Travel Diary: Making Memories in Taiwan

For the year 2024, specifically March, it's been a tradition with my little family to travel for our baby's birthday. And we decided to go to Taiwan.

Taiwan has a free visa for Filipino citizens until July 31, 2024, and we have to grab this opportunity before it becomes impossible to get a visa for Taiwan.

The top 3 reasons why we opt for Taiwan are:

  1. Cold weather

  2. Cherry Blossoms

  3. Free Visa for Filipino Citizens


Since we are residing in Thailand, we get Vietjet Air. It's our first time taking Vietjet; it's almost the same as Airasia; it's small, but the seat leg room is a little bit spacious.


I am so happy and proud that we chose the RF Hotel in Zhongxiao. We stayed for 6 nights and 7 days and paid 22,783.94 PHP.

The hotel is just a 5-minute walk from the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT; the bus stop is downstairs; and there are restaurants, convenience stores like 7-11, and Family Mart all around it. There is also a bank downstairs if you need to exchange your money for TWD or withdraw money at an ATM.

The neighborhood is very nice and pretty; it's got South Korean vibes, it is very clean, and feels safe.

However, the hotel reception is quite confusing at first; you need to go to the elevator directly and press the 7th button to go to the 7th floor to check-in.

Their lobby is like a common area; it is very clean and spacious. They have free snacks, water, drinks, coffee, and tea, and free use of the microwave.

The RF Hotel in Zhongxiao is the best place to stay if it's your first time in Taiwan, traveling with family, and looking for an affordable hotel.

Note: I will be posting a separate blog about tips and hacks when traveling in Taipei, Taiwan.

The Places We Went To

We stayed 7 days in Taipei, Taiwan; however, the full days are only 5 days. Also, these itineraries are a little bit different. We have a baby; that's why we opt for slow-paced travel.

There are a lot of places to visit in Taiwan; again, since we have a kid, we choose a nearby place from Taipei.

Lastly, the breakdown of our expenses is at the bottom of this post.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall

We took a bus from our hotel, and we use Easy Card for a convenient way of paying our commutes. During the ride, I noticed how kind the Taiwanese are. I meant even old people who offered their seats to us because we have a baby. This is the first time I felt a warm welcome when traveling to another country.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is free; it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. We entered the park area. It is so wide, refreshing, relaxing, and peaceful; there are so many trees and flowers. I noticed that Taiwanese loved their flowers as well. There are flowers and plants everywhere in Taipei, even though there are high rise buildings.

We walk straight to the Memorial Hall; it's big and white. Seeing the steep, ascending stairs, it is inconceivable that I could carry my infant that far. Luckily, there is an elevator inside the Memorial Hall going up to the famous statue of Chiang Kai-shek.

Yes! Taiwanese value their people so much that they never leave anyone behind, especially those who are in wheelchairs, strollers, or anyone who can't climb stairs.

We went inside the hall on the ground floor; it's so wide and spacious. There are so many galleries and pieces that are related to Chiang Kai-shek, the first president of the Republic of China. I saw his big photo inside the gallery, where he faced millions of people. I also saw his old cars. It was really amazing.

We went to the elevator, went to the highest floor, and saw the statue of Chiang Kai-shek. It was really huge, and I also saw the guards—the real-life guards who never moved a single inch. I wonder how long they have to stand without moving. What if something tingles their body and they need to scratch? What if they need to sneeze? Are they allowed?

I highly recommend visiting Chiang Kai-shek and going inside the hall.

Maokong Gondola and Taipei Zoo

After our exploration in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, we were supposed to go to Yehliu Geopark, but we got lost for an hour. Changing buses, walking nowhere to go. So we decided to go to Maokong Gondola and Taipei Zoo.

I am a follower of the Youtube vlog of JM Banquicio, and he recently went to Taipei, and he recommends going first to the gondola, then to the zoo, because if you start from the zoo, you will be walking up the hill, unlike if you start from the gondola, once you arrive at the zoo, you will be walking down the hill.

It is much more convenient and requires less struggle, especially for us with a baby and a stroller.

So, from Taipei Main station —> we took the Bannan Line (BL) —→ then interchange or transfer train to Wenhu Line or the brown line —> then to Taipei zoo. From Taipei Zoo station we walk around 5 minutes to Maokong Gondola.

Maokong Gondola is easy to find from Taipei Zoo Station; there are a lot of signs and a lot of people walking to go there. So, you will never get lost.

When we arrived at Maokong Gondola, the line was very long. I highly recommend getting your Easy Card topped up because you don't need to buy tickets from the ticketing booth; you just line up for the queu, and then once you go up to the cabin boarding, there is a ticketing machine where you can buy the tickets and pay with your Easy Card. We paid for 140 NTD for two adults; our baby is free.

Gondola tickets have difference price depends on where you want to go; we are just going to Taipei Zoo, so we just paid 70 NTD each.

Again, there is an elevator to go up in the cabin boarding.

Once you are in the cabin boarding station and have your tickets ready on hand, you have to line up for the queue again at the cabins. There are two options for cabins: the regular cabin and the crystal cabin. All are the same price; the regular cabin queue is fast, but the crystal cabin queue is a little bit of a waiting game. But if it's your first time, I suggest you go for crystal and just be patient and wait. It's worth the wait.

By the way, the cabin will not stop waiting for you to get on board; it will just slowly move around, and you have to be quick, like fast, to get on board. There are staff who will help you get on board while the cabin is moving slowly.

For babies with strollers like us, strollers are allowed inside the cabin; you have to move quickly and carry or lift the stroller quickly and hard. Because it's a little difficult to navigate going inside and out. But we managed!

It was a totally amazing experience; the view was spectacular. It was relaxing to see those mountains and high rise buildings from afar.

We arrived at Taipei Zoo Station. It was a little bit confusing where to get the ticket for the zoo, but we asked away. The locals and staff are very friendly.

We paid using our Easy Card for the tickets; it's 120 NTD for two adults, and our baby is free.

We line up in the queue again to ride a tram inside the zoo. Once we arrived at the zoo, it was a bit confusing at first. There's no clear map, though there is this big board of maps, but I don't know. Maybe I just don't know how to read maps. LOL!


Anyways, we just followed the crowed; there are also restaurants on the way, but don't focus on finding the McDonalds because it is literally at the front gate of the Taipei Zoo entrance or exit going down if you started from Maokng Gondola.

We saw many different kinds of animals that we only saw on TV, and I saw animals that I never knew of. It's fascinating and interesting. My husband loved the zoo; he was amazed by the animals, especially the different kinds of birds. We also saw, in a short period of time, the panda. The panda was so big and fluffly and looked so cuddly. There were so many people taking photos and videos of the panda; few of them used a professional camera with a long tripod.

Yehliu Geopark

We took the bus to Yehliu Geopark, and we rode the bus 1815 for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Again, we used the Easy Card to pay for the bus. We paid for 92 NTD each.

Always check the time of bus departure on Google Maps, as their buses are always on time and leave on time. Inside the bus, the window seats have a charging port. for phones, which is so convenient. There's also an electronic sign above the driver's seat about what's the next stop and where you are already; this is so helpful, especially if you don't have a map with you.

If you want to make a stop, press the "stop" button in advance before your chosen stop.

We made it to the Yehliu Geopark bus stop, then we had to walk inside for 7 minutes. The walk was not boring at all because the scenery was so refreshing and pretty. Yehliu Geopark is in the fish port, so while walking to the entrance, you will see big fishing boats and the ocean. They looked so aesthetic!

When we got to the entrance, we bought the ticket at the ticketing booth for 120 NTD per person, except for our baby.

The park is so windy and refreshing that you could probably spend three to four hours there, despite its relatively small size. You can see the wide ocean and the stone formation. It's quite remarkable how this stone formed; it's intriguing and mysterious. There is a small shop inside where you can buy snacks like hotdogs and stuff.

After we roamed around and took a lot of family pictures, the exit pathway of the park had a small alley of food markets. We bought fried small crabs and tried them; they really tasted good. It's crunchy and peppery, which is really good. It costs 100 NTD for one bag.

It's already lunch time when we get out of the park. There are a lot of restaurants nearby, and the one we chose is just in front of the Yehliu Geopark. The staff is so friendly, and the shells are so delicious and fresh. We paid a total of 680 NTD; it was so affordable compared to Taipei.

We take the same route back to Taipei; the bus stop in Yehliu Geopark to Taipei is just the opposite bus stop when you arrive at Yehliu bus stop. We boarded the bus 1815, and it took 1 hour and 30 minutes. We paid for 92 NTD each.

Simple Kaffa at Taipei 101, 88th floor

If you are in Taiwan or Taipei, it's a must to at least visit Taipei 101, either the mall or the observatory deck.

Going to Taipei 101 feels surreal; there are so many things to see, and taking photos and videos is not enough. There are tall buildings, and in between there are trees, plants, flowers, and parks. It is not boring at all.

We stopped by first at the food court in Taipei 101; it is located in the basement. You can ask the doorman at Taipei 101 Mall for directions. There are so many choices to choose from in the food court, but we feel like we want our comfort food from Thailand. So we get our lunch from Pepperlunch.

Then, after a sumptuous lunch, we went ahead to the Taipei 101 office (Xinyi Road) and went directly to the Simple Kaffa front desk; it's on the left side behind the escalator.

We did not make a table reservation in advance because, as I was reading a lot of blogs about Simple Kaffa, you can buy coffee at Simple Kaffa on the 88th floor as takeout, and they have a takeout area on the 88th floor for customers. And beside that, you need to spend a minimum of 2000 NTD if you want a reserve table. It's quite expensive; we just want to see the view instead of going to the Taipei 101 Observatory deck.

Once you are at the front desk of Simple Kaffa on the ground floor, just inform the staff that you want to take out coffee. He or she will hand you a menu so you can choose in advance. You can take a photo of the menu as you go ahead on the 88th floor.

The staff will explain to you how to get to the 88th floor. The staff will give you a piece of paper; this is like your ticket to go inside the elevator. The way and the process of getting inside are quite confusing, but don't be scared to ask the staff around; they are so helpful.

Once you are on the 88th floor, you will see a wide lobby area where there are a few sets and a coffee table. Mind you, this is not the Simple Kaffa area; I think this is the building lounge on the 88th floor. When we were in the Simple Kaffa, I was surprised that the cafe was small and their take-out lounge area was very narrow. So we decided to buy the takeout coffee and sit in the lounge area. I'm not sure if this is allowed, but nobody asked us to get out.

Spacious lounge of 88th floor

Take-away corner 

Anyway, the lounge area on the 88th floor is very wide and comfortable, and it is not crowded. So we enjoyed our time, and we loved the view of Taiwan. But if you are staying in the lounge area, please dispose of your trash in the Simple Kaffa bin.

Shifen and Jiufen Old Streets

There are a lot of group tours for these places, but we prefer to do it DIY. The reason is that group tours have a time limit; having a baby with us on a time schedule is not ideal. So, I did all the research, and here it is.

We went first to Shifen. Going there, see the detailed information below:

  • Wherever you are, go to Taipen Main station —> take either the TRA or THSR train —> to Ruifang Station.

We take the TRA (Taiwan Railway Administration), and we bought the ticket at Taipei Main Station on the spot with no reserved seats. There are a lot of vlogs and blogs saying that if you want a reserved seat, you must book the ticket in advance. I tried to find reserved seats, but it was all sold out. Also, I bought our ticket from the ticketing machine; just follow the signs for TRA or THSR, whichever you prefer.

By the way, the travel time to Ruifang station is less than an hour or 1 hour. We paid 49 NTD each, and our baby is free.

It's quite confusing where to board once you have the ticket; just follow the sign and find the TRA and Ruifang, or ask around.

  • Once you arrive at Ruifang station —> use your EasyCard to tap in the machine or buy a ticket —→ take the train to Pingxi, but you will stop at Shefin.

Trains to Pingxi always follow the schedule, so better be early. Once you arrive at Ruifang station, you have to go to the other platform. It's like in the middle; imagine the fork, the one in the middle. The train is classic and old; it's slow, and there are a lot of tourists who will go to Shefin. So be ready, fast, and quick, and expect that during the train ride you will most likely stand until you arrive at Shefin Station.

However, the scenery is breathtaking; you won't get bored; you'll see a lot of rivers that are incredibly clear; lush mountains; and I found it intriguing that train tracks are so close to people's homes. It's like a home owner steps out on their doorsteps, and it's already the train or the rails. It's a little bit dangerous to think about it.

Once you arrive at Shefin station, you have to tap your Easy card at the machine to go inside Shefin, where everything happens. It's not an entrance fee; there is no entrance fee. It's the same as riding a train: when you go to a station, you tap, and once you get out, you tap again.

Once you are in Shefin, there are a lot of tourists and people lining up for the famous lanterns, taking photos in the middle of the rail roads, and eating street food. It's going to be packed. So, we decided to go to Shefin waterfalls first to avoid those crowded people, and hopefully when we get back, there's not much of them.

We hiked for more than 30 minutes to Shefin Waterfalls; we almost gave up. I think it's an easy hike if you don't have a stroller to carry. There are a lot of stairs, and there are no paths for wheelchairs. So, we have to fold our stroller and carry it while my husband is carrying the baby.

I know, I'm the kind of person who would rather carry heavy luggage and strollers than our baby when we travel. It's just that I feel that my baby is safer with my husband than me LOL!

Moving forward, we finally saw the Shefin waterfalls. It is huge and imaginable, and it looks like Niagra Falls, though I haven't seen Niagra Falls in person, only in photos and video. But it looks like it!

It is so beautiful and magical. Around the waterfalls, there are street vendors, tables, and chairs where you can rest and grab a bite.

After our photo shoots, video shoots, and eating food and drinks, we decided to go back to Shefin Railroads and have our Shefin lantern experience. There's still a lot of people, but it's not much. We got the multicolored lantern, and we paid 400 NTD. The seller was very kind to help us write our wishes in the lantern; honestly, we ran out of ideas for what to write.

The experience was fun, but it was like you were rushing. Anyway, after our lantern experience, we head back to the train station because we are still going to Jiufen Old Street. While waiting for the train, we tried some food in the area. I loved the ice cream wrapped with Chinese-wrapped crushed peanuts. It tastes so good!! I think that was my favorite food in Taiwan.

  • Take the train from Shefin station —> tap with your Easycard —> to Ruifang station.

When we arrived at Ruifang station, we went outside and walked for like 5 minutes to the bus station, going to Jiufen Old Street.

We took bus 1062. The bus will take some time to arrive, so be patient and don't let the crowd pressure you into changing buses. There are a lot of tourists going to Jiufen Old Street. It seems like most of them just ride any bus they catch, hoping it's for Jiufen Old Street, and then others will follow. I'm not sure if they were really dropped off at Jiufen Old Street, if they took another bus, or if they walked a few more minutes to Jiufen Old Street.

However, we stick to the bus 1062, and we are dropped exactly in front of Jiufen Old Street.

When we arrived at Jiufen Old Street, it had a lot of tourists; the street was very narrow; it's like two lane only; there were a lot of people. But we tried a lot of foods there. We also saw the mountain view of Jiufen.

It's almost 7 p.m., and we decided to go back to Taipei already. We rode the same bus (1062) to Taipei. It took us almost an hour to arrive in Taipei.

Elephant mountain

Going to Elephant Mountain is quite a bit confusing, because when you search for Elephant Mountain in a Google search or map, it will not show the correct location. I'm not sure if it was just me or if it's not really Elephant Mountain.

Moving on, the correct name of Elephant Mountain is Xiangshan Hiking Trail . However, it is commonly referred to as Elephant Mountain.

Going there is a bit confusing, but when we went there, we just realized it's just a couple of walks from Taipei 101 Mall. Wherever you are, head to Taipei 101 and walk for 18 minutes to reach the stairs of the famous Elephant Mountain.

You will never get lost; there are a lot of tourists going there, and there is signage pointing you to Elephant Mountain.

When we arrived at the foot of the famous stairs, we decided to leave our stroller outside the store just around the corner, hoping no one would get it when we got back. And, luckily, no one stole our stroller. LOL!

Getting back to the Elephant Mountain stairs, I really thought I could totally make it; like I did, we arrived at the first viewing point, then at the second one. But the struggle is real! It took me almost 2 hours to go up the hill. I am in my 30s, healthy, and capable of climbing, but I'm out of breath. It was so high. The only thing that keeps me going is that no matter what happens, we will arrive there at any point.

When we get to the first viewing point, gosh!!! There are a lot of people waiting for the sunset, and the viewing point is so small. Therefore, you must force yourself apart from other individuals in order to obtain at least one respectable photograph.

The second viewing point is a little bit spacious but tricky; there are big stones lining up in the center. You know the famous stone where IG people stand up above the stone and get that perfect IG photo? When I saw the photos prior to our visit in Taipei, it really looked so easy to climb those big and huge rocks, but in reality, it's not. I think you can climb to the top if you are courageous enough, flexible, and strong, but me? I can't!

One thing I noticed was that we came there for sunset, but there were a lot of people already there who positioned themselves in the best spots and waited for sunset. I highly recommend being there, like at 3:00 PM, to secure the spot.

The elephant mountain view is incredible! The view is definitely worth the early arrival. The view is like a painting, especially at night when it reminds me of Christmas.

Going back down is also a struggle. I thought it would be easy because it's going down, but I'm wrong again. My knees are shaking, and I feel like I can't feel my knees anymore. LOL!

On our way back to the MRT station, there is a park there. We stopped for a bit and just rested. Their park is so nice and clean. It makes me feel like I'm safe and relaxed.

Key Takeaways

And that was our travel diary in Taipei, Taiwan. It was the most enjoyable and fun experience we had as a family. We were not in a hurry; we made it to different places. I can say Taiwan is so beautiful, even with its people. I would certainly come back.

Check out the breakdown itinerary below:

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