Taipei For Children: Exploring North-East Taiwan

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hello! If this is the first post you are reading on our Taipei travelogue, here is a brief introduction for you. Our family went on a trip to Taipei from end September to October - 2 adults and THREE children. Completely outnumbered!

We spent the first part of our trip at the Miaoli county, where we spent two days at the Flying Cow Range, mingling with farm animals and doing all the fun countryside activities that we otherwise have no chance to do in Singapore.

When we travelled back to Taipei city, we dedicated an entire day travelling the North-Eastern part of Taiwan that includes: Yehliu (野柳) - Houtong Cat Village (猫村) - Jiufen (九份) - Shifen (十份)

If you have read my first part of the travelogue, you would hear me complain about the exorbitant rates that the drivers are charging. Firstly, our airport transfer costs us about $120SGD, and then a 30-minute drive from Flying Cow Range to Miaoli's HSR station costs us about $32SGD.

This time, we paid our driver 5000NT for a 10-hour booking, which works out to about $230SGD just for travelling alone. About 40% of our expenses during the trip goes to paying the drivers wtf.

However, that being said, I would still recommend visitors to book a driver because of the following reasons:

#1. Time saving

For example, a car ride from Jiufen to Shifen is about 40 minutes. However, if we were to take public transport via buses or trains, it could easily take two hours out of the trip.

#2. A place to leave our heavier belongings

To plan for a full day trip out meant that we would have to prepare everything we can anticipate - spare diapers, spare clothes, spare bottles of water, comfort pillows, snacks, toys, jackets in case some places we visit may be cold, umbrellas, carriers... and that is serious load on our shoulders. Had we taken public transport, we would have to carry all of those things everywhere we go, but with a car, those can be left conveniently inside when we don't need them.

#3. A place to take a quick snooze

I'd definitely not dare to have a quick shut-eye if we were travelling on public transport because... what if I wake up and then my kids are gone wtf. Having a driver for a day trip meant that we can all take turns for a shut-eye while travelling from one location to another.

It is also more comfortable for our kids to sleep on when we travel.

#4. A place to charge your handphones wtf

#truestory - I have been using a Samsung Note 4 for about a year now and the battery has been losing its efficacy. It dies by 20%, so I would usually need to bring a power bank along with me. Being in the car means I can charge my phone on the go.. and that means I can take more photos and catch more Pokemons hehehe.

Here are the four places we have covered over a span of 12 hours!

* Yehliu Ocean World

The Yehliu Ocean World's highlight programmes are their showtimes. You can expect the usual sea lion and dolphin performances, and also some very exciting ones like water ballet and international water diving, where divers go as high as 15 storeys to jump into the pool! I thought the water diving was the highlight of our trip because it was very, very exciting.

Children below 6 years old enter for free, while adults have to pay 400NT each. The tickets come with complimentary entry into their Oceanarium at the basement as well.

Accessibility: 👍👍

It is quite straight forward if you are travelling by car, but if you are taking a public transport, the nearest station would be Keelung train station, and you would need to transfer another bus to get there. If you're travelling with kids, I would suggest just taking a cab.

Is it worthwhile? 👍👍👍

It is actually not bad, if you can get over with the animal rights activists screaming at you for watching a dolphin show. The programme is rather entertaining and it is not a 30-minute affair like those we see in the zoo.

* Yehliu GeoPark

Part of the Daliao Miaocene Formation, thousands of years of geological forces has forced the Datun Mountains to change their shape and to jut out into the ocean. Amongst these shapes, you get to see some iconic ones like the Queen's Head, Fairy Shoes, Elephant Rock etc. It is a perfect place for Geography junkies.

Children below 6 years old enters free, while adult tickets are at NT80 each. This is probably one of the most affordable entry tickets we have bought in our trip!

However, when we went, it was near to mid-day, where the sun is the strongest. While we had the intention to explore the Geopark, the area is largely unsheltered, so it became unbearably hot very quickly.

We spent about 30 minutes and we scurried away! I would suppose evenings would be a better time to explore the place.

Thankfully, there is a food street right beside the exit of the Geopark. The first few stalls are mostly souvenir related stuff - local fish floss, prawn crackers, pineapple tarts.. so on and so forth. When you walk in a little further, that's where all the delicious food stalls are!

We settled for a quick lunch there, before a one-hour drive to the Cat Village.

Is it worth it? 👍👍👍

I guess if you are a tourist, you should visit this iconic Geopark at least once to experience the hype and the amazing geographical structures. Visiting Yehliu Geopark reminds me of the Twelve Apostles  we visited 2 years ago, except that there were A LOT less PRC visitors here so the entire experience was really great!

Also, probably extra points for the beautiful sea we get to see when we are there.

* Houtong Cat Village

The Houtong Cat Village is a lovely, lovely place for cat lovers to visit! Located in an unassuming, quaint little town, there are over 200 cats living in the village!

That being said, you need to find a right time to visit though. When we went, it was afternoon and the sun was scorching! Most of the cats were lazing indoors or in the shade, so not many were out and about.

If you like, some of the villagers sell cat food at a nominal sum (think NT40?) so you can buy from them and hopefully the hungry felines will be greedy enough to run to you!

Accessibility: 👍👍👍👍
I would think that Houtong Cat Village is highly accessible as it is located right at Houtong Train Station. There are also a lot of gift shops and food stores etc, so you can always grab a bite / buy souvenirs whenever, as long as it is before 5pm.

Is it worth it? 👍👍👍

Hell yes! Even though I hope that there would be more cats the next time you drop by, there are generally enough kitties for us cat-lovers to swoon over. If you don't like cats, then nope. Don't go there. Dogs are recommended not to drop by either lol. (I am serious! They had a sign for that!)

Also, there is this lovely blog post I found online that went more in-depth about Cat Village than I did. We should have spent more time there!

* Jiu Fen

I visit Jiu Fen to death, really. This is my third time to Taipei and my third time to Jiu Fen! I love the cobbled street, the layout of the entire village on a mountain... and how I'd go totally out of breath trying to climb back up to the main street, after we explore the smaller streets.

The food there is wonderful too! This time, we tried both their grilled and deep fried mushrooms, and oh my God. They are so juicy and crunchy at the same time!!!!! Jiu Fen was where I tasted my very first mouth of 臭豆腐 (smelly beancurd) and fell in love with it some 10 years ago?

It is also a great place for me to buy my 凤梨酥 (pineapple tarts). If I don't buy them there, I would buy them at Dan Shui eventually.

Both Jiu Fen and Dan Shui are my most favourite places in Taipei. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I think about them lol.

Accessibility: 👍

I've gotta be frank here - it sucks to go up to Jiu Fen because it is so freakin' inaccessible! To reach there, you would have to take a train, then change a bus or a cab, and you would still have to walk a distance before you reach the main street proper.

Even if you drive, parking is a HUGE issue there, and it doesnt get you right to the doorstep too. A lot of walking and climbing is required and I personally feel that it is not friendly for elderly and children as the steps can be very steep and slippery.

Is it worth it? 👍👍👍

Well.. it really depends on what you are going to Jiu Fen for? If you're going there for the scenery, yes, definitely worth it. For the food? Yes too. I love the overall feel this place gives me, it feels very laidback, very old.. and somewhat magical. I would love to have a little apartment there!

* Shi Fen

Shi Fen is probably the highlight of most tourists going to Taipei as we get to release sky lanterns! When we reached Shi Fen, it was about 6.30pm, but the skies were already dark by then.

What first greeted us were the lanterns, floating in the sky, released by tourists who arrived earlier than us. The entire sky was dotted with them and it was SO BEAUTIFUL I've never quite seen a sight like this.

It was like a scene out of Rapunzel I swear.

Yup! Right about there.

So I also had the opportunity to represent the household to wave my brush. All Nian said was... "You don't need your phone to check the words?"

 😂 Excuse me, lao niang's Chinese is consistently A* and A1 throughout my Pri/Sec/JC one ok lololol.

Ready to go! Both Dy and Alexis also had the chance to scribble stuff on the lantern. See the little strokes at the bottom? Drawn by our dear little girl. Don't we all love it? 😘😘

Accessibility: 👍👍👍

There is a train station that reaches directly to Shifen from Taipei Main Station. Although the journey may be long, at least it gets you right to the place without needing cabs or buses!

Is it worth it? 👍👍👍👍👍

Yes, it was a fantastic experience to be at Shifen releasing sky lanterns! I hope to be back next time to visit the waterfall, 金瓜石,十分瀑布, so on and so forth. A single day trip to tour the North-Eastern Taipei is certainly insufficient, you would probably need two to three days?

In the remaining days, we stayed in Taipei city to let the kids spend time at some very cool indoor playgrounds and amusement parks. Previously, we brought Dylan and Alexis to Taipei Zoo when we last visited Taiwan. I think that is a great place to bring your kids to, too, when you are there!

More on our trip in a couple of weeks or so! Till then. <3

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  1. Hi, may I ask where did you stay when you are in Taipei? I will be bringing my 2 gals, both below 2 to Taiwan next year. And I will visit the Flying Cow Ranch too. How many days were you at Flying Cow? Wonder if 1 day is enough to visit the ranch/farm? Thanks.

    1. Hello! We stayed in an AirBnb apartment that is right beside Taipei Main Station. We were at Flying Cow Ranch for 2 days.. 1 day is enough to visit the ranch definitely, but I would still recommend about 2 days so that you don't have to rush. The trip from Taipei to Flying Cow is quite far, so not really worth it to go all the way just for one day. :)

  2. It looked so fun and entertaining for the kids especially! I haven't been to other parts of Taiwan except Taipei. Time to save up and plan! :D Thanks for sharing!

  3. How did you manage THREE little ones and still managed to have so much fun and visited so many places! My hub and I need to start working out more and build up our energy and tolerance before we ever travel again with my girls. Or wait till they're more independent and willing to walk more. LOL!

    My parents are going to Taiwan in Dec, I shall share this with them. :)

    1. We didn't really go to a lot of places tbh! This was the only day we packed our schedule, the rest of the days were pretty slack and we only went to 2 places a day hehehe. Give it a go! Taipei is very children-friendly!

  4. What a friendly place to enjoy as a family and love the fact that you can nap, keep your luggage and best is to charge your phone on the go which is very important when travelling.

  5. I love Jiufen too, and I would like to explore Shifen with my family.
    Taiwan, always love the culture and the food :)

    cheers, Andy

  6. I can only identify with Jiu Fen and Dan Shui from my Taipei trip 6 years ago. Maybe it's time to revisit the place with 3 kids in tow!

    - Mary

  7. The last time we've been to Taipei was sans kids bit I've been wanting to bring my little one to taipei since we enjoyed it so much the last time. But truth is i've been kind of skeptical so this post came at a good time as we are planning for our 2017 trips!

  8. Aha, those cats so cute!!! Also the Geopark looks awesome. Kudos to you for travelling with 3 lil kids...

  9. Hats off to you and Nian for managing 3 young children while visiting so many places! Yes, I agree hiring a driver is definitely the way to go when travelling with in a group. Otherwise, can also consider hiring a car and self-drive. Great photos. You looked like you had lots of fun!

    Michelle @ The Chill Mom

  10. hi
    Would like to know when you travel to jiufen and shifen,
    how are you going to change your baby's diaper?
    I realise these places may not have a nursing room

    1. Hello Elyn! Because we hired a car for the day trip, most diaper changes and nursing were done in the car. It can be quite tricky if you are going by public transport - from my previous trip, I know Ruifang station has a nursing room. You might have to give the baby a fresh diaper there, before travelling on to Jiufen! You can also attempt to change in the train too heehee.


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