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Discovering Taipei’s hidden gems

Embark on a captivating journey to Taipei, the vibrant capital city of Taiwan. Nestled between lush mountains and the sparkling Taiwan Strait, Taipei effortlessly blends ancient traditions with modern innovation.

As you step foot in this bustling metropolis, prepare to be enveloped by a tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors, from the iconic landmarks of Taipei 101 to the unparalleled sand-sculpted Disney themed park in Fulong Beach.

Not to mention, the fascinating geological rock formations of Yehliu Geopark, and the charming streets of Jiufen known for its ‘Spirited Away’ like traditional teahouses.

For summertime, Taipei also features the Dadaocheng Wharf Fireworks Display and the making of the DIY Cake, a unique experience offered by Vigor Kobo Pineapple Cake Factory, along with the bustling night markets of Ximending.

Taipei promises not only livelihood for many overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) but also many hidden attractions for travelers seeking cultural immersion, culinary delights, and a glimpse into the captivating spirit of Taiwan.

Here’s a 3-day Taipei escapade with Pampanga Media and Clark International Airport in partnership with Taiwan Tourism Bureau Malaysia and Plaza Premium Lounge.

Day 1: Departure

We departed Clark International Airport, and effortlessly made our way through check-in procedures and the security process with the assistance of our esteemed partner from Luzon International Premiere Association of the Philippines (LIPAD), Corporate Communications Officer Teri Flores, all the way up to getting our e-boarding pass. We had a seamless and smooth departure and arrival at CRK in collaboration with Plaza Premium Lounge, which graciously hosted us inside the airport while we awaited our flight via EVA Air.

Once inside the Plaza Premium Lounge, we were enveloped by an atmosphere of relaxation and elegance. Plaza Premium Lounge went above and beyond in providing an array of amenities, services, and gastronomic excellence to cater to our every need.

After a two-hour flight from Taoyuan International Airport, we were welcomed by our Taiwan Tourism Bureau Malaysia tourguide Felix Chen and went straight to Caesar Metro Hotel, our home for the entire trip to the city of bubble tea.

At dinner, we had Mala Hot Pot at Ximen Branch, a buffet hot pot offering high-quality meat and fresh seafood, with a really flavorful spicy soup base and a wide selection of desserts.

I must say that this must be the best hot pot I have been to. Their food selection is vast. Aside from the pork and beef, they also have scallops, shrimp, abalone, crabs, and the delectable cheese balls, among others.

Their ice cream ranges from Haagen Daz to Movenpick, and for me, the latter’s Stracciatella flavor is superb. Also, they have a wide selection of drinks. The dinner is very worth it.

After dinner, we breezed around Ximending, a vibrant shopping area in Wanhua District of Taipei, Taiwan. The place is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering an array of shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, and street performers.

Day 2: Taipei 101

We visited the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper. On the 89th and 91st floors, the building provides breathtaking panoramic views of Taipei and the surrounding areas. Visitors are in awe of its fastest elevators, with a speed of up to 1,010 meters per minute, thus giving a satisfactory experience while enjoying the magnificent views from Taipei 101.

Inside the building, a wind damper was erected, a notable feature whose purpose is to stabilize Taipei 101 against strong winds and seismic activity. It helps reduce the building’s swaying and minimizes the effects of lateral forces during an earthquake.

Taipei 101 also has a shopping mall, featuring a wide range of high-end brands, designer boutiques, international retailers, local specialty stores, and souvenir shops.

Din Tai Fung

Next stop, we were treated to lunch to savor delicious Taiwanese cuisine at Din Tai Fung. known for its famous delectable dumplings.

The restaurant is known particularly for its signature xiao long bao, steamed soup dumplings filled with flavorful broth and various fillings. During peak hours, there may be long wait times at the Taipei 101 location.

If you plan to eat there, it’s advisable to make a reservation beforehand.

(Jan Darren)

While dumplings are the highlight, Din Tai Fung offers a wide array of dishes, including appetizers, noodles, rice dishes, soups, and vegetable dishes.

Vigor Kobo’s DIY Cake

Another stop was at Vigor Kobo Pineapple Cake Factory, a renowned bakery in Taipei known for its delicious pastries and cakes. It was great to experience making our own DIY cakes from start to finish under the guidance of a skilled instructor.

The Pineapple Cake Museum, a certified Halal cake factory, also offers a light and music show that highlights dandelion flowers popping at every touch, bearing good luck wishes.

Include in your bucket list Vigor Kobo’s Pineapple Cake Museum, located at Wenlin Rd., Shilin District, Taipei City.

Dadaocheng Wharf Fireworks Display

Dadaocheng Wharf is a venue for a fireworks display over the Tamsui River that dazzles locals and visitors alike. The district is known for its historic district and beautiful wharf. It was nice to capture the scenic sunset at the iconic wharf while staying on the view deck of a restaurant.

Aside from the fireworks, the festival also features live music, dance performances, and other cultural activities. We enjoyed the delicious food from local vendors.

It is an unforgettable experience that immerses attendees in a magical world of excitement and wonder. By the way, the festival will run until August 20, 2023.

Dinhua Street shopping district

Here’s another shopping district at Dinhua Street in Dating Strict, just across Dadaocheng Pier 5 Wharf. In this area, Chinese medicines, dried fruits and veggies, peking duck, milk tea supplies, and other antics were up for grabs.

Day 3: Fulong Sand Sculpture Festival

In time for Disney’s 100th anniversary, the Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival, dubbed “Disney Centennial Celebration, hosted a themed sand sculpture exhibition in Fulong Beach, Taiwan.

I am lucky to have immersed myself in and relive the 66 magical wonders of Disney-themed sand sculpture, this time in Taipei.

I am stunned with the detailed work and classic characters of Disney, Peter Pan, Alladin, Beauty and the Beast, Marvel, Pinnochio, Oswald, Moana, Mickey Mouse, Lion King, Frozen, The Little Mermaid, among others. I am much awed with the 8-meter tall Snow White, which placed as the themed main sculpture.

The Festival usually runs during the summer months in Taipei. This year, the festival will run until October 22, 2023.

Visitors like me can come to enjoy the intricate sand sculptures. Kudos to the skilled sculptors’ of Disney’s stunning character creations.


(Jan Darren)

Jiufen Old Street: Explore the nostalgic atmosphere of Jiufen, a famous tourist attraction located in the mountains of northern Taiwan.

Its charming old-world ambiance and stunning views of the surrounding landscapes make it more attractive to tourists, particularly its street that is lined with traditional tea houses, souvenir shops, and food stalls, creating a bustling and lively atmosphere.

Walking through its streets, tourists like us can immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of Taiwan while experiencing a sense of timelessness as compared to the movie “Spirited Away.”

Yehliu Geopark

I am lucky to have witnessed before my eyes the wonders of Yehliu Geopark. Walking through the coastal road is rewarding as it captures natural wonders that showcase a stunning collection of unique geological formations. The Geopark offers locals and tourists a surreal landscape of various shapes and sizes, sculpted by millions of years of coastal erosion.

Part of the many rock formations here is the iconic “Queen’s Head,” which resembles a regal profile and is the highlight among the numerous intriguing formations like mushroom and honeycomb rocks.

Exploring Yehliu Geopark feels like stepping into a different world, where nature’s artistic prowess is on full display. The park’s dramatic coastal setting, combined with its fascinating geological wonders, makes it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and anyone seeking a memorable experience near Taipei.

Yehliu at night offers romantic light and a magical night view of the sea and sky. From the rock formation, Yehliu showcases two light shows; the first part presented was the dazzling 3D light sculpture projection.

And last was the water curtain fountain and water dance animation, which brought a new light to spectators and tourists alike.

See it here —

Food and Restos

By the way, our culinary journey in Taipei includes Mala Hot Pot, Din Tai Fung 101 Branch, Fuji Seafood, and the Inhouse Hotel Yehliu Fisherman’s Kitchen.

At the secret tea house in Jiufen, we enjoyed drinking authentic Taiwanese Oolong Tea with a complete tea ceremony.

(Jan Darren)

The privilege of experiencing the warm hospitality and delectable flavors offered by the diverse array of restaurants that graciously hosted us, from cozy neighborhood gems to upscale dining establishments, each eatery provided a unique glimpse into the local culinary scene and an unforgettable feast for the senses.

Truly, our trip to Taipei was an adventure filled with remarkable experiences. And these memories have really left an indelible mark on my heart. Xie Xie CRK, and Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

For an exceptional and smooth flight, fly to CRK via Cebu Pacific, Eva Air, and soon Starlux Airlines.