Last week I had one of the best times in my life in Taiwan, with 2 amazing girlfriends of mine.
We visited Pu Li, Sun Moon Lake, Yang Ming Shan, Wu Lai, and Taipei city :D
First time ever that I saw Cherry blossoms, and ate a Sakura Mochi!
The scenery is gorgeous and the weather was great (a little cold spell midweek), but when we were more south in Sun Moon Lake, weather was JUST PERFECT! for pictures.
Here are some pictures and recommendations where to go
Starting in Taipei:
Go to the many night markets to have your fill of delicious street food. We went to Shilin night market. I love these meat on sticks
Getting to Shilin night market: Take the MRT to Jiantan
From Taipei you can drive/ take a bus to Yang Ming Shan, which is a live volcano. Here are the pretty sights.. they have a spring flower festival, with lots of pretty Sakuras and other flowers. Now you don't have to go to Japan to view them!
Drive higher up the mountain and on a bad day (like when we were there), it's heavily shrouded in fog. On a good day you'll get a view.
And everyday, it'll smell like sulphur. Yuck.
On the plus side, you can hunt for a sulphuric hotspring. there are many hotsprings there and for about TWD150 ( SGD6.70), you get access to one. They usually have a few large shared pools, and some tiny cubicles with a small plunge pool for those who don't want to get naked in front of others.
North of Taiwan is a spot called Wu Lai. It has many hotsprings too (none with sulphur, thank goodness)
There are also lots of taiwanese aborigines living in this area and the streets are painted with their images.
Gorgeous scenery..waterfalls and rivers run through this area
You can either check into hotel with hotspring water, or go au natural like us, and many senior taiwanese folk, to the hotspring pools next to the river. Bring your own towel and a big smile to make friends with the oldies who come here everyday. Seriously, the old men here are SO FIT! I see some 70 year olds with abs!
Here are my friends enjoying the spring.. it's scalding hot, and after that you have to jump into the freezing river behind. And repeat for at least half an hour.
Getting to Wu Lai via public transport:
Take the MRT train to Dan Shui & change to bus
If you have time, you must go to Sun Moon Lake. Granted, it is a very tourist-y destination, but locals and tourist alike come here.
Lots of people do their wedding pictures here too..
Hijacking their shot :P
When you arrive at Shui She (the town on the north of the lake), drop by the Mochi shop. You can't miss it, there's only one there like this! She also serves delicious fresh Milk Tea in the front, you must try all!
My favourite flavours:
Sakura, Green Tea, Chocolate, Ume, Orange
If you have a couple of hours, take a walk or go cycling around the lake. The scenery is gorgeous, and on a spring day, great weather.
If you are too tired you can take the bus or boat instead.
Drop by the temple on the western side of the lake (about 20mins walk from shui she), the deity here is Yue Lao 月老 (thanks Joey!), he's the one who suppossedly "ties red strings" to join couples meant to be together.
Getting to Sun Moon Lake:
Take a bus from Taipei Bus Station Terminal B. There is a straight bus to Sun Moon Lake but they leave only a few times a day so buy your tickets in advance.
If not, you can take a bus from the same terminal to Tai Chung or Pu Li and transfer to another bus from those cities/ towns.
There is no direct train to Sun Moon Lake, your best option will be to take the train to Tai Chung and get a bus from there.
My best tip? Avoid weekends and public holidays and you can get shots of the lake without people in it :)