Chung Shan Community Sports Center - indoor kiddies' pool

The Chung Shan sports center behind the Chungshan MRT station (Chung Shan North Road Sec 2, Lane 42, about 3 lanes behind Idee Dept store on the north-west side of chungshan/nanking intersection) has a nice pool, with kid's pool, etc. I have seen their swimming coaches teaching little tots to swim, they seem really patient and professional, the kids were laughing and having fun with all the stuff.  When I last visited, their "family change room" is just behind a plastic rolling door next to the pool,  and they can be strict with their "no boys over 5 years in the ladies' changing room" rule.

Wan Fang Community Pool - shaded outdoor pool

Wanfang Community Pool is an outdoor pool with sun cover. It has a kid's pool but parents will need to get in with little ones as it is not a paddling pool. There is a very wide slide into the water that is open at limited times during the day.  You need swimming caps and swimsuits (not beach shorts). They sell drinks and Chinese snacks like instant noodles, but best to bring your own snacks. You can buy some swim toys if you need them. There is a 7-11 just up the road from the pool.  The showers are pretty basic, just be prepared for that. The pool area itself is quite good for families.

Address in Chinese:

萬和街2號(萬芳公園內) Wan-he Street No. 2 (Part of Wanfang Park), Muzha

You can take the MRT (zoo line) to Wanfang Community stop. Come out of the exit. Face the hill in front of you. That road is Wan-he Street. It's maybe a five-minute walk up the hill, less if you don't have kids with you. The pool is on the right, part way up the windy road.

Cost is low, about 50twd for kids and 100tw for adults.
It's fairly easy to find on-street parking near the pool.

Fu Yuan Pool - Indoor and Outdoor Pools

May 1st is the start of the outdoor swimming pool season! It's time to take the kids out with their swimsuits, sunscreen and of course swimming caps.

Fu Yuan is a great pool to go to in summer, particularly early mornings and later in the afternoon. It can get a little hot around noon-time if you want to use the huge children's pool. There is an outdoor kids' pool, indoor lap pool, and indoor spa areas. Changing rooms are fairly basic but there are showers and toilets. Entry is very reasonable, at around 50nt for children and 100nt for adults.

The pool is on FuYuan St.which runs between MinQhuan E.Rd Sec 5 and MinSheng Rd Sec. 5. Right next to MinSheng Jr. High School 民生國中.

You can take bus 225 to the pool.

Juming Museum Kids’ Festival – POSE!

123-Statue! April 3-May 30

Parent-Child Activity at the Dance/Activity Studio

Limited to 20 pairs (one child 6-12 yrs, one adult), from 2:30 to 3:30pm, mix art and physical activity.

$390 for each child (includes materials, museum entrance fee, plus lunch at kids’ restaurant)
Adult entrance extra
Dates: 4/18, 5/9, 5/16, 5/30

Art Activity Room

Every Saturday and Sunday from 3pm to 4pm, there are activities teaching the five senses.

Storytime for 4 to 6 year olds: What fell down?

Every Saturday and Sunday 1:30 to 2:pm at the kids’ restaurant

Address: No. 2, She-shi-hu, Chin-shan, Taipei, Taiwan

Tel: 02-24989940

Website: http://www.juming.org.tw

Concert for Little Ones June

National Symphony Orchestra Age 0-6 Programming “Baby Do Re Mi”

June 19 9:30am&11:30am

National Chung-Cheng Cultural Center’s National Music Hall  (CKS Memorial Hall)

Tel: (02)3393-9888

Price: 100/person

These shows are very popular. You need to book early.


Da An Sports Center

As part of my ongoing "research", I visited the Da An Sports Center swimming pool with my three-year-old daughter today.  This is probably the newest of the centers at time of writing.  They have some great deals right now, such as 30% discount on swimming classes for children if you enrol this month, and swimming entry price just TWD50 instead of the listed TWD90 per adult.

There are two main pools in the building, as well as a water spa area.  The water spa area is surrounded by glass, giving it a more  "outdoor" feel.  The first pool is maybe 10 lanes.  There is a chair for zero-entry into the pool.  The second pool is smaller, and is the "children's" pool.

This children's pool is not exactly a children's pool.  It is about 15 meters long, five lanes across.  At the shallow end it is 70cm deep, and at the deep end it is 110cm deep.  The great thing about this set-up is, the smaller pool is dedicated to swim instruction and practice, keeping learners and dedicated swimmers separate, and allowing me to actually teach my daughter some swim techniques.  However, it's important to be aware that there is no very shallow area for little ones to just play around.  If your children are very small, this pool is probably not so well-suited to your needs, but it is wonderful for those say three to twelve years who want to learn how to swim in a nice, calm environment.  Like all pools in Taiwan, you need a swimcap.  There are extra armbands at poolside, but no other flotation devices are available at the moment.

The new sports center has a roller blading rink for use at 150/person/time, a nice little  indoor play area for free use, and the usual gym setup.  There doesn't seem to be any convenience store or coffee shop inside the building.  Parking is in the basement.  The carparks all wider than the average Taipei carpark, and the charge is TWD30/hr.

Website: http://dasc.cyc.org.tw/

Address: Hsin Hai Road Sec 3, No. 55 (Just south of the Keelung/Hsin-Hai intersection)

Hours: 6am-10pm daily


Da Tong Sports Center

I haven't been here yet, but the pictures of the kids' pool on the website has me excited!

Address: 臺北市大同區大龍街51號 Da-tong District, Da-Long Street, No. 15

Website (Chinese): http://taipeidt.com/


Gold Ecological Park - Learn About Gold Mining History of Taiwan

We recently visited this ecological park/museum, and I rate it as one of the most successful historical sites I have been to in Taiwan, and 100% child-friendly and appropriate.

Situated just "past" (on the coastal side) of Jiufen, you can get here by bus or car.  If you drive, you can park in the No. 1 carpark, which right by the entrance, or drive over to the No. 2 entrance, and enjoy a beautiful paved and flat scenic walk behind the temple to the entrance.  (DO NOT pay $100 to park your car and then walk up the steep slope to the museum, like I almost did!)  On the way, you can go to the WWII POW building, where British soldiers were kept and made to work in the goldmine, the POW memorial, or even walk up Teapot Mountain.

This year (2010), entrance to the park is free, but the entrance is really reasonable (150 per adult) should you have to pay.  For 50TWD you can go into the remodelled Shaft No. 2, and I highly recommend that walk.  With recordings, simulations of mine workers, and very safe walkway construction, it's a worthwhile experience for even little kids.

In the gold building, you can learn all about the history of mine, discover some Taiwan history, see a recording of the Danish scientist's melting of his Nobel Prize medal during World War II, touch a record-breaking gold bullion, and enjoy looking at some beautiful jewelry. (My kids watched that video of the scientist four times!)  It's really all hands-on and kids are made to feel welcome.
There is a beautiful Japanese building that was built for a Japanese prince who was supposed to visit during WWII, Japanese gardens, nice little gift shop, simple restaurants and a cafe.

My children (ages six and four) loved this entire adventure.  We spent about four hours exploring the park, and then drove down to the coast before returning to Taipei.  Next time I have overseas guests, I will skip Jiufen and take them to this park.
The English (and Japanese) website is comprehensive.

Website: http://www.gep-en.tpc.gov.tw/econtent/about/about.asp
Hours: Tues-Fri 9:30am-5pm; Sat/Sun 9:30am-6pm
Map and Address: http://www.gep-en.tpc.gov.tw/econtent/travel/travel.asp

Buying English books in Taiwan

Generally speaking, English books in Taiwan are expensive and don't always cater to the needs of expat families.  There are two great places to shop, though:

Cherry Valley Bookstore : Operating in Tienmu near Taipei American School as well as online, Cherry Valley Books is run by an expat dad and Taiwanese mom.  They endeavour to supply reasonably priced books, including periodic sales of secondhand books they bring in from abroad.

Book Depository : With free shipping offered worldwide, this is a great option for buying books online. It works out cheaper than amazon, and means you don't have pressure to buy more than that one book you need. Book Depository is growing fast, and they have a really nice selection of books if you are looking to supplement your child's English reading and education.


Travel In Taiwan Magazine - English information for your reference

Travel In Taiwan is a multi-lingual magazine that boasts in-depth articles on areas of interest in Taiwan.  Whilst not specifically written for families, it is a good read, and you might find some real gems within the pages of the magazine.


National Taiwan Museum

Situated right by 228 Park (Taipei Station area), and with an entrance of 20TWD for adults, and 10TWD for children, this museum is one of my favorites in Taiwan.  You can learn all about Taiwan, its people, history, nature, and science, in a beautiful building with a history all its own.  They have elevators between floors and large, clean bathrooms.

The museum is in four parts:
  • Main museum
  • Outdoor area
  • Research building
  • New branch, across the road in the bank building.
Taiwan Museum's English site is user-friendly and comprehensive.  Here is a link to the Q&A section.  You can find your way around from there.


Garden Mall - flower market, DIY area, artspace, coffeeshops all-in-one

We recently attended a wedding at Garden Mall's banquet hall.  This space is a new and exciting discovery for me.  It is a very nicely laid-out flowermarket with outdoor spaces, DIY activities, art-inspired exhibits, and outdoor coffeeshops, all right on Yenping North Road in Shilin District of Taipei.  This is a very nice, safe area for young children, as all the flooring is wooden, and there are no cars driving through the activity areas.  They have herb-flavored ice-cream and teas for sale, as well as little craft items.

The official website does not seem to be working, but you can search "gardenmall" and get some links that work (Chinese).  There are some private blogs introducing the area, but they have many pictures and may take time to upload.

Entrance to the Garden Mall is free. There is carparking right in the complex.  Cost is 30TWD per hour to a maximum of 300TWD.

Address: Taipei City, Shi-Lin District, Yen-Ping North Road, Sec 7, No. 18-2
Tel: 02-2810-1969

Buses: Red 10, 215, 246, 536

Wan-Hua Sports Center - Child-friendly pool & center

Situated in Shimending, Wan-Hua Sports Center is one of the newer sports facilities in Taipei City. 

The swimming  pool is really nice for families to go to.  The children's pool is up to 90cm deep and is long enough to actually have kids practice swimming in if you would like.  They also have a small waterspa/sauna area and a 6-lane pool.  The changing rooms are large, clean, and have hot water, although you do need to supply your own soap and shampoo.  There is a zero-entry pool lane option, with wheelchair access right to the poolside, where you then transfer to a seat that lowers into the water.  They have regular group swim classes for children including a swim club with a real training kind of feel to it. Pool cost is 110TWD for adults, 80TWD for students, and 50TWD for children under 12years.

The center has a very large padded area on the 1st floor for children to run and play in.  Parents can get a coffee at Ikari and then enjoy it at tables while they watch their kids play inside the playroom.  The room is free to use.

There is also a climbing wall, paintball area, golf range, tabletennis, basketball, gym, dance room, spinning (bike) classes, and other areas and activities to join in the building.  There is a small soccer field out front complete with nets, and a park next to the building.

Address:  Shi-Ning South Road No.6-1 (near the National Tax Office in Shimending) - Easy to get to by MRT or bus, with underground parking for vehicles up to 2m high.
Tel: 02-23818878
Website: http://whsc.cyc.org.tw/


Master Football Academy

I can't believe I forgot about this group of expat coaches and their soccer program.  I am hoping their schedule works for my son in First Grade.  Their English-language website is fairly comprehensive: http://mfa.tw/