I’m currently recovering from a cold after a whirlwind three weeks in Asia. I often reference my past trips to friends, and I used some friends’ references planning this one as well, so I thought I’d document my trip! We were in Taipei, Taiwan for about 6 days (12/27/23-1/2/23) and Hakuba + Tokyo, Japan for about 11 days (1/2/24-1/13/24). Here’s what we did in Taiwan, though to be honest this one was more driven by vibes than research.
First, an aside. I booked China Airlines and when I boarded my plane, we got delayed for 5 hours from midnight to 5am! The plane had a flat tire and they needed to find a replacement. Eventually they found one but they told us the protocol is to replace both tires, and they couldn’t find a second good replacement tire. So everybody had to deplane and then find a hotel to spend the night. Many people - including the passenger next to me - missed their international connecting flights. It was a really unfortunate turn of events. Luckily I’m local to San Francisco so I could just go back to my apartment for the evening. They put us on another flight 24 hours later, and the only reimbursement they offered was about $200 for a hotel, $30 for a meal, and the rideshare to and back from the airport. I emailed them but still haven’t heard back for my extra costs.
Anyway, I eventually made it to Taiwan after rebooking myself on United to get there semi-on schedule. I referenced this post and we decided that Ximen/Zhongzheng area would be ideal.
- Xinyi: Luxury stay, filled with lavish hotels, trendy boutiques, high-end restaurants, and some of the best clubs in town.
- Ximen: With trendy bars and restaurants, colorful night markets, and shops that sell anything you might possibly need, Ximen is one of the most bustling areas of the city.
- Honorable mentions: We did go out in Da’an two nights, it’s a fun neighborhood with some great bars. Some friends also spent the trip in Danshui (Tamsui) but this was a bit far. They had to take 45-60 minutes to come into the city every day, which made commuting a bit hard when there’s so much activity planned.
There was so much good food that we didn’t research heavily, and instead mostly went with hot spots on Google Maps and common food stalls at night markets. I really liked the hand pulled pancakes (抓饼 zhua bing) at the nearby stall to our Airbnb (called “China Pizza” lol); we got this for breakfast multiple days in a row. We had traditional Taiwanese breakfast (油条 you tiao，蛋饼 dan bing，饭团 fan tuan), beef noodle soups (牛肉面 niu rou mian), and so much more. We went to Ningxia night market, my favorite was a meat stall that sold all kinds of skewers. My friends got a giant skewer full of ~20 chicken hearts! On another night, we visited the famous Shihlin night market where I really liked the ambiance here since they had games as well as food stalls, so a variety for everyone. I liked the hot star fried chicken and the 好朋友 ‘hao peng you’ cold noodles.
For shopping we went to Chifeng Street in Zhongshan which is filled with something for everyone. We went into thrift stores like Par Store, k-pop stores like K-Monstar, and generally walking around Zhongshan was pretty fun as it was lively and filled with people.
There were a lot of cool bars in Taipei, too. We tried out Draft Land as well as Bar Mood. I thought the cocktails at Draft Land were really creative and had unique tastes. We also had a super fun time with the staff at Terminal One. They talked with us, drank with us, and I feel like by the end of the night we were friends. We even went to the bar they usually go to after closing hours to keep hanging out.
Outside eating and going to bars, we took a short trek up Elephant Mountain to get that classic picturesque view of Taipei’s skyline with Taipei 101 in the background. We also went shrimping which was more fun than I expected. I really enjoyed just sitting there and catching the shrimp while chatting with friends, and then you get to cook and eat them on-site too. Would recommend!
Daytrip to Shifen then Jiufen
We also took a daytrip out of Taipei to go to Shifen and Jiufen to see the famous waterfall, teahouses, and “spirited away” vibes. Unlucky for us, it was raining or foggy pretty much all day. A light sprinkle as we made our way to the Shifen waterfall kept us moving pretty briskly. By the end of the day, our friend without a hood eventually had to buy this cute pikachu poncho and the nice lady at the stall let him blowdry his hair in the back, lol. We saw a bunch of the hot air balloons you can send up for a wish, and while it was cute, we also saw a bunch of them which had fallen back to the ground on our walk to the waterfall which seemed really bad for the environment. By the time we got to Jiufen, it was raining hard. We tried going to the famous Amei Teahouse (said to look a lot like Spirited Away) but it was way too busy, so we ended up sitting down at Jiufen teahouse which I enjoyed a lot. I ended up buying teacups from here to commemorate the occasion.
Finally as we were leaving, we MISSED OUR BUS! The next bus was supposed to come in another 20 minutes but it was pouring rain so we didn’t know what to do. By some stroke of luck, a “Not In Service” bus pulled up to the stop almost right afterward and turned its lights to one of the bus lines that would take us all the way back to Taipei! When that happened, chaos ensued as people from the back of the line rushed up to board the bus, skipping all the people queueing in front of them. This caused a mob-like surge for the bus as people started pushing to get on. Luckily my friends and I were at the very front so we were still able to get seats, but it was a scary moment!
New Year’s Eve
And finally, the big party. The whole reason we came to Taiwan in the first place was so that a big group of friends could celebrate New Year’s Eve together. We evaluated 4 places: Frank, KOR, Ce La Vi, and Babylon. I’ll share the quotes and some details below in case it helps someone plan their future New Years Eve. There were a ton of microdecisions to make: should we be at the open-air table on the 11th floor or the covered table on the 10th? The bigger table on the 10th or the 11th? Should we get the table for 20 and squeeze 26, or should we just get the table for 33? Should we go to the club that might have a dance floor or is more of a lounge? We ended up going with Frank Taipei and I don’t regret it!
For alternatives to clubs to view the fireworks, this website had some great suggestions like Sun-Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The streets near Taipei 101 in Xinyi are wide and closed off to cars, lower risk of crowd crush than what you might guess (e.g. Itaewon). Relatively flat ground (i.e. no downhills for crowds to slip for domino effect) and wide streets. It was still really crowded but I was never scared of the crowd size.
Note: the MRT stayed open from 6am 12/31 to 11:59pm 1/1 for 42 hours of consecutive service, so public transit is likely to be great.
And that wraps up our trip to Taiwan! I’m so glad all my friends were able to come, 33 people at a club in another country is kind of a wild endeavor. We all explored Taiwan independently but when we all came together, it was pretty magical!
Here were our club quotes from around summertime when we started inquiring.
Private box: 33 people ( additional people can be added for a fee )
Contains: 16 bottles of champagne , 4 bottles of Much 12 -year-old whiskey, 2 bottles of vodka , and 2 bottles of don julio tequila.
Cost: 200,000 + 10% TWD
Deposit: Full payment is required to make the reservation successful.
Cancellation policy: No free cancellation after payment.
CE LA VI Taipei
Box: Large outdoor box for 30~35 people
Introduction: A semi-open area surrounded by city views ( people will stand next to you but will not enter your box ) , with large floor-to-ceiling windows on both sides, and 101 can be seen on one side.
Cost: $380,000+10% . Drinks and food packages will be provided according to the number of people.
Deposit: Full payment is required within 3 days after booking.
Cancellation rules: Free cancellation is not allowed after booking. If canceled before 12/15 , 50% of the deposit will be refunded. If canceled after 12/15 , no money will be refunded.
Box: 30 seats
Introduction: The main outdoor area on the 11th floor has exclusive areas and tables.
Cost: $300,000+10% , including admission, customized drinks, and food.
Deposit: $100,000 is required first.
Cancellation rules: 90% of the total amount will be refunded if canceled before December 15th , 60% of the total amount will be refunded if canceled between 12/16-28 , and 30% of the total amount will be refunded if canceled between 12/28-31 .
Box: 33 people indoor large box
Fee: Minimum purchase of up to $132,000+10% is sufficient.
( The rest of the details have not yet been announced )
KOR Taipei's current New Year's Eve plan has not yet been announced but free queuing is open ( queuing does not mean the reservation is successful ) . Do you need to leave your name and phone number to queue and contact the bar?
After the details of the plan are announced, KOR Taipei will call the guests one by one according to the queue order to confirm the reservation details. If the box is full, no notification will be given: