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thursdaysd Jul 8th, 2017 05:10 PM

"I read somewhere that tourism from the mainland has been decreasing of late, probably at the behest of Beijing."

Interesting. When I was there in 2010 it was increasing. I wouldn't say the mainlanders seemed that popular.

crellston Jul 8th, 2017 05:22 PM

We stayed at Taipei M Hotel. A five min walk from Taipei Main station. It was ok, a decent price, a little tired but the staff were good and it was a fantastic location for getting around on the MRT. Proximity to and MRT station is key and Taipei Main Station is at the centre of the country's rail network, the cities bus network ( another easy way of getting around. We mostly used the MRT - so easy, so convenient and so cheap. It is so quick to get around the city by MRT, that I feel it doesn't matter that much where you are as long as it is close to an MRT station.

M Hotel was decent value , but paying a little more I feel would have yielded better results.

Holland Windmill B&B I would strongly recommend to anyone staying in Hualien - I reviewed on TA and It is really quirky but very tasteful. Everything was a s perfect as it gets in a hotel and the people running it, mostly spoke English ( a big plus) and were so helpful and friendly. Breakfasts, home cooked by mum, were varied, delicious and plentiful.

KJa - if you ever plan on visiting Vietnam he also wrote another epic "Saigon" in a similar vein. Starting in the 1920s under French colonial rule and ending with the ejection of the US from the country in the seventies.

kja Jul 8th, 2017 05:29 PM

Thanks, crellston – I’ll keep that in mind!

Nywoman Jul 9th, 2017 06:52 AM

Hope you are fully recovered. I land in Taipei October 13th, if my spine surgery goes well, which it will. Hard to keep an old broad down. May be we can have a GTG.

Talking about the fact that tourism from the USA is scarce, is no surprise. When I went to the Taiwanese building in NYC I went in and asked for the tourist office. The guard asked me what did I want, I replied information. Then I was given a phone and received the 10th degree. Felt I was in a Communist country, eventually a young woman came down to the lobby with a lot of information.
It was not a hospitable experience. The explanation was that the Consul General was on the same floor therefore people could no go up.
She was lovely, it seemed to me that they could set up an information area in the lobby, which of course I suggested.

Am happily reading your information.

crellston Jul 12th, 2017 04:53 PM

I am fully recovered after 24 hours of not leaving the room! Anyway, I am clearly just typical male wimp when compared to "an old broad" planning such a long trip after spine surgery! Good luck with the op and best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.

A gtg would be great if we do make it back in October. If we do we would likely arrive on the 17/10 but I am struggling to find reasonably priced and timed flights. We will arriving back in Bangkok after a long flight from NZ so don't really relish another long flight straight off. If only I had th foresight to fly into KL, things would have been much simpler ( and cheaper!)

I have just about finished our blog post re Taroko gorge and will post a mini TR and link here shortly. In the meantime carolyn has posted something on our initial impressions

kja Jul 12th, 2017 05:28 PM

Glad to hear you are fully recovered, crellston!
And I agree -- kudos and best wishes to Nywoman.

crellston Jul 13th, 2017 05:42 PM

Thank you kja.


I think I covered the transport options in my response to CaliLady above. We opted for a rental car for a couple of days to visit the gorge one day and the East Coast Scenic Area the next. Our time in the gorge is covered in our most recent post on our blog @

Renting a car is the most time effective way of getting around. Not especially cheap by UK and probably US standards, we paid around £50 pd with Avis, the only international brand in town. There are smaller operators around but I doubt many speak English and I have not had good experiences in the past with small rental businesses.

The driving is really easy. We had picked up an unlimited 4G Data sim at the airport for around $15 very fast and worth every $ . It enabled us to use googlemaps to get around (although not all places showed up on google) I highly recommend getting a card on arrival even though you can also sign up for free countrywide wifi in advance we were using it all the time.

The Taroko visitors centre is a little sparse but the staff were very helpful in pointing out where to go and where not to go.

It is normally possible to drive the entire length of the gorge and a spectacular and beautiful gorge it is. However we found our way blocked due to a rock fall part way. Not being sure how long it would take to clear we decided that, given the time, we would dust our visit short and head to Quingshi cliffs, another not to miss sight.

Driving the gorge is easy and the drive is wonderful but to fully appreciate the gorge it is necessary to get out and walk a few of the trails. We did a couples Shangkadang and Swallows nest. There were a couple of extra ones on our list that we missed due to the rockfall. Such is life! Guided trips are available I think cost around $110 pp and I am sure we would have seen a lot more than we did.

Being quite keen hikers, if we had had more time and we had visited at a cooler time of year, I am sure we would have stayed longer and taken some longer hikes in the area. take plenty of water, a good hat and sunscreen!

Hualien is the only logical place for visiting Taroko. We had great accommodation at Holland Windmill B& B - highly recommended. Food in the town is different, very good and very cheap. Taxi are metered and cheap and reliable for getting around the town. We found it invaluable to stay at a place where some English is spoken. Made life a lot easier.

A post re the East Coast Scenic Area will follow shortly.

kja Jul 13th, 2017 05:52 PM

Too bad about that rock fall ... except, of course, that you weren't right there when they came down! ;-)

Are there hikes through the gorge that aren't particularly challenging? As a solo traveler, I've had some rather scary slips or other near disasters on recent trips, and so am trying to make sure that I only take relatively short (maybe 2 hour) hikes where I am likely to encounter other people and where the paths are relatively easy.

tripplanner001 Jul 14th, 2017 02:17 AM

The gorge sounds like a great place to spend a few days. Your photos look fantastic too.

Nywoman Jul 14th, 2017 03:58 AM

Thank you Crellston and kja for your good wishes.

Have now booked Holland Windmill B+B October 18 and 19. As far as the Gorge am planning on hiring a driver for the day. My hiking is generally confined to the canyons of NYC. Reading Kavey's account she managed a shortish hike so who knows I might write in my TR that I hiked the Taroko as well.

Since I have to return to Taiwan from Japan I may add a few days on the backend of my trip. Am still in the planning stages for both countries.

crellston Aug 15th, 2017 07:04 PM

I finally got around to post about our time in Taipei on our blog.

Didn't get to see as much as we planned due mostly to the heat. We knew it would be hot but not how hot. A few weeks later we are in an almost as hot Bangkok and have more or less got used to it.

Happy to answer any questions I can - at least if the hopeless wifi in the Ibis Riverside Hotel permits me!

I am also just about finished on a fodors post on Sulawesi, Torajaland and will post here soon. For now let's just say we loved our time there.

kja Aug 15th, 2017 07:15 PM

Thanks for the update! I plan to study your blog carefully as I decide where to go next.

Good luck dealing with the heat!

CaliNurse Aug 15th, 2017 07:19 PM

Thank you for the photos and narrative, Crellston. Love it...the national cabbage!!!
Mrs C looks pretty cool, considering the temps!

thursdaysd Aug 28th, 2017 05:02 AM

Hi crellston - another possibilty for a return trip:

Kavey Sep 9th, 2017 05:39 AM

Oh just found this thread, and want to add a big ditto. We spent just 5 nights in Taiwan in January this year and definitely want to go back. We did 3 nights in Taipei and 2 nights in Taroko Gorge, here's my mammoth post on Taroko:

We loved our time in Taipei too, I have another post written several weeks back but in a queue to publish, later this month probably.

We met a fair few Chinese mainland visitors, one of whom approached me to chat and it took me several minutes to realise why she was so confused when she asked me my favourite city in China and I told her I'd never been, except for Hong Kong and Macau which we'd be visiting next. Because in my mind Taiwan is its own country even if we are too scared of China to officially admit that! ��

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