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terry&mike

Taipei from Keelung - tips and things to do

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I just returned from taking a group of 29 clients on a Diamond Princess Southeast Asia & Japan cruise. Below is information from a web site I set up for the group, to provide them with information. Now that the trip is over, I wanted to pass this information along, in case it is of help to other travelers. 

 

Visa: No visa needed for US citizens.

Money: the Taiwanese Dollar TWD is the currency, and you'll need mostly local cash.

Average temperatures in January: 57-66 degrees.

Special Notes: tipping is not widely done, only sometimes in small amounts. Bargaining in general is not done.

Arrival: We port in Keelung, in walking distance to the town which boasts a few interesting sights and a vibrant night market. Or head into Taipei, about 45 minutes away.

Seeing the sights: Many visitors will use this port to head into the bustling city of Taipei, which can be reached by bus, or train & MRT in about 45-50 minutes; or by private tour company or ship excursion. Things to see in Taipei include watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony at the National Revolutionary Martyr's Shrine, at the top of the hour every hour between 9a-4p. Other things to do include visiting impressive Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, then walk to Ximending, a shopping district, and explore the alleys and lanes including Little Hong Kong, Tattoo Street, and American Street.

You may also want to consider staying in Keelung, and seeing what it has to offer, as I plan to do as a DIY day. Keelung is a small, walk-able town, built on the harbor, with homes going up into the hill. Visit Zhongzheng (Chung Chang) Park for temples, shrines and pavilions. Walk up to Khoo Tsu-song Old Mansion (Qingyu Hall), located above Keelung's Night Market, and wander through an abandoned grand home from the 1930's. On your way get lost in the meandering stairways and alleyways going up the hill.  Miaokou Night Market opens around 5p, some days earlier, and is a very atmospheric food market popular with the locals where you can watch all types of interesting food items getting served up, as well as do a bit of shopping.

(Taxis were readily available at the port to hire for the half day or full day. We hired a taxi for a long and full day to go up to the precious mountain town of Jiufen, which was a highlight, and then to all the main sights in Taipei, to a great local restaurant, to the main sights in Keelung, and to drop us at the local market. For 6 of us, the cost for the full day was $200 usd and worth every penny – fabulous day!)

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Thank you for posting this.  It was very helpful.

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On 1/26/2020 at 8:00 AM, terry&mike said:

Money: the Taiwanese Dollar TWD is the currency, and you'll need mostly local cash.

 

Thanks for your excellent summary of Keelung/Taipai.  Did you notice if there was a currency exchange outlet at Keelung Cruise Terminal?

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2 hours ago, MightyQuinn said:

 

Thanks for your excellent summary of Keelung/Taipai.  Did you notice if there was a currency exchange outlet at Keelung Cruise Terminal?

There was a temporary currency exchange counter set up inside the cruise terminal, manned with 2 live people, right when you exited the ship for ship passengers, no passport needed. I didn't use it as we had gotten a bit of local currency in advance for each country. A friend tried to exchange money out in the town when they ran low, but were unable to, as they didn't have their actual passport with them; I sold them some currency and all worked out. By the way, this same booth had a sign up that they will buy the currency back at the end of the day. 

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5 hours ago, terry&mike said:

There was a temporary currency exchange counter set up inside the cruise terminal, manned with 2 live people, right when you exited the ship for ship passengers, no passport needed. 

 

That's very helpful.  Many thanks @terry&mike.

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Thanks for this info. Our Hong Kong to Singapore cruise on February 15, is now Taipei to Singapore so your suggestions will be very useful. We are planning to spend 2 or 3 days there ahead of the cruise..........June

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On 1/29/2020 at 10:03 AM, Junelovestocruise said:

Thanks for this info. Our Hong Kong to Singapore cruise on February 15, is now Taipei to Singapore so your suggestions will be very useful. We are planning to spend 2 or 3 days there ahead of the cruise..........June

I was surprised by how much we liked Taiwan. Didn't have much information going in, and expected a casual day of lets see what happens. Ended up having a great day. Make sure you get up to Jiufen, a highlight for all of us. Keep in mind that Jiufen and Keelung are known locally to have almost continual rain, bring a rain jacket and power through. 

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I notice that the cruise immediately b4 mine now RT from Taipei so I'm thinking my embarkation might also change from HK to Taipei.  Is there enough there for 2 nights pre-cruise or should I change Sydney AU from 1 night post cruise to 2? (It'll be might 2nd year in 3 yrs to Sydney AU

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I think there is enough for 2 nights pre-cruise. The first day you'll most likely be tired and not do too much. Maybe just go to Taipei 101, ride to the observation tower, stroll around and look at the fabulous over the top store fronts in the mall there, eat. The next day you could go up to Jiufen, the charming mountain town, and then visit sights around Taipei - changing of the guard, temples and shrines. On boarding day, you could drop your stuff at ship and then visit the things in Keelung, such as the great market there, and the hilltop shrines. 

If possible, try to book in to the Grand Hotel in Taipei - it is fabulous!

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Last year we had a great day visit to Keelung and Taipei as well.

 

At Keelung there are two docks, one on each side at the south end of the harbour. The east one is well set up, the west one is an older freight shed that has been adequately set up. It had souvenirs inside on the way back.

 

Instead of Jioufen we went to Schifen, a very popular place with the local tourists. The town's novelty is the railway that runs down the middle of the street every half hour. We had hired a car with driver and paid extra for one who spoke English (some people just need a lift to a hotel address). Unfortunately he spoke little English but we got a refund for that. Fortunately I had brought map printouts with me. He wanted to do everything by GPS and first took us to the Schifen station which is slightly away from the town center and required a circular drive to get our car there. Pointing at the maps fixed it. Afterwards his GPS wanted to turn us back to the freeway for Taipei when I wanted to go down scenic mountain road 106 through the little towns. The maps again got us a very nice drive :) . The lesson is to know enough about what you want to see to be able to recognize what's happening and catch up any glitches.

 

We brought Taiwanese dollars from home (big currency dealer in downtown Vancouver). Even the cafeteria at the National Museum wanted local cash. By the way, because it was busy we were seated with strangers, a couple of young ladies also out travelling the world. We turned in our remaining TWD back at home.

 

Have a great visit, Bill

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