Taroko National Park Taiwan

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.

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Qingshui Cliff is 800m above sea level and features fresh Pacific air and crystal blue waters below.
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Shrine dedicated to the hundreds of workers who lost their lives building the highway through the park.

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Day at Yangmingshan National Park

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.

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The famous Seven Star Mountain with Taiwan’s largest dormant volcano. Around the area are numerous hot springs and some bath houses to relax or just soak your feet after a long day’s hike.
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Panorama vista from an overlook in a short hike through bamboo.
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Milk Lake
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There are many interesting looking trees.

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Food of Taiwan

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.

 

Asian bakeries are second to none in presentation and taste!
Asian bakeries are second to none in presentation and taste!
Breakfast at our hotel was always healthy and different every day!
Breakfast at our hotel was always healthy and different every day!
After breakfast, sometimes you wanted something sweet like a green tea donut, only at Krispy Kreme!
After breakfast, sometimes you wanted something sweet like a green tea donut, only at Krispy Kreme!
Mister Donut also had a variety of pretty donuts.
Mister Donut also had a variety of pretty donuts.
These green onion pancakes were amazing! So hot and so tasty.
These green onion pancakes were amazing! So hot and so tasty.

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Some food carts put an emphasis on the aesthetic quality in addition to taste.
Some food carts put an emphasis on the aesthetic quality in addition to taste.

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Stinky tofu, a must try in Taiwan!!
Stinky tofu, a must try in Taiwan!!
That's one way to cook...
That’s one way to cook…

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Shaved ice with fruit is incredible! They shave the ice as smooth as snow, that it's almost like ice cream.
Shaved ice with fruit is incredible! They shave the ice as smooth as snow, that it’s almost like ice cream.
Ding Tai Fung is a must visit in Taipei. The universally famous steamed xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are amazing and so are there other steamed buns and dumplings.
Ding Tai Fung is a must visit in Taipei. The universally famous steamed xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are amazing and so are there other steamed buns and dumplings.

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Underground malls can also have tons of really good restaurants like this nice find below our hotel.
Underground malls can also have tons of really good restaurants like this nice find below our hotel.
Sushi to go is cheap and very popular!
Sushi to go is cheap and very popular!

 

 

Temples and Markets of Taipei

Many of the markets we went to in Taipei were surrounding temples which make sense as a gathering place in the city. Since it was Chinese New Year, there were lots of lanterns and decorations adorning the temples. It made for some extra colorful shots.

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He only managed to grab a couple, but it was hilarious to watch.
He only managed to grab a couple, but it was hilarious to watch.
Scooping fish with a paper net is quite a chalenge.
Scooping fish with a paper net is quite a chalenge.
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Just walking down any market is enough to make you hungry.

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Lottery scratch tickets are everywhere throughout the city.
Lottery scratch tickets are everywhere throughout the city.