T-Money (Seoul City Pass Plus)

Just like Singapore’s EZLink Card and Taiwan’s Easy Card, there is T-Money (of varying offerings) when you want to travel around in Seoul and other cities within South Korea (e.g. Busan, Gyeonggi-do, Incheon, Busan, Daegu, and Daejeon).

Taiwan Summer Trip Itinerary (5D/4N)

Here is an overview of the itinerary for our Taipei trip during Summer season.

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店)

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) is located in New Taipei City (Wulai), close to to the Wulai Town (and waterfalls).

Seoul Spring Trip Itinerary (7D/6N)

Here is an overview of the itinerary for our Seoul trip during Spring season.

Universal Studios Singapore (Sentosa) Guide

Universal Studios Singapore is divided into 7 uniquely themed zones, each with their own uniquely theme food kiosks, vendors and souvenir shops.

Our Adventures at Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)

This quaint little town/street on the outskirts of Wulai is famous for its odorless and colorless hot springs, food influenced by aboriginal Atayal culture, waterfalls and beautiful scenery. The Wulai Old Street (烏來老街) is essentially a street that is packed with local snacks and restaurants/eateries, set amidst a picturesque backdrop of mountains with streams and small waterfalls, and the famous hot springs! 

Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
The town beside the river and amidst the greenery.

Visiting the town could be a day trip, or you could stay a night or two in the many types of accommodations (e.g. hotels, inns etc…) that offer you the opportunity to enjoy the hot springs as well. Most accommodation places offer private hot springs and have some nice amenities that you could enjoy for a fraction of the price of spending the night. However, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to save money, the best way to enjoy an original hot spring experience is to bathe at the open-air hot spring on the bank of Nanshih Creek - just arm yourself with sunblock, umbrella, beach towels and your swimsuit!

Wulai Old Street (烏來老街) Hot Springs
The hot springs experience at its best, just do as the locals do!

We stayed for 2 nights at the Urai Voalando Spring Resort, which is a 15 minute walk away. It might just be a short walk, but as the road is narrow and there is no pedestrian walkway, walking in a single line and keeping a lookout for traffic is a must. If walking up a slightly inclined slope and looking out for traffic at the same time on a slightly uneven pathway is too challenging, you could take the bus or get a taxi for NT$150-200
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
From Urai Voalando Spring Resort, just take a right turn and walk straight till you see the signage...
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Walk straight ahead. There is no pedestrian walkway so be careful with oncoming traffic!
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Once you walk past the bus terminus you have to cross the bridge. There is another similar bridge at the end of the street which leads to the waterfalls.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
... where housing meets the river and the mountains.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街): Food galore...

As we had arrived early in the morning on the first day, there was plenty of time before check-in so we left the luggage with the resort and went exploring! We were supposed to have made a right turn from the resort, but we turned left instead (we got distracted by the 7-11 on the left side from the resort). Since it was too early for the shops along the street to be opened (we arrived at 8am!), we ended up taking a taxi for NT$200 (it is a flat rate within Wulai, shorter distances are NT$150) to Wulai Gondola (which is just a fancy name for cable car) to see the waterfalls and do some exploring. If we had walked to the gondola it would have been a good 45 minutes to an hour stroll up the slightly inclined slopes! 

Anyways, after our adventure at the Wulai Waterfalls and Gondola (which took about 3 hours since we didn’t go all the way up – there were many steps!), we managed to catch a taxi back to check out the ‘old street’. The lady taxi driver who ferried us was very friendly and even suggested we visit Neidong National Forest Recreation Area (內洞國家森林遊樂區), a forest trail containing 3 waterfalls and splendid scenery. She even provided us with her namecard, which would come in handy for our future visits. If you happen to be Wulai and are interested traveling up to Neidong, you can engage her services. Drop me a line and I will pass the contact to you. Unfortunately, we did not manage to visit Neidong this time round, but it is certainly a place of interest that will be visited!

It was already close to lunch time when we arrived at the old street, which was by this time already packed with people and vendors selling their wares. The shops along the streets open until 9pm, so if you are looking for some dinner this would be a good place to explore: bamboo shoots stuffed with rice, handmade rice cakes in a variety of flavors, baked mochi, deep fried river prawns, honey-glazed yams, wild boar kebabs, and for the vegetarians (or those who need their veges) wild vegetables and ferns. 

Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
While we were there we tried the succulent wild boar meat sausage. There were many stalls selling the sausage but this one had the longest queue and stood out the most. We did not regret our choice as the sausage was heavenly! It was not greasy and did not have an overwhelming flavor of wild boar, rather the sausage was lightly flavored and there was a sauce that complimented it well There was also raw garlic for those who like more excitement with their grilled wild boar sausage.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Wild mountain boar sausage (山豬肉香腸). NT$35 each.
Wild mountain boar skewer (山豬肉串) NT35 each, 3 for NT$100.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Next was grilled tapioca, which is one of the Atayal specialties. There were many topping that we could select: sesame, peanuts, honey, seaweed etc... All for the price of NT$30. We chose the sesame one and sad to say after the fantastic wild boar sausage, this was a disappointment: it was bland and had none of the tapioca flavor that we were used to.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Candied sweet potatoes for NT$50 per packet. It looked a little too sweet, so we gave this a miss.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Vegetables. meat and food (e.g. rice, noodles) were on display outside of eateries beckoning us to come eat

While there have been blog posts about dining at Taiya Po Po (泰雅婆婆美食店), which serves authentic Atayal aboriginal dishes, we decided to dine at the eatery opposite it, Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店). We had noodles, bamboo rice, vegetables, soup with mountain vegetables, stewed bamboo shoots and chicken – a hearty meal, all for NT$680 (about S$28-30). [Read all about the dining experience here]

When we were done with lunch it was time to go back, so we took the bus as recommended by the lady taxi driver (a taxi ride from the bus terminus would have cost NT$150-200 while the bus ride costs only NT$15 per person with  and Urai Voalando Spring Resort being just one stop away). One bus ride and a stop later we found ourselves back at Urai Voalando Spring Resort just in time for check-in. [Read about the room review here ~ coming soon]

We visited the ‘old street’ again on the last day of our short trip. This time we tried the handmade buns (at NT$20 per bun) and eggs cooked with hot springs at NT$10 each for the normal ones and NT$15 each for the wine infused ones. As you can ask for samples to try with no obligation to buy, DramaQueen managed to try quite a variety of millet wine (小米露 / 小米酒) at 泰雅媳婦 (Taiya Daugther-in-law) prices ranging from NT$150 to NT$450.  There was also wild mountain boar skewer (山豬肉串) for NT35 per skewer, 3 for NT$100.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
The delectable handmade pork buns at NT$20 each! They come in 3 different seasonings and are very nice.
Wulai Old Street (烏來老街)
Hot Spring Eggs! These were simple a delight and very flavorful. They were chilled so they are perfect on a sunny day. NT$10 each for the normal ones and NT$15 each for the wine infused ones.
Ranging from NT$150 to NT$450, wine has never looked cuter/prettier. Besides the overly sweet packaging, the standard ones look pretty nice as well.

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Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) Public Hot Springs

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) Overview > Public Hot Springs

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort would be an epitome of luxury and relaxation amidst lush greenery and hotsprings with (supposedly) beautifying properties. Besides the cosy room, fine dining and cultural performances, as a hotel guest, you have complimentary usage of the spaciously clean public hot springs. If you are not a hotel guest and wish to enjoy the public hot springs, prices might range from NT$850 to 1,000 (depending on the season) for a duration of 4 hours.

That said, although being a hotel guest allows you complimentary usage of the spaciously clean public hot springs there is an barrier to overcome: if you want to enjoy the hot springs you have to do it all naturel nu. It took us till the last day to try out the public hot springs and it was a choice that was not regretted!

The hot springs are gender segregated and each area (male and female is equipped with resting areas offering TV, magazines, beverages, and newspapers). There are also indoor hot springs pools and outdoor ones.

After walking down a (somewhat) winding flight of stairs and past the spa area, we were brought to the female public hot springs area. The first thing you would see are lockers to keep your footwear and clothes (lockers for footwear and clothes/belongings are in different areas). Once you have deposited your footwear into the locker, it is time to change into the comfortable slippers that are provided by the resort. You will than be requested to change into the yukata that is provided (or you can just wear the one provided in the hotel room if you are a guest). Towels, soap and shampoo are provided.... And the rest they say is history as the warm hot springs water dissolved all worries away in the tranquility of its surroundings.

For the female public hot springs, there are 2 pools that are cold and 2 that are warm/hot (averaging about 40-42+ Degree Celsius).

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) Public Hotsprings
Indoor Pools and shower area: taken from Volandoo Urai Spring Spa & Resort Website

There is also an outdoor pool overlooking the the surrounding lush greenery and river. There are even decks near the outdoor pool for you to soak in the sun. Water dispensers with disposal cups are conveniently located for you to hydrate yourself.

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) Public Hotsprings
Outdoor Pool: taken from Volandoo Urai Spring Spa & Resort Website

There is also a resting area which is equipped with a TV, magazines, beverages, and newspapers; all for you to just relax and take in the beautiful scenery unfolding before your eyes while you idle the time away.

Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) Public Hotsprings
Resting area: taken from Volandoo Urai Spring Spa & Resort Website

 Once you are done with the hot springs (and finished showering), there is a dressing area which is equipped with cotton swabs, mirrors, lotions and hairdryers; even a coffee dispenser at your disposal.

Verdict: While this property may not be the newest, it is very well maintained. What you see on the resort's website is what you can expect to enjoy. The only downside is that instructions are in Chinese and most of the attendants are more proficient in Mandarin than English. But that should not deter you from enjoying the public hot springs as the beautiful scenery and hot springs warm your heart and relax your soul.

  1. Service              
  2. Value                 
  3. Maintenance        
  4. Facilities           
Overall Experience:   

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Wulai Old Street (烏來老街): Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)

While there have been blog posts and reccomendations about dining at Taiya Po Po (泰雅婆婆美食店), which serves authentic Atayal aboriginal dishes, we decided to dine at the eatery opposite it - Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店).

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
As with most Atalyan restaurants, the kitchen is located at the front of the shop where the ingredients used are also proudly displayed on the counter beckoning hungry patrons to come in.

The simple interior of the eatery resembles our local Singaporean air-conditioned coffeeshop/cafe with stools and wooden tables. Despite its lack of decor relating to the Atalyan culture, this eatery was doing brisk business during lunch time (so much so that we had to share the table with a family of four).

As soon as we entered, we were presented with a menu that doubles up as an order list (you have to select the items that you want DIY style). There are no images (just real food at the front) to help with the ordering and after seeing the items (and in Chinese Traditional characters no less!), we just asked the lady attending to us for recommendations to which she happily recommended. Perhaps it is the culture or the relaxed pace (away from city life), but whenever you ask for assistance in Taiwan, chances are that you will be very eagerly assisted to the best capability of the one rendering help. There is a sort of sincerity and eagerness that you would rarely encounter in Singapore.

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
The menu cum ordering list. Oh and did I mention, this place has air-conditioning! ^^

In the end, we had noodles, bamboo rice, vegetables, soup with mountain vegetables, stewed bamboo shoots and chicken – a hearty meal, all for NT$680 (about S$28-30).

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
Stew Bamboo Shoots (background): Despite being stewed, the bamboo shoots had a slight crunch to them which gave it a delightful texture tinged with the fragrance of bamboo. Little or no seasoning was used, so the bamboo shoots exuded a very simple and mild bamboo flavor that might take some time getting used to.

Bamboo tube rice (竹筒飯) (foreground): The bamboo tube rice, is a specialty of the area and consists of sticky glutinous rice with mushroom stuffing cooked in a tube of bamboo. The taste was simple and the rice was not as glutinous as we (Singaporeans) are used to. However, it was a simple delight with pine nuts, mushroom and pieces of meat. As the taste is very light and earthy, it might not suit those whose palates prefer strong flavors; they might find it a little bland.  

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
A plate of noodles with braised sauce: The noodles were springy and the braised sauce that was drizzled over it complimented it well. Surprisingly even with the pieces of fatty pork and some oil (and strips of carrot) it was not greasy at all. It was one of my favorite dishes!

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
Vegetable Soup: Not sure what vegetables were used but they were definitely Wulai's local produce. Don't be deceived by its plain appearance. This soup was one of the most naturally flavored soups I have had! It was tasty and did not taste the way you would I expected it to. The vegetables were like a cross between (golden) mushrooms and scallions in texture, yet not as overpowering in flavor as the two; tasty, light and refreshing.

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
Chicken: Highly recommended! This has got to be one of the tastiest chicken that I have ever tasted! You can choose whether you want the front or lower part of the chicken. It is similar in flavor to Singaporean Hainanese chicken, the enhanced flavor version of it. The texture of the chicken and its leanness was similar to kampung chicken. And just like Hainanese chicken served in Singapore, this was served slightly chilled (not warm and not hot, but not cold either).

Wulai Little Eatery (烏來小吃店)
Stir-fried vegetables: These vegetables had an interesting taste of both spring onions (the crunchiness) and dou miao (the flavor). While the bits of mushrooms added a nice mushroomy flavor, it was a tad too oily. It should be accompanied with a bowl of rice.

Overall, it was a hearty and enjoyable meal. The Atayal aboriginal cuisine is interesting and ingenious, managing to find/produce and cook fresh local ingredients within the harsh constraints of the environment. That being said, if you are in Wulai and want to try the local cuisine, do take note that it is simple (country?) fare that the locals have been enjoying for some time. If you are expecting to be wowed by the spectacular-ness of it, you are better off eating at expensive restaurants that would better suit your city-paced palate.

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