Travelling to Taiwan with a baby sounds like a new parenting challenge!
Months before we welcomed baby V, we were toying with the idea of travelling after the confinement period. But after she arrived, we couldn’t bear to leave her here in Singapore while we were miles away. Eventually, we decided to bring her along and my parents as a support team. LOL. Proper planning is definitely required especially when bringing a baby overseas.
For a checklist on what and how to pack the luggage, our previous article might help ease those nerves.
We had about 7 days in Taiwan and our route was: Taipei > Taichung > Cing Jing > Taipei, approx. 2 nights at each area.
As first time parents plus first time flying with a baby, we did have several considerations (including eventually bringing my parents along. Oops!), so to new parents in the same shoes: It’s not undoable (is there such a word??)!! We came back
in one piece happy! :P
Taiwan Travel with Baby Day 1: Singapore – Taipei – Taichung
Beacon Hotel – Feng Jia Night Market
Almost 4 hours later, we arrived at Taipei International Airport, hopped on the shuttle bus headed for the Taipei High Speed Rail (HSR) Main Station (there’s only 1 bus that goes there! Get tickets from the right counter.) where we were due to take our pre-booked train ride to Taichung. Journey to Taichung takes about 30minutes by the High Speed Rail.
We booked the Business Class seats as my parents wanted a more comfy ride. It was definitely more spacious, chairs are bigger (2-seater instead of 3-seater at Economy Class) and drinks (choice of juice, hot tea, coffee, water) and a small cake was served.
Upon reaching the Taichung station, we headed to the McDonald’s at the station to meet the local driver uncle who was to send us to the hotel. Journey to Beacon Hotel took about 40 minutes but the ride didn’t seem that long as the traffic was pretty smooth in the evening and it was a 7-seater (yay!) so all’s good.
Despite it being our first time travelling to Taiwan with a baby, my energy level shot up instantly upon discovering that Feng Jia Night Market was literally at our doorsteps! REJOICE!! We checked into the room, freshened up baby Vera and scooted out pronto – that explains the lack of pictures of the room… LOL!
Hotel rooms in Taiwan are usually “just right” or sometimes less spacious. With a king-sized bed plonked in the centre, a mini fridge, full height 2-door wardrobe, 42″ LCD TV, toilet amenities with glass-doored partitioned shower area and a study table + chair; we couldn’t ask for more knowing it’s going to be a place to
snooze re-energize. Baby cots are available upon request during booking, and the room came equipped when we entered. Only to realize it became a white elephant because baby Vera has been co-sleeping with us at home anyway, what more with a King sized bed now!
The attentive folks at the reception asked if we needed a bathtub too, so do note to request from them if you’re planning to travel to Taiwan with your baby. It was a simple Combi bathtub, good enough but just be careful if the baby is learning to crawl or likes moving around as it does get slippery in there if you’re used to using a bath mat or other accessories for added friction.
Feng Jia Night Market is hailed as a must-go place when visiting Taichung, and prices are presumably cheaper compared to Taipei city. It covers a pretty big area and there were several food stalls with long queues (especially the 大肠包小肠 stall that was just next to the hotel. Hub immediately proclaimed that he was going for it!), and we noticed quite a few strollers being pushed around.
We opted to skip the stroller and simply put Vera into our carrier since it was already night time when we arrived and we weren’t planning to stay out too late. We were glad about this decision because it freed up our hands when we scouting around for snacks and munching them as dinner. With a carrier, it was also easy for me to nurse her on-the-go whenever she needs.
The night ended quite early (by our standards of a usual Taiwan trip) as we didn’t wish to overtire Vera and turn her schedule topsy-turvy. Indeed, she snoozed like a log after nursing to sleep – we actually had some proper rest as she slept right through; it’s been a long time! Things were looking rosy on our first holiday with our baby! :D
Taiwan Travel with Baby Day 2:
Local Produce Store – Hong Rui Zhen Sandwich – Miyahara Eye Hospital – Dong Dong Yu Yuan – Xinshe Castle – Mushroom Town – Feng Jia Night Market
We started the day with breakfast at the hotel’s café and baby V had her share of plain porridge from the buffet line. Seeing that we were all eating, she felt left out I suppose. So we put her on the high chair and took turns “entertaining” her while we
After breakfast, driver uncle came to pick us at the lobby and we discussed the itinerary for the day. First stop was a store to get the “best Tai Yang Bing (Sun Cakes)” as he proclaims. They were very generous with samples and gave each of us a full piece. I tried them but wasn’t too impressed, so I didn’t get any and I obviously didn’t remember its name either. Oops.
Along the way to Miyahara Eye Hospital, we stopped by Hong Rui Zhen Sandwich as driver uncle was sharing that it was popular among the locals for its fresh and soft sandwiches. They have only one store in the whole of Taiwan so we bought some to try. Our verdict: tastes soft and fresh but a tad sweet for me.
Before we decided to travel to Taiwan with baby V, I did some research on what to see/do at Taichung. Interestingly, Miyahara Eye Hospital (宮原眼科- Gong Yuan Yan Ke) came up, and it looks too pretty to miss!
With a unique story proposition like being converted from an eye hospital, and turning it into a spanking new snacks boutique with pretty packaging. They are part of Dawn Cakes, the same team who are famous for pineapple cakes and the works. But at the eye hospital, packaging sells. There’s a sit-down restaurant on the second floor, so if you’re planning for a date or high tea, this can be a nice option too. Let the pictures tell you more!
We didn’t get to try the ice cream cos the queue was soooo long!? I read about others raving about their special flavours. But seriously, with what seemed like 40 pax in the queue – no thanks, man, because queues are blah (to me, at least. not very Singaporean, hor? LOL)
Along the way to Xin She Castle, we swung by Dong Dong Yu Yuan for yam balls and sweet potato balls that drive uncle was raving about. Seems like there’s only one of this shop too, and apparently popular with the folks in Taichung.
Xin She Castle is at an open space area with a mini man-made waterfall too. But the weather was scorching, so it wasn’t too enjoyable.
Fortunately, I remembered to whip out baby V’s sunblock! Unfortunately, I forgot about myself applying it on myself, so I had to dig out the sunblock we bought from Watsons’ the day before. It was much cheaper to buy it from Taiwan, especially since it’s Summer, hence, most sunblocks/sunscreens/anti-UV/BB creams/CC creams and whatnots were on sale! Happy bee! :P
Baby V’s Mustela sun protection cream was easy to spread and didn’t leave unsightly white patches on her skin. It didn’t really feel sticky too, so that was a good thing!
For adults (okay, basically I was the only one who bothered to apply sunblock), Biore Super UV Milk was light on the body’s skin, spreads easily due to its watery nature and seems to turn slightly powdery, without a sense of stickiness. On my face, Aqualabel UV Milk (bought from Watsons Singapore) was watery and spreads with no fuss, but it seemed to give me a tinge of white on my face/pearly effect, so it made me look whiter according to Hub.
We toured the area in under an hour and took some pictures. Skip the gift store – the items are from different parts of the world and tagged with high prices. The entrance ticket comes with vouchers to offset your purchase (I think it was TWD$100?) but nothing was priced at that value and we couldn’t find anything worth buying so we walked out in 5mins.
Along the drive to our next destination, driver uncle mentioned that his 17-year-old daughter was holidaying in Singapore for the first time, with her friend. It was her first overseas trip etc… so we were casually chatting away. Until later, we understood why…
It was nearing noon, so driver uncle said that he would bring us to dine at their popular mushroom eateries. Apparently, that whole stretch of road houses various restaurants that focus on mushrooms. Interesting to know, because many of them have their own mushroomy farms so it’s basically hort (hot, geddit, geddit??) off the soil!
We were a tad disappointed with the place he took us to, as it wasn’t like anything he had described. We had a steamboat of mushrooms and veggies, stir-fried veggies and meat. Soup-based tasted herbal but slightly bland. Excuse the lack of pictures here, but I guess you can check out that stretch for many mushroom dining places.
My colleague went to an indoor one and she said the food was good. Ours was a little rundown, it was outdoors, and the weather was rather hot, plus steamboat smoke in our faces! Haha, what were we thinking?!
At this juncture, drive uncle told us that his daughter just rang him and that she was arriving in Taipei soon but didn’t know how to get home from the Taichung airport (?!) so driver uncle needed to pick her from the airport instead.
Thus, he pre-arranged for another driver to send us around. As ours was a 7-seater, we asked him if it’d be the same type of vehicle. Well, after our meal, the other driver came and it was a regular 4-passenger yellow cab! So we squeezed our barang barangs in the boot and ended up like sardines with 3 adults sitting at the back and a baby. Gosh! Oh well, I mean, what can we say or do, right?
We spoke with this stand-in driver uncle that we wanted to go shopping elsewhere apart from Feng Jia Night Market, so he brought us to another area for shopping. I can’t recall the name, but it’s those typical night market format.
Unfortunately, it started pouring just when we started shopping. The grounds were wet and shelter was limited. The men (my dad and the hub) went to purchase some umbrellas so we walked for another half an hour or so while waiting gingerly for the rain to cease. It started to get heavier, so we decided to call for the driver uncle to pick us up, and we headed back to the hotel to clean up as well as bathe baby Vera before making our way to Feng Jia Night Market for our second round of shopping plus tummy fillers!
By now, you’d realised that our holiday in Taiwan with baby V was planned around having her well-rested too :)
Part 2 of our Taiwan holiday itinerary can be found here.
Taiwan travel with baby Day 3:
Rainbow Village – Cultural Village – King Garden – Paper Dome – Feeling 18deg Cafe – Cing Jing (Star Villa)
The day started with breakfast at the hotel again, and we were kinda sad as it was pretty much the same food offered. Nonetheless, after a quick breakfast, we hopped onto our 7-seater (our actual driver+car came back! LOL) and started to plan the day with him.
First stop, Rainbow Village (台中彩虹眷村), where we saw vibrant, colourful walls adorned with illustrations. These murals were done by a 90-year old uncle fondly known as Grandpa Rainbow (彩虹爺爺), who was present at the site for autographs too! He beautified the walls in a bid to save the area from redevelopment and successfully turned it into a talking point and a popular must-visit attraction for tourists and locals alike.
There was also a street performer – Rainbow Iron Man – who sang Chinese songs under the scorching Sun. The weather was a killer, seriously but we managed to get some postcards as souvenirs too.
We quickly headed back to the car for aircon while baby Vera was already in dreamland! And got ready to drive to the Cultural Village.
As its name suggests, it was all things cultural there. Traditional toys and games, exhibits, food stalls, food variety and presentation style etc were in sync.
We explored Carton King, one of the places to visit when you’re in Taichung. Also, we were told that there were no admission charges here as opposed to the store at Cing Jing. To be fair, this store was bigger than the Carton King at Cing Jing.
Lunch was a meal of minced meat noodles (not the same as Bah Chor Mee, okay!) and my legs were getting tired from all the walking. Had to nurse and eat at the same time, which was often done during the trip. Haha, multi-tasking takes on a new level with our first family holiday to Taiwan with a baby! :P
Then, we made our way to King Garden (元首館), where an English-looking establishment with giant chess pieces and a horse carriage greeted us. Several visitors were posing with these props for photo moments, and many others were streaming into the building.
With the scorching weather in Taichung when we visited, being indoors was the best bet. Inside, it was akin to stepping into the confectionary section of a department store – displays of snacks such as their local favourites of pineapple cakes and tea were sitting on the shelves. There was even a bakery and that explained the crusty aroma of fresh bakes. The hub couldn’t resist it and we bought some bread to share with the family.
Mum’s attention was caught by a lady selling nougats. These came in multiple flavours from sweet to savoury, even soft or hard types too. Mum sampled a couple of flavours and ended up buy over a dozen sticks! Baby V was also in a jovial mood, flashing cheeky smiles when I whipped out my mobile :P
After getting some food for my colleagues, we left to make our way to Paper Dome (紙教堂).
Driver uncle recommended this place as it held memories of a major earthquake that destroyed the actual church in Kobe. Shigeru Ban, an internationally known Japanese architect, came up with an idea to recreate the temporary church using only paper (cardboard tubes). It has since been transported over to Taichung, sitting in a garden-like area which is opened to the public. NT$100/pax fee applies which can be used to offset purchases in the small shops/stalls within the area.
Tip: In fact, you can simply spend that NT$100 value like money, without any minimum purchase. We got some cute hair clips for baby Vera and hand-sketched postcards from the local folks there from the shops deeper in the area. Skip the first shop you see, unless you’d like to get a drink.
By then, it was around early evening, so we started to drive towards Cing Jing; estimated to take about 2 hours or so on a direct trip.
Before embarking on the route, driver uncle raved about a coffee place that was very popular in Taichung. He asked if we take coffee, and it was a unanimous “yes!” from us. LOL.
The best thing was, everyone gets to drink for free! Why is that? Basically, the FREE coffee and tea serve as crowd pullers (or lost leaders in the business sense), and the real deal comes from the sale of chocolates and cakes. In fact, Feeling 18 deg Café (18度巧克力工房) was generous with their cake samples too.
The beat the scorching evening sun, some folks (including us!) “hid” at the bakery to stay in the air-conditioned area. If your skin is thick, you can keep grabbing their cake samples to go along with your free cup of drink. And surprise, surprise! The queue to purchase chocolates was snaking long too! The entire style of the place is clean, minimalist and pretty Japanese-inspired too.
After we finished our drinks, we hopped onto the van to proceed with our drive to Cing Jing.
Our accommodation for the night was Star Villa at Cing Jing, and the town is known not to have any nightlife. Hence, before we got banished up in the highlands, driver uncle arranged for our dinner near the hotel.
My legs started to feel the chilling wind during dinner.
After devouring homecooked local fare to fill our tummies, we popped over to a nearby 7-11 for food or drinks we might need. The men got some alcohol and instant noodles, and off to our mountain home!
Mind you, since Star Villa was on high grounds, lots of climbing expected as there are no lifts. Parents travelling with babies and young children might want to request for rooms on the first level (ours was on 3rd and superbly big, and my parents took the 4th floor) but those rooms might be the smaller ones. You will need to lug PLENTY of things: luggage, stroller, diaper bag – basically, pre-empt your hubby on the impending workout which is part and parcel of travelling with your baby, alright? Keeps him warm, anyway :P
After checking in and cleaning up baby Vera, we took turns to shower and got ready for a good rest in the uber big bed!
Oh, not forgetting to eat some peaches that we bought along the journey up. Taiwan peaches are famed for being juicy and sweet, but they spoil easily so buy what you can finish so food is not wasted. Off dreamland in the cold mountains! :)
We toured Cing Jing the next day, and made an amazing discovery which many do not know of yet! Look out for the next article as we share our family experience exploring Taiwan with our baby – Baby V’s First Trip – Taiwan Escapade (Part 2)!