Day 5 – Taipei

Sadly, this was our last day in Taipei 😦 Our hotel included breakfast so we had that before we checked out. There were two options that morning – Nutella toast and chicken quesadilla. The breakfasts were made before your eyes by the hotel staff. Not a lot of tables and there were only three staff preparing so I recommend coming a little earlier.

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ITINERARY

After breakfast, we went to our first stop, a famous temple in Taipei called Mengjia Longshan Temple ( 龍山寺). When we got there, there were many people there already worshipping. We spent around 30 minutes here just admiring the infrastructure.

Next stop was the Mao Kong gondola. Our driver dropped us off at the foot of the hill and we purchased our tickets there. It is 50 TWD which is a very good deal. We bought a single trip ticket up to the Mao Kong stop. You have to go up several floors to get to the gondola. There were many people waiting when we got there. There are two lines, one for the regular gondolas and one for the glass bottom ones. The one for the glass bottom is way longer (only 1 in 5 are glass) so unless you really are insistent on trying it, I would recommend going for the regular. I was told by my friends from Hong Kong that you can go online to reserve tickets for the glass bottom one but I did not see this option available on their website.

There are a total of 4 stops for the gondola, the first two which are for the zoo. We did not go to the zoo as the reviews for it are only so so and we did not have enough time on our trip. You just have to stay on the gondola when they stop at the first three stations. The staff working there are very friendly as they would smile and wave goodbye to you as you take off for the next station.

It was very warm that day and was quite stuffy in the gondola. After 15 minutes, we reached the stop at the highest elevation, Mao Kong. You will come upon a few food stalls after you step out from the station which sells some famous local snacks such as cuttlefish balls, lamb skewers, and Taiwanese sausage. There is also a small food court where you can sit down to eat as well. If you keep walking up the path for about 10 minutes, you will come upon the main road where all the restaurants and shops are located.

We went to Mao Kong Tea House (貓空茶屋) to buy some tea as souvenirs as the area is known for its tea. I purchased the honey black tea and the floral fragrance oolong. The packaging is quite cute as it has a cat on the can.

Then we sat down and had lunch at one of the restaurants called Jheng Da Tea Organic Garden (正大休閒茶園). The restaurant serves Taiwanese cuisine and special dishes made with tea leaves. We ordered the tea smoked chicken, chicken and tea soup and pan fried shrimp with tea leaves. They were alright. The most memorable was the logan red date drink which tasted really delicious. The food took a while to be served but the view from the restaurant was very nice.

Due to time restriction, we had to leave shortly after lunch. We walked back down the hill to the Mao Kong train station and took the gondola back down. If you look closely, you can see Taipei 101!

We asked our driver to make a pit stop at this bakery (幾分甜) to buy some pineapple pastries upon recommendations from our friend. The pineapple pastries are highly recommended! They are served in bite size which is nice for snacking and taste very creamy and chewy. It is just right in terms of sweetness as well. Too bad they expire after 2 weeks (no preservatives)! Otherwise, I would have bought more.

Our driver was very insistent on taking us to Taipei 101 so we stopped here briefly before our next attraction. This mall is huge but we only had an hour so we only saw a small glimpse of it. If you want to see it all, you should definitely allocate 2-3 hours here. This attraction was not part of our itinerary as we have been here a few years ago when we visited Taipei and this mall is really just your typical modern day shopping mall.  We ordered a mini shave ice which turned out to be not so mini after all…

Our final stop in Taipei was the Hello Kitty Cafe. If you are a huge Hello Kitty fan, you would love it here! We came here for afternoon tea so the menu options were limited. We ordered the combo which includes a dessert and drink. Prices are decent for a theme restaurant. We made reservations via e-mail (e-mail address found on their Facebook page) but the place was not full when we arrived.

Each dessert had a different Hello Kitty design. Looks really nice but taste is just so so.

 

CONCLUSION

Our 5 day trip in Taiwan went very smooth and we had a great time. The food and attractions were good but the most memorable aspect of the trip was the people in Taiwan. Everyone we met were super friendly and had a big smile on their face. They were helpful and very talkative.

The only complaints I have are the stinky toilets and crazy driving. The volume of motor bikes are overwhelming and they seem to drive somewhat recklessly. I am just glad I did not have to drive on this trip. 🙂

I will definitely come back to Taiwan again in the near future to check out Kenting and Taitung. I love how Taiwan has managed to preserve its tradition and small town feel.

Stay tune for my 4 day trip in Singapore and a brief summary of my time in Hong Kong!

Taiwan – Day 4 – Taichung/Taipei

Despite a late night out, we got up early to continue our sightseeing in Taichung. Our breakfast was served in the lobby of the hotel (included in the price) with some made-shift tables which was an interesting experience. The breakfast was buffet style and had a good variety of items to choose from. They had a peach black tea bag which was really good. I wish I could bring more home!

 

ITINERARY

Our first stop was at a famous Buddhist Temple in Taichung (寶覺寺). Since we are not here for religious reasons, we left after snapping a few photos. The Buddha statute is 7 feet tall and appears gold plated. It is quite a spectacle. Parking in this area is extremely difficult. Our driver almost got fined by the police!

 

Our next stop was the Carton King Museum (紙箱王創意園區 – 大坑店). There are several locations throughout Taiwan. I only budgeted one hour here but we actually spent close to two and a half hours here. There is just so much to see! This place was so much fun for both adults and kids. The museum has different theme areas (bees, mushrooms, postal office, and cardboard zoo) plus gift shops, cafe, and bar.

If you collect a stamp from each of the locations (stamped on your ticket), you will get a free souvenir (we got a free windmill). Your admission ticket can also be used as a 50 TWD cash voucher on purchases in the gift shop. Plus, provide your receipt to your driver so he can get free parking for the day. Admission fee is 350 TWD.

Get ready to take lots of photos and spend lots of money buying unique souvenirs. I easily spent 30 minutes checking out the souvenirs in the cardboard gift shop. I bought really pretty 3D greeting cards made from paper and also a cellular phone stand made from cardboard!

 

Our third stop of the day was the Lavender Village (薰衣草森林). Once again, I was off on the timing. I only allocated one and a half hours here and you could easily have spent half a day here. The village is quite a far drive from the city down some very windy, narrow roads. I would not recommend coming here unless you have a local driver like we did.

The village is made up of several different areas (gift shops, restaurants, flower market, and flower fields). Admission fee is 200 TWD but you can use 100 TWD as a cash voucher on purchases in the village. We first had lunch at the restaurant at the foot of the hill. There were so many different food options there with lavender (cookies, milk tea, even savoury dishes)! You first order at the booth across from the restaurants and pay. Then you wait for the servers to bring the food to your table. The food tasted alright but was very fresh since they were grown or raised from the local organic farms. Price was not cheap either but there are not too many food options in the village.

After lunch, we only had 45 minutes left so we tried to walk as far as we could up the hill. We passed by the “post office” where they have a large selection of postcards. We also walked around one of the lavender fields. Lavender was not in season when we went so they were not very pretty. At the top of the first lavender field, there is a wishing tree where you can write your wish down on a piece of paper (paper provided) and hang it on the tree. There were also different stamping stations throughout the village where you can collect stamps.

It was a very relaxing experience and I wished we had spent more time here. We visited the gift shop before we left where you can purchase various products (soaps, cookies, essence oil) with lavender in it.

 

Our last stop in Taichung was at the Summit Resort (新社莊園). This is an area with replicas of castles from Medieval Europe. There is also a restaurant for high tea and a gift shop. The admission fee was 250 TWD of which 100 TWD could be used as cash voucher towards purchases. I allocated one and a half hours here and I think we were done in an hour. There is nothing interesting in the gift shop and since we ate, we did not try the high tea. The attraction is good for photos but could be skipped if you don’t have time.

 

We were back at the Taichung HSR station for our 45 minute train ride to Taipei. Since it was during rush hour, there were many people waiting for the train. Good thing we had booked our tickets ahead of time! After we arrived at Taipei, we were picked up by our driver and he dropped us off at our hotel in the Xi Min Deng (西門町) area.

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After checking in, we walked to Modern Toilets where we had dinner. I was very excited to try this restaurant after seeing this in a TV show. We made reservations online (by posting a message on their website and they will reply to confirm your reservations) so we were seated very quickly. It is a toilet theme restaurant so your food and drinks were served in urinals and toilet bowls. You also sit on a toilet instead of a chair. It was a fun experience for me but I know the rest of my family thought it was disturbing! Don’t expect high quality food but it was decent. Prices are moderate.

 

After dinner, we walked around the Xi Min Deng area, which is one of the busiest areas of Taipei. There are lots of food stalls and small shops. We spent about 2 hours walking around before we walked back to our hotel. Everything was pretty much closed by 10:30 p.m.

 

HOTEL

Our hotel, Beauty Hotels Taipei – Hotel B7, was a 15 minute walk from the main shopping area of Xi Min Deng. The rooms were moderately spacious but pretty comfortable. Free bottled water and toiletries were provided. I think this was the only hotel I went to where the shampoo/conditioner were not provided in travel size bottles but in dispensers. The washroom door is also very transparent so you can see what the person is doing behind the door even though it is closed (note if you are traveling with friends…). Breakfast is included as well. For the price and location, I would recommend staying at this hotel.

 

 

Taiwan – Day 3 – Taichung

After having breakfast in the hotel, our driver dropped us off at the Kaohsiung HSR station for our train ride to Taichung. The train ride was 45 minutes. This being our second time on the HSR and having purchased our tickets in advance, we were able to board our train on time with no issue.

ITINERARY

After we arrived at the Taichung HSR station, we met up with our driver and headed for our first stop which was the Rainbow Village (彩虹眷村). The so-called village is actually a lot which is covered in hand drawn paintings of a war veteran from Hong Kong. There were several families living there previously but only the painter’s family lives on the site.

There is a Rainbow superman who is there to take photos and joke around with the tourists. There is no admission cost and you can freely walk around the house to take photos. There were many people so it was impossible to get a photo without anyone photo bombing it. 30 minutes is all you need at this attraction. You can also buy some souvenirs here (i.e. postcards, pins) and meet Rainbow Grandpa (the painter).

 

After a 45 minute drive, we finally arrived at Taichung Harbour (台中港). When you first walk in, there are many food stalls selling sugar cane juice, fish cakes, etc. Once you walk further into the back, you will find the fish market. The fish market sells a wide variety of seafood such as eel, clams, lobsters, etc. You can either buy the seafood home to cook or have them cooked at the nearby restaurants.

Once you walk towards the end of the fish market, there is an area for seafood restaurants. As soon as you step in the restaurant area, get ready to be swarmed by Taiwanese ladies who try to lure you to eat at their stall. Quickly decide (because they are all about the same price) so you can sit down and give your eardrums a break. You can take a look at their selection of seafood and also ask for recommendations of what is fresh that day. Remember that some some items are labelled at “market price” so be sure to confirm what the prices are before you order. If you are bringing in seafood from the market, be sure to ask them how much it is because they charge a different price depending on the items brought in and the method of cooking it.

The price of the seafood here are much cheaper than Hong Kong! They are also very fresh. Be sure to also order their non-seafood items such as vermicelli (台式炒米粉) and minced pork on rice (肉燥飯) as they are also very delicious! Note that the washrooms here are portable washrooms and are dirty so try to avoid if possible.

Our third stop of the day was the 921 Earthquake Museum (九二一地震教育園區). The museum is actually a preserved site of an elementary school after it had collapsed from the earthquake. The museum is made up of three areas: exhibits to explain about earthquakes in general, the impact of the 921 earthquake on Taichung and a theatre showing short films on earthquake. The short films are only shown at certain times so be sure to check out the times before you explore the museum as seats are limited. To see the whole museum and films, you probably need a good 2-3 hours here. There is also a small admission fee.

 

Our next stop was at the CMP Block Museum of Arts (勤美術館). Frankly, I did not find much to see here. It only took us 20 minutes to see all the artwork. What I really enjoyed the most on this stop was the street stalls along the park which showcase handcrafts of local artists. There is also a giant shopping mall nearby with many floors that you should check out. We came here on a weekend and this area was packed. Traffic can be chaotic as this is Taichung’s downtown area. I would recommend spending 1-2 hours here.

 

We had an early dinner at the Banana New Paradise (香蕉新樂園) which is a retro-themed restaurant. They serve traditional Taiwanese cuisine with an early 1940s backdrop. Their dishes are not very big so order lots. Their service was good and food came very quickly. The food was alright but definitely worth coming here for the pictures. Be sure to go upstairs to check out their toy collections and see what a theatre looks like 50 years ago.

 

Our final stop for the evening was the Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市), the largest in town. This night market is huge! The night market not only has food stalls, but there are also boutiques, game stalls and mini shopping centers. The university is just minutes away from the night market and they had a concert going on that night that we were there. We easily spent 2-3 hours that evening at the night market. Since we already ate dinner, we did not buy too much food. I had a chocolate thai pancake, hot mochi served on a stick dipped in condensed milk and a mixed drink (grass jelly, black sugar and milk). They were all very delicious! Get ready for a lot of walking!

 

HOTEL

Finally, after a long day, we checked into our hotel, In One City Inn (文華道會館). Our hotel was only a 5-10 minute walk from the night market. However, it was difficult for our driver to find as the hotel is actually on the second floor. There is only a very small sign on the street so look carefully!

Compared to our hotel in Kaohsiung, this one was much more spacious and modern looking. The only complaint I had was about the washroom. There is no curtains for the shower so you will get water everywhere when you step out of the shower. Also, there is only a small ledge for you to put your toiletry items.

Breakfast is served in the main lobby in the morning. The food served was very good and is buffet style. It was much better than the food in our last hotel. I highly recommend this hotel!

Taiwan – Day 2 – Kaohsiung

We had to get up at 6 a.m. in order to catch our 8:30 a.m. train to Kaohsiung. The view of Beitou was breathtaking in the morning!

Breakfast was included in the cost of our room and served in the Chinese restaurant in the hotel. There were two options to choose from: Western or Chinese style. When we were seated, the server came by with a cart for drinks. There were many options such as tea, soya milk, juice, etc. Shortly after, our delicious breakfast were served. I have to say, this was the best and biggest breakfast I’ve had in my life! The food tasted very delicious and there was a lot of variety. Highly recommended! Side note, you can get refills for the steamed buns and croissants…the steamed bun was very good and serve in a cute little bamboo container.

We made the mistake of not purchasing our train tickets ahead of time and ended up missing 2 trains which were fully reserved on a Saturday. I forgot to mention previously that our drivers were very responsible. They will call you the night before and the day of to confirm your arrival time. We were constantly in touch via the phone which I found was very reassuring so you didn’t have to waste time looking for them after you arrive at the train station.

 

ITINERARY

After a 2 hour train ride, we finally arrived in Kaohsiung! The temperature in Kaohsiung was at least 5 degrees warmer than Taipei. Even in a T-shirt, we were feeling warm in December. Our first stop was the Meinong Hakka Cultural Museum (美濃客家文物館). This cultural center is a good 45 minute drive from the train station. You will need approximately an hour at this cultural center which showcases the history of one of the native tribes of Taiwan. There is an entrance fee of 60 NTD.

After you are done, you can walk across the street to a small market which serves traditional Meinong cuisine. We ordered some of the famous dishes such as wintermelon (冬瓜封) and rice noodle (粄條). The food was alright.

I also tried making their traditional tea, pound tea (擂茶). Some of the ingredients were white sesame, tea leaves and peanut.  I soon learned how the name arises. It is called pound tea because you actually have to grind the ingredients of the tea to make it fine enough for drinking. This in itself is an exercise. By the time I was finished, I was sweating. While I was pounding away, the lady working there was watching me and laughing because she said it was taking me forever. Argh!

There is a market there as well so we did some souvenir shopping. I bought mini oil-painted umbrellas (their signature item), local handmade soaps and duck eggs (that were somehow genetically modified to taste like chicken eggs… Don’t ask how that’s possible, just know that they taste good :p) .

Our next stop was the Buddha Memorial Center (佛光山佛陀紀念館). This place is huge. We only allocated 1.5 hours here and it was not enough. You should plan for 2.5 hours if you want to see everything. I found it odd how they have a small shopping center in front of a religious temple… You have to walk through the mall to get to the memorial center. The walk to the center alone will take you about 15 minutes (uphill walk). Even if you are not a religious person, I would still recommend checking out this attraction because the infrastructure itself is very fascinating. The amount of money and efforts invested to build this memorial center is immense.

Next we were off to the Lotus Pond (蓮池潭). We were running behind schedule so we only spent about 45 minutes here. The attraction is known for its lotuses and the dragon and tiger pagodas. The Taiwanese believe that it is good luck if you go in through the dragon head and exit through the tiger’s mouth. You can also go up the spiral staircase to the top of the towers. If you have some time, do check out the other towers which are within walking distance. Beware, there are lots of flies here!

We were suppose to come to the Pier 2 Art Center (駁二藝術特區) in the afternoon but did not make it here until evening. The area is not well lit so some of the artworks were difficult to see at night. Despite this, there were still lots of people as this is where the young hipsters hang out. We stumbled upon a local artisan market there shortly before they closed. We didn’t buy anything but it was nice to check out their handmade crafts.

My favourite attraction was the Love River boat cruise (愛之船). The river is lit up at night and it was very beautiful. There was a tour guide on the boat who tells you about the history of the river. The cruise is 30 minutes long and there is a 120 NTW charge. The cruise runs often but be sure to come here at night. Also, do bring a jacket as it is a little breezy. Our driver told us that the river used to be very smelly because the sewage system was horrible. As a teenager (20 years ago), he did dragon boating here and they were deathly afraid of falling into the water as they would still smell like sewage even after bathing a few times.

At 8:30 p.m., we finally finished sightseeing and headed back to our hotel. After we checked in, we went to the Liuhe Night Market (六合夜市) for dinner. The night market is very small (only spanning three blocks). This was our first night market in Taiwan so we were all very excited nonetheless. We bought a few items (i.e. fried oyster pancake, shrimp fried rice, grilled beef bites and of course milk tea!) and brought them back to our hotel to eat. As we were too hungry, the food was all devoured before I even had a chance to take photos. Food prices were reasonable and there were not too many tourists here. I did not find it too crowded. I would recommend passing on the seafood here as they are not very fresh. However, do order the grill squid. It was delicious!

 

HOTEL

We stayed at the Cloud Hotel (雲端精緻旅館) which was only a 2 minute walk from the night market. The hotel rooms are clean and decent sized. This was the first time I’ve seen free condoms in a hotel room (random fact!)…I would recommend this hotel for a one night stay given its location and price. However, it was such a large contrast to the 5 star hotel we stayed at the night before…look at the stark difference between my breakfast!

Taiwan – Day 1 – Beitou

Finally I get a chance to start blogging on my recent Asia trip this past December! As it spans three weeks, three countries and countless cities, I will have to break it up over a few posts.

I had started planning for this trip 1 year in advance as I had to plan this trip from scratch. Also, knowing that I was going to be traveling during the busiest time of the year, I decided to book things early to save money and attractions won’t be booked up.

AIRFARE

We had picked EVA Airlines over China Airlines because my aunt flew with EVA last time and had a good experience. Also, I have heard similar feedback from others. Our flight out was at 12:55 a.m. with a duration of 12 hours. I highly recommend catching a flight that spans over bedtime so you can actually sleep for a good chunk of the flight.

The food on the plane was decent, the flight attendants were attentive and there were no major delays on our flight. The Economy class seats were relatively comfortable. Blanket, pillow and slippers were provided. I would definitely take EVA again.

Our airfare was approximately $1,900 CAD for a round trip from Vancouver to Taipei with a layover in Hong Kong. This is considered to be a very good deal for this time of the year. We were also paying a slight premium because we flew with EVA instead of China Airlines.

TRANSPORTATION

Booking A Car

Prior to the trip, I had arranged for car service with a company call 台湾马克包车. You send them your itinerary and they would provide you with a quote. I would recommend contacting the company at least 1 month in advance because there will be some correspondences back and forth before you come up with your final itinerary. A 10% deposit upfront is required to lock in the deal. The remainder is paid in the middle of the trip but this can be negotiated with the driver. When you are planning your itinerary, keep in mind that the typical day is 10 hours and overtime is billed at $500 NTD/hour.

For Taiwan, I would highly recommend booking a car (which includes the driver) because the attractions are far apart and the price is reasonable. Our cost came up to be $1,175 CAD for a 7 seater (which includes 4 piece of large luggage) for a total of 5 days. The car company we used had drivers from different cities which went nicely with our plan to take the High Speed Rail (HSR).

High Speed Rail (http://www.thsrc.com.tw)

We wanted to take the HSR because we wanted to experience a different form of transportation plus it is the quickest way to get from one city to another in Taiwan. You can purchase the tickets one month in advance online using the link provided above. I highly recommend booking online to save up to 30% on the tickets and reserve seats. We made the mistake of not booking online and we ended up two hours behind schedule because the trains were all full! Note also that if you arrive late, you have to pay an admin fee and take whatever seats are available on the next train.

HSR stations are not in city center so you will have to take a bus to transfer. This was not an issue for us as we told our drivers to pick us up at the HSR stations. Please ensure you hang on to your tickets as you may be asked to show your tickets upon entering and exiting the stations. Also, please make sure you are not late as the trains do leave the platform at the scheduled times.  The trains come in 30 minute intervals. There are express trains during peak hours so you should take those if you can as that can save you up to 45 minutes in transit.

The HSR train stations are very big. This is why I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes before your train departure time as it will take you sometime to locate your train’s platform and your cart number. There are restaurants and stores so there are plenty of things to do to kill time. They also sell train bento boxes! Too bad they were already all sold out when we got there.

Our experience with the HSR trains were pleasant. The seats are very spacious and you can barely feel the train move. There are washrooms and food available for sale. There is a diagram to show you what facilities are offered in each of the carts (i.e. washrooms, power outlets). There is no free wi-fi on the trains however. There are also areas at the front and back end of each cart for you to stow large luggage. For smaller items, they have overhead compartments above the seats.

 

ITINERARY

Our first stop was Beitou which is a hot spring resort area just 30 minutes from Taipei. Given how expensive our hotel was ($800 CAD a night), I was expecting the resort area to be very high end. To my amazement, Beitou actually feels very dated and the hotels have very plain exteriors.

After we dropped off our luggage, we took the hotel shuttle down to the foot of the hill to begin our sightseeing. Our first stop was the Cultural Center (凱達格蘭文化館).  This is a free museum that explain the different native tribes of Taiwan. We spent approximately 45 minutes here. The museum is worth a visit but there are not a lot of exhibits to see.

 

The next stop was the city’s library. You need to fill out forms to take pictures inside so we just snapped a few photos of the exterior and moved on.

 

For lunch, we went to the Tenshou Restaurant inside the Kagaya Hotel. They gave us a private room which had a nice scenic view. The service and presentation of the food were very good. The ingredients were fresh but I would not say the food was top notch. The menu is on the pricy side. There are set meals to pick from which comes with miso soup, rice and dessert or you could order noodle/rich dishes on its own.

 

Our next stop was the Hot Spring Museum (北投溫泉博物館). This museum showcase the history of hot spring in Beitou. This museum is free and takes approximately 45 minutes. You have to take off your shoes and change into slippers to get in.

 

Next we went to the Plum Garden (梅庭). This was the home of Mr. Yu (于右任), an influential figure to the culture of Taiwan during the era ruled by the Japanese. The home was restored and opened to the public in 1999. Entrance to the home is free and takes approximately only 30 minutes to go through. You need to take off your shoes here as well.

 

The busiest spot was the Thermal Valley (地熱谷). The area is very misty due to the evaporation from the hot spring water. It also has a very strong sulphur smell. We snapped a few photos and left because the smell was very unpleasant. I would recommend checking out the gift shop here though because they have lots of interesting postcards and magnets.

 

It took us forever to find the temple (普濟寺) and you have to go up some pretty steep stairs. I would just recommend skipping this attraction because there is not much to see!

 

Our final stop was the Beitou Museum (北投文物館) which was just located next to our hotel. This museum costs $120 NTD to get in. You have to take off your shoes and they give you these anti-slip socks to wear. It took us approximately 30 minutes to go through the museum. My favourite part of the experience was learning how to steep tea in their restaurant. There is a minimum charge per person (can’t remember how much) but you get to take the extra tea leaves home. You get to choose between black, oolong or jasmine tea.

 

HOTEL

After a day of sightseeing, we finally get to enjoy our hotel facilities! Our 5 star hotel, Grand View Resort (北投麗禧溫泉酒店) is located on the mountain so we had to take a taxi. The driveway is very narrow and steep so I do not recommend walking up.

As a hotel guest, you are free to use the public hot springs and the swimming pools. The swimming pools are located outside and since it was so cold in December, no one was using this facility. As for the public hot springs, they are separated by gender. You have to go in full nude and there is a limit to how many guests can be in it at one time. Since we went mid day, the facilities were already full and there was a long wait. Disappointed, we decided to just go back to our hotel room and use our private hot spring tubs! There is one tub for hot water and one for cold water. You are suppose to alternate between the two for best results.

Our rooms were very nice and spacious. There is a complimentary CD in the room so you can listen to relaxing music while soaking in the hot spring. The hotel staff also served us plum wine which tasted very sweet. Not to mention, there is also complimentary fruits, bottled water and snacks in the room. The toiletries provided were top notch. They even had make up removers and facial masks!

After a nice soak in the hot spring, we went downstairs to C’est Bon (歐陸餐廳) for dinner. There are no other restaurants near the hotel so you are limited to the three options offered inside the hotel.

The menu is on the pricy range as one would expect inside a 5 star hotel. You can choose between the set menus or order a la carte.  The proportions are moderate so I would highly recommend going with the set menus (6 courses). It is a much better deal. I thought the food was presented well, tasted fresh but it did not ‘wow’ me. Some of the food took very long to be served despite the fact that we had asked for it several times. The meal took around 2 hours.