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It was a last minute decision. We brainstormed and planned our itinerary in just two days, but we did it – a free and easy 7D6N sightseeing, eating and shopping vacation in Yilan, Miaoli and Taipei for a week.  This wasn’t my first trip to Taiwan but it was certainly much more enjoyable than my earlier ones. Rather than trying to cover more of Taiwan, we decided to just spend more time in Yilan, Miaoli and Taipei to explore more of its local cuisines and places of interests.  Moving at a slower pace allowed us to do just that.  We came home happy, rejuvenated and loaded with wonderful memories.  Thank you JE, 小C and 大C for a very enjoyable holiday indeed. We were glad we made the right decision to hire a personal local guide this time as it allowed us the flexibility of time and places to visit. Together with our guide Mr Lee (who was also the owner of Pine Villa, Yilan, where we stayed), a very personalised tour was designed to suit our interest that included locations normally not frequented by tourists. Mr Lee is a very accommodating and friendly person who took the extra mile to make us feel at home. Hence, if you wish to experience the same hospitality and sight-seeing route as us, do feel free to contact him directly. He will be more than happy to serve you even if you do not stay at his villa (see “ACCOMMODATION/CONTACT INFO” below for his contact details).

7D6N TAIPEI-YILAN-MIAOLI-TAIPEI

*If you plan to visit Taiwan during summer, do remember to pack a UV brolley, sunglasses, mosquito repellent and a really good sunscreen lotion. Despite the hot & wet weather, we had a great time and decided that we should share our itinerary with others who may be interested.

OUR ITINERARY :

DAY 1- SINGAPORE / TAIPEI / YILAN (stay at Pine Villa @ Yilan County for 2 nights)

DAY 2 – YILAN

DAY 3 – YILAN to MIAOLI (stay at Olive-Tree Minsu @ Miaoli County for 1 night)

DAY 4 – MIAOLI to TAIPEI (Hansome Hotel @ Ximending, Taipei for 3 nights)

DAY 5 – TAIPEI

DAY 6 – TAIPEI

DAY 7 – HOME SWEET HOME

ACCOMMODATION :

We booked home-stay and hotel that could accommodate 4 pax in a room with breakfast included.

A) In Yilan County : PINE VILLA – 宜蘭‧松滿緣渡假民宿 (http://pinebnb.com)
Contact Person : Mr Lee Chow Song, Owner Email : d1681214@gmail.com
– a very pleasant three storey villa with a beautiful driveway housing 10-12 rooms set in different unique themes to suit your liking
– villa is very clean and well-kept – rooms are available for 2 pax, 4 pax, 6 pax and 8 pax
– our room for 4 pax has 2 queen-sized beds and a clean and decent bathroom
– an extra bathroom is available on every floor outside the bedrooms for guests’ use
– coffee & tea making facility is provided in the room

PINE VILLA  (Mr Lee is the gentleman in green polo. The lady in black is Ms. Lee, sister of Mr Lee, also a co-owner of the Villa)

PINE VILLA (Mr Lee is the gentleman in green polo. The lady in black/striped top is Ms. Lee, sister of Mr Lee, also a co-owner of the Villa)

(B) In Miaoli County : Olive-Tree Minsu – 橄欖樹民宿 (http://olive-tree.idv.tw)
Email:  kerr71530@yahoo.com.tw
– a very lovely countryside resort home spread over a large forested area and built with a “story-book” theme that would certainly appeal to the young and romantic young-at-heart
– the roooms are airy and large and are set in different beautiful themes to suit your liking
– the resort is surrounded by beautiful trees, plants & flowers
– resort is very well-kept and tidy
– rooms are available for 2 pax and 4 pax
– our room for 4 pax comes with 2 king-sized beds and a cosy bathroom
– coffee & tea making facility is provided in the room

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Olive-Tree Minsu – 橄欖樹民宿

(C) In Taipei : Hanson Business Hotel @ Ximenting Web: hansomehotel.com.tw
– an average 3-stars business hotel
– there are nicer and more modern hotels around Ximenting but we chose this as the room for 4 pax is fairly large with 2 queen-sized beds, a sofa bed, a dresser, wardrobe, coffee & tea facilities and a good-sized bathroom

TRANSPORTATION COST / CONTACT :
(A) 1-way transfer from Taipei Airport to Pine Villa @ Yilan County = NT1800

(B) 1 day sightseeing in Yilan = NT3500

(C) 1-way transfer from Pine Villa @ Yilan County to Olive-Tree Minsu @ Miaoli County, include sightseeing enroute but exclude meals & refreshments = NT5000

(D) 1-way transfer from Olive-Tree Minsu @ Miaoli to Hansome Business Hotel @ Ximenting, include sightseeing enroute but exclude meals & refreshments = NT5000

(E) 1-day Taipei sight-see to Jiufeng, Shifeng and Pinxi, contact Mr Liu (email: punctuallima@hotmail.com). A friend hired and recommended this contact. Fare is NT4500 for 4 pax. (However, we didn’t hire him as we decided to explore at our own pace via public transport instead).

(F) Airport transfer :
– By hotel – 1-way transfer from Hansome Business Hotel to airport in a private 7-seater SUV is NT1100 (we opt for this out of convenience)
– By public taxi – taxis are easily available on the street but you need to make prior arrangement with them for pickup from hotel to airport. Fare is slightly cheaper, about NT1000.

** For (A) to (D) above, contact Mr Lee Chow Song, our driver cum tour guide, also owner of Pine Villa (email: d1681214@gmail.com). Fare quoted was for 4 pax in a 7-seater SUV (fare valid as at June 2014). His transport service is not exclusive to only those who stay in his villa so do feel free to email him about transportation service to other counties from Yilan.

 

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DAY 1 SINGAPORE – TAIPEI

We purchased our tickets online via http://www.flyscoot.com and intentionally chose the wee hours flight timing so that we could proceed straight to Yilan upon arrival.
– Singapore to Taipei on flight TZ202 etd 0045 hr / eta 0530 hr
– Taipei to Singapore on flight TZ201 etd 15:20 hrs / eta 1955 hr

TAIPEI – YILAN by private car @ NT1800
Mr Lee, owner of Pine Villa and our chartered driver, came punctually to pick us up from the airport in a 7-seater SUV. From the airport, we headed straight for Yilan County. The journey was about one and a half hours. Upon reaching Yilan County, we stopped for breakfast and tried their famous pork noodles. After checking into Pine Villa, we went out on our own to explore the National Center for Traditional Arts and then to Luodong Night Market (note : the transportation cost from Taipei Airport to Yilan County @ NT1800 did not include sightseeing on the first day).

upon reaching Yilan County, we stopped to have a taste of their local pork noodles for breakfast

our first meal in Yilan – pork noodles in thick soup

The Center for Traditional  Arts

The National Center for Traditional Arts, Yilan. Here you can experience traditional Taiwanese cultures and arts. More info on http://www.ncfta.gov.tw/ncfta_eh/e01/index.aspx

LuoDong Night Market, a must-go food & shopping street

Famous Luo Dong Night Market, a lively food & shopping haven for both locals and tourists; a must-go place when in Yilan. An area lined with endless stalls selling Yilan local specialities that were too tempting to be missed. We tasted all the highly recommended delicious snacks from the popular vendors above. The food is unique to Yilan and really not to be skipped as they are different from that of other night markets around Taiwan.

Detailed map of LuoDong Night Market. Note the food vendors' names in Mandarine on the right

Detailed map of LuoDong Night Market (click on map to enlarge). The food vendors’ stall names are listed in Chinese on the right. Do look out for those vendors recommended above.

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DAY 2

YILAN COUNTY – 1 DAY TOUR @ NT3500

The next morning, after a refreshing breakfast of sandwiches stuffed with crispy greens and fruits served with aromatic coffee in the villa, we set off at 10.30am for our full day sightseeing tour with Mr Lee behind the wheels again.

Daily breakfast was included in our reservation. We were offered several choices and we were delighted with these crispy vegetarian sandwiches as well as ham & cheese ones. Thumbs up for the heavenly coffee served !

Daily breakfast was included in our reservation. We were offered several choices and were delighted with these crispy vegetarian sandwiches as well as ham & cheese ones. Thumbs up for the very aromatic vanilla nut flavored coffee served !

(A) SANXIN SPRING ONION CULTURE MUSEUM – Sanxing town in Yilan is famous for its sweet and succulent spring onions. The interactive museum is built-in 2005 to educate and introduce its cultivation and various uses in local cuisines. Entrance to the museum is free. A varieties of ‘all-things spring onion’ products like sauces, biscuits, frozen snacks and even ice-cream are available here for sale.  The spring onion flavoured ice-cream is a must-try. Certainly a unique concoction not to be missed.

Spring Onion Culture Musuem. More info on http://go2taiwan.net/monthly_selection.php?sqno=62

Spring Onion Culture Musuem. More info on http://go2taiwan.net/monthly_selection.php?sqno=62

(B) QINGSHUI GEOTHERMAL @ DATONG TOWNSHIP (宜蘭縣大同鄉清水村南側的清水溪旁) – Imagine soaking your feet in the natural hot spring water and munching on sweet corn and succulent leeks smeared with onsen eggs! Yes, that’s exactly what we did here…. mmmm…. yummy!

Qingshui Geothermal @ Datong Township

Qingshui Geothermal @ Datong Township

A happy day indeed !

A very nice location for picnic

Enroute to the next destination, Mr Lee took us to a roadside stall selling freshly made and fried spring onion pancakes. He claimed it was the best stall in town and he was absolutely right! The pancakes were generously stuffed with sweet succulent spring onions and then deep-fried until golden brown. Every bite burst with spring onion sweetness we just couldn’t stop at one !

The Ho brothers -  brilliant masterminds behind this delicious snack

The Ho brothers – brilliant masterminds behind this delicious snack

(C) MEIHUA LAKE (梅花湖) – Meihua Lake is in Dongshan Township near LuoDong. A beautiful natural lake to stroll or bike around or just enjoy its serenity in one of the lovely cafes by the lake. Pretty carriages for rent are available from the various shops lining the road leading to the lake.

Scenic Meihua Lake, a nice park to stroll, bike around or sip coffee in one of its several lovely cafes

Scenic Meihua Lake – a nice park for bird watching too !

We rode around the scenic lake in a motorised yellow duckie carriage

our motorised yellow duckie carriage

Another very exclusive dessert sold here by another pair of enterprising young men (Mr Lee also claimed this stall was the best in Ylan) was a wrap consisting of caramel peanut brittle, ice-cream and cilantro tightly rolled in a “popiah” skin. Our verdict – YUMMILICIOUS !!

Another pair of young enterprising brothers behind super delicious snack

peanut brittle wrap – indeed a love-at-first-bite exclusive dessert !

(D) NAN-FAN-AO FISHING PORT (南方澳渔港) – The biggest fishing port in East Taiwan. Many shops selling dried seafood (scallops, oysters, squids, fish, seaweed, etc) line the road. Fresh seafood are also available for sale in a wet market a short distance down the road. Take your pick and have it cooked in a food center next to it at NT100 per dish. Needless to say, we enuthsiatically made our selection and the cooked seafood was served in less than half an hour. Excellent!

The friendly aunty boss who generously gave us 2 big packs of roasted cuttlefish to snack on after our purchase :D

A long row of shops selling dried seafood. The happy lady who rewarded us with 3 packs of different flavoured roasted cuttlefish snacks, in her words – “to munch on the road” after our purchases at her shop 😀

The array of fresh seafood available for sale at very reasonable prices

Game for collagen-loaded giant fish eyes? These and a wide variety of fresh catch of the day such as lobsters, prawns, salmon, squids, clams etc are available for sale daily. Take your pick and have them cooked instantly at NT100 per dish (excludes price of seafood).

Take your pick and have the seafood cooked instantly here

our delicious spread

After our very satisfied meal, Mr Lee took us to the nearby beach at SuAo for a stroll (also known as 内埤情人弯). How peculiar – the beach here is pebbled, not sandy! Wouldn’t it be nice to just laze in the lovely white and blue greek-styled cafe here to enjoy the beautiful ocean view and breeze with a coffee in hand? Perhaps the next time…..

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A paranomic view of the beach

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the lovely cafe is just 20m from the beach; those dogs surely know how to enjoy life 😀

(E) JIMMY THEMED PARK – Jimmy Liao is a well-known Taiwanese illustrator as well as a picture book writer. A very nice open space area near Yilan Train Station is dedicated to the installation of themes from his popular picture books. Despite the heavy showers when we were there, we nevertheless had fun posing with some of the artworks. More info on Jimmy Liao at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Liao

The heavy showers kept us from exploring more of Jimmy's interesting artworks around the square

some of the themes around the square

We completed our sightseeing for the day at around 6pm and suggested to Mr Lee that we should have “Luodong street-food feast” at his Villa. He gladly sent us there to “ta-bao” (打包). Back at Pine Villa he surprised us with more of the local fares (he went to get them while we were making our rounds), brought out beer and thoughtfully made a pot of organic lotus flower tea for us. Certainly a nice happy ending to our second and last night stay in Yilan. We would definitely be back again!

We loved the street food so much that on our last night in Yilan, we brought back  a tableful of snacks to feast with Mr & Ms Lee at Pine Villa !

thank-you, Pine Villa, for a memorable stay 😀

(…..more of our interesting trip on 7D6N TAIWAN – Part II)

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