9D8N in Taiwan for Only RM4,500: Alishan, Hualien, Taipei and More!

It’s safe to say that Taiwan is an island of priceless travel gems. With alluring mountain scenery and lovely coastal views, there’s plenty of stunning natural vistas throughout the island nation. What’s more, the different seasons also bring with them different hues as well.

Apart from being a feast for the eyes, Taiwan is also home to mouthwatering street food, a well-connected public transport system, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Sadly, because we only had a limited number of days in Taiwan on holiday, we could not visit all of the lovely places there. Only more reason to come back again, I suppose!

This time, we traveled to Taiwan in March, during spring and when the flowers were blooming. Cherry blossoms, anyone? The weather was relatively chilly, so if you’re heading there during this time yourself, make sure to bring some warm clothes.

  • WIFI Sharing: For our trip this time, we didn’t get local SIM cards. Instead, we rented pocket Wifi. You can get one via KLOOK. We rented it for 9 days, which came to about Rm135. There’s a service counter in Taoyuan International Airport so you can pick it up once you land.
  • Transport Card: You can buy a transport card in both terminals in Taoyuan Airport. If not, you can also get them at convenience stores like 7-11. With the exception of Kaohsiung, the transport card allows you to enjoy discounts on most public transport options in Taiwan (including the subway and public buses.
  • Taiwan HSR: You can prebook your High Speed Rail (HSR) tickets up to a month before your journey. Once you’ve paid for them, simply head to the counter on the day of your journey and redeem your tickets. All you need is the booking number and you passport. If you’re looking for early bird tickets, then you’ll have to act fast. on February 16, we bought two tickets for a trip from Taoyuan to Chiayi on March 16, and we got a 20% discount! Prices vary based on the time of departure so take note of that.
  • Taiwan Railway: You can prebook these tickets up to two weeks before the journey. In the same way, all you need is your booking number and passport to redeem the tickets on the day of. The various trains all operate at different speeds and run on different schedules. Take note that not all trains will call at every station, so it’s best to check on the website and plan accordingly. You can buy a packed lunch while prebooking your tickets and we highly recommend doing so!

Fist Stop – Alishan【1 Day】

12:55 a.m. Depart Singapore,05:55 a.m. Arrival at Taoyuan International Airport. Our first stop was Alishan. From the airport, we took the U Bus 705 shuttle to Taoyuan HSR Station. From there, we made a beeline to Chiayi and transferred to a train towards Alishan. These depart Chiayi at 9:30 a.m., 10:10 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 1:10 p.m.

We managed to board the 10:10 a.m. train and arrived at Alishan at 1 p.m. It was 13°C that day, brrrgh! You’ll need to purchase an entrance ticket before you can enter the forested area.

From Alishan Station, we took the Forest Train to Zhaoping Station. From there, we strolled along the footpaths, passing by popular spots such as Sister Lake before heading back to Alishan Station from  Shenmu Station. Stepping into the embrace of Alishan, we were surrounded by sky-piercing trees. The air was fresh and there just a sense of serenity all around. It really made us want to live there forever!  

The next day, at 5.30 a.m., We headed to Yushan to catch the sunrise. According to our guide, the tour groups before us couldn’t catch the break of dawn for the past few days. So, being able to catch the sunrise the day of our trip was a truly blessed experience! 

The hotel we stayed at provided breakfast. In order to catch our 1:08 p.m. HSR from Chiayi Station to Taichung, we decided to take the hotel-provided shuttle down Alishan. 

Second Stop –Qingjing Farm【2 Days】

The homestay which hosted at Qingjing Farm provided shuttle services to several key locations in the area. We were picked up from the Taichung HSR Station at 3:00 p.m. Not only that, the kind owner even arranged nightly guided stargazing tours for us and it was truly an unforgettable experience! When we lifted our heads on the balcony, we could see that the entire night sky was filled with stars! It was so magical that we started creating our own constellations and backstories!

Thanks to the enthusiastic owner, we even got to learn about the different stars and constellations. We also learned how to use them to tell the direction. Arranging this farmstay on the weekend allowed us to spend some time with the famous woolly sheep in the area and catch their daily performances too! There are only two shows daily, at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., so make sure you don’t mess up on timing!  

Third Stop –Hualien【1 Day】

Hualien, a beautiful town surrounded by mountains and the sea, is truly a haven of unparalleled natural beauty. We rented a car and embarked on an 8-hour self-planned journey here. On our way from Qingjing Farm, we visited many of Hualien’s popular picturesque locations before arriving at our hostel. The roads were windy and at times perilous, but it was all worth it in the end. At night, we visited Dongdamen Night Market for our street food fill. 

Fourth Stop –Taipei; Jiufen, Shifen【5 Days】

After our detour in Hualien, we boarded the local train to our next stop: Taipei. Along the way, we passed by stunning coastal views of the Pacific, wide open rice fields, and alluring mountain scenery. It was truly magnificent. 

Taipei Day 1:【Ximending, Wufenpu, Raohe Night Market, Chengpin Book Store】

If you’re looking for eye candy, head to Ximending; if you’re looking for trendy clothes, hit up Wufenpu; for epic street food, visit Raohe Night Market. But my favourite on day 1 was Chengpin Book Store. There’s plenty of reading material to choose from, ranging from art to music and lifestyle magazines, bibliophiles could stay here for ages! You could say that the store is Taipei’s cultural icon, so if you miss it, you’ll definitely not be able to forgive yourself!  

Day 2 in Taipei: Yangmingshan and Taipei 101

To get to Yangmingshan, you can catch a ride on the metro to Jiantan Station. From there, take Bus number 5 on the red line towards Yangmingshan National Park HQ. From there, you have two choices:

1- catch a ride on bus 125 towards the waterfall or

2- ride bus 108 around all the top locations in the park

You can purchase a ticket for bus 108 at the HQ. The one-day pass costs 60NTD (RM8 more or less).  March is the flowering season in Yangmingshan. Plan your journey right and you’ll be treated to cherry blossoms around the park! 

Taipei 101: a collection of offices, viewing platforms, and shopping centres, all combined into one iconic building.

Day 3 in Taipei: Jiufen, Shifen

Because it took time to get from one location to the next, we decided to rent a car so we could spend more time exploring the attractions. We managed to visit Yehliu Geopark, Shifen Old Street, the Shifen Waterfall, Jinguashi Waterfall, the YinYang Sea, the 13 Ruins, and Jiufen Old Street.

The railway tracks run through the village. This bewildering phenomenon of having a train pass by your front door is actually one of Shifen’s most unique attractions. The locals seem to have gotten used to it too. From Shifen Town, you can walk to Shifen Waterfall.

The Jinguashi Waterfall and YinYang Sea are interconnected. The unique geography of the location led to the formation of the waterfall. In turn, water from the spring flows into the sea, thus creating the YinYang Sea.

Jiufen Old Street, a beautiful mountainous village which exudes a nostalgic charm. Don’t forget to sample the famous yam balls while you’re there! 

Day 4 in Taipei: Beitou,Tamsui,Ningxia Night Market

Our final stops in Taiwan were Beitou and Tamsui. We had originally planned to visit Hell Valley. Unfortunately, due to a storm the night before, a tree had been uprooted and it blocked the way to the attraction. Aww, tough luck!

We had no choice but to switch up our plan. In Beitou, we lingered around the town and sampled some of the famous hot springs ramen. You can head to Tamsui Old Street to shop for souvenirs and various Taiwanese snacks to bring home. We bought a pair of tickets for the boat to the Fisherman’s Wharf where we got to admire the sunset. 

Day 5 in Taipei,3:55 p.m.. Time to go home~

Taiwan is an island that never sleeps, full of lovely natural scenery, bustling night markets, and delicious street food. Without knowing it, our journey had come to an end. Of course, we had one last thing to do before we left: dining at Tin Tai Fung. We had lunch there before heading back to Taoyuan Airport for our flight home. Goodbye, Taiwan, until we meet again. To be honest, we don’t consider our trip a budget trip, so we’ve chosen not to share our final expenses. However, between the two of us, we roughly spent a total of RM4,500 per person including flights, accommodation, car rental, transportation, food, and souvenirs. 

Also read:Day trips to take from Taipei

By Darren

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