I just got back last week from my first ever solo vacation. I was a little nervous, and overall not really excited about it but it ended up being one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. I was lucky to be connected with some friends of a friend who were able to show me around Taipei when I got there, and of course I met people along the way, so I was never alone too much. It was an amazing trip, and I didn’t want to leave. I had planned 6 days and 5 nights there, but it wasn’t enough time. Not even close!
My first day I traveled down to Busan Gimhae airport for my flight out on Air Busan. After I landed in Taipei, I quickly found a place in the airport to buy a sim card for my iPhone. Best decision ever! For about 500NT ($15) I was able to get a 7 day unlimited data card for my phone (with about 30 minutes talking time). Having an unlocked phone is seriously the greatest convenience ever for someone who travels a lot. After that, I went to buy a bus ticket into the city. Unfortunately, Taipei airport is about an hour outside the city and there’s no railway connecting it to the city yet. But, getting there by bus is very easy and I had no trouble at all buying a ticket, finding the platform and getting into the city. The bus dropped me off about a 5 minute walk away from my hostel.
I stayed at The Loft Hostel at Zhongxiao Dunhua station. Super easy to find and it ended up being a really great place. I’d heard stories about hostels in Taipei…that they were decent but not very clean or quiet. This place was new, clean, extremely quiet, and had a 24 hour reception desk. I had only booked one night here to start off with, but ended up staying 3 more nights because I liked it so much.
After resting for a little while and freshening up, I set out to meet with Rachel and Miguel for dinner. We went to the famous Din Tai Fung restaurant for dinner. So thankful to have a working phone, otherwise I don’t think this could have happened. I ended up going to the wrong restaurant at first (there are tons of locations throughout the city), but I was able to call Rachel (she’s Taiwanese), and she helped me get a taxi and told the driver where to take me.
Din Tai Fung turned out to be just as good as it was described to me. We got the famous pork soup dumplings, as well as a few other dishes…fried rice, vegetable dumplings, steamed cabbage, and sweet taro dumplings to finish. Beyond delicious! After that, even though I was stuffed, we walked around the corner to have the famous “mango shaved ice”. They were huge and Miguel bought us each our own. I had a hard time finishing it, but it was so good I forced myself. The mango tasted so fresh and the ice was shaved so finely it just all melted in your mouth. Amazing, especially since it was so hot and humid outside.
After dessert, we went to a little coffee shop nearby and talked for about an hour. I was so glad to be introduced to these people. I had such a great time learning about the city and the culture from locals!