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First time to Taipei and need help planning 4 days.

First time to Taipei and need help planning 4 days.

Old Feb 6th, 2012, 02:05 PM
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First time to Taipei and need help planning 4 days.

My husband and I are going to Taipei for a business trip and we are going early to spend a few days just for us. We have already booked the Westin (where we are staying for business), however after doing more research I am wondering if we should stay a night in Hualien? We definitely want to see the Taroko Gorge & National Park - the scenery looks just beautiful!! How long of a trip is Hualien from Taipei, and how would you recommend getting there? We aren't big bus tour people..and would much rather do it on our own. Train? Plane? Is it doable for a day trip or recommend spending the night? I read that a family of 3 took a private taxi for 8 hrs for 60.00 US, however that couldn't be from Taipei?! I've also read really good things about Judy's Kitchen cooking class. I think this is on Elephant Mountain close to Taipei?

Our trip is from Feb 11-Feb 19th. We fly into Taipei Saturday evening at 9:30pm and have free time until Tuesday evening, where we'll need to be back in Taipei for a business dinner (we might be able to skip this!, hopefully.) And then have all day/night free Wednesday. Thursday - Saturday will be mostly Taipei and nearby sights as we'll have on and off meetings throughout the remainder of our trip. *Another thought might be to cancel our first few days at the Westin in Taipei, and fly directly into HUN (hualien), Saturday night for 1 or 2 nights. We are flying business class so should be well rested.

Any suggestions would be SO appreciated!! We have never been to Taiwan and looking forward to mixing a little fun and beautiful sights.

Thanks!!!!!!!!
Melissa
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Old Feb 6th, 2012, 07:15 PM
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Haven't been to Taiwan for a while, but the train is the way to get from Taipei to Hualien. Takes about 2:10 with great scenery on the left side of the train, with the last part along cliffs on the Pacific Coast.

The first fast train gets to Hualien at 9:25a, while the last return departs Hualien at 10:05p. So, you have just over 12 hours. In my opinion, that make a day trip fine, as the Taroko Gorge is to be visited during daylight hours. You have plenty of time to get back to Hualien to get the train back.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 06:30 AM
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I agree with rkkwan that the train is the way to get to Hualien, unless you take a connecting flight on arrival.

However, I think the gorge is definitely worth at least one overnight. If you can afford the Westin you can probably afford the hotel IN the gorge - http://taroko.silksplace.com.tw/en/aboutus.html. I stayed at the Bay View - http://www.hotelbayview.com.tw/english/006.html - which was a bit further out of Hualien than I expected and I had a car and driver for the gorge one day and took the buses the next. The $60 would be from Hualien.

See my TR for more on Taiwan, a place I hope to revisit: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-excursion.cfm
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 09:17 AM
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Thank you both for your suggestions! I am booking a night at the Silk Palace, and they also include a 1/2 day tour so that is convenient! Quick question about the train....there seem to be a number of choices. Since we are staying the night we aren't as pressed to get there fast (express train) if that means forfeiting beautiful scenery. RKKWAN, you mentioned nice scenery on the left side of the train. Is that the East coast train you are talking about? I've read there are both an East Coast and a West Coast train. Which brings me to my last thought - would you recommend taking EC there and WC back, vice versa, or is there really no difference? Thanks so much! I love fodors.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 09:22 AM
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The east coast train runs down the east coast, the west coast train (high-speed) runs down the west coast. You can't get to the west coast from Hualien.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 12:37 PM
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Ah ok! Thank you for that info thursdaysd. Do you know approximately how much the tickets cost? And is it all general seating or different pricing? Last question: If we don't choose to do the tour from the hotel, can anyone recommend a good driver?? I've read you can find drivers for private tours at the train station. Is this correct? Anyone know approximate cost? Thanks!!
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 01:00 PM
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Strongly recommend buying Lonely Planet's "Taiwan".

For rail info go here: http://www.seat61.com/Taiwan.htm

and here: http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/

Note that trains do fill up, and the non-express east-coast trains have older rolling stock. I don't remember the price.

My hotel arranged my driver, 2200 NT for eight hours. Probably on the high side.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 06:10 PM
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You should take one of the all-reserve Taroko Express, like the 7:20 or 9:20. One-way fare should be 440 NTD, or about $15. Inexpensive.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 07:09 PM
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Best to take Taroko Express to go there, but the tickets run out fast since tour groups usually buy bulks of them in advance. So do book in advance via the english site of Taiwan Railways http://www.railway.gov.tw/en/index.aspx

I recommend at least a one-night stay. Many stay for more than 3 days. A great place to stay is the TianXiang Christian Church and the caretaker, Mr Chiu (Tel: +886-03-8691203 +886-0955-900945), can be your driver and can pick you up at the Hualien train station. And you will need a driver to get to various spots in Taroko if you don't have much time. Note that he doesn't speak much english but he is good sport and his rate is low. The photos of the church are available at http://www.backpackers.com.tw/forum/...ad.php?t=98248

Taroko is great for trekking. If you like trekking, I recommend Shakadang trail, an easy trail along turquoise waters.

To travel along the east coast, it's best to have a driver.
As for the driver's rate, the normal rate is NTD3500 per day. Great scenic spots you mustn't miss include Sanxiantai. It will be a touch-and-go kind of trip if you choose to cover the whole of the east coast (which covers both Hualien and Taitung districts) in one day. A great place to stay mid-way is the Cliff House http://www.cliffhouse.tw/about.html. The contact number is at the bottom of the page.

If you still have some time to spare after visiting Hualien and the EC, Yehliu Geopark is a must to visit when you get back to Taipei. You can easily spend one whole day there.
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Old Feb 7th, 2012, 07:42 PM
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Somehow I don't think that people who are staying at the Westin in Taipei are going to be too enthusiastic about staying at the Tianxiang Youth Activity Center.... Especially when they've already decided on the Silks Place. It always helps to read the preceding posts.
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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Thank you all for taking the time to respond to my forum. I value your suggestions and look forward to putting them to good use! I will write upon return of our trip.
Melissa
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