Sandpit "Behind" Taipei City Hall - Put Your Feet Up, Let Kids Play!

I stumbled across the open-air sandpit next to Taipei City Hall (Hsinyi District, Taipei) when we walked from The Discovery Center Taipei to The Hsinyi Eslite building (great kids' bookstore).  It is a fairly large sandpit running along a length of sidewalk, with a wooden boardwalk and outdoor tables and chairs.  There are three watertaps with soap to wash the kids off after they play.  The sand is very clean.  It's a kind of man-made sand so it is white and the granules are larger than the sand usually found in sandpits.  This time of year (Feb/March) is perfect for this area.  It is uncovered, so I imagine it must be very hot during summer.  You need to take your own sand toys (although my kids did manage to convince other parents to share their sets with them).  Children were improvising with old coffee cups and laundry detergent spoons.  It was surprisingly quiet when we visited.  There are no cheap convenience stores close by, so you best prepare your own drinks and snacks.  Take a book and put your feet up while your children play.

I am trying to find a street address for this sandpit but I am not having much luck.  It is at the south-east side of Taipei City Hall. (No.1, Sh fu Rd. Xinyi Dist, Taipei City)

Discovery Center of Taipei - Hands-on, Absorbing, Free!

Situated in Taipei City Hall (a short walk from Taipei 101, near the Hyatt Hotel) is a delightful educational center introducing the history, landscape, and modern culture of Taipei city to young and old.  It's a real little hands-on adventure for children, and there is enough English information for non-Chinese speaking parents to get some interesting information.

The exhibits seem to change now and then, as we have been three times and each time it has been a little different.  This time, there was a section where you sit on an exercise bike or stand on a skateboard to make street scenes move, and a movie about literature in Taipei that you start by pulling a book on a desk.  There is the permanent city scape that you walk over, and a discovery center where you can touch the different rocks that are under the city.

The center is spread over four floors.  There is elevator access and it is wheelchair and stroller-friendly.  With elementary-school children you might spend an hour inside, not including the movie that runs at set times throughout the day.  You can get audio kits at the information desk on the first floor (on your right when you walk into the building).  The giftshop on the first floor has some reasonably-priced, quality gifts, too.  It's definitely a nice place to escape hot weather or break up a rainy day.

The English website has a few pictures to give you an idea of what is inside, and a printable map and address.

Address: No.1, Sh fu Rd. Xinyi Dist, Taipei City 11008, Taiwan (R.O.C.) West Door of the Administration Building (facing Renai Rd.)

Website: http://www.discovery.taipei.gov.tw/
Open Hours: Tuesday~Sunday: 09:00~17:00, Free admission
Closed: Monday, National Holidays


Living in or considering moving to Taichung? You NEED this weekly magazine.

Now, I don't know too much about Taichung, except it has great teashops.  An acquaintance of mine has started this weekly online magazine, "Taichung Weekly", for Taichung residents and visitors, and I found it has some very useful information for families, both in Taichung and around the country, as well as those single folk.

For example, this issue introduces the Kaohsiung Ballet Company's March performance of Cinderella in Kaohsiung.  And, Issue Three introduces some music classes for children.

Please tell Jenny you heard of her great magazine through Kidzone.  It'll help both of us to know who is finding what from where on the internet.

With a cover this cool, how could you not read it?


Taipei National University of the Arts - Taipei's Peitou District

One of the complaints people from overseas have about Taiwan is the lack of greenery in the cities. An option for those of us whom enjoy taking children for walks in the trees is to visit the beautiful university campuses that are open to the public. Taipei National University of the Arts in Peitou is one such campus.

Like so many places, the children and I discovered this one by accident. I had set the GPS to the robot museum, and it led me to No. 1 on the street instead of No. 2. I got a ticket from the car parking system and drove into the campus. What a wonderful sight! Water buffalo chomping away on the lawn, Nissan Marches suspended from poles or turned into monsters, and magical-looking paths leading up the hills were just three of the wonders we happened upon. We parked in one of the on-street car parks and wandered around the campus. With the view of the city far below us, it was like finding another world.

Sculptures dot the area, giving children something to explore. There is also an art museum and bookstore, and several cafes (indoor and outdoor) that are open to the public. It must be a lively place during the academic term.

For those families wanting to give children the pleasure of dancing through autumn leaves, this is a great place to go. The beautiful oranges and reds shine through the winter sky and scatter the ground. There is a path my children pretended was the road to Oz, as it wound up the hill between a corridor of trees. There is also a short hiking trail running along the hill parallel to the public road; it has a false sense of excitement and danger for children but adults can feel confident their little ones are safe.

Of course, once you have enjoyed this campus, you can continue up the hill to the university hosting the Robot Museum. That campus is also very pretty, although somewhat steeper than the one for the arts. My children loved looking at the tree sculptures. We imagined we were in Alice in Wonderland. There is a drinks machine on campus and my children were delighted to sit and have a drink in the little garden at the front entrance of the administration building. You could also use the soccer field there, although it says the basketball courts at the back of the campus are for students and faculty only.

Address: No. 1 Xue-Yuan Road, Peitou District, Taipei City.  (地址:112 臺北市北投區學園路一號)
Google map (Point A)
Tel: 886-28938745 


Y17 : Indoor Playspace for Children of All Ages

With the weather in Taipei so unpredictable, it's important to keep some indoor spaces in reserve for those days when the children need to run but there's nowhere to go.  The great thing about Y17 is it is a one-stop indoor space for children and adults, so you can entertain everyone in your family.

These pictures on the Chinese site show the different floors in the building.  You can see the:
  • Climbing wall
  • Rollerlading rink
  • Baby/toddler playroom
  • Classroom area (for dance, language, music, gymnastics...they have TONS of classes)
  • Gym
  • Restaurants
  • Bookshop
  • Concert Hall
The playarea on the third floor is a wonderful place to take your little ones (from a few months old to kindergarten; first graders are not allowed in the area) when you need a break and they need to let off steam.  There are three rooms, which are filled with toys and tools to keep the children busy.  The last time I went, there was a playhouse and car area, infant room, sandroom, balloonroom, climbingframe and ballpool, and a puzzle area.  To get puzzles, look in the catalog, show the lady at the counter which one you want, and give them a piece of ID to borrow the puzzle.  The area is open all day until about 9pm, with breaks for lunch and dinner.  Your ticket is good for the fullday.  You buy tickets on the first floor (the counter on your left when you walk in).  You can buy single tickets or a book of tickets.  Everyone in the playarea need to wear socks.  If you forget, they sell them at the playarea.  There is an eating area outside the playspace, so you can take a picnic or snacks.  Alternatively, eat at the coffeeshop on the first floor or Chinese restaurant in the basement.

The rollerblading rink is a good place to take older children to play.  All the gear you need is for hire.  You can also join rollerblading classes.  They might also like using the climbing wall upstairs.  You can ask about different classes available at the front counter.

This year, their Flea Market will be every Saturday.  You can sell your own things from home or go and pick up some great bargains.  They also have a book exchange program.  I can't find the time for the Flea Market but here is some Chinese information.

There is a carpark in the basement, and street parking around the building.

Address: 台北市仁愛路一段17號 (Taipei City, Ren-ai Road Sec 1, No. 17 - near the corner of Lin-sen South Road)
Tel: (02)2343-2388
Near MRT stops: CKS Memorial Hall Exit 5; NTU Hospital Exit 2.
See a Chinese map here.


It's Cold! Why Not Iceskate? Taipei Arena Iceskating Rink

This is an option I had never considered!  The Taipei Arena (the beautiful arena at the corner of Tunhwa North Road and Nanking East Road, Taipei) boasts an iceskating rink, open to the public, and with rentals available.  At $190 for two hours, plus $80 for rental of equipment, it is a good option for these rainy, cold days.  I am not sure exactly what the lower age limit is, as the site only mentions that children under 7 need to be accompanied by an adult.

The English site is pretty comprehensive.  Just run your mouse over the informational headings to find out what you need to know.

Playspace (for 0 to 8 yr olds) - Wonderful Indoor Space for Children

Playspace is a play area attached to a preschool, that is open to the public.  It was definitely one of our favorite places when both my children were preschoolers, and for our playgroup, too.  For infants, they have a padded area with mirrors and floor toys.  There are sensory drawers, an art area, dressups, a reading area, and ride-on toys for toddlers.  For older kids, there is a waterplay area, sandpit and climbing wall.  Everything is under-cover, which makes it a good choice all-year-round.

You are not supposed to bring food in from outside, but they are not too strict about it.  You can buy coffee, juice, and cookies, and eat them at the little eating area.  There are magazines for parents to read in that area.

I just read on their Chinese website that they are not open until March 2011, due to renovations.  If you are not familiar with Taiwan's school holidays, you should probably give them a call before you go, as they do close during vacations, and I believe they are also closed Mondays.

At time of writing, the entry charge was $250 per child + 1 adult for 3 hours.  Each extra adult $50 each.  You can also buy a 10-hour card.

Address: No. 22, Lane 265, Alley 20, Xinyi Road, Section 4, Taipei City

Tel: 02- 2784-0326


A Truly Child-Friendly Restaurant: Lollypop in Tienmu (Lollypop-禾米美式餐廳)

Lollypop in Tienmu is a truly child-friendly restaurant.  You can find them on facebook (Lollypop-禾米美式餐廳), where they keep their information uptodate.  They have bilingual staff, and their facebook page is bilingual, too.  Take a look at their photos, and you can see their indoor playarea, tables, and menu.

No.435, Sec.6, Zhongshan N. Rd. Shilin
Opening Hours 營業時間: 每周一公休 Mondays off
Tuesday 星期二 to Friday 星期五 10:00am - last order 可以點餐至 8:30pm
週末例假日 Weekends: 9:00am - last order 可以點餐至 8:30pm
**Closed until Feb 7, 2011, for the Chinese New Year break.

Chinese New Year Activities: Hotels Celebrate 2011 Year of the Rabbit

Thursday is the first day of the Lunar New Year.  I heard through the grapevine (well, from a friend) that the Grand Hyatt Taipei in Xinyi district will have a lion dance and other performances from 11am.  Their website does not list a time, but does say there will be activities throughout the day.

Grand Hyatt Taipei
2, Song Shou Road,
Taipei, Taiwan 11051
Tel: +886 2 2720 1234 Fax: +886 2 2720 1111
Email: taipei.grand@hyatt.com

The Grand Formosa Regent Hotel has dinner offerings which include special entertainment for children, from magic to paper cutting.

For more information or reservations, please call 02-2523-8000 ext. restaurant.


Lantern Festival 2011: Options for Families

Our family is not really into crowds, so we tend to stay away from the more "popular" spots for holiday times.  It doesn't mean I don't know about them, though.  If you are in Taiwan over the Chinese New Year and want to show your children some of the culture, then here are some options.  I also wrote about a few last year, but I will try to give you some updated links.

Pingxi Lantern Festival

Pingxi is perhaps the best-known traditional spot to enjoy the Lantern Festival and festivities.  It can be a long day when factoring in the crowds and transportation, but if you are visiting Taiwan, it may well be worth the energy-sap.  There is a comprehensive English-language website already in place, so I won't waste words.

Miaoli Lantern Festival

This year, the main city for Lantern Festival celebrations is Miaoli.  It runs from Feb 7 until Feb 28.  The official English-language site is pretty comprehensive.  This seems to be the common thread of this post!  I am pointing to the "well-planned transportation" page only because I like the name so much.

CKS Memorial Hall Lanterns

If you want to take your children to see lanterns, you can always head to CKS Memorial Hall.  Here, you will see floats of all descriptions, mostly portraying "The Year of the Rabbit" (this year).  It can get  pretty crowded, especially at night, but it is very pretty.

I just heard about a special exhibit within the area, called "2011 Lumunarie Festival".  (Be ready for the music on that site.)  The link is all in Chinese, and I will not speculate about the attraction the event will have for children.  There seem to be performances each night after 7pm. It runs from January 27 to February 28 (4pm~10pm). It is closed on Wednesday, Feb. 2, CNY Eve. ($250 for adult, $200 for kids 115~140cm, free for kids under 115cm)

I will add to this as I find out more information, so don't forget to come back!