Absolutely excellent comfortable bullet train tour!! The 5 star hotel in Kaohsiung was amazing! It's a good experience to the natural side of Taiwan outside busy Taipei. Tour guide Billy is very knowledgeable and friendly. Very well organized trip by Edison Tour Company from Taipei. When arriving to Taipei, they even arranged their staff to greet us right at the platform then courteously took us back to our hotel.
Our guide Alan was really entertaining and informative. It was our first trip to Taiwan and we really enjoyed the 5-day tour. It was every penny well spent! We stayed at Fleur de Chine the first night and there was spring water in our room! Taroko was BEAUTIFUL and Silks Taroko is a lovely hotel - they had an outdoor pool facing the cliffs but unfortunately it was too cold for us to take a dip. Liu Ho night market is wonderful - yummylicious food (the food there was better than Shihlin night market) - do try the cheese clam and the papaya milk. We took a cab from Grand Hi-Lai (about 5-10mins ride, NT$130) and went to Kaohsiung Eye (ferris wheel) - it was super cool! Throughout the journey, Alan would always give us insights on Taiwan's culture, history etc. I give it TWO THUMBS UP!
David and Billy Wong are great guides, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. These guys both found small local vendors where we could really experience the Taiwan charm and goodness. Include the Bullet Train from Kaohsiung to Taipei as an item in the package. The bullet train was amazing.
For a fast overview of Taiwan, this was an excellent choice. This tour covered "all" the major cities and its unique features, from the Shilin Night Market in Taipei to the Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung to the gorgeous scenery of Toroko Gorge. Tony was a wonderful tour guide; he was funny, knowledgeable, and very helpful. The hotels and food were great. Because we checked into the hotels after 4 and left before 9, we were too exhausted to enjoy the beautiful 5-star hotels; this is my only complaint.
Sun moon lake is gorgeous! What a serene and romantic place. For Kaohsiung tour, just a suggestion- do not combine non-speaking English clients with English clients. Very uncomfortable not understanding what the tour guide and non-speaking English were talking about the whole tour.
This tour really just scratched the surface of how much there is in Taiwan. It's really diverse, everything from a Buddhist monastery to Taroko National Park. The hotels are great--some have hot springs in the rooms! (Really just big bathtubs, but nice and warm.) The guide was friendly and laid back. Sometimes he would tell us about Taiwan himself, other times show us Discovery Channel videos about Taiwan, other times let us sleep on the bus. Bring warm clothes, because Chinese and Taiwanese people like it cold (even air-conditioned in the winter). Also, bring medicine for motion sickness because there are lots of twists and turns as the bus goes around, up, and down mountains. The views are awesome, though!
The trip was also a great chance to try Taiwanese food. When you stop at a nightmarket, fill up because that's your chance for dinner. Don't eat too much at hotels because the food there is more expensive and not as good as other places. The tour guide will recommend some things, and you'll stop at many places where you can buy snacks. The breakfast at the hotel in Kaohsiung was the best hotel breakfast, so save room for that.
I'm happy with the hotels and breakfast, especially the hotel at Sun Moon Lake. I do also feel too many temples. I think keep the one in Kaohsiung and the one shattered by earthquake, the other temples can be eliminated. My guide's English drove me crazy as he ends every sentence with 'ok?', 'huh?', 'alright?'. He also needs to know the pronunciation and when to use 'nature' and when to use 'natural', 'step' and 'steep', There are more examples but I don't want to be too hard on him as English is not his first language. But too many mispronunciations make a story he is trying to tell hard to understand and his jokes not effective.
Taiwan is a great place to visit and I highly recommend it. I wish I kind of knew how this compared to other tours of Taiwan that were offered but I enjoyed the experience I had overall. A little more interaction from the guides would have been nice, and I'm not entirely sure how I felt about them having us figure out our own meals when English isn't found on most menus. Our first guide seemed somewhat disinterested, but I very much appreciated Billy, our guide for Kaohsiung and southern Taiwan for his lively commentary and genuine love for his hometown.
I booked this trip based on the positive experience we had with Viator last year on a tour of Tuscany in Italy. The recent tour was actually contracted to a Taiwanese company with a good reputation and based on many of the good reviews we were looking forward to it.
This time around, however, the tour experience was a little disappointing overall. First the positives. The hotels that we stayed in were all 5 stars and as advertised. With respect to the itinerary, the Taroko Gorge was impressive but the rest of it was quite ordinary with too many fillers and short stops only for photo-ops. Two examples of the fillers that came to mind were the peacock farm (with no more than a few peacocks and chicken in cages) the Love River in Kaohsiung, which had a bad smell and industrial buildings in the background.
I also have a major complaint regarding the lack of orderly seating arrangement on the tour bus. Specifically, our family started out seating together but our seat was taken over twice and the family separated during the 5 day tour. I felt a fair system of seat assignment is the responsibility of the tour operator and issue like this is easily preventable and shouldn't happen at all for established operators like Viator and the Taiwanese contractor.
I thought it was not quite worth what I had paid for. Sure, one would need a car to go around Kenting and Kaohsiung. But I could have done it by myself. I did not get to learn much about the places. The guide just ended up being my driver, dropping me off at places and meeting him again after. But the room in Hotel Chateau de Chine was quite good.
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