Oh Taiwan! The land where stunning natural beauty meets modern cities. Just imagine standing between mountainous landscapes and stunning architecture, one would say it’s truly a charm of its own. It may be small, but it has a big heart, with some of the world's most hospitable locals.
We recently spent 5 days in Taiwan, exploring both Taipei and Kaohsiung. Not only were we blown away by its beauty, we also brought home some useful Muslim-friendly tips, especially for first-time travellers!
Since Luqman and I were from Malaysia, we both flew in from Kuala Lumpur and transited at Changi Airport before we flew to Taipei! And fortunately for us, we had the opportunity to fly on Scoot’s 787 Dreamliner from Singapore to Taipei and from Kaohsiung back to Singapore! ?
We were lucky to be seated at the Stretch Seats section on the Economy cabin as it was the roomiest of all seat options. This cabin provided 50% more legroom than the standard seats so we definitely enjoyed our flight!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re looking to get uninterrupted sleep, consider booking your seat at ScootinSilence, a quiet zone with no kids under 12! Every seat also comes with an adjustable headrest and you can reserve Super and Stretch seats (where available)! Other add-on services that you can opt for include in-seat power where you can charge your devices, in-flight entertainment and WiFi!
Good news for Muslim travellers - there’s plenty of Halal options you can find on the in-flight menu. We got ourselves the Pomodoro Fusilli (which happens to be vegetarian!), Teriyaki Chicken with Rice from the Hot Meals and the Signature Mee Goreng with Beef Cubes from the Premium Selections! ? Enjoy a discount when you select the FlyBagEat bundle and you’ll be entitled to seat reservation, 20kg checked baggage and a hot meal!
Get your flight tickets with code “GOTAIWAN” and you’ll get 20% off selected fares when you fly with Scoot from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to Taipei or Kaohsiung from NOW until 15 November or from 7 to 31 January 2019! Code is ONLY valid from 22 August until 26 August (GMT+8)
Getting to the city centre from Taoyuan International Airport
The easiest way to get to the city centre from Taoyuan International Airport is by taxi or the airport shuttle that will take you about 40 minutes from Terminal 2 to Taipei Main Station.
We got our One-Way Ticket and MRT’s EasyCard on Klook
1. Indulge in yummy halal food with authentic local eats
Authentic Beef Noodles
Taiwan may be known as the land of Bubble Tea, but we can’t help but agree when the locals say you can’t leave without sampling the legendary Taiwanese Beef Noodles! Lucky for us, we found two halal-certified eateries that serve the iconic dish.
Muslim Beef Noodles Restaurant
When Mikhail recommended this eatery, we knew we had to try it! Situated within walking distance from MRT Ximen Station, this halal-certified eatery is mostly known for its beef noodle soup that’s made with thin slices of stewed beef and richly-flavoured broth.
Of course, we ordered the best-selling one - both spicy and non-spicy version!
Address: No. 23, Yanping South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Operating hours: Mon – Sat: 7:30am – 8:20pm (Closed on Sun)
Price: NT$70 – NT$170
Chang’s Beef Noodles
If you love having an alternative, head over to Chang’s Beef Noodle Soup that is just beside Muslim Beef Noodles Restaurant. Step inside and you’ll smell the amazing broth right at the entrance as your appetite grows. ?
Traditionally adorned with wooden furniture and photos of its history on the wall, the surroundings just give the restaurant that sense of charm. We were pretty famished so we ordered two bowls of beef noodles soup (with generous amount of beef chunks!) and the super underrated dry beef noodles garnished with a flavourful sauce.
Oh, did we mention how friendly the staff were? We were greeted with smiles and they even allowed us to observe how they prepared our delicious food!
Address: No. 21, Yanping South Road. Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Operating Hours: Mon – Sun: 10:00am – 8:20pm
Price: NT$70 – NT$170
Status: Halal-certified by the Chinese Muslim Association
Really Good Seafood
True to its name, you’ll find the freshest seafood in town right in the heart of Taipei City! What sets them apart is that it also caters to Muslim diners.
We went for the Muslim-friendly set menu (priced at NT1680) and were spoilt with a 9-course meal that includes fresh assorted sashimi, pan-fried scallop in French style and many more!
Although the restaurant is on the upscale side, you can be assured that the food is top notch and prepared fresh, so it’s definitely worth the splurge!
Address: No. 222, Section 1, Fuxing South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Operating hours: Mon – Sun: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:30pm – 9.30pm
Price: NT$1680 (set menu for one) – NT$15,800 (set menu for a group of ten)
*Bonus: Ice Monster
If you’re in Taiwan during the summer, it can get pretty hot and it’s the perfect excuse to hunt for some icy treats! Head over to Ice Monster in the Da’an District and you’ll find yourself in a dessert paradise.
Familiar with shaved ice? This halal-certified dessert spot serves the popular Mango Shaved Ice and it is also the first to introduce it to the world! Well-loved by locals and tourists, this spot is often full even in the morning.
#HHWT Tip: The outlet in Da’an District is the only Halal-certified one!
Address: No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan.
Operating hours: Mon – Sun: 10:30am – 11:30pm
Price: NT$30 – NT$280
Status: Halal-certified by the Chinese Muslim Association
This coastal city is no stranger to Muslim travellers and you can find a few Halal eateries around too, ranging from Indonesian food to Turkish food!
During our trip, we didn’t really consider Chen Lili as we wanted to find another halal eatery. But one of our readers recommended this eatery and we couldn’t leave without paying a visit. Little did we know that we made the best decision ever!
Situated near Pier 2 Art Center, this Halal-certified eatery specialises in delicious Indonesian food. Our personal favourites are the beef satay, beef bakso and nasi ayam goreng. From the taste of it, we could tell that every dish was cooked to perfection.
Address: No. 276, Wufu 4th Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Operating hours: Tues - Fri: 10:30am - 2:00pm, Sat - Sun: 10:30am - 9:00pm. Closed on Mondays.
Price: NT$60 – NT$210
Contact: 886 7 521 3138
Status: Halal-certified by the Chinese Muslim Association
Walk along Zuoying District and you’ll find the only Turkish restaurant in Kaohsiung - Pamukkale. Named after a small town in Turkey, this eatery is owned by a Turkish-Taiwanese couple.
After having spent a few years in Turkey, the couple decided to come back to Taiwan and open a restaurant. There’s a wide variety of Turkish food that you can find at this restaurant - like the Pide (a flat bread with fillings) and of course, Doner kebabs. We recommend the Cheese Pide, packed with tons of cheese!
Address: No. 429, Yucheng Road, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Operating hours: Mon - Sun: 11:00am - 10:00pm.
Price: NT$30 – NT$640
Status: Halal-certified by the Chinese Muslim Association
2. Immerse yourself in Taiwan’s night markets and enjoy Muslim-friendly food
When you’re in Taiwan, a visit to the night markets is essential as it embodies a colourful and central part of Taiwanese food culture and community life. If you thought that there wasn’t any Muslim-friendly food at the night markets, well think again.
Ningxia Night Market
Known as the locals’ favourite, this night market is fully packed with all sorts of things from arcades to karaoke bars and food!
Drop by some of the booths and challenge yourself to a basketball arcade or go for prawn-fishing and have it grilled right in front of you ?
As we wandered around, we found a couple of Muslim-friendly food. Like the gigantic fried squid, sweet potato balls, peanut ice cream roll and fried mushroom!
Disclaimer: Look for stalls 051, 89, 78, 115, 29, 44, 121, 002! We’ve personally checked with them and they’ve ensured that the ingredients were Muslim-friendly.
Address: Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun: 5:00pm – 1:00am.
Ruifeng Night Market
When in Kaohsiung, you should also visit the night market and we recommend Ruifeng Night Market! This particular night market is considered as the largest and greatest night market in the city. With a few lanes covering an area of nearly 3,000 m2, you’ll end up in a food haven.
Amazed by the size of the market, we paid a visit on our first night in Kaohsiung and it was worth it as we uncovered a few Muslim-friendly stalls. From mochi to fried ice cream and sweet potato balls, we couldn’t have had a better dinner than this!
Disclaimer: We’ve personally checked with them and they’ve ensured that the ingredients were Muslim-friendly.
#HHWT Tip: Additionally, to ease your hunt at these markets, just look for the 素食 words on stalls as it indicates vegetarian options!
Address: Yucheng Road, Zuoying District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun: 6:00pm – 1:00am, Tues: 6:00pm – 1:00am.
3. Travelling around Taipei and Kaohsiung
Credit: @catherinesoo on Instagram
The best way to explore Taipei is by taking the public transport. And if you purchase the One-Way Ticket and EasyCard package on Klook
High Speed Rail
Our trip to Taiwan is a little different this time as we departed to Taipei from Singapore and returned from Kaohsiung. We got our High Speed Rail tickets on Klook
That’s because Scoot currently flies to both cities so it was very convenient for us as we didn’t have to rush back to Taipei to catch our flight. Instead, we chose to fly home from Kaohsiung. We really recommend this as it saves you more time and you can explore two different cities in one trip!
Taking the taxi is also one of the ways to explore the city. Contrary to popular belief that local taxis are expensive, the ones in Taiwan are relatively cheap. But most taxi drivers aren’t very well-versed in English so we recommend asking your hotel staff to write the address of your destination in Chinese and you can hand it over to the driver.
4. Immerse in the beautiful culture of Taiwan
With the MRT card, you’ll be able to travel almost anywhere in Taipei, even in the outskirts! Need an idea on what to do on your trip? Let us help you with that!
Jiufen Old Streets, or most commonly known as Jiufen by the locals, is a little gem tucked away in the hills of Ruifang. This small town is filled with old Taiwanese houses, tea houses, street food stalls and souvenir shops. Fans of Spirited Away would find solace here as the film was inspired by Jiufen.
As you become mesmerised by the charm of the place, you’ll find yourself walking on a cobblestone path and narrow alleyways. While you feast your eyes on the beauty of this place, you’ll notice the different stalls around. The walk to the end of the path takes about 15 minutes but with so many stalls to stop and see, it might take over an hour to reach the end.
Once you reach the very end, a scenic view of the Ruifang Hills awaits! Admire the spectacular scenery from the top of the world as you breathe in the fresh air from the lush greenery around.
Cool down with a glass of fresh Guava Juice just by the side of the lookout point. We also stopped by for some fried jumbo squids, peanut ice cream roll and Taiwan’s ultimate summer treat - shaved ice with taro balls.
Getting here is a little tricky as you’ll need to hop between rides. If you’re from Taipei Main Station, take the train north to Ruifang Station. After exiting the station, find the Wellcome supermarket and take a left. Walk for another 200 metres down Mingdeng Road, and you’ll find a bus station named Local Residents Plaza next to the police station. Only bus with route numbers 827 and 788 will bring you to Jiufen.
Address: Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Opening Hours:Mon-Sun, 5:00am – 7:00pm.
Houtong Cat Village
From Jiufen, you can also stop by Houtong. Now for any feline lover, this is the ultimate paradise as there is a cat village right at the station. Suprising fact about this place: it used to be a mining village in the 90s!
In 2008, a local cat admirer Peggy Chien started posting photos of the cats around the village online in an effort to find potential adopters. To her surprise, the pictures attracted the locals and cat lovers alike and since then, the village has attracted many visitors.
Today, Houtong houses almost 200 cats and you can find an array of cat-themed shops, cafes, and restaurants catering to visitors. We were so in love with the cats around that we didn’t want to leave! If you love cats but afraid to interact with them, fret not, the furry kitties are very tame and spoilt, might we add ?
#HHWT Tip: Look out for cat murals – the best spots to take Instagrammable photos too!
From Jiufen, take the bus with route number 1062 and return to Ruifang Station. Take the 801 Train from Ruifang and disembark at Houtong which is only a stop away. The frequency of the train is every 10 minutes so plan your time wisely!
Address: No.70 Chailiao Rd., Ruifang Dist., New Taipei 22450, Taiwan
Looking to spend a bit of money and shop? You’re in luck because Taipei is a shopping haven for shopaholics!
Where better to shop than in Ximending? This lively shopping district is one you should not miss when in Taipei. Not only is it filled with renowned brands and food stalls, but you might be able to find live street performances and claw machines everywhere. There’s even a building dedicated to arcades so if you’re not around to shop, have some fun here!
#HHWT Tip: We also found a bubble tea store so we couldn’t resist! Look for 50Lan, a famous bubble tea chain in all of Taiwan. We’ve also checked with them and they have confirmed that their pearls are made with tapioca starch and their products are alcohol-free.
Address: Chengdu Rd., Wanhua Dist., Taipei City
Opening Hours: Daily, 9:00am – 12:59am.
Known as the heart of Kaohsiung, the scenic pond in the north of the city is a popular tourist destination and we’re not surprised why. It has been around since the Qing dynasty, thus becoming an important aspect in the Taiwanese culture.
It’s easy to feel confused when you’re here, especially when there are more than twenty temples around the pond. We started from the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas. This is possibly the most prominent one out of all due to the impressive colourful twin towers!
#HHWT Tip: Enter from the dragon and exit the tiger to witness a series of Buddhist and Taoist mystical paintings along the walkway.
Next, walk along the road towards the Spring & Autumn Pavilions. The octagonal tower is situated right in the middle of the pond with a bridge that’s connected from the main tower. This spot is a popular spot for your Instagram photos, so now’s that chance to update that feed of yours ;)
Address: No.9, Liantan Rd., Zuoying Dist., Kaohsiung City
Golden Pineapple Castle
When we found out that there was a renowned Halal-certified brand that offers a pineapple cake workshop, we were super thrilled! If you don’t already know, pineapple cakes are popular snacks in Taiwan and also great as souvenirs.
For a different experience in Kaohsiung, opt for a DIY workshop at the Golden Castle of Pineapple where you can get an inside look into the process of making the sweet Taiwanese treat and also buying them back as souvenirs!
The workshop only takes you about 15 minutes where you’ll have a guide who will provide you the ingredients and take you through every step of making your own cakes. Once you’re done, your cakes will be assembled and sent to the oven where you will need to wait for 30 minutes. It’s a fun experience, if you ask us ?
#HHWT Tip: When you make a reservation, do note that you’ll need to make a request for an English-speaking guide. We weren’t aware of this prior to our booking and we ended up with a Mandarin-speaking guide! Thankfully the tutorials were easy so we could grasp what the guide was trying to say.
Address: No. 199, Tongxie Road, Sanmin District, Kaohsiung City
Opening Hours: Daily, 9:00am – 9:00pm
Book your flight tickets with Scoot and use code “GOTAIWAN” and you’ll get 20% off selected fares when you fly from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia to Taipei or Kaohsiung NOW until 15 November or from 7 to 31 January 2019! The code is ONLY valid from 22 August until 26 August (GMT+8).
5. Up your Instagram game at Taiwan’s picture-perfect spots
Want to watch Taipei’s sunset and admire the beautiful skyline? Take a hike to the top of Elephant Mountain! This picturesque spot has long been a favourite spot amongst locals and tourists. The trail was pretty long and it took us approximately 15 minutes to reach the first lookout point.
We’d say the hike wasn’t particularly bad though there were a lot of stairs and some were quite steep. Best to bring a bottle of water just in case! It’s also important to check the weather before heading up. We were quite lucky with the weather this time as the sun was shining high and bright over the mountain. Plus, you can also take breaks while climbing up!
#HHWT Tip: During weekends, the place can get very crowded so you’ll have to be the early bird to grab a spot especially if you plan to take photos!
Address: 110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District
Shifen Old Streets
It might be good to highlight that Shifen and Jiufen are different places, and both have unique atmosphere to them. At Shifen, you’ll find yourself in a railroad town with a collection of lanes and alleys that reflect the old Taiwan.
Believe it or not, the train tracks still operate as usual and you can catch one running through the old street. However, it’s the sky lanterns that add to the charm of this gem. Back then, it was used as a signalling system and today, visitors paint their wishes before releasing it to the sky!
We had a go at the lanterns and wrote our heartfelt wishes to our team and the entire Muslim community. We were truly overwhelmed with joy as we released our lanterns and to this day, we’re still wondering where it ends. :P
#HHWT Tip: Since Shifen is located in the outskirts, the frequency of the train may be less so it’s best to check the train timetable at the station to plan your time. Unfortunately for us, we missed the train back to Taipei so we had to wait for an hour to get on the next train :( The journey from Shifen to Taipei should take about 40 minutes.
Address: Ping River (Pingsi) Township, New Taipei City
Hamasen Railway Cultural Park
While one might think that Kaohsiung is just a boring port city, what if we tell you that the art scene here is thriving? ;) We kid you not, Kaohsiung is truly an underrated gem with fine artistry.
Kickstart your trip in the south of Taiwan and take the new Light Rail to Hamasen Railway Cultural Park.
Fun fact: this was originally a port station and Kaohsiung’s first train station! Today, it is turned into a railway museum where you can feast your eyes on the huge art sculptures around. Our personal favourite was the giant musical instrument sculpture. Of course, we couldn’t resist a photoshoot session. ?
As the weather was pretty warm at the time of our visit, we took shelter at the nearby warehouse and we found out that it was actually the Hamasen Museum of Taiwan Railway which had a mini train that visitors could ride on. For only NTD150 for adults and NTD100 for children, the mini train will take you around the warehouses for a few minutes!
Address: No. 32, Gushan 1st Road, Gushan District, Kaohsiung City
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours.
Pier 2 Art Center
Next along the same route is the Pier 2 Art Center. For avid Instagrammers, this is THE place to be! ?
Make a stop at Pier 2 Art Center, a lively downtown area that was once a neglected harbour of Yan Cheng District. In 2000, this abandoned area was transformed into an exhibition space for artists and musicians and since then, the art center has garnered many visitors everyday.
Our personal favourites were of course the colourful painted walls on the buildings around. The paintings were so intricate we can’t help but admire the creativity behind it.
As we walked a little further, we found plenty of abstract sculptures along the road.
Address: No. 1, Dayong Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00am – 6:00pm.
6. Make full use of Taiwan’s prayer facilities around
In an attempt to woo Muslim visitors, Taiwan has gone the extra mile to create a Muslim-friendly environment for tourists and that means the establishment of prayer facilities around! Now you don’t have to worry about finding a place to place as Taiwan is striving to raise the number of its Muslim tourists. ;)
Taipei Grand Mosque
Located in close proximity to Daan Park, Taipei Grand Mosque is the largest and most famous mosque in Taiwan. It’s also the oldest in the country! Inside the mosque, you’ll find prayer garments and sejadah so you don’t have to bring your own. Quench your thirst at the water dispenser machines just outside the hall. This mosque also houses the Chinese Muslim Association so you’re bound to meet some local Muslims when you pay a visit.
Address: No. 62號, Section 2, Xinsheng South Road, Da’an District
Taipei Main Station
Usually in non-Muslim countries, it’s pretty difficult to find public prayer spaces around but worry not, Taipei Main Station has a Muslim prayer room! The room is shared between males and females and it’s located right beside the parking lot.
The wudhu area is located in another room in which you’ll need to call the Management Office to get the access key. What we love the most about this prayer room is that it’s fully equipped with prayer times, sejadah and even prayer garments!
HHWT Tip: All High Speed Rail stations in Taipei have prayer rooms!
Location: B1 in the Northeastern Corner of the station, near the entrance to the Taipei Metro Tamsui-Xinyi Line.
Kaohsiung International Airport
Yes, good news for Muslim travellers! Kaohsiung International Airport also has two prayer rooms at both ends of the Departure Hall. Just look for gates 27 or 21 and you’ll find a Muslim prayer room just behind each gate.
Both rooms are equipped with a wudhu area, qiblah direction, sejadah and a small divider that segregates males and females.
The second mosque to be built in Taiwan after Taipei Grand Mosque, Kaohsiung Mosque is located in Lingya District. A bit on the outskirts of the city, it was constructed in between shoplots and gradually turned into a bigger building on its own.
Credit: @miniminiwww on Instagram
Accessible within walking distance North from Weiwuying MRT Station, you’ll find some halal restaurants around as well so you can definitely drop by for a meal after your prayers!
Address: No. 11, Jianjun Road, Lingya District, Kaohsiung City
7. Stay at Taiwan’s Muslim-friendly accommodations
Now that you’ve reached the end of the article, you’re most likely convinced that Taiwan is fast becoming the top destination for Muslim tourists, and that’s a good thing because there’s currently an increase of Muslim-friendly accommodations around, and we’ve got a list for you!
Ximen Hedo Kaifeng Taipei
We stayed at this quaint hotel during our trip in Taipei and the facilities were great! For convenient purposes, it’s also located just 9 minutes away from Taipei Main Station.
Credit: 享樂文旅Hedo Hotel on Facebook
Enjoy indulging in Halal food at the premise as it’s all Halal-certified. Some of the breakfast food available are congee, potatoes, white breads and soups and sausages.
Price: From USD59 per night
Address: No. 35, Section 1, Kaifeng St, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
City Suites Pier2 Kaohsiung
For a more budget-friendly option, consider checking into City Suites Pier2 Hotel in Yancheng District. We stayed here for 2 nights when we were in Kaohsiung. It’s located just few minutes away from major attractions like Pier2 Art Centre and Hamasen Cultural Railway Park!
Credit: 城市商旅 City Suites on Facebook
If there’s one word to describe the design of this entire hotel, it would be hipster. The exposed brick wall design and wooden furniture are enough to make us fall in love with the interior! Each room is equipped with all the amenities that you need like the basic toiletries and towels.
#HHWT Tip: Although the hotel is certified Muslim-friendly by the Chinese Muslim Association, the halal in-house restaurant is currently under construction so do check with the hotel staff before you make your reservation.
Price: From USD39 per night
Address: 812, No. 83, Gongyuan 2nd Road, Yancheng District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
Are you now convinced to visit Taiwan? It is certainly a land that boasts jaw-dropping natural wonders coupled with state-of-the-art modern facilities and we couldn’t help but be amazed at every leg of our trip. With this handy first-timer’s guide, you can bet that you’ll be having lots of fun in this beautiful country!
Grab special flight deals if you book with Scoot and use code “GOTAIWAN” where you’ll enjoy 20% off selected fares when you fly from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesiato Taipei or Kaohsiung NOW until 15 November or from 7 to 31 January 2019! The code is ONLY valid from 22 August until 26 August (GMT+8).
This article is brought to you by Scoot.