Taipei All Over (Day 1: Swiio Hotel, Presidential Palace, Ximending, Ningxia Night Market)

My latest trip brings me back to Taipei for the second time this year. I just had to book a flight with the awesome seat sale deal we found. For this trip, I was able to book two round trip Philippine Airlines business class tickets for only USD $322 per person. I will be writing a separate article on how we were able to purchase these cheap business class seats. Hopefully, that will not be our last!

On the downside, we splurged a bit more with the hotel. I usually book a few months or weeks before any trip. That is to ensure that I am able to get the hotel where I would like to stay. For this trip, we did something risky and booked just a few days before our actual trip. We were hoping to get some last minute promo deals which definitely backfired. From the initial list we had in mind, they were all fully booked or overpriced when we decided to book our stay.

Since we had no choice but to spend a bit more, we decided to book at Swiio Hotel Daan which we really enjoyed. They are currently ranked #2 on TripAdvisor as I am writing this. We were hoping to stay around Ximending but do not regret ending up in the more laid back and peaceful Daan area.

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Once we arrived at Taiwan’s Taoyuan Airport, we decided to take the Kuo-Kuang (國光客運) bus #1819 from the airport to Taipei Main Station. From the Taipei Main Station, take the Red-line to Daan. We were consciously making this trip stay within budget which is why we decided to opt commuting over a hired taxi. Once we started walking from the Daan station to our hotel, it was evident that the weather in Taipei during late July is extremely hot. A shopkeeper even told me it was “not hot but heat” in Taiwan. That I did not understand…

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We were sweating and drained from the weather when we arrived at Swiio Hotel. Luckily, our room was already ready even if check-in time was still a few hours after. Thank you Swiio!

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The rooms were very modern yet functional. It definitely has a hip and very chic vibe to it. Our curtains were all automatic as well as the toilet which can be remotely controlled and the seat kinda lifts on its own. Quite neat!

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After we freshened up, we headed out for lunch at Du Hsiao Yue (度小月) located in Zhongxiao Dunhua. This is probably my all time favorite place to eat at in Taipei. After a friend of mine introduced this place to me back in 2008, I was definitely hooked! I always make it a point to dine here every single time I visit Taipei. You must try their pork noodle soup and pork rice which is what I always order.

From there, we headed to do some shopping (at my girlfriend’s request) and strolling around the hip area of Dunhua (忠孝敦化商圈). Shopping comprised of some bargain buys from stores like Gu and NET which is along Exit 4 from the Zhongxiao Dunhua station. Across the street when you get out from either Exit 1 or Exit 7, turn to one of the side streets and you will end up seeing some hip shops (street wear, indie brands, cafes, etc) and similar establishments. I apologize for not taking pictures as I am explaining these areas. I was still too tired from the weather at this point.

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Just before sundown, we moved to Ximen and visited the Presidential Palace. I was trying out my new lens and I am pretty impressed with how wide this can get even if I was just across the street taking photos of this building.

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We then walked towards the more commercialized area of Ximending. We strolled for a bit just to have some feel good vibes from our previous trip. The place is still bustling and busy with a lot of people. It was a good thing that we decided to stay elsewhere during this trip.

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For dinner, we went to Ningxia Night Market which we have not been to before. I have been hearing much about this night market. You can exit either in Zhongshan or Shuanglian MRT to get here.

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With night markets, I look forward to the food more than the shopping. Ningxia did not disappoint on this as they had a whole strip dedicated to food. I tried some street style teppanyaki which I found just to be okay given that I paid around NT$230. My girlfriend opted for the popular blow-torched steak which was tastier than the teppanyaki I had.

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One of the dishes I wanted to try at this night market was some oyster omelette. I just read in other blogs to try Yuan Huan Bian (圓環邊蚵仔煎) which is considered by some to be the best in this market and even in Taipei. It was easy to spot this place as there was a line in front.

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Their oyster omelette had some sauce that tasted like light sweet chili on top. I actually prefer my oyster omelette dry which is why this one was just okay for me. My girlfriend on the other hand found the taste to grow on you after every single bite. This being one of the best in Taipei, maybe I have to give it another try next time!

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At this point, I ended up just trying two dishes at this night market. The rest of the stalls can be typically found in other big markets which we will be going to again for tomorrow. I would recommend this night market over something like Shilin. Although you have to visit that place at least once as that might be the most popular of all the night markets. You can also find the popular cheese potato there which I really liked.

Time for me to rest!

 

 

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