Cavemen Backpackers

My mom had left for Manila already and we’ve checked out of Ximen Wow Hostel. I wanted to extend my stay there but they were fully booked that night. Again I am off to find a new place to stay before I check in to the Airbnb room I booked.

I searched for good cheap hostels near Ximending, I thought that it was a good opportunity to hostel hop and experience other places. There were a few hostels that came up while filtering through good prices. In the end, though, there were two that peaked my list. They were Cavemen Backpacker Hostel and NEOSOHO. Their price really just differed for about $1-$2, so it was up to the reviews for me to decide. Reading through, Cavemen Backpackers appears to be better as it is newer than the latter. I also read some issues about how the hostel smells old so I thought, heck it’s just a dollar more so I went with Cavemen Backpackers.

Location

It was kinda difficult to find the actual building at first. The sign was small so it was easy to miss. I actually passed by the building on my first attempt to find it. I consulted google maps and it shows that I was actually standing right off the building. So I asked the doorman on the building in front of me. I was directed to the next building where a small signage was.

Cavemen Backpackers is just about 200 meters from the nearest Taipei Main Station entrance. It is also near Coffee Alley where you can find good restaurants and coffee shops to hang out.  If you are a Museum geek, this will also work for you as it is just walking distance from the Taiwan Nation Museum. Other attractions near the hostel are the Peace Park and the Presidential Palace. Ximending, if you are up to walking, can be reached at just about 900 meters from the hostel.

If you are arriving late at night via bus at Taipei Main Station from the airport, you can just walk up to the hostel, no need to take a cab. If you are a night owl, I am not quite sure that you’ll like the night scene in this area. Also, though it is near a Taipei Main Station entrance, keep in mind that Taipei Main is huge and that you have lots of walking to do inside the station to get to the platforms itself.

Facilities

Cavemen Backpackers has a central bathroom with multiple toilets and shower stalls. One for each gender. It really feels like a big college dorm if you will. I find it clean and airy as it is located at the end of the hostel. The hostel also has a laundry room that you can operate with Taiwan dollar coins just a room away from the shower area.

The reception area is well lit and open as you get off the elevator and on to the glass doors. Adjacent to the reception is a huge working and lounge area. There are tables and chairs that are comfortable enough to work on for hours.

 

 

 

 

Common Areas

The hostel has a spacious area where you can lounge. They had tables where you can work or eat food. The entire area is well lit and the temperature was just right.

I arrived earlier than my check-in time so I comfortably lounge at the common area. I actually fell asleep while waiting for my bed to be ready.

 

 

Overall I feel that Cavemen Backpackers hostel is a good buy. The facilities are clean and the location is not that far from the Taipei Main Station. There are good places to eat and hang out. The only thing that I think is a low for the hostel is that it feels a little too sterile. I didn’t feel the right energy of a youth hostel. I’d say that its a good place to stay for a night or two. If you are planning to stay long term, you might want to reconsider another place somewhere like in Ximending.

 

Ningxia Night Market Eat Out

On my last couple of days in Taipei on my last trip there. I hanged out with a local friend checking out the area I was staying at all the way to the underground Taipei City Mall. To my surprise he actually planned to bring me to one of the best food night markets there is in Taipei, the Ningxia Night Market. Continue reading

Must Try Food In Taipei

They say Taiwan is how China could have been if it wasn’t for the cultural revolution. They shunned many of their traditions and beliefs and turned themselves to the communist ideology. None the less, there is one thing that China and Taiwan shares best; Food Culture. Not known to many Taiwan is one of the best places in Asia to discover flavors that you did not know existed. Taiwanese Food combinations that can be quite odd but taste so good. Continue reading

Hover Over Trees At The Maokong Gondola

Blessed with a mountainous topography, Taiwan is rich with mountains and hiking trails that you can leisurely trek in one of your visits. Together with a good climate, it could actually be a good place to grow herbs such as tea. Maokong is a little village at the top of the hills of Taipei. Continue reading

The Hot Springs Of Beitou

One of the best things that the Japanese colonizers has left in Taiwan is the Hot Springs or Onsen culture. Beitou, a district at the northern end of Taipei is where you’ll find the best onsens. Throughout the district you will find Onsens that range from a local hotspring just like the Lung Nai Tang to high end facilities. With so much choices, here are my favorite Hot Springs Of Beitou

XinBeitou Area

This area is the easier one to get to. Just take the Red MRT Line to Beitou station then change trains to the Branch line going to Xin Beitou. This area is the toursity part, but for a good reason. Here are some of the spots that you can check out while in XinBeitou.

Taipei Library

While the building exudes beauty by it self alone, it also sets an example as it is also a green building. you can come in and just wander around the facility

Address: No. 251,Guangming Rd,,Beitou District,,Taipei City,Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Sun-Mon (09:00-17:00), Tues-Sat (8:30-21:00), Closed on Holidays and first thursday of the month
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Hotsprings Museum

Know the history of how Taipei acquired the hot springs culture. The museum is house on a former bath house built during the Japanese era, when Taiwan was still its colony.

Address: No. 2, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan 112 (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Tues-Sun (09:00 – 17:00), Closed on Mondays and National Holidays
Fees: Free

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Long Nai Tang

The Long Nai Tang is the oldest still in operation public bath house in Taipei. The bath house traces its history back to the Japanese era when the colonizers introduced the Onsen culture to the Taiwanese people. Do not expect much with the facilities though. The public bath is as local as you can get. There are no lockers just some shelves where you can put your clothes in. The shower area is on one corner of thee bath house where you use a dipper to clean your self from the cold flowing spring water. There’s no separate wet and dry area where you can change, basically its just one space (about 25sqm) where you undress,clean and bathe. Though it lacks the glamorous facilities, its historic value as the oldest hot springs of  beitou sure makes up for it.

Address: No. 244 Guāngmíng Road, Běitóu District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: NT$90 (Adults), NT$50 (Children)

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Ketagalan Culture Center

Know more about Taiwan’s aborigines, Taiwan’s first inhabitants. Entrance is free for the museum but no photos are allowed to be taken. The museum hosts a large inventory of aborigine dresses, artifacts as well as historical and educational materials where you can learn about the peoples origins and culture.

Address:  No. 3-1, Zhongshan Road, Beitou District, Taipei City, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Operating Hours: Daily 06:30 – 21:00
Fees: Free

Note: Photographs not allowed inside

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Beitou Thermal Valley (Hell Valley)

Like a scene reminding you about that hot place where souls are punished is how the Beitou Thermal Valley got its nickname Hell Valley.  The park showcases the process of how Beitou gets its therapeutic hot spring waters that feeds to the hot springs of beitou.

 

Hot Springs Of Beitou

Puji Temple

A Japanese era temple, Puji Temple has survived the years making it a rare example of Japanese Buddhism

Mankewu Ramen

A must try when in Beitou, Man Ke Wu Ramen (Lamian in Taiwanese) are prepared using hot spring water that makes it special. Price ranges around NT$ 110 -200.

Address: 110 Wenquan Rd, Beitou, Taipei, Taiwan (ROC)
Hours: 11am-2pm, 5-9pm Tuesdays to Sunday

Xinyi Road Area

Hot Spring Area

Most of the mid-range hot springs resorts are located in this area. The resorts are built around the sulfuric hot springs where the therapeutic waters are sourced from. Price range from this are varies from 200 – around 500 NT

Sakuraoka Hot Springs

Aside from Lung Nai Tang, The Sakuroka Hot Springs resort is the other hot spring resort that I have tried so far. Sorry I don’t have any personal photos of it because I forgot to take a photo when there was still light. Then, it was dark already when I got out because I really enjoyed soaking in their hot tubs.

Yes, you are required to be naked while taking a bath. I strongly suggest you try it, you’ll bathe together with families of fathers and sons for me and mothers and daughters for girls. You’ll feel relieved in the sense that you’ll realize that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about bathing together in public.

I promise to make a proper review of the place when I get back to Taipei. This is a good one though.

Hot springs of beitou

Other Spas that I recommend

Emperor Hot Springs – Better than Sakuraoka Hot Springs as per reviews.

There are gay spas so please ask the reception if they are one. I mistakenly got into one, there are no signs like the LGBT flag on their doors and reception. I just kept an open mind. They were all behave…. it was way too early for the rush hour people to come in anyway… hahaha!

Suggested Itinerary

You can go around the Beitou tourist area first and visit the museums and eat ramen for lunch then later in the after noon you can go to the hotsprings and enjoy the therapeutic waters of the hot springs of Beitou.

How To Get To The Hot Springs of Beitou

To get to Xin Beitou, just take the Red Line MRT the change platforms to the branch line going to Xin Beitou. If you want to go straight to the Onsens, just take the red line and get off at Shipai Station. Get on a 509 Bus and get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down the street. Fare from Shipai Station is NT$15

 

 

Beitou: Bathing Nude In Sakuraoka Hot Springs

One of the activities that I look forward every time I visit Taiwan is a visit to one of their Hot Springs. The Beitou district of Taipei is heaven for hot springs junkies like me and if you are comfortable bathing nude in public you will absolutely enjoy this activity.

On my second time in Taipei, I went out of my way hunting for this particular spa; The Sakuraoka Hot Springs Spa. I knew about this hot springs facility way back but couldn’t find it. So this time I made sure to find it and experience the spa. I was really interested by their website where they show that can see the Taipei 101 and a good view of the forest while dipping in their hot tubs.

So i got off at the XinBeitou MRT terminal and started to look for the place. Maps.Me seem not to be working so I tried to use Google Maps. Both couldn’t find the address so I keyed the name of the place instead. It worked! But….. the map threw the pin on an off road destination in the mountains. I checked if it was walk-able but it’s just too far, and the incline could be too taxing. So I hailed a cab.

Finally, I got to the Spa.

The interiors are okay nothing grand but gives you a sense of Japanese influence to it. I approached the counter asked for admission.

Entrance Fee: NT$ 200 (Monday – Friday), NT$ 250 (Holidays, Friday night till Sunday)
Towel Fee: NT$ 50 (you can bring your own)
Visit Duration: Unlimited

One of their staff walked me to the bathing area. I then undressed and kept my clothes in a shelve, of course I’ve got no photos of the wet area, I mean people are naked… duh! LOL!

The Men’s area has two pools. One has water jets that are really relaxing. The wet area isn’t that huge so it can be crowded specially on weekends and holidays so always check first before you commit. That applies to any spa that you go to. Their second pool in the men’s wet area is the hot tub, and when I say hot -it really is hot. It takes some time to adjust to the pool’s temperature, but once you get comfortable it’s just gonna be heaven.

 photo from sakuraoka website

How to get to Sakuraoka Hot Springs

  1. Take the MRT and get off at the Shipai Station in the red line.
  2. Take any of the buses 508, 535, 536 or 612
  3. Get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down Lane 300 take the road down hill on where the road forks. The spa is on the right side.
  4. Fare is NT$ 15

You can always take a cab either from Shipai or Xin Beitou station, costs around NT$ 150.

 

For someone comfortable in public bathing like me, this was one of the best that I’ve experience, comparing to what I’ve experienced around Asia (note: haven’t been to Japan though). Soaking for hours while staring at the forest with the Taipei 101 emerging like its one of the trees there was just relaxing. Honestly, I’ve never felt so much peace of mind ever than how I’ve had while I soak in the tub. It felt like it was just me, the tub and nature communing. Not a single negative thought came across my head.

I’ve also heard that there’s another Hot Spring spa in the area that’s better (there’s actually a lot of hot spring spa in that area including a gay spa so be careful if you don’t want to end up in one like me, LOL!) called Emperor Spa. But that’s for another visit. If you haven’t done public bathing the Japanese way, I strongly suggest you do. You’ll appreciate your body a lot more and it will feel very liberating. It will make you think, why have I been embarrassed on doing this; there’s nothing to it really!

 

 

 

Best Free Tours In Taipei

One of the best things about Taipei is it’s very walkable. Taipei has good sidewalks and the city is well planned. This makes walking from one district to another actually a bit leisurely. I my self think that the on of the best ways to see Taipei is through free walking tours. Here are the best free tours in Taipei that you can join. Continue reading

Travel Guide: Shilin Night Market

The biggest night markets of all of Taiwan, The Shilin Night Market offers a wide array of delicious Taiwanese food!

wandering around you can just get lost through the maze of streets offering a wide array of food options. Grilled, stewed, baked, just about any way of cooking can be found in the streets of the Shilin Night Market! Continue reading