Itinerary in a Nutshell:
1. Morning: Confucius Temple
2. Afternoon: Lunch at Beitou, Beitou Library, Fountain Park, Beitou Hot Spring Museum, Geothermal Valley and Beitou Hot Spring Experience
3. Evening: Danshui Old Streets and Fisherman’s Wharf
DAY 2: BEITOU/DANSHUI
After a sumptuous breakfast prepared by Doris’ Aunt, we headed out to Confucius Temple (孔庙), which is about 10-15 minutes’ walk from Mudan House. A popular Taiwanese drama 《我可能不会爱你》 sparked off a revival of interest on this cultural heritage site, as it was the place where the female lead, 程又青, first met her ex-boyfriend 丁立威 (and yes, partly the reason why we visited it too) :)
Taipei Confucius Temple
Address: No.275, Dalong St., Datong District, Taipei City 10369, Taiwan R.O.C.
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 830am-9pm, Sunday and national holidays: 830am-5pm. Closed on Mondays.
Directions: 10-minute walk to the temple from Mudan House (about 1km) OR Take MRT Danshui Line (Red line) to Yuanshan Station, Exit 2.
Things to do at the Confucius Temple:
1. Catch the 4D Movie Theater (10am, 11am, 2, 3, 4pm; about 25min) which showcases the life of Confucius and a short history of the historical site. Free gifts are provided too! We got a pack of poker cards each.
2. Play the virtual game of horses and chariots.
3. Visit the gallery to peek into the legacy of Confucius and how current generations pay tribute to the sage of all time.
When we were about to leave, we saw a group of children dishing out a song and poetry public performance. They were really cute!
We then headed to Xin Beitou (via Danshui Line, about 25min) for lunch, where we chanced upon this stretch of wet markets and shops with many hidden finds:
We saw a snaking queue at a stall called 阿泓润饼 which sold gigantic popiah-like wraps. As LG was craving for popiah, she hopped onto the bandwagon (together with the other locals) and ordered one with Tuna and Vegetables filling for NT60. The warm and fresh wrap (made with wholemeal skin) was fully stuffed with cabbage, sweet corn and other vegetables. LG absolutely loved it and continued craving for it even after we left Taipei.
After this unexpected gastronomical encounter, we then set off to search for the famous 蔡元益红茶. Nothing great about it, but it was value for money. At just NT10, you get almost 450ml of tea. That’s a great deal and explains why everyone in Taiwan drinks tea.
While exploring the wet market, SG Boy chanced upon this indoor wholesale market and suggested taking a look. That was where we chanced upon an awesome discovery: delicious handmade noodles on par with those of Din Tai Fung.
Take the escalator to the second floor and you will see many local enjoying their lunch at the stalls. We stumbled upon a stall called 阿婆面, where the bulk of the crowd resided. With our stomachs half-full, we didn’t know what to order and asked the stall owner for advice.
Although we were pretty full to begin with, the noodles (切仔面) were too good to resist. Upon enquiry, we realised that these noodles were not made by the stall itself, but ordered from another stall which has been running for 3 generations as well. We never got to know who this noodle master was, but if you want to experience delicious handmade noodles, drop by here!
The braised meat (红烧肉) aka local pork chop was not a letdown. According to (post-mortem) our research, locals here usually order the braised meat as take-away, and it usually runs out by noon! My only grouse was that I would have wanted it fresh and piping hot from the oil tray.
Now, take a look at those mushroom balls in the soup – yes they are handmade as you can see from those irregular shapes. I don’t think you can find such mushroom balls in Singapore anymore! All in all, this was a hidden find (the kind boss also offered to refill our soup!) and if you happen to drop by, follow the local’s tip: drop by for noodles and then go for the famous 蔡元益红茶.
After a fulfilling 3-course lunch, we then headed for the iconic Beitou Library and Beitou Hot Spring Museum. The Beitou Library is an award-winning work of art and a conducive spot for late afternoon reading or just lazing around after a long walk. If your water bottles happen to be empty, do feel free to refill your bottles here!
Beitou Fountain Park (北投温泉親水公園)
Located across the road from Xin Beitou MRT and outside the Beitou Library is the long and narrow Beitou Fountain Park, which was featured in 几米’s movie 向左走，向右走. Here, you can find cartoon caricatures resembling 几米 characters.
Beitou Hot Spring Museum （温泉博物馆）
Address: 2,Zhongshan Rd., Beitou District
Tel: (02) 2893-9981
Operating Hours: Tues-Sun 9:00am-5:00pm; closed Mon
The Beitou Hot Spring Museum provides an educational insight into the geographical formation and nature of Beitou Hot Springs and famous figures who have visited here (hot springs in Taiwan vary from alkaline to acidic hot springs, so if you have sensitive skin or other ailments, do take note before your onsen experience!)
Thermal Valley （地热谷）
Address: Zhongshan Rd. near entrance of Wenquan Rd., Beitou District
Operating Hours: Tues-Sun 9:00am-5:00pm; closed Mon
The Thermal Valley is a natural sulphur hot spring where water temperatures can reach 100°C or 212°F. Although it was about 15-20min walk uphill from the Beitou Hot Spring Museum, we were glad that we made the extra effort to head there, because the pictures turned out really pretty.
It was late afternoon when we finished touring Thermal Valley and we thought that it would be good to try out the hot springs here. For budget travellers, take a look at 龙乃汤 or 千禧汤 (about NT100). For couples who wish to enjoy some private space (like us), you can opt for the dubious-looking 新北投温泉浴室, which charges only NT250 for almost an hour of hot spring experience. You get a tiny room with very little legroom, but some private space and time.
We felt refreshed after the onsen experience, and then headed for Danshui Old Streets for dinner (take the Danshui Line and alight at the Danshui Terminal Station, then walk about 5 min).
Keko Fish Balls 淡水可口魚丸專賣店
Address: 232 Zhongzheng Road, Dansui District 淡水鎮中正路232號
Tel: 2620-9666, 2625-3777
Recommendations: fish ball soup (魚丸湯) NT$30, fish ball +wonton soup (綜合湯: 魚丸2顆+餛飩3粒) NT$30 and meat bun (肉包) NT$10.
For a start, we headed to 可口鱼丸, a shop which LG visited a few years ago with her Taiwanese friend.
After your meal at Keko Fish Balls, feel free to pop by 阿婆铁蛋 (Ah Po’s Iron Eggs) located opposite to try some Iron Eggs (aka Danshui’s specialty).
阿婆铁蛋 (Ah Po’s Iron Eggs)
Address: 135-1 Zhongzheng Road, Tamsui district 台北縣淡水鎮中正路135-1號
Telephone: (02) 2625-1625, 2621-1432, (02) 2629-2838, 2621-1563
Getting there: From the main entrance nearest Tamsui MRT station at Tamsui Old Street (Gongming Street 公明街), walk about 10 mins until the intersection of Zhongzheng Road (中正路), make a left turn and continue walking for another 5 mins. The shop will be on your left.
Long queue spotted at a famous cake shop (they were having 50% discount)
As it was too late for us to rush to Fisherman’s Wharf to catch the sunset, we caught it at the pier instead. After the sun went down, we strolled back to the bus terminal to catch Bus #26 which brought us to the famed Fisherman’s Wharf. (Note: don’t try to walk there from the old streets, you’ll take ages!) As expected, the view there was stunning.
Tired and famished after a day’s walk, we then headed back to Danshui Old Streets to continue Dinner Part 2!
As many shops were closing by the time we arrived back at the old street, we hopped into a random local eatery, which was still packed with people at about 9pm.
Touted to be the must-try at Danshui Old Streets, 阿給 is essentially vermicelli noodles encased in fried beancurd and drenched in sweet chilli sauce. It didn’t taste fantastic, but it is definitely a dish you can’t get in Singapore.
For our carbohydrate fix, we ordered the 大腸麵線 which was somewhat similar to Taiwanese Oyster Mee Sua. This soupy dish comprises wheat flour vermicelli with pig’s intestines, which can be shared or eaten individually.
Our last dish was the Seaweed Soup, which was fairly average as well. On the whole, we found that the queues at Danshui were not indicative of how good the food indeed were, since Danshui is constantly packed with people. If you ever face a dilemma or that most of the stalls are closed, there are also convenience stores in the vicinity.
Pls continue on to Taipei Part II: Itinerary (Day 3)