Tuesday, December 04, 2012

7 Days Taiwan Deluxe Hot Spring Tour

Ever since the children were old enough to travel, we had been going on Free & Easy tour as we do not want to tired ourselves out. Now that both of them are older and more independent, we decided to go on our family FIRST guided tour to Taiwan.

We managed to fine a tour that matched our requirement of travel dates at the August NATAS Fair and we booked this 7 Days tour with Neway Travel. My parents-in-law joined us for this trip.

The travel date was set for 17 to 23 November, the package deal tied up with EVA Air but as the returning flight was too early, we decided to change it to Singapore Airlines and paid the difference. Luckily this was possible. So our adventure begins…

Day1: Saturday, 17 November:  Singapore – Taipei (SQ 878                       1155/1630hrs)

 Upon arrival at Taoyuan International Airport, we were met by our Tour Guide, Mr. Tony Wang. His Chinese name is 王丰麒 and he is a local Taiwanese. While waiting for the main group to arrive via EVA, we took a light dinner at the terminal arrival gourmet hall. We ordered a Beef Noodle soup to sample and the children had their first Macdonald Meals in Taiwan.

 Once the main group arrived (we were a total of 31pax), we were guided to our bus and Tony started his introduction of Taiwan to us. Our very first stop for the evening was Shihlin Night Marker – 士林夜市. The night market was crowded with tourist and the hawkers. It was an eye-opening experienced for the children and we sampled all the different snacks from one stall to another, they were sinfully delicious. We had 臭豆腐,蚝煎,鲁肉饭,生煎包,大肠包小肠,山猪肉香肠,十全排骨汤和泡泡茶。After a good meal, we met up with Tony and headed back to our Taipei City hotel – Park CityHotel.

We checked in and had a good night of sleep before our next morning call at 6.30am.

Day 2: Sunday, 18 November: Taipei àTaizhong

After a good breakfast, our first morning stop was the famous Yangmingshan National Park (阳明山国家花园). It started drizzling when we arrived at the park and we quickly took a few photographs at the Flower Clock before taking a hide from the rain. The rain went off quite quickly and we took a walk around the park. The air was fresh and the place was very quiet and peaceful.

The next place we visited was the Xiaoyoukeng (小油坑喷气孔)which boasted itself as a natural hot spring and also its breathtaking view from the mountain. Due to the rain and heavy fogs, we were unable to appreciate the nature but were still glad we caught a glimpse of it.

After Yangmingshan Park, we visited Taipei iconic hotel – Grand Hotel. (圆山大饭店) Its ranked one of the top 10 hotels in the world, built with its traditional palace style architecture and brilliantly tiled roof.  Then after, we had the chance to view Guard Change at the Taipei Martyr Shrine. It was a very special and honorable moment.

Lunch was at a Ninja theme restaurant and we had a very nice Japanese meal.

Ximenting (西门町) was our after lunch stop for shopping and food tasting. As it was raining and crowded due to a Sunday, we hardly had the chance to walk on the street. So we decided to take shelter in a small shopping mall. There were quite a lot of shops in the mall and Anders even had the opportunity to play some games in the arcade while we shopped around.

Then we had a quick Macdonald’s tea break before heading to meet up with the group.

It was the right decision as our bus journey from Taipei to Taizhong Yizhong night market was slighted extended due to heavy traffic on the highway. We left Taipei around 4.45pm and arrived into Yizhong around 7.20pm.

Dinner was at the night market and we had beef noodles at a stall name 山西刀削面 and as the weather was quite cold due to the rain, the steaming hot soup was a welcome to our stomach. It was more shopping after dinner; we bought Anders a pair of black shoes as the one he was wearing was giving way. Then both of them bought a wallet on street side. There was also a small mall and my mother in-law managed to get herself some cosmetic from Face Shop which was much cheaper compared to Singapore.

The night ended around 9.30pm and we checked into our hotel in Taizhong – Shinkansen. Needless to say, after a long, we were all knocked out once we hit the bed.

Day 3: Monday, 19 November: Taizhong à Kaohsiung E-Da Theme Park

Our day began after a good break and saying goodbye to the hotel. We were heading towards Kaohsiung E-Da Theme Park. Yes, this is the newest theme park in Kaohsiung, according to the agency, so we were high in anticipation.

En route, we had a stopover at another place of interest – Tainan Ten Drum Culture Village. There was a guide who gave us a very good introduction to the village and then we watched a Drum show. The highlight of the visit was everyone was given a “crash course” on play the drum and all of us had good fun at the drums.

After a good drum roll session, we headed for the theme park. Upon arrival at the park, all the children in the group were wide awake when they saw all the rides. Tony brought us for a self-expense lunch at the food court. There were great varieties and price was affordable. We had a good lunch before playtime.

The children had fun trying all the rides and we went for the 飞越台湾 ride and caught magnificent views of Taiwan various famous places. My parents-in-law enjoyed the ride too. Then they left us and checked in the hotel – Skylark for a rest, while we carried on to explore the park. We finally left the park around 5pm.  Dinner was at the shopping mall with my in-laws. Tony recommend us to this restaurant 金色三麦“, it was a German restaurant and we had a very good meal at this place. We even managed to taste 3 different kinds of German Beers.  After a full meal, Anders and I went for the Ferris wheel ride while the rest went to check out the shopping mall. Anders enjoyed the ride and he said it was his first experienced on the Ferris wheel.

Then we met up with Adrian and continued our shopping spree. Finally ended at the hotel room at 10pm and called it a night.

Day 4: Tuesday, 20 November:  Kaohsiung E-Da Theme Park à Kaohsiung Fu Guang Shang à Cing Jing Farm.

We had a good hotel breakfast before setting off for our day tour. The first place for the day was Fo Guang Shan (佛光山). The place was founded by Venerable Master Hsing Yun in 1967 and is popular among many Buddhist from different part of the world. We prayed for good luck and good health for the family.

The temple visit was very calm and peaceful and I enjoyed revisiting this place after so many years.

Our lunch was at a Hakka Restaurant (客家餐厅) and the food was delicious.

The “arduous” journey began after lunch. Yes, we were heading towards Cing Jing Farm. The road up the mountain was very winding and narrow, sitting on the coach; we could literally see the edge of the mountain. It was quite terrifying and both the children got a little motion sickness. Upon reaching Green Green Grassland and disembarked from the coach, we were greeted with fresh air and scenic wild greenery. All these helped them overcome the motion sickness.

The most interesting part was there were sheep wandering around the area, waiting to be fed and the children had fun time doing that. The adults were busied enjoying the Versant Mountains and the paradise of the mist.

We stayed the night at Notable Vacation (名人度假村) and as the night was quite cold, we had wine and fruit party in our room after dinner. That helped to keep our bodies warm.

 Day 5: Wednesday, 21 November:  Cing Jing à Sun Moon Lake à Evergreen Spa Resort

After a very cool night on the mountain, we checked out of the hotel and started our day trip to the ever famous Sun Moon Lake tour. (日月潭). We went on a guided lake cruise. The guide cum boat driver gave us an introduction of the history of SML and we tried the famous 阿嘛茶叶蛋. It really tasted different from our own version.  After the cruise tour, we disembarked and had lunch at a nearby restaurant. Then it was another long drive to our next destination – Evergreen Spa Resort.


Upon checked in to the hotel, we were all super delighted as the rooms were very spacious and there was an in-room spa.

Our first activity was SPA, yes; we wasted no time in changing into our swimwear and headed straight for the SPA area. There were different spa for different parts of the bodies and we tried all of them. To Anders’s delight, there was a fish spa area, he had always wanted to do fish spa, so his wish came true in Taiwan.


 After a good one hour of spa, we went back to the room to change and got ready for our sumptuous buffet dinner. The dessert bar was really good and we managed to sample some very nice Japanese dessert.


Then we went back to the room to rest and relax, both Anthea and Anders went for the room spa and soaked in the tub for another half an hour. We had a good night sleep after the good spa and meal. This was the highlight of the tour.

Day 6: Thursday, 22 November:  Evergreen Spa Resort  à JiuFen à Taipei 101

The hotel buffet breakfast was great and before we set off, heavy rain poured in. Jiufen was our morning stop. (九份). This was the place to sample all the different kind of snacks such as 猪肉纸,芋圆,太阳饼,凤梨酥 and many more delicious and tasty snacks. We spend about 2 hours at the place and finally left around 12noon with all the purchased.

Lunch was at an artistic restaurant known as Five Cents Driftwood – 五角船板景观餐厅。The food was good and the interior decoration was very unique.  It was photo time after lunch.

After lunch, Tony brought us to Wei Ge (维格) to buy the famous Pineapple Tarts.

Taipei 101 was our next stop, as our tour package does not include the viewing gallery; we didn’t have the chance to view the skyline of Taipei. So we ended up shopping in the mall while waiting for our dinner at Ding Tai Feng.

Our final night was at Park City hotel and after checked in, we were busied packing all our purchased of goodies/snacks for the trip.

Day 7 - Friday 23 November:  Taipei – Singapore (SQ 877 1410/1850 hrs.)

After a good and relaxing hotel breakfast, the driver drove us to the airport for our flight to Home-sweet-home.
Overall we had enjoyed the 7 Days guided tour and found it an interesting experienced and we would be back for more....:)



prince n princess mum said...

Lovely trip!

kate said...

May i asked how's the service with Neway travel? i am interested to book a taiwan tour with them but couldn;t really find any reviews about them online. May i asked if you could kindly share your experience with them? I'm travelling with a big group, youngest being 18 months old. :)

Aces Family said...

hi Kate,

This was my first time booking with Neway Travel. I had some "teething issues" during the process but we managed to resolve it. So be very specific with them on your requirement during booking.

The local tour and sightseeing in Taiwan was great and hotels accommodation were good. My whole family gave them credit for that.

Are you thinking of going on guided tour? As you have an 18th months old baby, it will be very tiring...:P

kate said...

Thank for your the info. Yes, we have to go on guided tour as my parents and other family members in the group travelling prefer to go for package tours as they say its hassle free, don't need to plan where to go, just follow the guide. Yes, i am also worried that my 18 mths old son will be fussy during the coach ride or be too tired at the end of the day.But i guess i just have to deal with it as it comes.
Can i ask if you have to spend long hours on the coach for this tour? And why didn't u consider more well known travel agencies like Namho, focal or newshan for taiwan packages?

kate said...

Sorry, i forgot to ask what are the questions i have to ask Neway when i sign up their package? what requirements are u referring to?

Aces Family said...

Hi Kate,

We went "shopping" at NATAS fair and the reason why we chosen Neway was because they had our travel dates...haha. The other big guys dates didn't matched ours.

Yes, if it's a big family group,guided tour is ideal as all planned and settled, no time are wasted. One of my family relative whom went on F&E also said he felt better to go on guided as they went on F&E.

Yes, the tour we went on were about 80% time on the coach. Our group consisted of all families with children and our youngest kiddo was about 3 years old, i heard. I guess for kid, they are quite easily adaptable, it's the adult that will feel the tireness. :)

The requirement that i was talking about is rooms category. As Taiwan hotels are unlike Singapore, where we have connecting rooms and mixed room type on the same floor. In Taiwan, it seem like all Double-bedded rooms are arranged on one floor and King-sized bed rooms on other floor. So if you have such requirement, you will need to inform Neway specifically.

Other than this, we were happy with the overall arrangement. Are you going on EVA?

kate said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. I went down to Neway travel today during lunch time and enquire about the taiwan package. They quoted me SGD 1796 for SQ and SGD 1353 for EVA. Quite expensive as compared to other agencies like Namho, 5 stars or focal. We initally wanted to travel by SQ but to pay nearly SGD 1800 for a taiwan trip per pax is really very ex in my opinion. So if we were to go with Neway, most prob we will take EVA. Although, i've never travel with EVA before. hehe. Did any of your tour mates complained about EVA?
Its actually a long time to spend in the coach, 80%! that's alot of time.

Aces Family said...

Hi Kate,

If you chose SQ, the price is premium. The reason why i didn't want EVA is the return flight from Taiwan to SIN departs at 7.40am. The group morning call was around 4am and they set off for the airport around 4.45am. So i rather pay a bit more for comfort of the timing. Also SQ flight is a pleasure for the kids as the in-flight keep them entertained and keep me sane..haha. No complaint about EVA.

Yes, a few agencies fare are cheaper as some of the hotels are tourist class and also they fly by Transasia. When are you planning to travel, as long as not school holiday, then not too bad.

Good Luck to your planning.

kate said...

Yes,i agree with you SQ is premium. Actually, i don't mind paying more for comfort since i'm travelling with a toddler too. But i think the rest of the family, my aunties and uncles will say that it is too expensive. Ya, u are right, I suppose Neway packages are more ex as they offer better hotel stays and food i guess.
morning call at 4.00am is really very early, can't imagine how i am going to wake my son up for the trip to airport. I am so stressed up over this trip cos it is sooooo hard to please everyone. sigh! And i just can't find a package to cater to everyone's needs. I've went to a few agencies and i think now is a question of choosing a package with better hotels and food but travel via EVA or sacrifice on the hotels and food, but travel with SQ. Namho quoted me SGD 1600 on travel via SQ, but hotels i guess not as good as Neway's. Once again, thank u very much for your advices and suggestions. you are very kind and i'm grateful:) God bless.

kate said...

oh, i intend to travel at end of march.

Aces Family said...

hi Kate,

You are most welcomed and it's always a pleasure to share, especially on travelling.

Yes, it's hard to pleased all,especially you have such wide age group.

One of my GF used SA Tour for her Taiwan trip and she highly recommended it as well, SA use China Airlines or SQ and i think timing is good with affordable price.

End of March should be a nice season for cherry blossom. Not too cold or too hot..:)

kate said...

Good day to you! i've discussed with my family and we have 2 choices, Neway or Dynasty travel. Dynasty travel brings us to more places but i guess accomodation is 4*-5* and we get to travel via SQ, wherelse i suppose Neway's has better food and lodging.
I compared your taiwan itinerary and the one neway gave me and i found that yours covers more places like taipei 101 and lunch at ding tai feng, which the current Neway's itinerary skipped all these places, including Yangmingshan. i am so tempted to sign up with Neway cos of your excellent Evergreen Resort pics and review. But my parents are abit apprehensive to sign up with a small agency. Headache, sigh!

Aces Family said...

Hi Kate,

We were also worried when signed up with Neway because we had also never heard of its name...haha. But we took it because it was the ONLY agency that had the date we wanted. Luckily, our gamble was well-rewarded. Yeah, many of our group travellers also said the same but they were happy overall.

Well, i had yet to see Dynasty Travel itin but if they have what you wanted and satisfied everyone, my take is Go with IT....once the agency is confirmed, the next job is pack and enjoy. :)

kate said...

yeah, i can see from your pictures that your experience with Neway is positive. So, i've been trying to tell my parents, aunties and uncles that my frd has positive feedback about Neway,(hehehe) wherelse none of my frds went to taiwan with Dynasty before.

http://www.dynastytravel.com.sg/?/ch=group_tours_english&pg=country_english_taiwan&ac=AC_asj9F0Pj_20120223201124&depart=March 2013