Taiwan Day 1: Taipei Zoo, Shilin Market, & Zhang Men Brewery (+ Where We Stayed)

Over a month late but I am still all good vibes about my Taiwan trip in December and on a general travel high from all the recent adventur...

Over a month late but I am still all good vibes about my Taiwan trip in December and on a general travel high from all the recent adventures. My Taiwan trip, specifically, was very special because it was a birthday trip. Eep! I'm 26! We booked it two months beforehand when I found a seat sale with Air Asia. It was slightly spontaneous and a whole lot of fun!

We took the 11:05PM flight from Manila on a Friday and arrived in Taipei at 1AM, Saturday. We had a whole day of activities planned leading up to the birthday countdown, so once we settled into our hostel, Happy Taipei, we had our much-needed sleep to recharge.

(Photo from Hostelworld)
WHERE WE STAYED - HAPPY TAIPEI HOSTEL




Happy Taipei is located in Shilin District, Taipei and is a stone's throw away from the popular Shilin Night Market. It is also close to the Shilin Station, so although it is quite a while away from central Taipei, it is very much accessible. The Taipei railway system is quite easy to understand and has English translations, so you wouldn't have difficulty figuring it out (tip: Download Go! Taipei Metro - this will tell you the nearest stations and which lines connect at which station).

Because we knew we were going to go around a lot and probably traveling via train for the most part, we each purchased an Easy Card. The Easy Card is a reloadable transit card that allows you to ride the Taipei MRT or bus systems. This is available at all stations and convenience stores like 7/11 and FamilyMart. If I remember correctly, it's around NT$100 for the card and you will have to add credits. Whatever's left later on, you can refund at MRT stations.

We opted for the 4-bed female dorm room. Although I don't have a photo of the entire room, ours was clean and spacious. There were two bunk beds, each bed provided with a curtain for privacy, a reading light, and a socket for your charging needs. The common bathroom is clean and there are blow dryers available. On the topmost floor sits their kitchen wherein you can take your breakfast (which automatically comes with your booking) and mingle with other guests.



If you'll be arriving late and checking into Happy Taipei, their reception closes at 10PM but you can email them ahead of time to let them know and they will provide you with instructions on how to access the building. They reply quite fast.

TAIPEI ZOO

Jumping straight to the first thing we did: Taipei Zoo! From Happy Taipei Hostel, we took the red line from Shilin Station to Da'an Station and switched to the brown line from Da'an Station to Taipei Zoo Station (~NT$55). It wasn't difficult switching lines either because they are usually right across each other and there will be signs everywhere in case you get lost.


Entrance fee for the Taipei Zoo is at NT$60 for adults and NT$30 for students (with ID). It's free for pre-school kids. You can find more information on the fees, including the shuttle buses inside the zoo, at their website here.


Honestly, I was only after seeing the panda because if you know me, I'm quite obsessed with them and I knew I could cry if I saw one. A little bit anti-climactic though, because the panda was sleeping when we got there and was hard to take a photo of (*cries*). But all the other animals were just as fun to see! Bonus, I saw a koala, which I didn't think I would! 


The Taipei Zoo is big and is divided into different sections, so it will take you a few hours to go through the entire place--if that's your goal. Plan accordingly, because their hours are from 9AM to 5PM. There will be an announcement around 4:30PM to remind guests about the zoo's closing.

SHILIN NIGHT MARKET


After a long afternoon at the Taipei Zoo, we retreated to our base camp and headed to the Shilin Night Market. The Shilin Night Market is one of the largest, most popular night markets in Taiwan when it comes to food.


I had my fix of pork buns, the popular Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, and stinky tofu, among all the others that we tried. I wasn't a fan of the stinky tofu but the pork buns and Hot Star Large Fried Chicken were definitely at the top of my list! I think we also have Hot Star here in the Philippines now?


It's definitely going to be crowded when you go to Shilin Night Market, so be sure to bring only the essentials so you won't have to struggle when wading through the crowd.

ZHANG MEN BREWERY



Through a friend's recommendation, we went to Zhang Men Brewery in Da'an District for my birthday countdown. Zhang Men Brewery offers a wide range of locally brewed beer with 16 beer taps. Depending on the season, there are different ones available at a time. And much like a tasting room, you can get a dose of the different beer styles with their Beer Flight (~NT$600). A bit pricey, but you'll get 6 beers of your choosing.



Come midnight, my friend surprised me with a macaron cake and candles. I could not have imagined a better celebration. Spending my birthday in another country was something I had always wanted to experience because prior to 2016, I hadn't really done any traveling outside of the country. Plus, Taiwan was a wonderful place to explore.

There are more stories to come, but comment below what other things you would like to know about Taipei and I'll try to answer them based on my experience! :)

xx,
Megann

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