Taiwan government’s announcement about visa-free entry policy for Filipinos October last year made most of us excited as a new destination in Asia welcomes us with open arms. Recently, they announced the extension of such policy until July 2019.
Just in time with this great opportunity, AirAsia Philippines launched its first inaugural flight from Clark-Taipei on July 12, 2018, which flies every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Travelers now coming from North and Central Luzon will surely benefit with this new route as it will be more convenient for them due to its proximity and less the hassle of travelling to Manila.
After buckling down for the past weeks, it is a time for a great getaway to the “Heart of Asia”. Together with AirAsia Sales and Distribution team and selected travel agents from North and Central Luzon, we got an opportunity to visit Taipei and linger its downtown and picturesque countryside. AirAsia Philippines collaborated with ATW for a familiarization trip. While on board AirAsia, sumptous meals were served to our team inside the aircraft. Guests can choose from their menu button upon booking.
Arrived at Taoyuan Airport 25 minutes earlier than the expected time of arrival from Clark Airport.
ATW Taiwan team graciously welcomed the group and did exceptional preparations including accommodation, transportation, meals and tour arrangements all throughout our stay.
From the airport, we took a comfy tourist bus going to our hotel in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. While on board, our tour guide Jerry (who claims to be the most handsome tour guide) gave us some information of the city and briefed us on the next day’s itinerary. We stayed at a 3-star hotel named Ximen Hotel in Ximending. Upon arrival, we had bunch of Taiwanese snacks waiting for us at the lobby, courtesy of ATW.
The hotel has its close proximity to one of the famous night market Ximending, only about 3 minutes’ walk. The street is a haven for shopping, eclectic restaurants, massive variety of street food, clubs, bars, arts, street performances and exhibitions. Our momentous 3 days and 4 nights in Taiwan started on the very first night as we roamed around Ximending and we never failed to spend our spare time to experience its vibrant lifestyle.
Being a first-time visitor, I can say that Taiwan is must-go destination in Asia that has sheer numbers of attractions. As we go around, it is obvious that it has multiple and well-planned transport hubs which allow travelers to easily change between options. They have the metro rails, high speed trains, tourist shuttles, taxis and even scooters and bicycles are widely use and available in most corners.
Here are the other highlights of our Taiwan experience:
Exploring the city. Aside from gastronomic tour from various restaurants and street food, we visited the iconic Taipei 101 tower which was known to be the tallest building in the world before the existence of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Our package doesn’t include observatory but if in case you want to experience it, selling of tickets is available at the 5th floor which costs around NT$ 600 or if you want the express ticket counter, pay double. Once you got the ticket, observatory deck is on the 89th floor.
Another interesting stop is the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. The place displays Taiwan’s colorful past. During our tour, we witnessed the Changing of Guards ceremony which happens every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Taiwan is a mix of cosmopolitan and old air which is very evident in its countryside. Tourists will always have good reasons to come back to fully explore its rich culture and vast options of fascinating destinations.
Yehliu Geopark – this long cape has spectacular view and home to limestones of various forms similar to mushrooms, candle, ginger and chessboard due to marine erosion, weathering and earth movements. If you are planning to have a vivid background for a pre-nup photo shoot, this is the place!
The Queen’s Head is the most-sought of all the rock formations, it was named for its supposed likeness to England’s Queen Elizabeth I. Park goers never mind the long queue under the bursting sun just to take a photo with it. We decided to take photos from the side view so we can have more time to explore the park.
Visitors should take note that stepping on the rock formations are strictly prohibited and one should always avoid crossing beyond the red line for safety reasons.
Shifen Old Street – the sight of a rustic old city will most likely unfold before you. It brings back nostalgia like you’ve seen it on old movies plotted in the countryside. The quintessential thing to do is to write down your wishes on the lanterns by calligraphy and send it off into the sky. Lanterns has four colors which are symbolic and represents the wishes you want to come true. It costs around NT$ 150 per person. People standing on the railways, taking selfies or sending off lanterns must be mindful of the warning bell when train is approaching as they need to get off the tracks.
Shifen Waterfall – once you sent your wishes skyward, just few walks from Shifen Old Street, after crossing a suspension bridge is a mesmerizing waterfall. The cascading water will sweep your feet off while it is being surrounded with verdant background.
Shilin Official Residences – this “instagrammable” place used to be a symbol of strong central power and limited political freedom being the residence of Chiang Kai Shek and his wife but now open to the public for a leisurely stroll.
Maokong Gondola – this was not built for the sole purpose of leisure or tourist attraction but as a mode of transportation. It has 4.3 kilometers line and 4 stations connecting the Taipei Zoo and Maokong. Passengers can enjoy watching the undulating terrain, a glimpse of the metropolis and even the Taipei 101 can be seen from afar. Weather condition has to be considered during its daily operation.
The sun was down and it was time for us to say goodbye to beautiful Taiwan as we need to catch our flight back to Clark. Still, even with all the tiring walks and limited time to explore every place we visited, the 4 nights and 3 days stay is priceless. We all went home with a grateful heart, new friends, full stomach and memories we will always cherish. This will not be our first trip because I promised myself to come back, explore other destinations and share the experience with my loved ones. Our sincerest thanks and appreciation to AirAsia Philippines and to ATW for taking care of us and made this journey unforgettable.
Photo credits to : Manuel Chua
To cap off our great getaway, here’s a video created by Manuel Chua:
AirAsia Sales and Distribution Team in collaboration with ATW Taipei brought us to the heart of Asia ~ Taiwan. AirAsia now flies 3x a week from Clark International Airport to Taipei. A great news for us living in Central and Northern Luzon as we don't need to experience the agony of passing through EDSA. More stories soon! Visit my website: https://www.darldannatravels.com/Enjoy watching!🎥 Manuel Chua
Posted by Darldanna Travels on Wednesday, August 22, 2018