My friends were busy giving me advice on our group chat because they are more bothered with my singlehood than I am.
One of them told me to approach the guys and say,
“Where are you guys headed tonight?”
She swears it’s effective because she uses that line herself. Hmm… Yeah I don’t think so.
The other one advised me to do a more blatant approach,
“Walk around, pretend you’re going to the bathroom then sit right in the middle of them.”
Hmm okay, hell no!
I was the only girl in the mixed-dorm in the hostel where I was staying in Taipei; and I didn’t know what to feel about it. I heard my room mates, white men of different nations, speaking in their own language. I heard Dutch, German, English, and I remained in the confines of my bed on the upper bunk pretending I wasn’t there. 1) Was I able to talk to anyone in that dorm? 2) Did I find anyone cute? 3) Would I recommend this hostel to you my dear readers? Please read on to find out.
A few months prior to my Taiwan trip I booked a hostel near Taipei Main Station via Agoda. The boyfriend of my friend learned about it and recommended that I cancel my booking and stay at Happy Taipei Hostel instead. This one is in Shilin District and he said that it’s close to the most famous market in Taipei, Shilin Night Market. To be honest, I didn’t want to give up my previous booking, but I relented when he said that it’s cheaper at Happy Taipei. He booked it for me at Hostel World then forwarded the booking information to me through email.
Happy Taipei’s email provided full information on hostel conditions and a comprehensive instruction on how to reach their place. They are so thorough you’d expect that I wouldn’t get lost—I did. Somehow, despite having a map I still lost my way. Then I saw a woman who just got off from her scooter and started stuffing old clothes in a recycle bin. I decided to approach her to ask for direction. I haven’t even finished a sentence when she waved me off.
“So sorry, no English.”
I just said ok and contemplated about how stupid I am. She seemed to have taken pity because she changed her mind and decided to help me. I showed her the map that Happy Taipei emailed me; moments later she was already driving me in her scooter to get to OK Mart, a convenience store. I would have wanted to ask her to deliver me to the hostel but Happy Taipei’s instruction stated that guests should give them a call so that one of their staff can come and fetch them from OK Mart. So that’s what I did. I thanked the kind woman for the ride then approached a payphone to make a call. I don’t remember the last time I called using a payphone, it’s practically outdated in my country where everybody relies on their mobiles phones. But in Taipei, they still have them in every corner of the street. On the fifth ring, a woman picked up my call. I told her my name, location, then we hung up after she confirmed that she would be coming to get me.
I went inside the store to get a pork bun (which by the way was really good) and ate it as I sat on the wooden bench outside waiting for the woman. 30 minutes later, a woman named Tina came to greet me. She led the way to the hostel, which is only a few minutes away from OK Mart. I realized that the hostel is not that hard to find after all. So before I make a review, I am going to show you first how to go there. Do not worry, this is going to be an adventure.
How to find Happy Taipei
1. Go to Yuanshan Station
The first step is to get yourself to Shilin District, but first you have to go to Yuanshan Station where you can take the train. From Taoyuan Airport, purchase your bus ticket for 125 Taiwan Dollar (PHP 198.69 – USD 3.99) at the Arrival Passenger Reception Areas (it’s in the basement). Get the one for Kuokuang Bus, route 1819.
Now take the bus and keep your eyes on the digital sign inside that shows the destinations. Travel time takes about 45 minutes to an hour. When you see Kulun, alight from the bus.
See that picture above, well go the other way , I just took that picture to show what Kulun street looks like. Now you have to cross the road, then take this street in the picture below, walk straight ahead. Yuanshan train station is at the end of this street.
2. Go to Shilin District
Enter Yuanshan Station then buy a ticket to Shilin, or, and this one I highly recommend for convenience, get yourself an Easy Card and load it up. This card is very useful because it’s accepted on the train, bus, even UBikes.
In Taipei, you get charged not before the ride but after the travel. When you swipe the card to the ticket machine it does two things: open the entrance and show you the balance of the easy card. When leaving the station, you have to tap it again, that’s the time you get charged for the ride. The train ride from Yuanshan to Shilin is TWD 16 (PHP 25.42 – USD 0.51)
From Yuanshan Station go to the lane that goes to Shilin; look up, check the red sign, and go where the Tamsui line is. Shilin is only two stations away from Yuanshan and travel time takes about 15 minutes.
3. Walk your way to Happy Taipei
You can definitely do what I did; go to OK Mart, and have someone from Happy Taipei come fetch you. Or, you can be your own boss and follow this direction that I made instead . First, here’s the map.
When you reach Shilin Station take the Shilin Night Market Exit. Cross the zebra crossing towards where the Ubikes are parked. Turn right, walk down the street, past Family Mart, and on the first block, turn left to Wenlin Road. Again, cross the street and walk ahead. The most prominent landmark that is close to the hostel is Shilin Precinct, as shown in the picture below.
Past the precinct you will see these. That’s when you’ll know that you are near the hostel.
From here turn right and you will find Xiaobei street. Yay! You are quite close! Happy Taipei is on the left side of the street, can you see the blue sign?
Let’s have a closer look at that blue sign, there you go! Remember that Bright Dental Clinic because the door behind it is the way that leads up to Happy Taipei.
Okay here’s the door, I like to make it easy for you .
Congratulations! You made it!
Now let’s get down to business and review the hostel. Check-in time is after 2:00 p.m. and check-out time is before 12:00 noon. The first thing you should know if you want to stay here is to bring your own towel. Shampoo and soap are available in the bathroom and there’s hot shower so don’t worry about freezing to death if you go during the winter season (December-February). I went this January (just last week actually) so I experienced my first ever legit winter albeit without snow. Anyway, the toilets have no bidet (apparently, the Taiwanese are not fond of super toilets unlike the Japanese).
They have private rooms and dorm beds. I stayed in a mixed-dorm and paid TWD 1,160.01 (PHP 1,843.84 – USD 37.01) for 3 nights. Inside the room there are security lockers and hooks to hang your clothes with. The room was already full when I got in save for one bed and it’s on the upper bunk. I would have wanted to be on the lower bunk because climbing up and down that bed was such a hassle, but yeah, all the other beds were taken already so I had no choice.
There’s a curtain for some bid of privacy, an electric outlet, and a reading light. They use a spring bed and a duvet. That duvet is everything! It made sleeping extra comfortable and the nights, less cold.
There’s a common area where guests can hang out, laundry area, meeting rooms, game room, and a kitchen with fridge, toasters, and microwave oven. Happy Taipei also offers free breakfast, which is my favorite part of staying in this hostel (that and the hot showers).
They do have free WiFi but it was intermittent so I would recommend that you book a WiFi router with Klook instead. I am going to give you more information about it next time.
What else should you know… Ah, they don’t have curfew, they will give you a set of keys; one for the room and another one for the hostel’s door. If you want to rent a locker, you have to deposit TWD 100 (PHP 158.93 – USD 3.19), which they will return to you when you check out. Also, they have a strict no smoking policy. Tina even mentioned this to me several times that I had to wonder if I looked like a smoker.
Now to answer the questions that I wrote earlier:
I did talk to someone in the mixed dorm though it was nothing romantic. He came from the US and he said that Taiwan is his first country overseas. I did tell him about the Philippines (even advised him not to skip Manila to get a better feel of the life and culture). This answers question number 1.
For question #2, there are other men in the hostel but I didn’t find anyone to my liking.
And lastly, would I recommend Happy Taipei? Yes, but only if you don’t mind traveling and if you are looking for a more laid-back atmosphere. I told my friend that I was shocked to find that Shilin is too far from the central part of Taipei. Shilin District is 4 stations away from Taipei Main Station, but the train is fast and efficient so I didn’t really mind the travel. Also the bed was nice and the neighborhood is charming and quiet so I’d still give this hostel a rating of a 3 out of a 5.