When I was in grade school, I had watched the TV show, Fun Taiwan, on TLC (my favorite channel)with my mom whenever it was on. I felt like I was travelling with Janet Hsieh – doing extreme but fun activities! Now, I don’t really get to sit in front of the TV anymore because adulting, huhu. However, just last year, I got to see Janet Hsieh in the flesh at the TLC Festival! It made me ask myself, “hey, why not go to Taiwan next?”
And so, less than a year later, my Taiwan adventure began. Now, I can tell Janet that I had fun in Taiwan, hehehe. The place is so underrated. I felt like I belong! JK. I guess I like how I got to finally speak my 3rd language (or my mom and I will be lost forever, lol) and that I was in a place where Korean and Japanese cultures (which I’m both very fond of) meet. But, Taiwan definitely has a charm of its own and I’m so glad to have seen parts of it. 🙂
Before anything, let’s talk about visas. Apparently, if you’ve been to the ff. countries in the last 10 years (with valid expired or non-expired visas), you don’t need to apply for a Taiwanese Visa: US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, United Kingdom or Schengen countries. You just need to print out a Travel Authorization Certificate which you have to fill out online. So, my visas were expired and this was implemented a month before I left so I had no idea. I heard no news that it was already implemented so I still went ahead, completed my requirements and waited for hours at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office only to find out that I didn’t actually need it. Oh well. At least now you don’t have to go through what I did.
We arrived at the Taoyuan International Airport around dinner time. It’s so pretty! We took the KuoKuang (1918) bus (no need for reservations) from the airport to get to Taipei (which took about an hour).
The Taipei Main Station is HUGE but you don’t have to worry about getting lost! Most of their signages have English translations and you can also easily ask at the information desk on how to get to your destination.
Line Friends merchandise are being sold at this station! My heart was so happy to see that giant Brown! *.* He knew I missed him, hehe.
Eslite, a mall connected to Taipei Main Station, is a must-see! If you had an afternoon flight, you can probably grab some dinner here before checking in to your hotel.
We didn’t really go through this area until I decided to check it out days later. They have some really cool stores that offer discounts to foreigners. You might want to check out the 86 Shop here if you love Korean make-up since it had the most stuff among the 86 shops I’d been to. (Photos of 86 Shop will be on a different post.)
From Taipei Main Station, we took the Bannan-bound train (blue) to get to Ximen Station. And right outside Ximen Station (Exit 6) is Ximending, Taiwan’s version of Harajuku/Myeongdong! I recommend staying around this area.
Ximending was the first pedestrian area in Taiwan. I think we arrived at around 9pm and the streets were just so alive and awake! Being able to eat and shop late at night is just plain awesome.
One must eat before shopping. Taiwan’s street food is the best!~ Once you find these food carts, go check them out ’cause they’re not gonna be there every night!
These food stalls, though, you can drop by every night. They’re really popular in Taiwan. It was quite easy to find them. They’re located in one of Ximen’s alleys. (Tip: Just google Prince Cheese Potato.) We had to line up to get our food but it was worth it!
Torched beef for only 100NT. Wow, that’s affordable for such good-looking meat.
YUUUM! I wish I had this every night. Haha!
Prince Cheese Potatoes! These deep fried potatoes had the longest line. They were good but honestly underwhelming, hehe.
50 Lan milk tea~ I had a regular milk tea.
One of my fave eats! I still don’t know what it’s called but the guy selling it told me it was basically Taiwan’s version of pizza. YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS. Remember to add egg, cheese and bacon.
Maybe I should’ve tried this one but it looked Chinese. You know we have the best ones here! /biased
Grilled rice cakes. I freakin’ love rice cakes! I had them every night (don’t judge). The left one has condensed milk and cheese on top of it, while the right one has Japanese soy sauce. Yum!
When I asked my boyfriend what else to eat in Ximending, he suggested Aychung’s rice flour noodles. First of all, look at that line! Waiting wasn’t actually bad! They were just serving them.
And yes, it’s an absolute must to eat this while you’re there. There’s nothing like it!
One not to miss is Tian Tian Li! Get the braised pork rice and the oyster omelet. Seriously, the pork rice really looked normal. In my mind I was like, “the amount of toppings aren’t proportionate to the amount of rice”. But guys, every bite was flavorful!
Taiwanese sausages are another must-try. They’re really different! They’re sweet and salty (where’s my rice?!). *grumbles*
Taiwan’s famouse Ximen Mango Shaved Ice! It’s amusing how their mangoes taste like ripe Indian mangoes. Ours is waaay better. *.*
Interesting sight in such a busy area.
Shops were in every corner! You will really see the Korean and Japanese influence once you walk around. K-pop is being played everywhere (that time the jam were specifically TT and Blood, Sweat & Tears). Every drugstore has J-beauty brands available. I can live here.
I like how it’s not super crowded here. Made it easier to find the stores. They had a lot of interesting clothing boutiques which I failed to take pics of because #priorities. Lol!
My forever peg <3 I love you!
First stop, ABC MART. Sneakers are always a must-buy when you go abroad. I got a pair of Jack Purcells.. again, hehe! This time, they’re leather, though.
The cutest claw machines! Usagi and Gudetama!!
Can someone please bring Innisfree to the Philippines? I love their no-sebum mineral powder.
I wish someone would bring Sasa here, too. I was really amazed to see that all the bestselling Japanese and Korean beauty products are available in Taiwan! I’m living!! It’s more expensive to get them here, but if you’re desperate like me, you wouldn’t care. Hehe!
Memebox at Sasa! YAAAS.
Holika Holika X Gudetama- I diee!
When in Taiwan, buy all the My Beauty Diary face masks! This was literally everywhere. I got a box at 711. It’s the best skincare mask I’ve tried so far. It’s also on Japan Cosme’s top ranking beauty products. It’s sooo good, guys.
Checking out the drugstores was, of course, my priority! Cosmed & Tomod’s have a bunch of the bestselling masks in Korea. I got some Papa Recipe masks at Cosmed.
But the drugstore I looked forward to the most was.. Watsons! We all already know how the store facade looks like so let’s just look inside. *.*
(Lol! Hi, kuya!) Downstairs were all drugstore stuff but once you go up, you’ll find make-up heaven! There was just so many brands available. I didn’t have enough time to really check them one by one. I spazzed too much.
I wish our drugstores were like this.
Oh hi, Hyeoyeon! <3
How do you know what’s good? I’d been eyeing a lot of products from Japanese brands like Integrate. I got their watery bb cream and blush at Sasa! Yaaas! Almost all the really popular K-beauty and J-beauty products are available in Taipei. The tricky part is finding which store has them.*.* A lot of walking is required.
Sneakers are a thing everywhere in Asia. There’s Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Asics, Converse, Keds, and Vans just in Ximending! I recommend doing your sneaker shopping here. I saw 3 Adidas stores and 3 NBs. Better to check all of them first if you haven’t found what you want in the first one you’ve been to. Plus, I think there was also 3 ABC Marts in the area. You can check them out, too. Don’t give up!
OH YES. My favorite clothing store, Mixxo, is in Taipei! They’re a little bit more expensive here, but their clothes are just sooo pretty. *.*
Already wearing what I bought at Mixxo! Hihihi.
Good morning, Ximending!~ I wonder why people are gathered here.
They were shooting a drama! Taiwanese girls are so skinny and pretty. #howtobeyoupo
GACHAPON! Gudetama is killing me.
People were out and about early in the morning! I waited for Net to open. Their clothes are not bad.
A rare tita outfit.
This guy is #GOALS.
A Japanese guy singing like it was a legit anime OST! *.*
Unfortunately, The Red House was under maintenance. It’s been here since 1908 after all! Better catch it next time.
Ximending was such a fun place! I had a hard time filtering the photos ’cause I wanted to share so much about it. Everything’s here. The station is super near so I really suggest booking your accommodation in this area. Next post will be about the cafes that I went to in Ximending. I decided to do it in a different post just to be more organized. Hope you enjoyed this post! Please feel free to comment and look forward to the next ones because they will only get better! <3