After Taiwan, our next stop was a short one and a half hour flight away to Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities because of the diverse culture, non-stop energy, and the fact there there’s so much to see and do. These photos are a bit different than the typical landmarks that make the city so well known. These are some other unique places I came across that I wanted to share from my two week stay during Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, during our trip the weather was mostly cloudy, drizzly, or rainy. I think we only saw the sun and blue skies a couple days. The weather was very mild, sometimes cool, and always hazy. A better time to visit would be late summer or fall when it’s not so wet.
One of our days in Taiwan was spent at Taroko National Park to the west of Hualien on the eastern coast of the island. It’s about a 2 hour high speed express train from Taipei. Be sure to book tickets a couple weeks in advance online when it opens to secure your seats. Use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fees to save on the conversion to NTD. Fortunately, we were staying next to Taipei Station, the main terminal for trains and also an MRT (subway) stop so it was easy to catch early in the morning. We skipped breakfast at the hotel and picked up some food to go at 7-11 and ate on the train. If you sit on the left of the train as it goes south, you’ll have a nice view of the coast.
To go into the park, we booked with Tiffany, a taxi guide, to pick us up from the train station and take us around for the day. If you don’t book with a guide in advance, it’s ok too because there are lots of cab drivers at the station who are very friendly (in a non-pushy way) who will be glad to take you around. We paid a little over $100 USD for the day 7-8 hours of sightseeing and it was well worth it!
On to the park. It’s incredible. The cliffs, gorges, mountains, and roads are like nothing I’ve ever seen. They’re very steep and there’s many different topographic changes throughout the park. Some of the mountain roads are extremely narrow and are only passable by a single lane. Tiffany expertly navigated the park and we were able to hit all the big attractions with many stops along the way for pictures. She was able to take us to all of the places the big tour buses can’t go which was nice because some of the attractions get busy later in the day with tourists. The sheer size and scale of the area is difficult to visualize because it is so grand.
We began our morning with an early breakfast and catching a bus behind the train stationto Yangmingshan National Park. Once you get to the park, there are local circular buses within the park to take you around. They get very crowded. The park is large and not too far from the city. You can easily spend an entire day there wandering and hiking from one area to another. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day, only one of a few on this three-week trip.
These are some of my favorite foods around Taiepei, most of which is food found around the street. You can go your entire trip in Taiwan and not even set foot in a restaurant. It’s so much fun to walk around the city feasting with your eyes at everything that is cooked and ready to eat in front of you. In fact, I think I preferred the street foods to the actual restaurants we visited.
One restaurant I can and definitely recommend is the original Ding Tai Fung on Xinyi Road in Taipei. It’s a small three story restaurant that’s always busy. Go at an off-peak hour (for a late lunch as we did) and the wait will be less. There’s always a crowd gathered outside, but the wait is worth it! There are lots of locations around town and globally, but from what we heard, this was the best.