6/27/2012

Taipei With Kids

Taipei, at first glance, is just another densely populated metropolis in Asia; not exactly a place for a family vacation. Especially true where metropolitan areas are now taken over by DINK couples (Dual Income with No Kids), the need to cater to children and babies is even less of a priority. Is Taipei following this trend where it gets increasingly difficult to travel with kids in a metropolitan city? Having lived in or near Taipei for over 5 years and having had 2 kids later, I feel that it's only fair to take a closer look at how child friendly this city really is. This is what I conclude after careful reflection of my experience in this city: TAIPEI MORE THAN QUALIFY AS A KID FRIENDLY CITY. Here is why:


Transportation
Whether you're getting around by Metro or bus, there are seats on every kind of public transportation especially marked for children, handicapped, and the elderly. Unlike other cities where handicapped seats are only there as a mere suggestion, the citizens of Taipei follow a strict code of conduct for not occupying those seats unnecessarily. There are many occasions when riding the metro or bus with my babies where people would actually give up their seats for us. In fact, I have never  had people not offer me a seat when I traveled with my kids or during pregnancy; even during peak hours. My most memorable moment of riding the Taipei city bus is when I was 8 months pregnant with my son and the bus driver announced through a microphone to a full bus load of people to "please give up your seats for the pregnant woman getting on". I was shocked to see that so many people abide to this order so gladly. Some even helped me to my seat. The bus driver also made sure that I was safely seated before driving off. 

Children's classes
Children will never be bored in this city. Children's classes are ample and cheap (compared to western standards). Some interesting kiddy classes of note are African dance (website in Chinese only and class instruction is in Mandarin), baking class, Kindermusik, and Lego class. I have taken my kids to Kindermusik and African dance classes and would strongly recommend both. Kindermusik offer classes for children from 6 months to 6 years old. Classes are conducted in English and a trial class is free of charge. However, this class is recommended for expats and travelers aiming to stay in Taipei for at least for a couple of months. The length and duration of the dance classes can usually be worked out privately with the teacher. The eclectic choices of activities available to children in Taipei not only relieves their boredom but it is also a good way for kids to develop social skills.

Kindermusik class
Restaurants and Eateries
I must admit, after having kids, it's been a while since my husband and I were able to sit down and enjoy a nice quiet breakfast while reading the Sunday paper. However, recently a western style brunch cafe in Taipei's Xinyi district came highly recommended to me for taking the children along. So we decided to give it a try. Upon entering Woolloomooloo cafe I saw an informal section resembling a play area with a box of Lego placed on a kiddy size chair. I immediately placed the kids in front of the Lego and went ahead to order our breakfast. It totally kept the kids occupied and my husband and I were able to have that tranquil breakfast we longed for.
Breakfast at Woolloomooloo Cafe in Xinyi District
A few recommendations for eating in Taipei with kids: 
Teppanyaki: It entertains both adult and children alike to watch the chefs work their magic.
Night Market: Don't have to worry about table manners and picky eaters. The choices are endless. Already pealed and cut up fruit is always a good back up plan. Entertainment and games resembling those of American county fairs are available in most night markets.
Buffet: The city is filled with Taiwanese style buffet. There is usually a range of 20-40 dishes to choose from. My favorite is a vegetarian buffet called Minder

We've brought our kids along to some pretty upscale restaurants. Not a single one of these restaurants deny service to children. There has been discussion on the news recently of charging a 100NT cleaning fee for children regardless of whether they eat table food or not. But I have yet to see it implemented (As of June 2012).  

Nursing rooms
The first thing I wanted to do when I felt fit enough after having a baby is...go out! I don't care where. As long as I'm out of the house. But as a nursing mom, I worried about how I was going to feed my baby while out and about. Luckily nursing rooms/family rooms are plentiful in Taipei. All of the bigger metro stations has one. Most tourist attractions like Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and National Palace Museum have a few. Even large book stores like Eslite has one. My favorite nursing rooms are the ones inside the shopping centers (Breeze center and Shinkong Mitsukoshi). These nursing rooms are equipped with private rooms for nursing/pumping, refrigerator for storing pumped milk, warm water for drinking, a sink with baby shower gel for washing messy doody business, magazines for reading while pumping, and bottle sterilizer. Some even has diapers on sale in vending machines and a nurse on hand to help with feeding and changing the baby. As a mom whose nursed 2 kids for one year each, I cannot ask for anything more to make this period easier.  

Playspace
Like most metropolitan cities in the world, you probably won't find many playgrounds in Taipei. But that's nothing to sulk over really. There is something comparable or maybe even better. There are plenty of indoor play spaces (Website in Chinese only) in the city. Playspace is like an extensive indoor playground where you pay a minimal fee (usually cheaper on weekdays) to get in for a certain amount of time. Warning: must wear socks to be admissible. But if you forget, socks can be purchased within the facility. Playspace is a better alternative to traditional outdoor playgrounds during rainy season and on stifling hot summer days. Kids also have less of a chance of getting hurt during play time because Playspace takes more extensive measures to ensure child safety than outdoor playgrounds. All equipments/facilities are either padded or is made out of Styrofoam. These indoor play areas also follow strict sanitary procedures that prevents the spread of bacteria and germs among kids. Its sanitary policy includes: no shoes on the play areas, socks must be kept on at all times while in the play area, taking the body temperature of all who enter the facility, and sanitizing hands with anti-bacterial cleanser before entering. It sounds like a big hassle but it really isn't. The Playspace staff are rather efficient when it comes to admitting kids into the play area. From storing your personal belongings to actually being admitted into the play area takes around 2 minutes (more or less depending on people traffic).
Yu Kids Island
Taipei is a vibrant and multifaceted city that caters to adults as well as children. The gem of the city lies not within its high rise buildings or treasuries but within the hearts of the people. When traveling with children in a foreign city, I found that it is often the welcoming spirit of the people that completes the experience. Make Taipei your next family vacation destination and you will experience first hand the heart and soul and generosity of the people; even if you're carrying a screaming toddler through its busy streets.

Planning to visit or relocate to Taiwan:
http://www.taiwanease.com/en/forums/viewforum.php?f=43 
http://gochina.about.com/od/taiwan/p/BabyBoss.htm
http://en.ntsec.gov.tw/User/index.aspx   




17 comments:

  1. So nice to come across a blog like yours.Am a working mummy from Malaysia who loves travelling and enjoy it even more now that I have a 2 year old. Am fortunate that the my lil one is a pretty good traveller. Am planning for a trip to Taipei after a short stopover in HK Disneyland next year late May, early June. Am considering a day trip from Taipei, considering I have an active toddler - any suggestions?

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  2. Hi Siu-Mae,
    Thanks for your comment. There are 2 popular day trips from Taipei. One is to Danshui and the other to Jiufen. Both are popular for a reason: easily accessible by bus or metro from Taipei. Jiufen is an old mining town with an old street and lots of street food, tea houses (with great view) and a gold mining museum. Danshui is by the ocean, again there is an old street with lots of street food. There are also lots of colonial structures worth visiting in the Danshui area. The pros of going to Jiufen is that it's a lot smaller, more manageable with a toddler and it can be still fun even in pouring rain (which is obtain the case in May/June). The pros of going to Danshui is that there are lots of sights to see and activities to do like renting a bike and exploring the area. There are also lots of cafes by the ocean to enjoy a beautiful sunset. However, Danshui would be kind of a hassle exploring with a toddler if it happens to rain. If you have any questions let me know.

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  3. Thank you for posting this! We are traveling with our toddler there soon. Are there often high chairs in restaurants? Did you bring one with you?

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  4. Hi Shaina! I live in Taiwan and have been living here for 7 years. I don't think bringing your own high chair is necessary. Most restaurants can get quite crowded on the weekends, bringing a high chair or booster with your would be a major hassle in the crowd. Many medium size dining establishments have high chairs available. There's also been an explosion of American diners in Taipei in the recent years and they definitely have high chairs available. But do note that, small family owned cafeteria or fast food style eateries will not have high chairs. Let me know if you have anymore question on Taipei. :)

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  5. Hi there, I have a 2 year old and we will be staying in Taiwan this June for a month.
    It will be my first visit to Taipei, do you have any suggestions on classes I could attend with my 2 year old? Music or arts, I welcome any of them. Thank you!

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    1. Hi Stacy! There are some classes for 2 year olds in Taipei you can check out. I personally loved taking my kids to Kindermusik classes. The teachers are all wonderful. http://www.kindermusik.com/ There are also quite a few other toddler classes you can check out at My gym http://www.my-gym.com.tw/schedule.htm and Gymboree http://www.gymboree.com.tw/locations/maptwindex.htm. There is also a very popular restaurant for kids called Mooon Spring. The restaurant is equiped with toys and playareas and food geared towards toddlers and preschoolers. http://moooonspring.com/. I hope you and your little one will have a wonderful time in Taipei. If you like, drop me an email and share with me your experiences of Taipei or if you need any more info on the city. :)

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  6. hello! we are thinking about travelling to taipei at xmas with our to be 21 month old. would you recommend things to do in the winter in taipei? trying to decide how many days to spend and maybe spend a few nights outside of taipei? just starting researching so any suggestions would be very helpful.

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    1. Hi Alice,
      Visiting Taipei around Christmas is a great time. Taipei will come alive with Christmas lights and the atmosphere is rather jolly. Although not a grand celebration during Christmas time like in European countries but you can still feel the holiday spirit in the air. Weather can be pretty unstable around December. It ranges from sunny low 20's to rainy low 10's, depending on your luck. I recommend looking up any upcoming exhibits at the Taipei Science Education center and Chang Kai Shek Memorial hall. They often have great exhibits catering to children and adults. There are also a recent sprout of cafes all of over Taipei offering delectable sweets and kid friendly atmosphere. There is also a few children's restaurants around taipei. My favorite is Moooonspring cafe. Email me if you need more details in the course of your planning.

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  7. Hi! I'm planning a trip to taipei with a 2.5 yr old and a 11 month old in late jan. My husband and I are not really where we should go with the 2 kids in tow. Where would you recommend? Thought to figure where we want to go before we book our accomodation. And is the temperature very low in jan? Tried to Google for it but the averages don't seem to be good gauges.

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  8. Taipei is a very convenient and safe city to visit for families with young children. Some popular areas to stay are Xinyi district, Taipei Mains station, Neihu, and zhongxiao east road. There are quite a few kids' cafes in Taipei which is great for rainy days. As there will be lots of them in January. I recommend mooonspring.http://moooonspring.com/ Songshan creative park and Chang Kai Shek Memorial Hall are good places to hang out. There will be a Frozen exhibition in Chang Kai Shek Memorial hall this winter. http://www.frozenevent.com.tw/ There are also some historical buildings you can visit with kids. lin An Tai house is one of them. http://english.linantai.taipei/ The kids can run around and on weekends they have activities for kids. Admission is free. Hot spring is also popular this time of the year. Just remember to bring a bathing suit and swimming cap and ask ahead of time which ones are kids friendly. Most of them are but just to be sure, call and ask.

    You can pretty much expect rain on most days in January. The temperature will range from 8-20 degrees. Depending whether there is a cold front blowing in from the north. But I wouldn't worry about the weather too much as there isn't anything you can't buy in Taipei these days. :) I hope this helps. I wish you a pleasant stay in Taipei!

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  9. Thank you for your amazing site! I am traveling there every summer. My kids didn't quite enjoy the swimming camp we did last summer at YMCA. They are 7 and 5 years old. Can you recommend some classes? I am particular interested in the African dance and Lego class you mention in your blog. Thank you so much in advance :)

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  10. The Lego class I mentioned in this post is catered to younger kids. There are a few more advanced ones that you can check out. http://erobot.com.tw/place.html

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  12. Could I please ask for updated contact info for the African dance class? The link goes to a generic yahoo page now. It sounds perfect for my daughter - thank you!

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  13. Thanks for all of this info! Do you have more information on the African dance class? Like the previous poster, I was unable to access the website from the link (it just goes to Yahoo). My 2 kids and I are in TPE for the summer (every summer). Xiexie!

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