We arrived at Taoyuan International Airport T1 at about 10:30am, via a Cebu Pacific flight. We had to wait in line for about 20 minutes at Immigration, but other than that the process was really quick. I don’t think they ask a lot of questions, as it was the case for all of us in our group.
After immigration, we head to Bank of Taiwan’s money exchange outlet just at the exit to the arrival hall. In our case, we got better rates exchanging from PHP to USD, then from USD to TWD. It of course differs case to case, but do check Bank of Taiwan’s forex so you could know how to get better rates.
We booked our pocket wifis via Klook, and claimed them at Unite Traveller booth, at the far eastern wing of the Arrival Hall. We booked two of this for eight days, with a total of just PHP 1,120 each. Booking with Klook was really convenient for us and saved us money. Just show the e-voucher, and a credit card. I believe this is for the deposit. In our case we just showed the BDO debit card (with EMV) I booked with.
Note: There is wifi practically everywhere we went in Taipei, but connections were not as stable. So the pocket wifi’s were still very useful.
Bus to Taipei
The bus terminal is one level below the arrival hall. We took the Kuo Kuang Bus 1819 to Taipei which leaves every 15-20 minutes. Tickets are at NTD 140, discounted to NTD 135 (if I remember correctly) if you use an Easycard. Using the Easycard is really convenient, as you can tap, pay and load up at any convenience store and transport terminal. It would cost you a non-refundable, non-consumable NTD 100. More info on the buses from Taoyuan Airport can be accessed here.
We were staying at Ximen Hotel A in Ximending (review to come!), so we alighted at Taipei Main Station. Since we all wouldn’t fit in a taxi (and I’m a real sucker for nice train systems), my sister and I decided to take the Taipei Metro which is only one station away, while the rest of our group rode a taxi straight to our hotel.
But of course, we were lured by so many things to see at the Taipei Main Station. Haha!
We had an awful late lunch at a random place in Ximending, and after a bit of rest and more eating, we headed to Elephant Mountain.
We rode the MRT all the way to the end of the red line at Xiangshan station. Exit 2 will open right at a park, and you just have to walk until the end of it, turn left, and follow the signs to the Elephant trail.
A lot of blogs say that this trail is relatively easy and can be done in 15-20 minutes. But unlike a lot of travellers, we were probably at fitness level zero. Be warned that if you do little to no exercise, this trail will be a bit difficult for you, but doable. As in the case for us and other travelers. Haha. It took us about 20-30 minutes to get to the first viewing platform, with multiple pit stops to get our heart rates down. Thankfully there were a lot of small pockets of resting places along the way.
A random person who seemed to be a local even stopped and offered us some advice on how to stretch our legs when we get tired! Some grandpas doing their exercise also shooed us away. :))
The view, however, is really really nice even on the first viewing platform only.
We decided not to go any further because
we might die, and insects were practically feasting on us. Remember to put on insect repellent before going! And wear comfortable clothes! We learned this the hard way.
After the trail, we decided to go to Raohe Night Market, because it was out of our Ownrides itinerary, and it was relatively near. However it was quite a hassle to reach Raohe Night Market from Xiangshan via MRT or bus, so we decided to take a taxi which cost us about NTD 135.
Raohe Night Market is quite small relative to Shilin or Feng Jia, but we enjoyed it all the same and had a good experience snacking our way through.
A lot of bloggers rave about the pork bun at the entrance of the market, unfortunately our feet ached too much to fall in line. We also thought we will be having dinner with the group at Ximending so we didn’t eat a lot. :))
However. we just capped off our day with a night stroll in Ximending and ice cream from 7-11.
How was your experience in Elephant trail and Raohe? Do leave comments/ suggestions /anything below! 🙂
Next day’s itinerary: Taipei City Tour!