Even though I’ve been back from this trip for six months, I still remember it like it was yesterday. I’ve been working full time for years, but would you believe this was the first vacation I’ve ever taken that was a week+ and that wasn’t related to a wedding? I’m slightly embarrassed that I let this get out of hand. Friends of mine take these sorts of trips once a quarter or twice a year even! It was Angel’s pick to go to Taipei, but I’d only been to Asia once before so spending more time there at all was appealing to me.
There was quite a bit of planning that went into this beforehand – true to our personalities, but the plan wasn’t followed exactly once we got there. Flights, accommodations, and a trip out of the city for a day were our priorities. Everything else could be done on the fly! The planner in me also crafted us a spreadsheet to track our whereabouts every day. I told myself that I would go back after the trip to fill in exactly everything we ended up doing, but that didn’t happen! We were also lucky enough to have our trip overlap with my friend Jac and her husband’s. The two of them have been there plenty of times before so navigating the city with them and going to their favorite spots were the best part of the trip. It felt like we were living like locals when we were with them!
Where we stayed: Da’an District
We honestly could not have picked a better neighborhood. Right outside our front door were three coffee shops – two of which we went to almost every day. There were plenty of restaurants down every street so we were never going to go hungry. Even if we never left Da’an, there was no shortage of things to see, shop, and eat. Since we were out and about frequently, accommodations didn’t need to be lavish. Our Airbnb ended up being $23 a night USD. Aside from killing something resembling a cockroach one night, this was a steal. It’s not like Angel could get me to stay in a hostel anyway!
What we ate: everything
Not only is the food in Taipei fairly simple and inexpensive, it’s also delicious. Our meals were what Angel and I looked forward to the most every day and I’d say we did a good job of remaining balanced. The key was to eat light for every meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) so that we could pack in more. We also made it a point to share everything instead of getting our own individual meals. This way we get to try more stuff and we waste less. Just blocks from our apartment was a stand for green onion pancakes. Nearly every guide we read online told us this was the spot. We ate here twice and even made it our breakfast on-the-go one morning. There is always a line for it and you can have add on’s like corn, meat, etc.
Taipei debunked the myth for me that you can have pizza in a place that isn’t New York or Italy and have it be awesome.
Coffee and desserts on another level.
Most of our meals remained very simple. In some ways, it was such a nice contrast than what we’re used to in America where meals continue to be over the top and overwhelming. Typically breakfast for us would be some kind of soup with vegetables on the side. It was important for us to not get sleepy after a meal and stay mobile since we had a lot to see obviously! Lunch was always quick and never a sit down except for one time. Then dinner was whatever we wanted and usually a treat for us and a bit more elaborate.
The best place we ate: [Aquatic Addiction Development]
It was easily one of the highest quality places that we ate at. Nestled in another part of the city, Aquatic Addiction Development felt so different from everything else we came across. It was modern, chic and something I only wished could also exist in San Francisco. If I had to compare it, I would say it was like the Ferry Building, but so much better! There were a few restaurants inside, but we ate at one of the fancier sushi spots. Out of all the meals we had with Jac and Josh, this was a standout. I can’t imagine our trip without this stop.
What is a trip to Taipei without beef noodle soup?
And another one?
Our first dinner with Jac and her husband at Din Tai Fung
Our adventure out of the city: Beitou – [Spring City Resort]
Swimsuit – Something Navy
Through planning, we knew that we wanted to spend some time outside of the city. We debated two different spots for our day trip / one night stay, but ultimately landed on a hot springs resort. It was a treat for a couple of reasons! First, it meant we could get out of our tiny apartment for one night. Truthfully, our hotel room at Spring City Resort was larger than our apartment by a landslide. We also wanted a place where we could indulge. I typically prefer hotels to Airbnbs and Angel is just the opposite. This was sort of our compromise, but I think she really enjoyed it too! It was important to also have this in the middle of the week to break up our trip.
The one night we had dinner there, we really went for it. I had a noodle soup with sushi and Angel got her own personal hot pot.
What we wore:
It’s not my first time being in a city with a bit of humidity, but I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. Everything we wore needed to be loose. There were plenty of dresses and comfortable walking shoes including my Nike Flyknits and Birkenstocks. I never needed anything more than a light rain coat and even my travel sweater, at times, felt a bit much.
The one thing that I’m glad I purchased last minute was my mini Herschel Supply backpack! I was intending to bring a purse along the entire time, but it would have been a huge inconvenience. The backpack was so much better for hands-free traveling and came at Angel’s recommendation.
Angel and I didn’t find any proof of this anywhere, but we have a theory that jet lag can affect your smile. For context, we took a red eye the night we flew from San Francisco and weren’t impacted once we landed. However, in all of our photos, Angel and I noticed that something just seemed off about us. We couldn’t put our finger on it for the longest time, but we have some photos in which we barely recognized our smiles! And if you’re wondering if the jet lag ever hit us? It did, on the way back and impacted us for a week!
Angel and I agreed we bring clothes that we could each share throughout the trip, but I’m the only one who ever borrowed anything of hers! Like this dress!
A quick summary of everywhere we went:
- Da’an District
- Myowa Japanese Sweet Cafe
- Chia Te Bakery (for pineapple cakes!)
- Elephant Machine (coffee shop)
- Din Tai Fung
- Alchemy Speakeasy Bar
- Da’an Forest Park
- Jianguo Holiday Flower Market (don’t go here if you don’t like crowds)
- Hsiang Tian Kong Temple
- Aquatic Addiction Development
- Spring City Resort in Beitou
- Come True Coffee (for the coffee AND the pizza AND the desserts
- Hidilao Hot Pot
- and more!
On average, a week seems short for a vacation, but it was the perfect amount of time for us. Angel was the perfect person to travel with and while we hadn’t known each other for a long time before taking this trip, it was so easy. Needless to say, I would be lost without her managing the MRT and overall general Chinese translation. Next year, we are planning a trip to Thailand and I’ll be heading over to Singapore for a wedding and another week long trip!