My first trip to Taipei, Taiwan was way back in 2009 after my college graduation. Six years later, this place has proven itself worthy of another visit. This time around, I traveled to Taiwan with my entire family. 😀 It’s not really a large country, and yet it seems as if weeks could be spent exploring its burgeoning art, modern facilities, delicious food scene, and innovative technologies. Most of us don’t have that luxury of time though, which is why we have carefully arranged and organized our 3D3N Taiwan itinerary for a vacation on a long weekend (November 27-30, 2015).

Hotel Elevator Creative Top Shot 🙂

We researched online and chose sights and experiences we were particularly interested in. Here are the top 10 attractive places we set foot on.

Top 10 Attractive Places We Visited in Taiwan (3D3N Itinerary)

See:

1. Jinshan Buddhist Temple (開臺金山寺) (East District, Hsinchu)

On our first day, we drove two hours from Taipei to Hsinchu City (新竹市) to see my aunt, visit her office, and have lunch together to catch up. On the way to the restaurant, we stopped by at Jinshan Buddhist Temple, formerly known as Xianglian Temple.

Surrounded by the fresh water of Lengshuikeng, this temple serves the worship of Buddha Guanyin, Sakyamuni, Amitabha, and Zhusheng Niangniang. It was built over 100 years ago and was declared as a third-grade historical site by the Ministry of the Interior on August 19, 1985. Today, it’s a popular place for writers and poets to drink tea because of its beauty and tranquility.

Jinshan Buddhist Temple is one of Hsinchu’s eight major attractions since 1894. It has been renovated multiple times during the war against the Japanese and after World War II. The current structure stands with “protective wings” on the left and right sides, the original main hall with three rooms, and the front pillar and entryway. The architecture style was inspired from the middle era of Qing dynasty. The two stone lions guarding the front door looked powerful, adding to the temple’s rustic beauty.

2. Long Shan Temple (艋舺龍山寺) (Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District)

When in Taipei, it will be sad to miss out on Long Shan Temple. Why? It’s the most popular temple in Taiwan! We’re very fortunate that our hotel was only one station away from Long Shan Template Station, so we didn’t need to travel far. The temple complex is not big, but if you’re like me who likes taking pictures, 30 minutes stay might not be enough. 🙂

Founded in 1738 by Han immigrants from Fujian, Long Shan Temple is now Taipei City’s top religious site. It also serves as a prime venue for exploring both Taiwan’s vibrant folk faith, its unique temple arts and architecture. Like Jinshan Temple in Hsinchu, Long Shan Temple was also rebuilt and restored several times after destruction by natural disasters, such as earthquakes and typhoons, and damages caused by bombings in World War II.

The structure looked impressive with sweeping swallowtail eaves, colorful mosaic-like decoration figures on the roof, and elaborate stone and woodcarvings. We also noticed that the doors, beams, and poles across the halls are beautifully decorated.

Aside from the many tourists, many immigrants of Taiwan also frequently go to Long Shan Temple for spiritual support. They pray to the gods to help them overcome any obstacles and difficulties in their adaption to the new environment. It was so great to see people in uniforms reading text and chanting in unison first hand. Huaxi Night Market is in walking distance.

3. National Palace Museum (Shilin, Taipei)

Another significant landmark in our must-visit list was the National Palace Museum. The main building of the museum has three floors filled with the world’s premier collection of Chinese art, many famous historical masterworks, and treasures from the Forbidden City in China, including the stunning Jade Cabbage.

Most of the things we found there were things we have already learned about from our Chinese history class way back in high school. This experience was different though. Seeing the valuables pieces and collections physically presented in a super organized manner made us better understand the history of China with its imperial artifacts and relics.

We appreciated the text descriptions on the exhibits explaining 10,000 years of China’s history (from the first to the last dynasty), and we were able to manage even without the audio guide. If you have the time to spare, I recommend checking out the National Palace Museum. We were able to walk through the entire main building in three hours.

Admission fee is NTD 250 and additional NTD 200 for the audio guide. Because my dad is a PWD (person with disability), we got free tickets for him and the person accompanying him in wheelchair (that’s me). My mom holds a ROC passport, so she paid the discounted rate at NTD 150. My sister was the only one who paid the full price. 🙂 Note: Big bags, food, drinks, and photography are not allowed inside. Visitors are asked to check in these prohibited items in a locker before entry.

Shop:

4. ATT 4 Fun (原紐約紐約展覽購物中心) (Xinyi District, Taipei)

From City Hall Metro Station, we walked to ATT 4 Fun and felt most excited to see the Alice in Wonderland themed decorations on the fourth floor. We were psyched to take pictures of the place and try out some food while researching about it on Google Maps online. 🙂

The whole building was designed to mimic the American modern and innovative look and artistic conception of space. The first two levels feature big brand stores like Forever 21, Pull and Bear, Zara Home, Mango, Tokyo Plaza, etc. The third to fifth floors make up a huge paradise for foodies. Various restaurants fill up the area with brilliant and luring food displays. ATT 4 Fun is a great center to indulge your comfort food cravings.

5. Taipei 101 (臺北101) (Xinyi District, Taipei)

From ATT 4 Fun, we walked further to Taipei 101 around the corner. Taipei 101 is a skyscraper that was classified as the world’s tallest in 2004 and remained such until the opening of Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010. In 2011, the building was awarded the LEED platinum certification, the highest award according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, and became the tallest and largest green building in the world.

Entrance fee to the observation deck is NTD 500. Priority pass is double the price of normal entry. We didn’t anymore go up because I did not think it’s still worth my time and money. Watching the Taipei City lights from the airplane was already good enough. 😛 #CheapskateMode In any case, the wow factor that could possibly make a sky’s-the-limit-type value to it is the speed of going up to the 89th floor through the elevator. It only takes about 37 seconds! Hard to beat. 🙂

6. Sogo (Fuxing) and Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光)

A Japanese-Taiwanese joint-venture combination shopping center in Taipei, Sogo specializes mostly in expensive international brands and luxury boutiques like Versace, Burberry, Hogan, Hermes, Dior, Chanel Tiffany, Prada, Gucci, and many others. It is a fantastic place to look around and do a bit of designer shopping in Taiwan.

Spacious shopping floors aim to provide a comfortable and abundantly stocked shopping arena. Note: If you spend more than NTD 3,000, you may head to the Customer Service Desk to process your VAT refund and get it in cash. Plus you can get free parking for three hours.

We spent most time at the basement where we had lunch in one of the local restaurants. Gourmet food, traditional Taiwanese sweets, and fancy cakes on the shelves were all pleasing to our eyes.

7. Ximending Night Market (西門町)

Taipei is known for having festive night markets with all sorts of fashionable clothing, quality goods, and tasty food. The streets suddenly come to life after sunset in these areas. Ximending Night Market was truly one of the highlights of our trip where we experienced the authentic local street life, culture, and tastes of Taiwan. It’s a very busy area where the lights shine bright and welcoming! We spared one night for shopping here and had a blast. 🙂

Filled with all kinds of shopping options, Ximending in Wanhua District is similar to Harajuku or Shibuya in Japan. Both are famed for a wide range of entertainments and activities that allure large numbers of young people and young adults. We even saw live dance performances and magic tricks right in the streets. As such, Ximending Night Market in Taiwan has been noted as the hottest spot and the most fashionable shopping area in Taiwan. This place alone attracts an average of over 3 million shoppers per month. That’s a lot of foot traffic!

Ximending is accessible via Exit 6 of the Taipei Metro Ximen Station.

Eat:

8. Shian Yeou (鲜友火锅)

Hungry patrons line up at this Taiwanese hotpot buffet restaurant in Hsinchu, where each table features a boiling cauldron allowing guests to have their own interactive cooking experience to make rich and flavorful broths of soup with various meat, seafood, and vegetarian options.

I mentioned on an Instagram post that Shian Yeou’s concept is like Four Seasons Hotpot City in the Philippines. Besides the hotpot items, mouthwatering plates of dim sum, cooked Taiwanese food, desserts and drinks are also available in the chic setting. This restaurant has a casual vibe to its ambiance, and the mix of food here is generally playing with traditional oriental-style dishes and spicing them up a bit with Japanese sushi and American snacks (fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, etc.).

If shabu-shabu dining and buffet is right up your alley, definitely hit this place for a great hotpot meal. Go out with a full belly and a happy smile as we did. 🙂 Prices are reasonable and staffs were kind. Rates: NTD 359/pax for lunch and NTD 399/pax for dinner. Operating hours are 11AM-11PM on weekdays and 10:30am-11PM on weekends.

9. Modern Toilet Restaurant (便所主題餐廳) 

There’s plenty of themed restaurants in Taiwan, and Modern Toilet Restaurant is only one of the top-rated spots that caught our attention big-time. The walls are covered with tiles just like in a regular bathroom, and the lights that hang from the ceiling above each dining table are plungers.

As you can see, the interior design looks quirky and creative. We sat on the “un-working acrylic toilets” upon entrance and got the menu with lists of food that seemed decent. Our orders came out not as fast as we expected, but the presentation of food won us over. Dishes were served on plastic miniature toilet bowls, and drinks, in miniature urinals. Although some guests may find the place and the food weird, naughty, and disgusting, Modern Toilet Restaurant is never out of customers.

Food tastes were okay and nothing to be disappointed about. Portions were quite generous, too. We had the following:

Toilet Chicken Nugget (NTD 120)

Clam Spaghetti with White Wine (NTD 250)

Seafood with Cream Sauce Au Gratin (NTD 270)

Modern Toilet Beef Curry (NTD 280)

Chocolate Ice Cream (free with our mains)

Modern Toilet Restaurant also sells souvenir items for gifts and remembrance. These are stuff you can take back home and give to friends to make fun of. 😛

10. Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining

Before going to the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to catch our red-eye flight back to Manila, we went to Helly Kitty Kitchen and Dining for afternoon snack/early dinner. My sister’s friend, Maylene, joined us and we all heartily took delight and spoiled ourselves with Hello Kitty desserts and drinks (tagged with hefty prices). 😛

The ambiance was obviously catered to fans of KT, with cutesy pink details across the dining room. The menu is  bountiful with irresistible cakes, pastries, and Western-style dishes like pizza, pasta, burger, and salads all with Hello Kitty’s face. So adorable!

We ordered the following:

Tiramisu Set (NTD 300)

Macchiato Coffee Smoothie (NTD 230)

Peach Apple Juice (NTD 180)

Vanilla Cake (NTD 280)

Hello Kitty Cheesecake (NTD 130)

Wrap Up

Taipei is a very friendly city. It offers a captivating tour of historic sights mixed with an easygoing pedestrian environment. We particularly appreciated that public transportation, even for senior citizens and PWD, is so convenient. People are warm, kind, and helpful.

Our three-days Taiwan itinerary may seem a little unambitious and not busy enough for experienced travelers, but every part was well organized and at the same time not too restrictive. This family trip to Taiwan will always be memorable because it’s my dad’s first out-of-the-country travel experience after he met an accident three years ago. We’re so thankful to Auntie Evelyn and her family for guiding us through and also to Auntie Julie for spending some time with us and even treating us to a meal. 謝謝你們的幫助!! 🙂

About 

Digital marketing strategist. Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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47 Responses

  1. mr_jeng

    Oh my!!!!!!
    you ate at the POOOP resto 🙂 that’s very unique…

    hmmm and the shopping wow! Im quite intrigued with the hello kitty themed resto and also the alice in wonderland feel of one of the malls..

    hmmmmm…. seems I need to plan a trip to taiwan. 🙂

    See you soon dear

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yes, we did! We were very excited to dine in that restaurant. It’s like the “talk of the town” and everyone seems to know about it.

      Night markets in Taiwan are great. Remember to get to at least one and keep it in your travel itinerary.

      The ATT 4 Fun Mall is one of my favorite places. If only we were not too full that time, we could have tried more restaurants. 🙂

      See you on our Christmas party!

      Reply
  2. OurFamilyWorld

    Looks like you had a wonderful time in Taiwan. I’ve only been there once and it was a long time ago. I went to KaoShiung. It was there that I had the best Xiao Long Baos I’ve ever tasted.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Taiwan’s XLBs really are the best! We tried tasting those being sold in the streets as well. While the quality wasn’t as good as in the restaurants, it was still better than most restaurants are serving here in our country. I think when it comes to food, Taiwan is one of the best travel destinations in Asia! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Heather lawrence

    The chocolate ice cream in the toilet is just too much! I haven’t laughed that hard in my life! I can totally see me taking my daughters to the hello kitty restaurant. They would have a blast!!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha. Yeah, those were awesome. When I look at the food pictures taken in Modern Toilet now, I could not believe how I managed to digest them without feeling disgusted. The chocolate ice cream wasn’t the best, but it surely looked interesting. Your daughter would love the Hello Kitty restaurant. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Pam

    Looks like you saw a lot of cool places! The Toilet Cafe is really interesting, I have never heard of somewhere like that before.

    Reply
  5. Rebecca Swenor

    These are all gorgeous interesting places to visit for sure. I don’t know about the elevator though because I am afraid of heights. lol. Temples of all types have been the most interesting gorgeous places I would love to visit. The food all looks amazing and I love the toilet items for a gift.lol Thanks so much for sharing your experiences.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You’re welcome, Rebecca. 🙂 If you are visiting Taiwan, I suggest that you go to the ancient temples, visit the National Palace museum to see the world’s largest collection of Chinese artifacts, and go up to the popular Taipei 101 Tower. If you’re afraid of heights, you’re still welcome to tour around Taipei 101 with its endless shopping opportunities.

      Reply
  6. rika

    I’ve been to Taipei but only for a few hours. I would love to go back there, try the foods and check out the culture

    Reply
  7. Bonnie @wemake7

    These are some really attractive places to visit. I hope to visit there someday.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It will be great and cool to bring your whole family in your travel and experience a different “China.” Taiwan may be the Republic of China, but it’s far more laid back than its giant sibling to the northwest. 🙂

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup! Super cute. 🙂 Note pala: each person should purchase a minimum of NTD 300 worth of food and/or drinks sa Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining restaurant. We were surprised and almost did not want to enter, pero nandoon na rin so okay na haha.

      Reply
  8. Donna Ward

    What a beautiful memory and yes a little unambitious – but since you were experienced with this – it sounds wonderful – Handsome group of family and friends – so glad your Dad was able to go with you 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Donna. His presence means a lot. It’s a struggle to commute (take public transportation) in the Philippines, but in Taipei, he was happy to experience the good treatment of people and road structures to persons with disabilities and senior citizens. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Britni

    Looks like a lot of really fun places to visit. The little Hello Kitty Kitchen and Dining looked so cute! I would love to take my girls there!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah. 🙂 I figured that there’s a lot of cutesy things that Taiwan presents not only in restaurants (themed dining) but also in supermarkets and groceries. So many food are packed and printed with characters that make kids want to buy them all!

      Reply
  10. Dina

    I’d love to go to the National Palace Museum and the Hello Kitty. I need to plan a visit soon with my hubby. We love to travel.

    Reply
  11. Jaime Nicole

    What a diverse mix of places and themes to visit on your trip! The history and the architecture are so beautiful and interesting, but how could you skip out on a Hello Kitty restaurant!? There is so much to see and do and so much fun to be had! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Right! We really did not want to skip the Hello Kitty restaurant even if the prices of their food are incredibly more expensive than most bakeries. Sigh, if their cakes just don’t look that cute, we would have passed and gone to other restaurant to eat. Anyway, we had a great time and that’s what counts the most. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Angie

    I’ve never been to Taiwan, or thought about going to Taiwan, but this post makes me really want to check it out. There are so many cool things you have listed here, that’s so neat. I really enjoyed this post, thank you for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There’s more to Taiwan than these places we visited. If you’re visiting soon, do check out Maokong Gondola, Beitou Hot Spring, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. 🙂 These are four of the most recommended sites to go when it’s your first time to tour in Taipei City.

      Reply
  13. Winter

    Ok I HAVE to go to Taiwan just to try the toilet bowl food lol! The city looks so colorful and fun! I would also love that Hello Kitty Kitchen. It is super adorable! I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl and I would have the best time!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      We did have a great time in Taiwan. 🙂 From the more traditional shrimp dumplings and beef noodles to the western-style hamburgers and pastas, from the elemental authenticities to the creative fusion, you can go from small local stalls to fancy restaurants, and you will discover why other visitors call it a food paradise here.

      Reply
  14. Katalina @ Peas & Peonies

    This looks like such a great adventure. Taiwan is on my travel list with Long Shan Temple at the top of it. That ATT 4 FUN place sounds like something I would enjoy a lot too. And the food, omg the food looks amazing!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Exploring Taiwan if you’re adventurous with food will be fun. Food-tasting is truly a way to enjoy the mixture of colorful local cultures. ATT 4 Fun and its adjacent malls are wonderful to visit especially this time of the year when Christmas lights and the spirit of the holiday are so in! 🙂

      Reply
  15. Jenjen

    WOW! Beautiful places you’ve been to! I love the buffet part though haha! Looking forward that one day I will be sharing my travel experience too 🙂

    Reply
  16. Felicita Moncada

    I can see the history and culture popping through all your images! Wow! I love Hello Kitty the pancakes and cheesecake like SO cute! Looks like you are having a blast!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Considering the cheap thrills, food, fashion, modernity, and security, you certainly can enjoy Taiwan no matter what budget you have. Alone or with loved ones, you will never be alone in this amazing location that offers everything. Let yourself be pampered and enjoy! 🙂

      Reply
  17. Jennifer Tammy

    Oh my gosh – this is so cool! I haven’t been to Taiwan since I was a kid (like 20 years) but I am now dying to go back!
    I think the ATT 4 Fun is definitely more my speed than the Modern Toilet restaurant – I actually don’t know that I would be able to get past the presentation to eat the food. Especially that ice cream! 🙂 Thanks for such an amazing review – definitely pinning to my travel board.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Jennifer! I feel so happy whenever people are inspired to follow the wanderlust in them and become more motivated to travel because of what I share. Haha. Yeah, ATT4Fun is also more right up in my alley than the Modern Toilet, but it’s great to have had the experience to eat in a funny-looking restaurant at least once. 😉

      Reply
  18. Yona Williams

    The beams and poles of the Long Shan Temple are very beautiful – I love the ornate detail of them. I also like the Alice in Wonderland theme of ATT 4 Fun, and the Pandora carriage.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      All these places are wonderful. 🙂 Nothing can beat the Long Shan Temple in Taiwan. We visited a similar one in Guangzhou, China–the Chen Family Temple – Guangdong Folk Art Museum. I love the intricate details as well. They look so pretty!

      Reply
  19. Kaye Fig

    These are amazing places to visit. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to visit this country soon. Thank you for sharing the beauty
    of Taiwan.

    Reply
  20. Jennifer Pilgrim

    Great post! I just pinned it for later because I am taking a trip to Taiwan someday. It’s on my bucket list. If I take my daughter, I am going to have to stop by the Hello Kitty Kitchen!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Jennifer! It will be a happy bonding moment between you and your daughter in that cute restaurant. 🙂 Taiwan is a fast-moving, open-minded metropolis, with the best mix of city hustle and natural wonders in one. It’s a gastronome’s dream and everything is connected by the clean and convenient MRT subway.

      Reply

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