taiwan free and easy


Taipei is the Capital City of Taiwan and it is the place that most first-time tourists to Taiwan would visit. It was during my first visit to Taiwan that I fell in love with the place, the people, and the food. As a matter of fact, words alone can’t really express the feeling I have whenever I visit Taiwan because Taiwan is like a second home to both Jacqueline and myself. Hence, it is not surprising that every year without fail, Jacqueline and I would travel to Taiwan and we would always go to our usual hangouts to do some eating, shopping, and sightseeing. Some of our usual hangouts in Taipei would include Raohe Night Market, Shilin Night Market, Ningxia Night Market, Ximending, Wufenpu, Q Square Mall, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Zhongshan Metro Mall, and Taipei Main Station Underground Mall.
Truly, there are also many other places in Taipei that we have yet to uncover and every year as we travel to Taiwan, there would always be something new for us to explore and discover. Hence in this blog post, we will be sharing about our usual hangouts in Taipei and why we make it a point to visit these places every year without fail! As we have explored new attractions in our recent trip to Taiwan, we will be sharing about our experience in the next blog entry and as crazy as it may sound, we actually have plans to include these new “finds” into our usual hangouts the next time we visit Taiwan.

Raohe Night Market

There’s a store at Raohe Night Market that specially sells Taiwanese goodies like the “Iron Egg” [also known as Tie Dan], Sun Biscuits [also known as Tai Yang Bing], and fruit-flavoured Jellies. This would perhaps be the best place to get souvenirs for all your family members and friends as they would be slightly cheaper as compared to the retail stores at the airport. Sumptuous street-food at Raohe Night Market

Yummy Grilled Scallops

Desserts Galore at Raohe Night Market

A must-try at Raohe Night Market, fried Oreo balls!

There are quite a number of mini arcades at Raohe Night Market and most of them have the toy catching machine which would get people instantly hooked. Though playing the toy catching machine provides much thrill and is cheaper than playing in Singapore, we would still suggest people to buy the toys from other retail stores as it would be much more cheaper!

Having some fun at Raohe Night Market.

A photo with our Taiwanese friend.

Personally, Raohe Night Market is a haven to me because this is where I can get my business long-sleeved shirts and long pants at a great deal. The quality is comparable to what you get from G2000 and it’s way much cheaper. The best part is, the tailor is able to alter the pants on the spot.

Whenever we are at Raohe Night Market, we would always visit our favourite desserts shop to have this really yummy oreo chocolate with peanut-flavoured ice-shavings. We highly recommend it if you’re planning a visit to Raohe Night Market.

Truly, Raohe Night Market is one night market you do not want to miss when you travel to Taipei! In fact, this is the place where we bought lots of Taiwanese goodies for our family members and friends. Apart from the tempting food that you could find at Raohe Night Market, you would also be able to shop till you drop!


[Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Wufenpu is rather well known as a wholesale hub for clothes retailers and it is Taipei’s largest wholesale clothing market. As Wufenpu is about 10-15 minutes walking distance from Raohe Night Market, we would always just drop by to take a look at the clothing that are being sold and also check out if there are any good deals. Hence, you might want to visit both Wufenpu and Raohe Night Market on the same day.

Shilin Night Market

[Image Courtesy of Wikipedia]

Shilin Night Market is the most famous and busiest night market in Taipei and it is also a favorite focal point for Taipei’s night life among residents and visitors alike. Usually, when we visit Shilin Night Market, we would always check out the clothing and apparels that are available and also indulge in the sumptuous local street-food at the same time.

Ningxia Night Market

Fishball Store at Ningxia Night Market

Fresh Sashimi at Ningxia Night Market

Chicken with Egg on Hotplate at Ningxia Night Market

Having some fun at Ningxia Night Market

Ningxia Night Market is a rather small night market and it would be the best place for delicious local street-food because of the large variety of food stalls that are operating there. If you’re planning to do some shopping, Ningxia Night Market would be out of the question because the stalls there mainly sell food.


Ximending is a place for the youths and it is comparable to our local Bugis Village/Street. Most of the time, we would go there to check out the latest fads and also indulge in some Japanese food at our favourite Japanese restaurant.


Salmon Sashimi

Chicken Cutlet Bento Set

The Japanese restaurant has a rather interesting train conveyor belt that some Japanese Restaurants in Singapore used to have. Besides dining at the Japanese Restaurant at Ximending, we would also be shopping around for stuffed toys and backpacks.

Feeling pretty adventurous, we would often visit the hair saloons at Ximending for a haircut!

At the Special Hair Saloon.

Zhongshan Metro Mall

[Image Courtesy of Tripadvisor]

For the avid readers, there are a couple of bookstores at Zhongshan Metro Mall and they are really cheaper than what you get here in our local Popular store. The only downside is, most of the books are written in Chinese and there are few English books. Nevertheless, the books that are being sold at Zhongshan Metro Mall are really cheap and you might just want to consider picking up a book or two. Taipei Main Station Underground Mall We would always end up at Taipei Main Station because whenever we travel to other parts of Taiwan via the High Speed Rail, this would be where we eventually end up before heading to our serviced apartment in Shuanglian. Whenever we are at the Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, we will always buy this really delicious Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake that always have people queuing up for it every day! The Cheesecake is made on the spot and served fresh from the oven!

The Long Queue for Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake.

Q Square Shopping Mall

[Image Courtesy of Trip Advisor]

For some upscale shopping, we would always head to Q Square as it is within walking distance from Taipei Main Station. Furthermore, Q Square Shopping Mall has quite a number of well-known retail stores. We were quite surprised that we even found an Awfully Chocolate store there!

Guang Hua Digital Plaza

For the geeks whom are into electronic and tech gadgets, Guang Hua Digital Plaza is the place to go. Whether you’re planning to repair your mobile phones, get some computer accessories, or purchase a new tablet/PC, Guang Hua Digital Plaza is the place for everything geeky.

Convenience stores like the 7-Eleven are aplenty and we often visit them to get our cravings for convenience food fixed.

Cheese Risotto with Shrimp from 7-Eleven.

It really looks and tastes super yummy!

Every time we visit Taiwan, this is how much we would splurge at the 7-Eleven Stores.

Redeemed our free gift for splurging!

Well, there are quite a number of places that we have yet to uncover in Taipei, Taiwan but the places that we have listed here in this blog post are the places that we frequently go to every year! If you find this useful, do share it with your friends too! 🙂

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! 🙂

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/