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.
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.
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!