S’poreans share what excites them about travelling again after a 2-year hiatus

Featuring the hottest new attractions in Taiwan.

| Lean Jinghui | Sponsored | April 28, 2022, 11:49 AM

As of Apr. 26, Covid-19 tests will no longer be required for fully vaccinated travellers entering Singapore, essentially returning the state of travel to almost like pre-Covid-19 times.

Ahead of the long-coveted return of leisure travel, we talk to five Singaporeans, who tell us what excites them the most about exploring a foreign destination overseas.

And because many of them have been to Taiwan and have fond memories of the place, some also share with us their favourite activities to do there.

If you’ve only known Taiwan as the land of sky lanterns and night markets, we feature some of the hottest activities to rediscover in its cities right now.

In Shine, Taiwan. Via Unsplash

Getting lost in the city

If you’re the kind that enjoys just going with the flow and seeing “what life has to offer”, you should try not planning an itinerary for the day, shares one colleague.

It can be as simple as people watching (“go inside a local shop to see how locals like to dress!”), or having a meal at a random restaurant even if you don’t speak the language.

It’s how said colleague discovered her love for 滷肉飯 (“Lu Rou Fan”, or braised pork rice) – while wandering the back alleys of Taipei city.

矮仔財滷肉飯 at Beitou Market in Taipei city, recommended by our colleague. Via Google Maps.

Not to mention, Taiwanese bubble tea.

Our colleague swears by the black tea from Chun Shui Tang in Taipei. Via Chun Shui Tang Facebook.

For a gastronomical adventure, one can also check out any of the several watering holes and restaurants in Taiwan, which double as an opportunity to connect with the locals in the city.

渣男 Taiwan Bistro in Taipei is popular with local office workers after hours. It serves Taiwanese cuisine, as well as a variety of craft beers and alcohols. Via Google Maps.

As one colleague shares, meeting with locals is the best way to “push your boundaries”, in terms of learning about and stumbling upon activities or attractions you might have otherwise never discovered.

For a quieter affair, you can also patronise some of the smaller eateries, such as 紅記早點 and 保安路米糕 in Tainan, to try out some of the more popular breakfast/lunch dishes.

Fresh, handmade Taiwanese omelettes at 紅記早點, Tainan. Via @enping0928 Instagram

The 保安路米糕 eatery in Tainan, which has over 60 years of history, sells glutinous rice topped with fish flakes, pumpkin and more.

From Taipei to Tainan

Another way to traverse the city? Explore the local cafe and bar scene, which often highlights the unique influences on a destination’s culture.

For instance, several cafes and bars in Taiwan feature Japanese-style architecture and cuisine, a reflection of Taiwan’s deep-rooted history with Japan.

In Taipei: 台北鳥喜 produced by Toriki とり喜 is a popular yakitori restaurant in the city, which recently collaborated with renowned Japanese brand Kurisake. Via Facebook

Some establishments also now reside in antiquated houses – converted to trendy cafes and restaurants.

In Chiayi: Cafe Chamber (秘氏咖啡) is one of many old houses in the city which were refurbished into hipster cafes or shops.

In Chiayi: Taocheng Tofu Pudding (桃城豆花) is another refurbished old-house-turned-cafe, famed for its beancurd and decor. Via Facebook.

Across most cities, there’s also this ever-Instagrammable, cool-for-the-summer dessert to try.

In Tainan: 震湶雪花冰 is a pet-friendly shaved ice dessert store in the city. Shaved ice actually has its origins from the Japanese occupation in Taiwan until 1945, where water was mixed with banana oil, frozen, then shaved with a hand-peddled machine spitting thin flakes of ice into a bowl. Via @snowicetainan Instagram

Exploring unique shops and stores

Another colleague notes that for him, the joy of travel comes with being able to explore “interesting shop concepts” unique to the destination he’s visiting, and then to share stories about these adventures with his friends.

He explains: “I like exploring alone, but telling stories together. So my friends and I usually go our own way, then we come back together at night to have dinner together or something. ”

For him, a “unique shop” can span from specialty stores with quirky knick knacks, to the local supermarket or convenience store.

One of several local tea specialty stores to explore in Taipei. The 仙島SENTO teahouse is one of the newest to open in the city, in Jan 2022. Via Google Maps

Via Google Maps

Sento’s Signature Boba and Caramel Pudding. Via Google Maps

Hermit’s hut 三徑就荒 is another tea specialty store where one can hideaway for the day, and learn about traditional Chinese tea ceremonies. Via @aiiro_ya Instagram

Or for something a little different: The hipster, independent and second-hand bookstores of a city.

A colleague elaborates: “I love them because these bookstores often carry several vintage magazines and books. These bookstores also have great decorations and wonderful coffee. [I] can relax and chill after a day of touring.”

青鳥Bleu&Book in Taipei, recommended by our colleague. Via Google Maps

雅痞Art Reading Cafe, a speakeasy cafe with live music and drinks, that doubles as a live music venue and lecture/film screening room in Taipei. Via Google Maps.

Tofu bookstore (島呼冊店 ), an independent bookstore and tofu specialty store in Chiayi city. Chiayi is located between the cities of Taipei and Tainan. Via Facebook.

Another colleague who agrees shares that walking about the smaller neighbourhoods and farmer’s markets of a city also allows her to experience a “different pace of living”, amid the rediscovery of local specialties.

Snail Alley, located in a small residential neighbourhood in Tainan, features several small coffee and tea specialty stores, as well as colourful snail-themed murals. Most shops only open in the afternoon. Via Google Maps.

Shennong street in Tainan was once an important port entrance during the Qing Dynasty. Today, it is an important mecca for young art enthusiasts to chill at in TainBan. Via @tw.traveler.eason Instagram

“I love learning about the culture and urban landscape of the city as I visit its lesser known spots. I [also] enjoy trying out new foods, especially the cheap ones!!”

The great outdoors

Beyond sightseeing cityscapes, two colleagues touched upon the thrill of exploring a destination's natural landscapes when overseas.

“Visiting nature sites is a priority, because they are so unique to the area and provide a good break from city life.”

In Taiwan, you can have a picnic on the grassy banks of Dahu Lake in Taipei, or go for some cherry blossom viewing at Sunshine Sports Park.

Dahu Park in Taipei. Via @gimmy88888 on Instagram

Sunshine Sports Park in Taipei, great for cherry blossoms. Cherry blossom viewing season in Taiwan is generally between January to early April. Via @evachang03 Instagram

One does not even need to travel far out of the concrete jungle to get a taste of Taiwan’s stunning vistas.

Xiangshan, which offers a panoramic view of Taipei, is a 15-minute walk from Taipei 101. Via @hohsin_photography Instagram

A colleague who loves hiking as a means to explore the scenery and great outdoors added: “I think being alone and ‘one with nature’ helps me to look deeper into myself and find my soul.”

So our colleagues also recommend Taichung and Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Taiwan for more panoramic hiking trails and pristine naturescapes.

The Dakeng Scenic Area (大坑風景區) on the outskirts of Taichung. Via @traveling_fishball Instagram

Tarako Gorge in Hualien. Via Google Maps

Find this photo op if you can. Via @fibili1001 Instagram.

As a bonus, outdoor enthusiasts who seek an experience to remember can try canyoning in Tarako National Park, Hualien.

Also known as river tracing in Hong Kong and Taiwan, it involves the exploring of canyons using a variety of techniques - walking, rock climbing, roping, abseiling, jumping, and swimming.

Rediscover Taiwan

Which brings us back to the heady thrill of satisfying one’s wanderlust.

With the streamlining of travel requirements, we can finally start travelling again for leisure.

If you’re considering Taiwan as a possible destination in the future, why not give some of these places a try?

Taiwan is not only budget friendly, but regardless of your interests, there’s a little something for everyone.

For more suggestions on what to do, you can click here.

You can also check out the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Singapore Office’s Facebook page and Instagram, for more travel inspiration and tips.

Top images via @enping0928 Instagram, @gimmy88888 Instagram, Google Maps, @tw.traveler.eason Instagram

This sponsored article by the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau Singapore Office inspired the writer to plan for her next trip.