For our 2018 vacation, we decided to go back to Taiwan to celebrate and watch the New Year Countdown there. It was very last minute and I had less than a month to plan and book everything.
Our flight was scheduled to depart on December 27, 2018 at 7:20am via AirAsia. With no sleep, we arrived at the airport quite early and was able to check-in quickly. The immigration area was a different story – it was jam-packed with no clear line organization whatsoever. We were there for a good 30 minutes. After which, we decided to go to the Sky View Lounge for breakfast and wait for boarding. We have complimentary passes from Citibank – Dragonpass collaboration so why not take advantage, right?!
The lounge was spacious, but was also packed with people at that time! The food was okay, but we were expecting more though. Aside from food, there’s free wi-fi, unlimited drinks (including liquors and wine) and power outlets to charge your gadgets (in some areas only). There’s also no boarding announcements inside the lounge.
The reason why I booked with AirAsia was because the published rates were a little cheaper compared to Cebu Pacific. My mom even discouraged this. She said AirAsia had a lot of plane crashes over the years and even sent me an email with an article of one plane crash incidents!!! LOL
I was surprised that we were able to board on time – if not earlier. This was a completely new and different experience compared to what we had to endure the year before via Cebu Pacific (Read more: Taiwan Day 1-2: Temples & Northeast Coast)! We also bought food as part of the ticket & baggage allowance package. We were served Chicken Spaghetti, which was not bad, but I was expecting a rice meal.
On our flight back, I joked that I hope the food was anything but the same spaghetti meal… Lo and behold — it was the exact same thing! Such a huge disappointment! I just bought instant noodles instead (because the better rice meals were already out of stock) and just gave the spaghetti to our Grab driver.
We arrive at Taoyuan Airport a few minutes earlier than estimated. After going through Immigration and baggage claim, we collected the Portable wi-fi in one of the booths. I bought a voucher via Klook as this was always the cheaper and more convenient option. The unit was different from last year, but one full charge of the wi-fi lasted us the entire day. Rental is Php 85.00 per day.
I kept and found the cards we used on our trip in 2017 and had it reloaded at the airport station. Before leaving Taiwan, we refunded the remaining balance on the card, but the card is no longer reusable.
From Taoyuan Airport to Taichung
We boarded the Airport Train from Taoyuan Airport Terminal 1 Station (A12) to Taoyuan HSR Staion (A18).
Upon arriving at Taoyuan THSR Station, we exchanged the Klook Voucher I bought heading to Taichung THSR Station. We opted for reserved seats, so we waited 30 minutes for the next train. Tickets cost Php 692.00 per person. Travel time was 36 minutes. Check out the THSR Timetable to plan your trip. **NOTE** Ticket prices costs twice as much as what we paid for via Klook if bought on the spot.
The Taichung THSR is connected to the local train station, New Wuri Station. We rode from New Wuri Station going to Taichung Station. That’s about 3-4 stops (15-20 minutes) depending on which kind of train you ride. I really didn’t understand this train system, but it got us where we needed to go. Asking train station staff for information was easy. …More so because I can speak some Chinese!
When we arrived in Taichung Station, we tried to ride a taxi instead of walking to our hotel. That’s about 10 to 15-minute walk. Several taxi drivers refused, saying it’s only walking distance. At this point, we didn’t want to walk or navigate – we were really tired from all the travelling and again, with no sleep. Luckily, one driver accepted and we got to the hotel in less than 10 minutes. There were inaccessible roads being repaired so he had to go around a different route to get the hotel. The fare was initially NT85, but when he was asking me for the payment, the meter hit NT90, so he asked for NT90!!! LOL …and I just like to mention, the flag down rate was NT80 so it was really near! We arrived at the hotel a little past 1:00pm.
Smile 73 Hotel (微笑73旅店)
Address: No 101 Guangfu Road, Taichung, Taiwan
Contact Number: +886 4 2221 1666
Since our trip was planned the last minute, I had a hard time finding an AirBnb rental inclusive of our travel dates, so I looked for hotels instead. I found this hotel via Booking.com. I sent a message through Facebook and they confirmed that the dates I needed were available although the listing on the site indicates that some of the dates were unavailable. The room rate per night varied, which totalled to NT9630 for 5D4N stay. I made the reservation through Facebook and was only asked for my name and the dates of stay. I was in constant communication with them to make sure that I still have my reservation! Haha
What you see in these photos were what it looked like when we arrived. It was very clean and the decor really draws you in. However, the staff were a bit rude. When we arrived, I went straight to the front desk to check-in. There were 2 ladies there: one was on the phone and the other one told me to wait then went out of the front door and did not come back! I waited for the other lady to finish her phone conversation, maybe about 8-10 minutes before she finally spoke to me. She asked for a booking number, but since I booked through Facebook, I didn’t have any. She repeated the question 2 more times, getting irritated every time. And I told her repeatedly I didn’t have any. She then asked for my name to look it up on their schedule sheet and finally “checked-in” and paid. She said check-in was at 3pm so we left our luggage and went out to eat.
Side Note: On the following days, the other front desk staff were pleasant, greeted us every time we entered or left the hotel and helped us navigate our way to different locations.
We were looking for a place to eat and passed by Taichung Park, which was a 3-minute walk from the hotel. After a few days of passing through this park, I realized that it was a huuuuge park! A lot of greenery, but this part was the main attraction. The fountain is turned on in the afternoon. It was also a great sight during night-time.
We went back to the hotel a little past 3:00pm and guess what? I still waited about 20 minutes to get the key card. There were other guests that arrived after us and they were able to get checked-in ahead of us!
We got a King-Sized Room at the 7th floor. The room was spacious, had basic hotel bath supplies, a TV, room wi-fi, hot&cold water and a blow dryer. I loved the duvet! It was heavy and really kept us warm. Also, there was an automatic air freshener spray in the bathroom that kept the bathroom smelling good! The fragrance was pleasant and didn’t irritate my nose.
On the other hand, the AC was making sort of a gurgling noise on our second night. So we had to lower the setting to eliminate the noise. The wi-fi also lost its signal during the night. Good thing we had the portable wi-fi to use. Lastly, the shower was really tight/narrow. The door had very little room to swing shut and you’re stuck in that little corner trying to manoeuvre your way in!
Miyahara Ice Cream (宮原眼科)
Address:No.20, Zhongshan Rd., Central Dist., Taichung City 400, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Contact Number: +886 4 2227 1927
After resting for a few hours, we went to Miyahara Ice Cream. There was a short line when we got there. We asked for the menu in English and chose the ones we want. Surely there’s a lot to choose from!
We decided to try one flavour from each category and upgraded to luxury toppings. We got the Alishan Oolong Tea, Strawberry and West Africa 100% Original Chocolate with toppings of cheesecake, a teddy bear cookie (with almond), and shortbread sticks. The fresh strawberries, butterfly shortbread and an additional scoop of ice cream came with the package. We paid NT305 in total. Woooh! That was some expensive ice cream, but it was well worth it. The ice cream were really flavourful, smooth and creamy. I’d say it’s high quality ice cream, thus the steep price. The cheesecake was my favorite! It had a melt-in-the-mouth texture, really tasty! This is a must try!
After finishing our ice cream, we went to the “other side” of the store, where they sell different food products for souvenirs. They were quite expensive in my opinion and we only bought a box of Lengua de Chat, 12 pieces for NT450. You can choose 6 flavors in total. It’s different because it’s a sandwich of two thin biscuits with nuts or chocolate bits on top. It’s really delicious! It’s something different from the regular milk-flavoured lenguas we can buy locally. To see more products, visit DawnCake.
Here are some photos of what’s inside: