taiwan attractions


Wow! It has been four days since we last blogged and we’re currently so busy with so many events that are happening this week and the following week that we haven’t even got time to really sit down and take a breather!
Well, with 3 more months to go before the end of the year, we believe many of you would also be in the midst of preparing your travel plans for the coming school holidays and hence, in this blog entry, we will be sharing about Jingtong, a place that we recently went during our recent trip to Taiwan.

Jingtong, also known as Jingtongkeng, was once the largest coal mine established by the Taiyang Mining Company. In the past, drawn by the flourishing mining industry, many people flocked to this area to seek work. However, Jingtong’s mining industry was dismantled after the government began to import cheap coal. Worse still, as there were no other industries to replace coal mining, Jingtong suffered a massive exodus. Today, the area still has remains and monuments of its industrial past. As attractions are concentrated and are easily accessible, tourists can easily follow road signs to relive the history of Jingtong.

A monument to remember the history of Jingtong.

Jingtong Old Street

Located in Pingxi District, northern Taiwan, Jingtong was originally a coal mining town. Today, it is specially well-known for its tourism trade with numerous souvenir shops and exhibits that depicts the history of the area and the coal mining industry.

Some of the unique traditional snacks and drinks that we came across at the old-fashioned grocery stores there.

A flavoured carbonated drink that requires you to pop a metal ball in order for the liquid to flow out.

These are flavoured ice-creams in the shape of an egg.

The souvenir store has a number of memorabilia that you could purchase and for us, we prefer having souvenirs in the form of a metal token.

Jingtong Train Station

Ranked as one of the Top 100 Historic Century-old Buildings in Taiwan, Jingtong Train Station is one of Taiwan’s four remaining wooden stations. Its simple, antique Japanese style that has been maintained since its opening attracts many tourists. The inside of the station contains well-preserved wooden benches, old telephone handsets, and vintage ticket gates from which tourists can buy an old-fashioned, card-like ticket as souvenirs. Stepping into such an atmospheric station is like reliving memories of an old movie. This is definitely a must-see for nostalgic railway fans.

How the inside of Jingtong Train Station looks like.

If you would like to board the train at Jingtong Train Station, here’s the train timings and prices for your reference.

The really colourful train at Jingtong Train Station.

Jingtong Train Station is a really charming place that provides good opportunities for photo-shoots!

If you wish to, you can also purchase a bamboo pole where you can write down your heartfelt wishes and hang it at Jingtong Train Station.

A closed-up photo of the wishes that were written on the bamboo poles.


To go or not to go?

We highly recommend that you INCLUDE Jingtong Old Street and Jingtong Railway Station in your itinerary if you’re travelling on a Free and Easy trip to Taiwan.

Personally, we could identify with the town’s unique charm and we really love the scenic place. In fact, some of the scenes for the movie, “You’re The Apple of My Eye” were shot there too. Truly, Jingtong station is definitely one of the most authentic and traditional Japanese-style train stations in the island of Taiwan and you shouldn’t miss it.

To get to Jingtong, you can either hire a private vehicle or alternatively, you can take the railway train that is bound for Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung on the Eastern Line from Taipei Main Station. Thereafter, get off at Badu or Ruifang Station and transfer to the Pingxi Line. If you prefer to visit more places in New Taipei, we highly recommend that you get a private driver but if you’re on a shoestring budget, then taking the train might probably be the best solution.

In our recent trip to Taichung, Taiwan, the last two attractions that we went to was Carton King and Banana New Paradise. If anyone is wondering, we actually planned for a day tour in Taichung because we really miss the Tai Yang Bing [a.k.a Sun Biscuit/Cake] and we found it pretty pointless to spend money on High Speed Rail Tickets to Taichung just for boxes of Tai Yang Bing. Hence, we decided to sniff out other attractions that we haven’t been to so that we could kill multiple birds with one stone.
Carton King

Last year, we were at the Carton King branch in Nantou and this time round, we went to the Carton King Creativity Park in Taichung. The Carton King Creativity Park in Taichung is way bigger than the one we went to in Nantou and there are also more things to look at and shop for.

Ticket booth made of cardboxes and paper.

Entrance tickets to Carton King Creativity Park cost $200 TWD and it also comes with a voucher that we could use to buy souvenirs or food and beverage.

Almost all of the displays in Carton King Creativity Park is made by corrugated paper.

Sitting on the sofa like a boss. The sofa was made out of cardboards.

If you wish to purchase some of these unique displays, you can do so at the souvenir store but you would have to assemble them from scratch. The souvenir store also has some really interesting cards that you might want to check out and purchase as gifts for your family members and friends.

Apart from the souvenir store, there’s also a mini bee/honey museum, a restaurant, and a candy store! As our next destination was Banana New Paradise [a unique 1900s-themed restaurant], we skipped lunch at Carton King Creativity Park. If you’re planning to visit Carton King Creativity Park, do note that the restaurant only serves lunch from 1100 to 1400 and dinner from 1700 to 2030. A meal for an adult would cost approximately 250 TWD to 400 TWD and for children, it would cost about 150 TWD.

The dining table and seats in the restaurant at Carton King is also made of cardboard.

At the mini honey/bee museum at Carton King Creativity Park. This is the reason why I deserve to be an actor.

Jacqueline’s new found friends.

To go or not to go?

Verdict: Carton King Creativity Park is really unique and there are probably no other places like it. There are tons of opportunities for photos and if you’re an artsy person, Carton King Creativity Park might be your source of inspiration for some creativity. The souvenirs available are reasonably priced and some of the DIY kits are pretty interesting and suitable to be placed at home for decoration purposes. Hence, we personally feel that you ought to have Carton King Creativity Park in your itinerary if you’re planning to visit Taichung. In fact, we would definitely return to get some more stuffs from their souvenir store because they are really unique and inexpensive.

Banana New Paradise

Banana New Paradise is situated near to the Confucius Temple, the Taichung Broadcasting Bureau, and Yizhong Night Market. It was a pity that we didn’t have much time to explore this part of Taichung because we uncovered quite a number of attractions in this vicinity where Banana New Paradise is at.

Banana New Paradise has an old train carriage right outside their restaurant.

Old telephone communication system onboard the old train carriage.

If you wondering what is Banana New Paradise, it is essentially a theme restaurant that serves Chinese and Taiwanese meals. The decorations and displays in the 1900s-themed restaurant is really unique and you will get a taste of what it feels like to be living in Taiwan during that era.

The restaurant even has an entire, authentic-looking replication of a Taiwan street from the 1920s to 1940s. Apart from the colonial-era store fronts and the displays of real antiques, there’s also old mailboxes, signs and posters, a 50-year-old taxi, motorcycles, fully-stocked camera store, dentist office, barber shop, movie theater, and a candy and toy store too. All these can be found in Banana New Paradise and they are really a sight to behold.

The toy and candy shop!

Yes, they even have features from the Ching Dynasty!

Old school barber shop.

An old school cinema booth! We used to have something like this in Singapore too.

Old school cinema posters.

Real antiques that are extremely rare.

I don’t really know what this is but it sure looks like a machine used for shaving ice.

Your eyes ain’t tricking you. This is not some part of an alley. In fact, they are inside the theme restaurant itself!

It’s time for school!

We were quite surprised to see this fire hydrant inside the restaurant too!

Jacqueline posing for a photo with the fire hydrant.

Old school cameras.

Visitors can sit at tables along the “street”, or inside “shops”, and enjoy Chinese and Taiwanese meals.

The super duper unique food menu.

And how was the food?

It was really superb!

When we were there, we did not manage to arrive in time for their normal lunch hours and as a result, we only managed to order some light snacks to fill ourselves. Hence, it was more like a high tea session than lunch.

Char Siew Pau

Carrot Cake

Fried Beancurd Roll

Fried Sticky Rice

Ice Lemon Tea

Icy Mango

To go or not to go?

Verdict: Banana New Paradise is definitely one of the most extraordinary theme restaurants in Taichung and the food is relatively superb as well. The cost of having a meal at Banana New Paradise is reasonable though it is considered to be on the higher end by the locals. If you’re a history buff and you want to have an experience of what living in Taiwan during the 1900s is like, you might want to include Banana New Paradise in your itinerary. Furthermore, there’s no entrance fees and you pay only for what you consume in the restaurant.

Overall, our one day tour at Taichung was a really fruitful one and as you can see, we bought lots of goodies on just one single day.

I was personally very tired from the one-day trip in Taichung and here I am taking a quick power nap before arriving in Taiwan for the rest of our trip.


In our few upcoming blog entries, we will be sharing with you some of the interesting places that we have been to in Taipei and New Taipei so do look out for that! Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

During our visit to Taichung, one of the attractions that we visited was the Xinshe Castle, a European-style castle. From the Lavender Cottage, the journey took about 20 minutes by car and according to our driver, the Xinshe Castle is quite a popular tourist attraction.

The entrance tickets to Xinshe Castle cost $250 TWD and it comes with a $100 TWD Voucher which could be used for shopping and food/drinks.

The exterior façade of Xinshe Castle looks rather grand and its compounds are huge!

There are tons of man-made water features and the place offers ample photo opportunities.

However, we spent less than 20 minutes at Xinshe Castle and we felt rather cheated because the attraction just wasn’t worth the money. In fact, when we were there in June this year, mosquitoes were aplenty and we aren’t sure if it was due to the season/weather. However, what we do know is that the mosquito bites that we received were stinging pain!

Trying my very best to force a smile for the camera because the mosquitoes were getting on my nerves.

If you have Xinshe Castle in your travel itinerary, we highly suggest that you bring along some insect repellent and apply them to your body to keep those pesky mosquitoes away. Otherwise, you might want to leave Xinshe Castle out of your travel itinerary.

Another attraction that we visited was the local mushroom farm and it was quite a last minute decision because during the car ride, we noticed that there were quite a number of mushroom farms around the vicinity. We also found out from our driver that the place was well-known for its fresh mushrooms.

When we arrived at one of the local mushroom farms, the place wasn’t as pretty as any attraction would appear to be but it was quite a worthwhile learning experience as we saw how the mushrooms were being grown and harvested by hand.

The place was rather dark and humid and the conditions were suitable for the mushrooms to grow. Apart from mushrooms, lingzhi are being cultivated as well.

Fresh mushrooms ready for harvesting.

The mushroom farm also have some food products for sale and you can sample some of them before making the decision to buy them. Some of the products include fried vegetable chips, dried mushrooms, and other fresh produce.

Overall, we personally feel that Xinshe Castle was a waste of time and money and its only a place good for visiting only once. As for the mushroom farms, you might just want to drop by a while to take a look and learn something new.

It is now time for us to indulge in sharing about our recent trip to Taiwan. For this year, we spent only 4 days in Taiwan and though it was a short vacation, we managed to cover quite a number of attractions and we returned back to Singapore tired but happy.

Our 4 Days 3 Nights itinerary were as follows:…

Day 1- Taichung & Taipei Taiwan: -Lavender Cottage -Xinshe Castle -Mushroom Farm -Carton King Creativity Park -Banana New Paradise -Xi Men Ding

Day 2- Taipei, Taiwan: -Xi Men Ding -Raohe Night Market

Day 3- New Taipei & Taipei, Taiwan: -Jingtong Railway Station -Shifen Old Street -Shifen Waterfall -Jiu Fen -Gold Ecological Park -Golden Waterfall -Shuinandong Smelter -Ying Yang Sea -Shilin Night Market

Day 4- Taipei, Taiwan -Shuang Lian

As we have previously written some articles about our earlier trips to Taiwan in 2011 and 2012, we might be repeating some of these entries as there are some new and updated information to include. Hence, do give us some time as we do our best to consolidate our various experiences in Taiwan.

As usual, we took the midnight flight to Taipei via Scoot Airlines and we arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 05:55am in the morning. Having picked up our baggage and cleared the customs, we took the U Bus, Bus Number 705, to Taipei High Speed Rail Station. The cost of the bus trip is NT$30 per person and it took about 20 minutes.

Since we arrived early at Taipei High Speed Rail Station, we had some light breakfast and then boarded the High Speed Train to Taichung.

Last year, we took the Business Class Seats but for this particular trip, we decided to go for the Economy Class Seats as we wanted to save more for our shopping spree. The cost of the train trip was NT$540 per person and it is way cheaper than the Business Class Seats. Furthermore, the only difference between the Economy Class Seats and Business Class Seats is that the Business Class Seats are wider and Business Class Passengers get some complimentary light snacks.

Before we even embarked on our flight to Taiwan, we had prearranged with our hired driver to pick us up at Taichung High Speed Rail Station. Hence, this really save us a lot of hassle and trouble from having to lug our luggage around, and the best part is, we had more time to cover more attractions.

Our first stop for the first day was the Lavender Cottage.

Having done some extensive research, we decided that we wanted to reconnect with nature and hence this was the very reason why Lavender Cottage was part of our itinerary. The car journey from Taichung High Speed Rail Station to Lavender Cottage took about 45 minutes and because it is situated in the mountains, there aren’t any public bus that plies the area. Hence, the only mode of transportation to get there would be via private transport and if you’re up for the challenge, you could hike up too but it will be quite a long journey up.

The operating hours for Lavender Cottage are as follows:

Monday to Friday 10:30 – 18:30
Saturday to Sunday 10:00 – 18:30

In case you’re wondering whether there’s any entrance fees to Lavender Cottage, yes there is. It will cost NT$200 per person to enter Lavender Cottage but to be honest, the price is really worth it as the entrance ticket also comes with a NT$200 voucher that you can use to shop for souvenirs or buy food/drinks.

When we were there, it was the season for Salvia Flowers and though we expected to see tons of Lavender Flowers, we didn’t have the opportunity as it wasn’t the season for it. In case you’re wondering, the season for Lavender Flowers is from November to April.

The Lavender Cottage offers tons of opportunities for photo-taking and we really like the setting.

When we reached Lavender Cottage, the first thought that came to our mind was to take a deep breath of fresh air! The sky was indeed beautiful and what do we see? A heart-shaped cloud!

Even the souvenir shop has lots of interesting stuffs that you can purchase too.

We were quite spoilt for choices as there were so many souvenirs to choose from. They had tea leaves.

Handmade Soaps…

Bathing Salts…

Oil Essence…

Scented Creams and Lotions…

Of course there are tons of other souvenirs that are available at Lavender Cottage but it would be too much to list them all. So, if you’re wondering what you should get if you happen to be there, we will highly recommend you to get their handmade soaps or their scented bags.

An overview map of Lavender Cottage.

When you start walking around Lavender Cottage, you might spot some Geckos like these and it is said that they are attracted to people wearing white t-shirts. I’m not too sure if they bite or what not but it is better for you to stay clear of them.

Here are just some shots that we took while exploring Lavender Cottage.

A cart full of logs for the fireplace.

Looks somewhat like our Singapore Botanical Gardens.

The colourful signages that points to the various attractions in Lavender Cottage.

They even have the merry-go-round ride in what seems like a jungle.

Jacqueline playing with the stuffed toys.

One of the food and beverage outlets where you can purchase some cakes and drinks.

If you wish, you can have a picnic in the jungle for that nature-feel.

There are postcards available from the souvenir shop and you can actually buy one and send it to your family members and friends, or even to yourself.

A nursery room in the jungle!

How I wish there was something like this when we were outfield.

Pretty flowers!

The owners of Lavender Cottage stays in this really huge house and in case you’re wondering, yes, there are people currently living in it.

The really beautiful ladies bathroom/toilet that every lady dream to have at home.

To go or not to go to the Lavender Cottage?

Well, we say, “To Go!”

The Lavender Cottage is a worthy attraction and like we mentioned, there are really tons of opportunities for photo-taking. Moreover, the scenery is really beautiful and when you stepped into the surroundings, you will find yourself relaxed and calm.

Given the opportunity, we will definitely visit this beautiful place of nature again. Though it may be quite a distance, the journey is definitely worth it. However, do bring along some insect repellent as there will be pesky mosquitoes that are eager to feed on you.  If you would like to check it out for yourself, the details of Lavender Cottage are as follows:

Address- No. 20, Zhongxing St, Xinshe Dist, Taichung City 426, Taiwan Telephone- +886425931066

If you also want to find out more information about Lavender Cottage, you can check out their website that is written in Mandarin at: http://www.lavendercottage.com.tw/

Hello Everyone,
in this blog entry, we will be covering solely on the Ci En Pagoda.

The word “Ci En” in Mandarin means kindness, grace and mercy. Located about 954 metres above sea level, Ci En Pagoda is 46 metres high and is the highest structure in Sun Moon Lake. Built by Chiang Kai-Shek in memory of his mother in 1971, the construction was very difficult because the materials had to be shipped over the lake and moved up the mountain.

Getting Ready to Hike Up To Ci En Pagoda

The distance to Ci En Pagoda is approximately 700 metres from where Baby was standing.

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

From the carpark to Ci En Pagoda, it is about 570 metres away.

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

The hiking trail is surrounded by beautiful plants and trees, and the air was superbly fresh!

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

And so, the countdown begins. We were 400 metres away from reaching the Ci En Pagoda.

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

And we stopped for another photo shoot.

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

And we were 300 metres away…

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

200 metres away…

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

and finally, 100 metres away!

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

We finally made it after the tiring hike up to Ci En Pagoda! Just look at our exhausted faces!

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

So since we were there already, we made use of all the time we had by snapping lots of photographs!

Here’s Baby and I trying out some jump shots.

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]
From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

Then I decided to do a Kung Fu Kick.

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

and Baby tried to do the same.

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

I like this shot of Baby. So comical!

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

So after much fooling around, we decided to conquer Ci En Pagoda. Just look at all those long, winding, and never-ending steps! It certainly reminded me of the SAFTI Tower Run that I did during my CLM Term in OCS.

From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

After the long and arduous stairs-climbing, we finally reached the top and can’t stop admiring the beautiful scenery. It’s a real pity the weather was too foggy for us to have good photographs.

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]
From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]
From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]
From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]

Having shot enough photographs, there was just one last thing left to be done; that is, ringing the bell!

From Day 2 Taiwan 2012 [Jacqueline’s Perspective]
From Day 2 Taiwan Holiday 2012 [Melvin’s Perspective]

Well, we certainly had lots of fun hiking up to Ci En Pagoda and in our next blog entry, we will be covering about our stay at Skylight BB in Sun Moon Lake!

Stay tuned to more updates from us!

God bless!