My husband and I uncharacteristically decided to book a last minute family vacation to Taipei, Taiwan with our twin toddlers a few weeks ago. We returned from our 8 day, 7 night trip last week. It was mostly exhausting with some fun in between. In this first post, I’ll outline our trip preparation and some general advice for traveling in Taipei. The next few posts will detail our itinerary, including our favorite restaurants and attractions.
The n+1 rule
When traveling with young children, I firmly believe in having n+1 caretakers, where n = the number of children. So my husband and I decided to bring our helper along for the trip.
We applied for our helper’s 30 day visa at the Taipei Representative Office of Singapore, which is located in the PSA Building on Alexandra Road. The visa cost $65 SGD and required 2 passport photos. I also had to sign a letter stating that I was responsible for my helper during the trip. Her visa was available the next afternoon. You may also apply for a visa online. It takes about 3-4 working days (according to online forums).
Choosing an accommodation
We only booked our trip a week before the departure date. With 3 adults, 2 children, and a relatively tight budget, our accommodation choices were limited. Our only criteria were to have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and proximity to an MRT station.
We chose a two bedroom apartment near Ximen MRT, which had its advantages and disadvantages. We were close to the Ximending night market, countless shopping areas, and early morning breakfast spots. But our area was extremely polluted with cigarette smoke and motorbike exhaust. Our apartment was in a rundown building (government housing?) with a gambling parlor on the third floor, and cigarette smoke was always lingering in the air.
For families, I would recommend staying in a less congested part of Taipei, even if it is less central.
Flying to Taipei
Our 4-4.5 hour flight on EVA Air was relatively uneventful. Our kids were entertained by the in flight television and YouTube videos we had downloaded onto our iPhones. I also packed a small activity bag with Daiso magnetic doodle boards, Daiso stickers, crayons (ones with edges so they don’t roll off), and a homemade activity book (stapled A4 sheets of paper with drawings for coloring).
My husband and I each brought a bag of snacks, 5 diapers, wet wipes, bibs, empty water bottles (which we filled at the gate after going through security), kids’ headphones, and alcohol wipes to sanitise the airplane seats and tray.
Although our flight to Taipei was during their naptime, our kids enjoyed the flight and were relatively well behaved. They even managed to nap for almost an hour. On the way back, they had a few small meltdowns since we had to wake up early for our morning flight, but overall, they seemed to enjoy their airplane ride.
Traveling with a stroller
Whenever we travel, our twins become extremely timid and reluctant to walk longer distances, so we brought our Maclaren Twin Triumph stroller. It was a huge help for traversing through the airports and around the streets of Taipei.
We took our stroller everywhere in Taipei, since our Airbnb accommodation was about 600 meters from the MRT station. 600 meters doesn’t seem very far, but with cranky toddlers in 34 degree C heat and 80% humidity, a stroller was a must!
Taipei was relatively stroller friendly. Department stores and tourist landmarks had elevators, as did all MRT stations. But only certain MRT exits had elevators, while others had a combination of stairs and escalators. Most MRT elevators had a long queue, so we often had one caretaker fold the stroller and carry it out of the subway station, while the other two caretakers carried one child each.
Here are some helpful websites I used for planning our trip:
KKday – Offers discounted admission to tourist attractions, airport transfers, etc. We used KKday for traveling to and from Taoyuan Airport. For 200 NT (about $9 SGD), you can book car seats in advance. While booking online, request the seats in the comment section. KKday will message you requesting your child’s date of birth, height, and weight. The car seats aren’t in the best shape, but they served their purpose. The car seat fee should be paid in cash to the driver.
A Toddler in Taipei – Blog with activities categorised by age, location and occasion.
A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei – My favorite Taipei foodie blog with restaurant reviews. The author also indicates whether the restaurants she reviews are child friendly.