodations, I took the lazy route 😀 . Because vacation should be enjoyable and not a big headache.

It’s $582.50 for one (double occupancy, so grab or a friend or pay double the price of $912).

Day 1: Sun Moon Lake (Ri Yue Tan 日月潭)
Day 2: Sun Moon Lake > Kaoshiung (Gao Xiong 高雄)
Day 3: 屏東 Ping Dong County | Kaoshiung > Kenting (Ken Ding 垦丁) – Taitung (Tai Dong 台東)
Day 4: Taitung > Hualien (Hua Lian 花蓮)
Day 5: Taroko Gorge > Taipei (Tai Bei 台北)

Btw, I notice that a lot of the English names for these places are written in British phonetics (?) vs the Chinese pinyin. If you type what I have above in a Chinese keyboard, you will get the right characters (ex: “kao” will not show the character 高, since it’s “gao”).

Our tour guide was Alan Chou. He definitely made this tour enjoyable and informative. Alan spoke in English of course. He also said a few things in Chinese but since the group mostly didn’t understand, it was English the entire way. The first few things he said was that it won’t be like those crazy bus tours where you go to a million places for a few minutes, check in to hotels super late, and check out super early. He stayed true to his word. Each stop was timed very well to see the highlights and take pictures at a leisurely pace. Each time we took a stop, he was very clear what time we needed to be back using images on his phone projected to the mini TV screens. He also had a good amount of jokes. I’m sure he is tired of them, but it was nice for us 😁. He said the tour group had the most amount of young people he’s seen (6 under 30) and usually the tours are 50+. We got to our hotels around 5 – 6 PM every night and checked out around 9 AM. Ample opportunity to relax after a day of sights and enjoy the hotel amenities. (Definitely request Alan if you can. Also note he covers 90% of tours now; likely from all the raving reviews)

Speaking of hotel amenities, the hotel’s on the trip are 💯. Two hotels had a personal hot spring tub to enjoy in the comfort of your own space. I was pleasantly surprised for a bus tour!

Price Comparison

If you’re doing the math and think you can do better on the $582 price, here’s a quick break down for ya on what this tour costs if you booked it yourself.

I’m quoting prices for the first week of November, which is when we went (starting on Nov 5, 2018) and including tax (the final total on Expedia). Total for the 4 nights is $783 for a shared room, so individual cost is $392, which means you are paying about $191 for the tour bus and the guide ($38.20 a day). Not bad at all. November is when the high season starts to cool off (and temperature too from 100F to 85F).

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Taiwan Tour Day 2: Kaoshiung (Gao Xiong 高雄)

Taiwan Tour Day 2: Kaoshiung (Gao Xiong 高雄)

We were the bad tourists this morning and was late for our 9:15 AM check-out. The itinerary for the day:

taiwan day 2 bus itinerary
heading south!

Jiji Wu Chang Temple

After an hour drive, we arrived. This is now a memorial from the Sep 21, 1999 earthquake and the new one built after 3 years. Despite the destruction, the roof is still in one piece. You can walk around the entire temple and peek inside.

taiwan-day2-jiji-wu-chang-temple-ko
broken, but not in complete shambles

We went to the new temple after.

taiwan-day2-jiji-wu-chang-temple-ceiling-at
check out the detail in the roof

This area also had a market! Maybe about 600km long of vendors x 4 rows. We bought some loose tea leaves here. This was actually the cheapest place we bought tea from. Wish we exchanged more cash! The toilets in the back were very clean and there were so many stalls. Such a luxury as we are going through the country side.

The bus drove through the Jia Nian Plains area. Taiwan is sometimes called Formosa, which was the 16th century name (“beautiful island” in Portuguese).

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Taiwan Tour Day 1: Sun Moon Lake 月日湖

Taiwan Tour Day 1: Sun Moon Lake 月日湖

Day 1 of the tour! Look at this awesome preview that Alan Chou put together. Lots of activities and things to see!

And look, a box of water to make sure we stay refreshed with the 80 F weather.

taiwan-day1-bus-to-ita-thao-at
gotta know what’s up

There were 2 bus stops before we got to our destination. After a 1 hour drive, we stopped by a convenient store that had a food court on the second level. We tried looking for bubble tea and were not successful. There were a ton of toilets! After a 1:20 drive, we had a second stop. We sampled some flaky cakes and pork jerky along with the mini cup of tea. The store had a souvenir stamping station that I stupidly put in my actual passport. (That’s actually illegal since you’re defacing government property… but I didn’t run into any trouble at customs when coming home, phew.)

Ita Thao

Off the bus and to the little town, we go!

taiwan-day1-ita-thao-walk-ko
onwards to the street food (and i guess the view)

It was lunch time, so we helped ourselves to this great recommendation from Alan. It was 65 TWD each.

taiwan-day1-ita-thao-rice-stuffed-chicken-wing-at
drool chicken wing stuffed with rice

We picked up our bubble tea and sat on these benches so we can eat like savages. Nom nom. Wish I had that chicken wing right now… it was so delicious.

taiwan-day1-ita-thao-seating-ko
only place with shade to eat the chicken wing

I do not remember this walk at all (I thought I took great notes during this trip…). This staircase reminds me of garlic bulbs, LOL! 570 steps / 20 minute walk to the next tourist sight.

taiwan-day1-path-to-holy-monk-shrine-ko
walking to the next sight

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