Thursday, 3 September 2015

Taiwan Travelogue September 2015 (Pre-departure planning)

Again we booked our flight one week before the trip. If you have been following some of my travel stories, it is kinda a norm for our family. Always last minute…Anyway we wanted to bring the kids for a short trip for the school holidays so decided to go Taiwan in the end.  We will be spending 5 full days and 6 nights there plus 2 days of travelling to and fro by plane.


Taipei 101

After booking the flight, it is time to plan our itinerary. Hubby and me have been to Taiwan twice (2008 and 2013)  and this will be our 3rd time there. Jaclyn been there once but she is barely 2 years old then and when I asked her if she had been to Taiwan before, obviously she answered “No”. Anyway, we kinda explored Taipei twice and Sun Moon Lake once so the question will be if we wanna visit KaoShiong+Kending+Taipei or Yilan+Hualien+Taipei.

I did a quick search on transportation, time needed to travel to these places, and attractions nearby plus weather. In the end we decided to go for Yilan, Hualien and Taipei. 

Reason: Yilan and Hualien are nearer to Taipei and we could rent a car to go around(We read that transportation is not that developed in Yilan, Hualien area as compared to Taipei so it is easier to rent a car). Plus there is now direct flight by Scoot to Kaoshiong from Singapore so we could do KaoShiong +Kenting +Alishan for our next trip without the need to take HSR all across Taiwan to reach Kaoshiong from Taoyuan Airport. Save $$$ as HSR is quite pricey and I have a reason to go Taiwan again. Haha!

For car rental, we do need to apply for international driving licence as our supposedly “international driving licence” does not apply in Taiwan (It is accepted in NZ, Australia and even UK so this is our first time applying for International Driving Licence). It can be easily done by visiting the AMK hub, Singapore. Key in details in a machine, have your photo taken by a machine and pay SGD$20 and your license will be printed out. Hubby did that few days before our trip.

International Driving License

Places that recognise this driving license

Note: Do note that it is right hand drive in Taiwan and this will be our first time driving on right hand side... Hopefully everything will be fine!

After finalizing our rough itinerary, we have decided to stay in Yilan for 3 nights and Taipei for 3 nights. So, next step is to search for hotel. We were quite tired and did not manage to finalise until 3 days before the trip for Yilan Hotel and 2 days before the trip for Taipei Hotel.

Note: Do try to book early especially for weekend date in Yilan as most hotel are fully booked by the time we checked. Lots of tourist and local like to go Yilan or Hualien for weekend trip, so do book in advance if you could J

For Yilan we found this Tian Xia Ju Motel which is not far from Yilan City Centre and for its huge room size (so that kids can run around and used up some of their almost never-ending energy) and private parking, free wifi in the room and breakfast included. Price SGD$160 per night. Actually after some research, I find that hotel in Taiwan is not exactly cheap. Food are cheap yes (if we opt for food from night market and local shop) but hotels are definitely on pricey side.

As for Taipei, we choose to stay in Ximending so that it is near the shopping area and we can take turn to go down and walk walk while the kids rest. Decided to book at Westgate Hotel. One of the pros is that besides offering laundry service, the hotel also have coin-operated washing machine for the convenience of its guests which is what we wanted as we do not want to bring 7 days of clothes to Taiwan. So with this, we manage to reduce our "clothes" by 50%!

There are some issues with car booking as the car rental in airport are mostly local companies and they do not accept booking by tourist from their website. If we opt for international car rental company eg: Avis, we have to travel about an hour from airport to reach their office to pick up the car. We will be reaching Terminal 1 and the only option available is Ching Bing Car Rental and we cant book online as we do not have Taiwanese Identification Card Number. We ended up emailing them and calling them as we did not get any reply from email. In the end, manage to book just the day before our flight, phew! We had to pay via sending our credit card information through email so if you are not comfortable then probably have to go to Avis which is more reputable car rental service.

Packing: Now that my kids are older now (4 years old and 2 years plus), packing has gone a little easier. So I packed 4 days worth of clothes, pampers for Justin, an extra pair of slipper, some general medicines and some toiletries.

Some things to consider bringing (if applicable to your kids):
1. Milk powder ( I get some free sample that I requested online so I usually save them for trips like this)
2. Insect repellant especially when going when the weather is hot
3. Hat/Cap/Sunglasses/Sunblock (now that weather is 28-30, this comes handy)
4. Lotion or moisturiser which I usually bring during trip to keep kids' skin moisturise
5. Swim suit (if planning to go hot spring)


So, it is night time now and our flight is at 6.40am so I better go and get some rest!

p/s: I still have not finalise on our final itinerary. Mainly found some places to eat and a few places to go only. Still gotta work on it as we go along the trip or we can just go free and easy. Weather forecast in Taiwan is really not so good when we are there, mostly rainy.. Hopefully weather will turn well for us. Pray hard and night!

Some pictures from previous trip for me to dream bout my upcoming trip! Time to create more memories :) 

Peaceful lake at Sun Moon Lake

Jaclyn in Taipei. Time flies, she was barely two years old then and now she is 4 years plus already!

Quaint and quiet tea time!



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