Food: Best Kong Rou Fan In Taipei

Aimlessly wandering around an unfamiliar city can lead you to wonderful discoveries, that much I can attest to how wonderful Taipei is. It was a little past 12 in the afternoon when I decided to step out of my hostel and brave the impeding rain brought by the dark clouds over Taipei.

I’ve downloaded an offline map of Taipei but I really wanted to get lost, this time intentionally. I walked around a couple of blocks further going towards the streets that I’ve never gone through away from where I was staying. The streets in Taipei are a bit kind of dreamy for me. They offer a safe space to leisurely glide your feet one after the other while wandering around an unfamiliar block, something that is hardly seen in my home country.

Kong Rou Fan

Several minutes into walking, I saw this small shop in a cross street right in front of a temple. Keeping in mind that golden food rule, “Go where there is a line” I crossed the street and started inspecting their menu. I think I made my self a little too obvious that I didn’t knew how to order when a group of students came up to me and help.

I ordered this rice wrapped braised chicken by pointing to another table’s plates. I broke the triangular molded rice to reveal the chicken inside which apparently was mixed with spices and peanut. It was something so familiar but different. The play of texture of the dish really made me enjoy savoring every bite.

Kong Rou Fan

A middle aged guy sitting on the same table started conversing with me, asking me from where I was and how long have I been in Taiwan. But what struck me the most was when he asked me how did I found the place. He said in broken English that the place is some sort of a secret from tourist and that only locals know that this is where the best Kong Rou Fan is. He insisted that I should try the dish. Convinced enough I walked up to the shop’s front and ordered my self a Kong Rou Fan.

Kong Rou Fan

Kong Rou Fan

Kong Rou Fan is a slow cooked sweet pork topped on rice and served with pickled cucumber on the side. For someone who doesn’t like un-fried pork fat, this dish actually is excellent. Why? I could eat the fatty part without being irked! As soon as the pork fat lands on my mouth it starts to completely melt! It was heavenly! The meat part was also so tender that it just breaks down as soon as you taste it. Very minimal chewing was needed for this meat, just savor it. Kong Rou Fan

I am really happy that I intentionally got my self lost around the area. If I didn’t push my self in exploring beyond what are written on blogs and books I would have not tasted Taipei’s best Kong Rou Fan.  I highly recommend hunting this food store down the streets of Ximending. Not only do they serve the best Kong Rou Fan but all of their dishes are actually great. I really feel that this spot will give you a great idea of how locals eat like if you are into learning cultures. Besides one of the best ways to learn about a culture is through their food right? So chow down!

P.S. I don’t know the name of the restaurant but its the one on the top photo, right side of the Suzuki signage.

一甲子餐飲 (Pinyin: Yī jiǎzǐ cānyǐn)- As per google maps
Address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Kangding Road, 79號

 

 

Travel Guide: How To Get To Taipei From The Airport

So just landed in the Taoyuan Internation Airport and you are ready to explore Taiwan. But then there you are standing in the arrivals area, over whelmed on all of the Chinese characters you see. Inside your head you are lightly freaking out asking your self How to do you get to Taipei from the Airport?

Thankfully, going to Taipei from the Airport has been more convenient over the past few years. The buses bound to Taipei that will drop you off at the Taipei Main Station is now operating 24 hours. The Airport railway link on the other hand has been recently opened after a few year of construction.

Best Way To Get To Taipei From The Airport

Honestly, it depends on your situation. Here’s what I recommend.

Cab

If you do not  trust your skills in taking public transport, you can always take the cab. However, I can assure you taking the bus and the Airport MRT is really easy. I also recommend that you take the cab if you have several bags with you and you are solo traveling. Yeah… I know people who travel with several bags for a three night trip. Believe me! Hahaha! It would also be more comfortable to take the cab from the airport instead of the bus. The cost shouldn’t be that much if you have friends to split the fare with you. A cab ride from the airport to Taipei main station should cost you around 900 – 1000 NT$  

Get To Taipei From The Airport photo by  koadmunkee used under CC Licence

Get To Taipei From The Airportphoto by  spencer341b used under CC Lisence

Bus

The most cost effective of all types of transportation. it only costs around NT$ 125 to get to Taipei from the airport which is really cheap comparing it from taking the train and more over to taking the cab. If you are arriving anytime between 12AM till 6AM, the bus would probably the best choice for you as the Airport MRT will not operate until 6AM. Some of the buses have luggage areas at front for small bags while you can always put big bags in the compartments on the side of the bus.

 

photo by   lyng883 used under CC Licence

Airport MRT

After several years of construction, the Aiport MRT is finally open. I was lucky enough to try the Aiport link on its first month of operation as the fares are still discounted. Regular fare from the Airport to the Taipei Main Station costs about NT$160. The train is fast and clean (buses tend to have a bit of a smell sometimes -just like everywhere). Only draw back that I think it has are its seats. The coaches have regular plastic seats instead of comfy cushioned ones.

Get To Taipei From The Airport

You will be arriving at the new A1 Terminal or the Airport Terminal of the Taipei Main Station. From there you can transfer to which ever line you need to be in to get to your destination.

Get To Taipei From The Airport

The Taipei Main Station is massive so don’t be shy to ask around. I for one still gets lost even if I’ve used the station several times. Be patient and be ready for an adventure! LOL!

We hope that this guide has helped you in some way. If you know any other way to efficiently get to Taipei from the airport, please let us know in the comment section.

 

Jiufen (Spirited Away)

I’ve always heard about this place and seen photos online. I wasn’t really that excited about the place but it did made me curious. The day that I was to see the old town of Jiufen came in a bit interesting for me. I originally wanted to see Shifen to fly a paper lantern, but the weather wasn’t agreeing. So when I saw this girl on Couchsurfing looking for companions  to Jiufen, I message her up to meet. After a few hours she responded on where we can meet up. I was like “Thank you God! you actually are going to make this birthday memorable for me!”. LMFAO. Well it wasn’t actually a date of some sort but meeting a cute girl was a reward enough for my birthday. Yep this was on my birthday.

The Old Street Jiufen

Jiufen’s main attraction (for non Spirited Away fans like me) are its century old streets. These streets are filled with stores selling interesting things. Food, tea houses, restaurants, Souvenirs, tourist spots of all sorts adorn the narrow streets filled up with people. The street has this Japanese feel of a market place, maybe because the town was developed further during the Japanese Gold rush era.

jiufen photo by Modale (used under CC)

There’s another class of tourist that goes to this old town, the anime fan tourists. As I learned from my new friend Jordana, some of the structures and places in Jiufen inspired the architecture and landscape of the movie Spirited Away. Without knowing I actually was impressed by the architecture of  the actual tea house where the author took inspiration from.

I guess if you are off for a trip to Jiufen, make sure that you come with a full wallet and an empty stomach. Going through the streets with rows and rows of awesome stores with free tastes will satisfy your cravings. Make sure to visit one of the coffee or tea houses that offers an amazing view of the port city of Keelung.

Jiufenphoto by arkiben used under CC

 

jiufenphoto by  ume-y used under CC

 

Jiufen Photo by Wei, Shi-Hang (used under CC)

How To Go To Jiufen

There are a few ways to get to Jiufen.

Option 1

Take the train to MRT Zhongxiao Fuxing station
Get on Bus 1062 that will take you straight to Jiufen
Bus fare is about NT$102

Option 2

Go to Taipei Main Station
Get on the Taipei Rail train to Ruifang
From Ruifang hop on a bus to Jiufen

jiufenphoto by andreakw (used under CC)

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.

 

Tour Me Away

Tour Me Away offers 5 free tours in Taipei and also offers a pub crawl around the city. The group also offers customize tours if you are tight with time and would like to cover specific areas only. The team is composed of young energetic individuals aiming to promote Taipei’s Culture and Heritage through these free tours in Taipei.

The free tours that the group offers are Old Town Taipei, Chill Out Taipei, Long Shan Temple Tour, Hunger Game and the Vintage Tours. Tours typically starts around 4 in the afternoon (be sure to check their website for schedule changes) with meeting places near MRT stations or popular landmarks making it easier for people to locate.

If you want to have a feel of how it’s like to be in one of their tours you can watch the video below of Haley Dasovich’s tour with them on her trip to Taipei with Ave and Daniel Marsh.

Website: www.tourmeaway.com
Email: service@tourmeaway.com

 

free tours in taipei

 


Like It Formosa

An independent group established by young Taiwanese to promote Taiwan’s culture. The team aims to let people see Taiwan by trying to present the country they way locals see them. The group offers five free tours in Taipei namely: The Historic, Modern, Golden Age, Beitou and LGBT Tour.

 


 

free tours in taiwan

 

Now that the Philippines will have been accepted to the country visa free, now’s the best time to plan your trip starting with these free tours in Taipei. So make sure to join one of their fun tours and learn more of Taipei’s culture and heritage!

Got more information or know another group offering free tours in Taipei? Let us know so we can add them up on the list!

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!

The Shilin Night market will not just satisfy your tongue with great Taiwanese foods but with great fusion food as well.

I love starting my Shilin run through by getting my self some cool drinks that will help cleanse my palate one dish after another! No wonder even lonely planet recommends a visit.

Shilin Night MarketCranberry juice lady, they even offer to customize your drink for the same price

 

Shilin Night MarketBarbecued asparagus wrapped in marinated chicken meat is just savory!

 

Shilin Night MarketThe biggest fried chicken I have ever seen! It’s actually a whole chicken fried without the wings and legs!

 

How to get to the Shilin Night Market

The best way to get your self to the night market is through the Taipei Metro. Some might tell you to get off at the Shilin station but it is easier to reach the night market via the Jiantan Station which are both on the MRT red line.

Via bus:
1. Take minibus no. 15 (小15), 16(小16), 17(小17), 18(小18), 19(小19) to Yangming Theatre stop (陽明戲院站).
2. Take bus no. 109, 203, 216, 220, 260, 267, 279, 280, 285, 310, 606, 612, 646, 685, 902 or Zhongshan Line (中山幹線) to Ming Chuan University stop (銘傳大學站).
3. Take bus no. 203, 216, 218, 224, 266, 280, 304 Chengde Line (304 承德線), 308, 310, 606, 616, 618, 665, or minibus no. 18 (小18) to Xiaobei Street stop (小北街).
4. Take bus no. 41, 529, 620, or 30 Red (紅30) to Shilin Market (士林市場).
5. Take bus no. 109, 220, 203, 260, 267, 277, 279, 285, 612, 646, 685, 902, or Zhongshan Line (中山幹線) to MRT Jiantan Station (捷運劍潭站).

Since starting June 1, 2017 Filipinos can now enter Taiwan visa free, you will surely enjoy the amazing food adventure in Shilin Night Market! So make sure that you put this on your list!

 

 

Taipei Hostel: Meander Hostel

Booking hostels can be bit tricky. Sometimes you see really good photos and ratings but when you just get disappointed when you get to your room. I wanted to have a great experience on my return trip to Taipei which happens to be my birthday trip as well ^_^. S0 I pulled up and search for Taipei Hostels in Agoda.com, sorted it out starting with the cheapest ones and checked out the ratings. I was surprised finding a high rating property within my price range and yes the rating is true!

What I like about Meander Taipei Hostel

As soon as I step in I was warmly welcomed by the Meander Taipei Hostel staff, like genuinely warm. I noticed that their lobby offers this wide open common area where every one can interact. As soon as I checked in I was toured around the area by their the wonderful Sarah, she’s just so bubbly I love it. She showed me to the kitchen area where breakfast was being served and just right across it are the viewing area and a huge dining table where everyone can talk while eating.She then introduced me to their events wall. If you don’t have anything planned out when you get here, all you need to do is just check out what is happening on the events board. There’s always something to do everyday!

Meander Taipei HostelReception with their cool staff.

Meander Taipei Hostel

Meander Taipei HostelNot gonna run out of things to do with the events board!

You rarely see hostels with good beds real beds, some of them even just use foams and throws in a linen and a pillow and that is it. Meander Taipei Hostel actually provides you with real beds, yes the not a futon or a foam but some real mattresses and it sure was comfy sleeping on those. Aside from linens they will also provide you a comforter which is awesome specially that Taipei weather can be a bit chilly at times. The only set back is that you have to bring your own towel, which is I feel isn’t a big thing considering that they offer far more quality than most hostels.

Meander Taipei HostelGet the privacy you need with these capsule design bunk beds

Meander Taipei HostelYour own socket, USB charging dock and light in your capsule!

They have about 188 beds where 28 of them are private rooms while the rest are dorm rooms. It is also notable that they don’t put more than ten beds in a single dorm so it doesn’t get too crowded. WiFi is also excellent ideal for Digital Nomads who take their work with them to where they go.

The hostel has this youthful vibe that makes you just want to hang out in the common area and chill out with other travelers. They also have a culturally diverse staff allowing them to support most major languages if you don’t speak English really well.

Meander Taipei Hostel is located about 500 meters from the Ximen MRT station where you can find lots of stores and food shop. You can just walk around and enjoy the local events and have a good time without getting far from the hostel. But if it is just breakfast to startup your day is what you are looking for, there’s not even a need to get out of the hostel. Your booking with Meander Taipei Hostel includes breakfast which is served at the kitchen area from about 7 am till past 10 am.

Meander Taipei Hostel

 

How To Get To Meander Taipei Hostel

From Ximen MRT station just walk straight west through Chengdu road for about 500 meters.

Meander Taipei Hostel Map

If you like this hostel, you can book them through     agoda-logo   for the best rates