Trip to Taiwan: Shifen (and Pingxi)

For our last full day, we decided to take a bit of a trip out to Shifen and Pingxi, which are both known for their lanterns. We arrived at Shifen first (they’re both on the same line), and I just loved the view from the platform.


It was an amazing clear day, and you could actually cross on the tracks itself to the small street lined with shops on the other side. Turns out, anyone can go on the tracks as long as the train isn’t approaching.


There are plenty of small souvenir shops and places to eat!

Since its main tourist attraction is the lanterns, there are lots of people that will try to get you to fly off a lantern with them. We had plans to do it at Pingxi later in the day, so we just enjoyed watching everyone write their wishes and such on their lanterns and fly them off.

Gudetama and Doraemon lanterns!


Don’t worry about having to switch off with your friends or asking a stranger to take a photo for you. Usually, the worker will take your camera so that you can have the perfect photo (of all four sides of the lantern!).


We decided to rest at a small shop for snack time, since I couldn’t say no to chicken rice. I was pleasantly surprised by this generous place of not just chicken but plenty of vegetables and even a whole boiled egg. They also gave me tea and watermelon! My friends had ice cream and one of them even brought in food from outside, but they didn’t seem to mind.

There’s also a bridge near the station! Not much to do or see but good for photos when there aren’t too many people.


We actually spent a really, really long time around Shifen, so we got to walk all around the town and enjoy the peaceful scenery. I loved how even from far away, you could see the lanterns floating up into the air.

We took a walk to Shifen Waterfall, which took maybe about 10-15 minutes.

It was definitely worth the short hike(?), but it was so hot that I was sweating just from standing and taking photos.

On our way back, we passed by a small shop selling drinks and decided to stop by to cool down. It was really nice to get some shade under a tent with a chilled drink.

We were trying to get on the train to head to Pingxi around evening, but we had some trouble figuring out the train system and ended up waiting on the platform for an entire hour and twenty minutes.. The train was late, and only come about once every hour. Definitely not a highlight of our trip. (But we did manage to meet an adorable, friendly cat!) If you’re going to Shifen and Pingxi, I would definitely make sure to check the times and plan out your day well!


When we finally got to Pingxi, we were greeted by darkness. We were devastated to find out that everything had already closed for the day, and there were no more tourists or anything. We could hardly believe it since it wasn’t even that late yet, but we asked someone that was passing by, who told us that pretty much everything was over for the night. Luckily, one shop right by the train platform was still offering the lanterns, so we ended our day there. The lanterns have lots of different colors and meanings, and we decided to go with the iconic red lantern. We took our turns writing on the different sides with a paint brush, and the man helped us go out onto the railway and record as we lifted it off into the night sky.


Overall, our Taiwan trip was quite rushed and short, but memorable. I’d love to return some day!

Below is my travel video from our trip ^^

Continue Reading

Trip to Taiwan: Ximending, Taipei 101, Shilin Night Market

For our third day, we first headed to Ximending, a very popular shopping district for young people. It’s a lot different from the kind of shopping we did at Wufenpu, and reminded me of Shibuya or Shinjuku in Tokyo. Not only are there clothing shops, but lots of restaurants, salons, department stores, karaoke, arcades, and such.

We actually got there around 10am, and since most stores weren’t open yet, we got some milk tea!

After looking around at the shops for a while, we decided to go to a restaurant for our first proper meal that wasn’t street food! We had some delicious dim sum at a nice restaurant, and even then it was less expensive than we had thought.

In the evening, we headed to the famous Taipei 101.

Tip: If you don’t want to line up to take a picture with the LOVE sign, go on the other side and flip the photo!

We weren’t there for too long, but we did get to walk around the mall and my friends went up to the observatory (tickets required!)

For dinner, we decided to go to the Shilin Night Market which we’ve heard so much about. It’s definitely a lot different than Raohe Night Market, but both have its own charms! Shilin has a lot more shopping, and it’s a lot bigger. We even got lost trying to find the food, but we made a couple rounds around through the night. Some of the food they have was different than the other night market as well.

We enjoyed it so much and somehow ended up staying too long and catching the last train past midnight!

Continue Reading

Trip to Taiwan: Jiufen

Day two, first full day in Taiwan! I woke up extra early to take a peaceful morning walk around our hotel.

We bought some fresh mango juice (this became a recurring event throughout our trip.. can’t resist!) and also some buns and radish cake for breakfast and ate it at a nearby park.

Afterwards, we met up with our friend to go to Jiufen, an old mining town now well-known for being the inspiration behind the Ghibli movie Spirited Away.

We took a long bus ride all the way there. There are actually a lot of pushy men that offer to bring you there much quicker for a higher price in their cars, but we weren’t sure about its safety and weren’t comfortable with it in a foreign country, so we just went with the bus.

It’s basically full of narrow alleys and twists and turns of streets lined with shops selling food, souvenirs, and little goodies.

Douhua again!
Pig ear.

At one point, we realized that we wanted to stay until night time in order to see the tea house lit up. So from then on, we decided to just roam around the entire town, away from the bustling streets of shops and tourists, in order to kill time and enjoy the scenery.


One really odd and interesting thing that happened as we were walking was a man actually saw that we were trying to take a photo of the four of us, so he offered to help take it. He was quite friendly, and was delighted to find out that I was Japanese and started speaking to me in some Japanese that he knew. He then proceeded to tell me he had an omiyage, a gift, for me, and pulled out some photos out of his backpack. They were mostly photos of him when he was much younger in some popular spots in Taiwan. I thought he was just showing them to us, but he insisted that I take them and not in a position to refuse, I politely thanked him and accepted them. He also wanted all of us to take a photo together on my camera, so after I took a photo of all of us, he said goodbye and left. We were looking at them again later on, still confused about the whole encounter, and there was a small piece of paper with what seems to be a name and an address (covered in the photo above).

The tunnel that inspired the tunnel scene in the movie..?

The view of the grand teahouse was definitely worth the many hours we spent there. With all of the tourists pushing through each other for all of the photos and such, it really reminded me of the active creatures in the movie at the bathhouse.

It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Taiwan for a reason, and I’d definitely recommend a day trip here (especially if you’re a fan of Spirited Away!)


Continue Reading

Trip to Taiwan: Wu Fen Pu Shopping Market + Raohe Night Market

This summer started off with a short 4 night trip to Taiwan with two of my friends! We had the pleasure of going on Eva Air’s Hello Kitty Airplane.  Though I’m not much of a Hello Kitty fan, it was definitely a nice surprise and I really appreciate how everything (even the disposal bag) was decorated so cutely.

Since we arrived in the late afternoon, we decided to do a little shopping and have dinner at a night market. Since we all appreciate cute, cheap clothes, we headed to Songshan Station and walked just a few minutes to Wufenpu.

Wufenpu is basically a big outdoor wholesale garment outlet, with hundreds of little shops selling all sorts of clothes, accessories, and bags.

Most of the stores have lots of their items folded in boxes or bags on the floor, which you’re free to look through.
There are constantly motorcycles driving through the narrow streets, so keep an eye out as you’re shopping!

All of the items I bought were about $5-10 USD. Of course, the quality reflects the low prices, but I was pretty satisfied with all of my purchases! We spent a while there, and ended up returning a different day to do some last-minute shopping. If you’re looking for nicer clothes or brand names, this definitely isn’t the place. However, if you’re looking for some cute, affordable clothes, I would definitely recommend spending an hour or two shopping through the maze of shops!

For dinner, we walked just about five minutes from Wufenpu to the other side of the station to Raohe Night Market. Throughout our trip, we actually ate street food at night markets more often than going to actual restaurants haha.

It’s basically two narrow long rows full of delicious street food and little shops.

I loved seeing all of the food being made right in front of you, and while I wish I had a hole for a stomach so that I could eat everything they had, we did our best to choose a few that we thought looked best.


Beef noodles and deer meat rice.
Fried dumplings.
Fried dumplings.
Kimchi pork coffin toast.
Kimchi pork coffin toast.
Douhua (豆花) with red bean, boba, and taro.

Everything was so delicious and of course, cheap!

We also went to Shilin Night Market, another very popular spot, but we preferred Raohe and went a second time on our last night. Compared to Shilin which had a lot of shopping, we felt that Raohe might have had more food, and it was all in a more concentrated space. (Both were really fun though, so do try to go to multiple if you have the chance!)

Continue Reading