One place which I feel is a must-visit for children visiting Taipei is Leofoo Village (六福村). Ted enjoyed himself tremendously and it was the place he talked most about when we returned to Singapore.
Leofoo Village is essentially a very large amusement park about 2 hours’ bus ride away from Taipei central but if you want to save on the long commute to and fro, you have the option of staying in their resort nearby. Since this was our first trip abroad with the little boy, to minimise the shifting of our heavy luggage around, we decided to stay only in one hotel in Taipei throughout our trip.
We started our journey by making our way to Songshan Airport station via the metro. The bus terminal is located right outside the airport, and there are signs within the metro station that point you to the bus terminal. We took the E-go bus which would take us directly to the park. The link is in Chinese, but you won’t miss it because it is the last stop on this route.
The strange thing is, you do not buy your tickets before you board – you sit on the bus for about 1 and a half hours before you arrive at Longtan Station (龙潭总站) and you alight for 5 minutes to purchase tickets. It’s NTD 1200 per adult for a round trip (Taipei to Leofoo and back to Taipei) and it includes the entrance ticket to Leofoo Village. For us, it worked out to be less than SGD60 per person and toddlers enter free! After purchasing your tickets, you show them to the bus driver and continue on the rest of the journey to Leofoo Village.
It’s a long journey (about 2 hours on the bus) so make sure you bring food and entertainment for the children. We had brought along some snacks, a banana and an ipad and although I don’t really like to rely on the ipad too much, it’s really great for such situations when we really just want a little rest.
When we first entered the park, we were greeted by loud upbeat music. After a short walk, we came to a central clearing where there was a procession of floats and mascots waving enthusiastically from them. It was Halloween season when we visited, so most of the floats were Halloween themed.
Leofoo Village is made up of a number of smaller themed parks and I think it is not possible to explore them all in one day. With a toddler in tow, we only managed to explore a fraction of the parks.
The first part we visited was the Safari, which is pretty much like a small zoo. There were animals such as tigers, camels and birds in enclosures for you to observe up close.
There is also a bus ride that takes you into the safari area where tigers, lions and monkeys roam freely. We were there on a weekday that didn’t fall within the school holidays so the park was not crowded. We waited about 15 minutes for the bus. We saw about 10-15 tigers, 10-15 lions and about a 100 monkeys roaming freely and over a rather large expanse of space. It was pretty fun because some of the animals came up really close to the bus and we could see them really close up.
There were also some animal themed rides within the safari park. This baboon one was our favourite. It’s a rickety car on a monorail which moves by a manual pedal. The ride takes you around the safari park and you can see some of the enclosed animals such as baboons, flamingos and tigers from above. The fun part was you can take your time to pedal (although we had to be considerate of the people waiting in line for their turn on the ride) and you can spend a little more time at certain spots where the animals were and pedal really quickly when you move to the next spot.
It was a great hit with Ted, who would constantly mention the “big brown car” that he took.
We found a mini Ferris wheel with only 6 cars which was perfect for little kids. There is no height limit for this ride although there is a minimum height limit of 90 cm for most other rides.
We also took a couple of other rides for children – some twice.
We took a leisurely boat ride that went around a little pond.
We took a ride on some spinning birds in which you could control the birds’ vertical movements. We took it twice in a row because Ted enjoyed it so much.
We also sat on a large boat that looked like a mini viking and which we thought was only going to sway gently back and forth. We got a surprise when it started spinning but it got Ted grinning excitedly. He insisted we take it again and again but twice was all we could manage.
There were plenty of rides for bigger children and adults – many of which we did not sit on mainly because of height restrictions and the fact that some of them looked a little dangerous. There were rides that went in many giddy loops and some that went vertically up several storeys. We explored the park leisurely and then settled down for a quick dinner.
For the ride home, we simply waited at the bus stop outside Leofoo Village for the next E-go bus. It would go straight to Songshan Airport station but it made a few stops around Taipei city central. We decided to hop off at a random place within Taipei city which was brightly lit and looked like it had some big shopping centres and stopped there for an evening walk before we had dinner and headed back to our hotel.
If I ever visit Taipei again, I would certainly come back to Leofoo Village, but I think this time, I will arrange for a stay within the resort so that we can spend more time exploring the park.