Hello, Taiwan!: Why Taiwan Is Always a Good Idea

July 12, 2023 Travel

Waterside spectacles, gastronomic adventures, and shopping in between.   

View from Taipei 101
I got to visit Taiwan again, this time with a group of travel writers from Pampanga on a tour organized by Clark International Airport and Taiwan Tourism Bureau.  

My trip started in a mall in Quezon City, and from thereon, my flying experience was very pleasant – no long lines, no crowded spaces, and not much waiting. 


I took a point-to-point bus, or P2P, to Clark International Airport from Trinoma. The bus left promptly at 6:00 a.m. and by 8:00 a.m., I was already lining up at the check-in counter of Eva Air. After dropping my bag, I waited comfortably at the Plaza Premium Lounge, where I met up with the other guests from Pampanga, and together, we enjoyed the lounge’s breakfast buffet. 


We were at Clark International Airport’s most picturesque gate 30 minutes before boarding, and we boarded our flight on time. 


The flight from Clark International Airport to Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei’s gateway, took only 2 hours. 


Our guide, Felix Chen, was waiting for us at the airport and took us around Taipei for 4 days and 3 nights with some of the city’s best events and attractions.


Time to Marvel


Taiwan celebrates a myriad of festivals and holidays, both traditional and modern. 


We attended three ongoing festivities, which are the Taipei Summer Festival at Dadaocheng Wharf, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival, and the Yehliu Geopark Light Show. And despite the sweltering humidity, we all had delightful experiences.


At the Taipei Summer Festival, we joined a swarm of people, mostly young, where there were food stalls selling what must be Taipei’s youth’s favorite chows and lots of options for booze. The Taiwan Tourism Board had arranged for us open-air seating on top of one of the food stalls, from which we had a good view of everything that was happening. The night was filled with music and highlighted by a 3-minute fireworks display. 


The festival started on July 1 with fireworks displays every Wednesday and would culminate on August 20 with a grand fireworks show. 


My favorite among the three events we attended was the 2023 Fulong Sand Sculpture Art Festival. 


Imagine walking through the golden sands of Fulong Beach while admiring 66 Disney-themed sand sculptures. It was like a walk down my childhood up to my recent years. 


The sand sculpture festival celebrated 100 years of Disney, and 15 domestic and foreign sand sculptors made those amazing arts. There were sculptures from the early years of Disney, like Oswald, Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie, and Fantasia. There were also well-loved characters like Winnie the Pooh, the Lion King, and Lilo and Stitch. 

Of course, the princesses were there, and just like any Disney theme park, the highlight was a castle and this festival featured Snow White. Pixar, Marvel, and National Geographic were also represented.


The 2023 Fulong Sand Sculpture Art Festival will be up until October 22nd.


I also had the chance to see Yehliu Geopark again, this time to see a light show. 

First time to see Yehliu Geopark at night and it is more enchanting

Yehliu is one of Taiwan’s most visited attractions and a geological wonder with its landscape of honeycomb and mushroom rocks eroded by the sea.


It was magical to see Yehliu at sunset. And it was spectacular to watch the light show. 


"Time of Rocks in Yehliu" uses water curtains, dancing fountains, laser beams, light projections, and sound effects to come up with a captivating light show. There are eight lighting zones and four themed light shows. 


We watched the light show at the iconic Queen’s Head rock formation and the 14-meter-high “Big Queen” circular water curtain fountain water dance show. Both were mesmerizing. 

(Photo by Marns del Rosario)


Time to Eat


The thing I look forward to whenever I visit Taiwan is the food. 


During this trip, we had hotpot, xiao long bao, pineapple cakes, barbecue skewers, seafood, and lots more. The foodie in me was extremely delighted.


Our first meal in Taiwan was at the famous Mala Hot Pot, a buffet-style hotpot with a wide variety of hotpot ingredients, 7 soup bases, and a wide selection of drinks and desserts. Our group chose a really flavorful spicy soup and collagen soup bases. That was a great starter to another round of extraordinary culinary experiences in Taiwan.


We also had Din Tai Fung. This world-renowned restaurant originated in Taiwan and we ate in one of their most popular branches, in Taipei 101, after our tour of Taiwan’s most photographed landmarks.


Though I am familiar with Din Tai Fung, as there is a branch just 15 minutes away from home, it was still exciting to eat their xiao long bao in Taiwan. Plus, knowing about its crazy queue, it was a treat.


After Din Tai Fung, we went to Vigor Kobo for a fun and yummy afternoon.  


There, we made pineapple cakes, Taiwan’s sweet traditional pastry, which symbolizes prosperity. After molding our pineapple cakes, we also had interactive fun at their lantern sky lantern room and dandelion garden. We also saw more of Taiwan on their video wall. After that, we got to sample more of their delectable offerings. 

Our group presenting our work (Photo from Vigor Kobo)


Another memorable meal this trip was our seafood feast at Fuji Seafood, near Fulong Beach — lobsters, oysters, fish, and so much more, all tasty and lovingly prepared. It was a seafood dream come true. 

Believe it or not, this is just the first round


Time to Shop


No trip is ever complete for Filipinos without shopping, and we visited Taipei’s three shopping meccas – Ximending, Dihua Street, and Jiufen.


Ximending is the center for youth culture in Taiwan, and it is hip, fab, and at times, bizarre. During my last trip to Taipei, I stayed in an Airbnb in this area for 4 nights, so I thought I knew this district, but our guide Felix showed us more of it, like the cinema street, tattoo street, and LGBTQIA+ street. I also got to see there, for the first time, one of the coolest Starbucks I have ever seen.

Pride Flag at Ximending


Dihua Street is new to me, and it was a very interesting destination. If the weather had not been too hot and I, too tired, I would have explored more. 


Dihua is considered the oldest street in Taiwan and is a sprawling place with different shops selling tea, medicine, herbs, fabrics, and dried goods. It also got cute coffee places and a temple dedicated to the city god.


Last was Jiufen. It was also not my first time visiting Jiufen, a mountain town known for its narrow alleyways, packed with teahouses, street-food shacks, and souvenir shops. But it was my first time visiting its famed teahouse.  


A Mei Teahouse serves authentic oolong tea and Taiwanese delicacies, which is one of the reasons to visit the place. But tourists come here because it is known as the inspiration behind the bath house in the anime ‘Spirited Away.’ Though, there are articles claiming otherwise. Nevertheless, the authentic tea experience was worth the 55 steps down this teahouse from the alley.


Every time I visit Taiwan, I am left wanting more. This is also true for this trip. Even before I boarded my plane back to Clark, I was already hoping for another Taiwanventure. 


And to experience Taiwan, fly from Clark International Airport to Taipei via Cebu Pacific Air, Eva Air, and soon, Starlux Airlines. Details are on Clark International Airport’s social media accounts and clarkinternationalairport.com.


More about Taiwan at eng.taiwan.net.tw.


It is always a good time for Taiwan. 

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