EVA Air Economy Quick Review Taipei to Hong Kong

EVA Air Economy Quick Review Taipei to Hong Kong

Here’s a quick trip report on Eva Air Economy on a new A330 equipped with Wifi. If you’re interested in wifi prices then jump straight down to the gallery and view the photo.

Eva air is a 5 star Skytrax airline and was founded in 1989. It’s the alternative to the state owned carrier China Airlines. Here’s my quick review of the pros and cons of Eva Air economy class

  • Fast check in at online check in counters. Well staffed and no queue
  • Boarded at end of process so can’t speak for the priority boarding available but boarding was well managed into zones
  • New A330 with Wifi
  • Seat comfortable. Same seat on longhaul should be comfortable and not “bum numbing” Pitch was nothing special and OK for short haul.
  • Snack good for the short haul flight. Other airlines don’t even provide a tray. Metal cutlery on one sector and special Hello Kitty tray and cutlery on their special Hello Kitty themed plane! Organic and filtered water towel included on the tray
  • Entertainment system was good but limited English new releases. Did also have European new releases though.
  • Nice cockpit display on moving map
  • At seat USB
  • Gate to gate entertainment. Loaded early so no boring taxis and waits on the ground!
  • Use your mobile device at all times!

Overall a very decent experience in economy on this short flight, you can see why they deserve the 5 star Skytrax rating.

Taipei’s Metro system.

Taipei’s Metro system.

Getting round a new city can be an intimidating thought; lack of local knowledge, language barriers, price, it can all add stress to what should be exciting and fun. Not so in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital city, which has one of the best underground train systems in the world. Why? Take a trip with me and discover why I love it so much.

Their slogan “A world-class metro, a wonderful Taipei” (source: Taipei Metro website) gives you a good insight into how seriously they take customer experience. Taipei is fiercely proud of its Metro system, and for good reason. It’s clean, safe, easy to navigate, and has stops at all the right places. Let’s look at it closer.


I don’t think I’ve ever travelled on a subway system as clean as this one. Trains are gleaming inside and out, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any litter at any station, and users are very good about cleaning up after themselves. The fact that eating and drinking is banned on the trains probably helps. Don’t get caught either, as they impose heavy fines (you can carry food and drinks, just don’t consume it on the train).


Coming from a transport background (mainline trains in the UK), safety is one thing I always look for when using public transport. Happily, this is a major concern for Taipei, with barriers at every station, loud (but pleasant!) warning alarms prior to a trains arrival, and staff at busy stations to help the less able bodied (I’ve watched staff assist blind travellers, they are professional and caring), not once did I fear for my safety. Stations are well lit too, and most of the major stations appear to have staff of some capacity during all times of the day, another plus for solo travellers (especially women).

Easy to navigate.

All signs are in Chinese (Mandarin) and English, so it’s not overwhelming if you can’t read kanji. Announcements are in Chinese, English, and Japanese both at stations and on trains, and electronic displays on the trains in all three of these languages also help you to see where your stop is in plenty of time, so boarding and alighting is a lot less stressful! Prior to boarding, of course you must pay for your journey! Several ways you can do this, depending on how much you will be using the Metro. Let me break it down for you.

  • Single journeys. These can be purchased from either the machines or the manned kiosks near the gates. It’s pretty simple, just look at the metro map near the machines for your stop (in Chinese and English), you’ll see a number on it (for example, if you’re at Taipei Main Station looking to travel to Ximen, you’ll see a 20 on Ximen). This is the fare in Taiwan dollar for that journey. Click on your language (Chinese is automatic, but you can switch to English or Japanese too), select single journey, select the desired fare (20, 25, 30, etc.), insert cash only (coins or notes), and voilà! It’ll issue you with a little plastic disc, like a token, that you can use to tap in at your origin station. At your destination, simply tap then pop it into the slot where it will be eaten up by the gates, allowing you to exit. Just don’t lose it!
  • IC cards. Hit up the closest convenience store (usually a 7/11), to purchase an IC card for 100 Taiwan dollar. These can be topped up with as much as you like at all stations. The machines have an option for top up, just click it, click how much you want to top up (100 for example), tap your card on the plate (it’s pretty obvious, it has a sticker on it showing an IC card) and you’re good to go! 100 Taiwan dollar will get you a lot of journeys, and the gates will show you how much you have on the card as you enter and exit, so you won’t be caught short (don’t worry if you are, there are fare adjustment machines if you need them). Simply tap in and out at every origin and destination! (you can also top up at kiosks if you have issues with the machines).
  • Day passes. These are great for tourists. They are a fixed price and allow unlimited travel on the system for 24 hours. They can only be purchased at the kiosks.


Here’s a map to help you out:

As you can see, this one has both Chinese and English translations. It’s an extensive system, with stops at major attractions such as Taipei 101 (an architectural feat that towers over the city), Shilin (one of Taipei’s biggest night markets), and the Exhibition Centre. Their website has a route map and timetable, as well as links to an app to help you navigate the Metro like a pro: find it here. As a general rule, the closer the station is to Taipei Main Station, the cheaper the fare. There are five lines: Wenhu (brown), Tamsui-Xinyi (red), Songshan-Xindian (green), Zonghe-Xinlu (yellow), and Bannan (blue). If there’s a change to be made, signs will point you in the right direction at stations, as well as announcements and signs on trains. It’s pretty simple. As long as you know the stop you need, and the line it’s on, you’ll have no trouble getting your bearings.

Other things to love.

It’s almost an attraction in itself. There’s a mascot called Majimeow, an adorable cat character poised to greet you and ensure you have a pleasant trip, souvenir shops at major stations allowing you to buy Majimeow and train-themed goods, photo booths so you can commemorate your journey (no joke, I have one from the Taipei 101 stop!), and services such as lockers, free wifi, toilets, and care for disabled users. Want to remember each station you visit? Get yourself a notebook and collect station stamps! These can be found next to kiosks, a great way to see where you’ve been.

Enjoying Taipei couldn’t be easier.

Night markets of Taipei

Night markets of Taipei

Ximen night marketTaiwan. Even if you don’t know much about the country, you’ve almost certainly heard of it, and I’d be willing to bet my breakfast that you own at least one product made in Taiwan. Taiwan’s capital city is Taipei, and to talk about it in one post would not do it justice, so let’s focus on one of its most famous aspects; the night markets.

Taipei is awash with night markets, the biggest being Shilin and Nigxia, which are of course hugely popular with visitors, and are often packed out. I visited Shilin, an easy walk from Jiantan subway station (there’s a stop at Shilin, but it’s further to walk. Jiantan brings you right into the heart). Shilin has plenty to offer; food, shops, and 24 hour reflexology parlours (more on these a little later), it’s a haze of neon and pushy vendors. Despite the hustle and bustle, it actually feels pretty safe, though I highly recommend keeping an eye on valuables as it would be very easy for a pickpocket to take advantage. If you’re looking for fine dining and peace, this is not the place for you. However, if you want something more substantial than street food, there are cafes dotted around serving traditional Taiwanese food and a seat to enjoy it on. Coffee Story has a great range of comfort food, including a sizeable hotpot (a soup-like dish consisting of a pork broth, vegetables, meat, and seafood) that’s served on its own stove. Make sure long hair is tied back! Asian hotpot

Another night market I visited, and by far my favourite, was Ximending. Another neon dream, except interspersed with eateries, up-market shops, and with massage and reflexology parlours on virtually every corner, you can’t turn anywhere without something to do! Whilst we’re on the subject, let’s talk about massage and reflexology. Most places are 24 hours, or open specifically at night to coincide with the markets, and offer a range of services. The most popular is a foot massage, or reflexology. It’s said in Chinese culture to help with a number of ailments, and align things in your psyche that may be out of whack. Whilst I’m skeptical of all this, it did sound like a nice treat for my achy feet! It’s really quite the experience. You pay for a set amount of time, usually 20 to 60 minutes, then sit back, relax (ha!), and let the masseur do her thing. They set a little timer and show you it, so you know how long you have. After a relaxing soak in hot water, it’s time for the massage. No exaggeration, it felt like torture! Thumbs felt like steel balls, and at one point she actually started punching my calves! It was the longest 40 minutes of my life, but it was also an interesting experience. For 500NT (about US $15.00) it wasn’t a bad price, and some of the soreness did go. I’d recommend it if you’re in good health, though maybe not suitable for pregnant ladies, diabetics, and people with heart conditions. Reflexology services

Moving on from the reflexology and into the rest of Ximending, there’s food vendors aplenty. The street food is varied and incredible, from fried quail eggs on a stick to flame grilled steak (literally, they use what looks like a mini flame thrower!), you will be spoilt for choice. My favourite was the hot dogs, which you could have spicy or non, and came cocooned in a tasty rice bun. The flavour was amazing, so much packed into something so small. Thirsty? Wash it down with a famous tapioca bubble drink or a colourful fruit juice, the latter of which comes in a handy re-useable flask. Keep an eye out for some of the more interesting snacks too, particularly the pineapple cake, which comes in a phallic shape… Pineapple cake

Shops sell pretty much anything you could wish for, as well as things you don’t. Clothes and accessories are popular wares, and most are ridiculously cheap in comparison to Western prices. Some of it probably won’t last you all that long, but some is of surprisingly good quality. Other things you’ll find are souvenirs, pet supplies, jewellery, shoes, and toys. There are also “adult” shops; you can probably imagine the type of things they have on offer.

Aside from shops, food, and massages, another thing you can see hidden within Ximending’s folds is a Buddhist temple. Wafts of incense will entice you in, pulling you briefly from the chaos. It’s not open all night, but if you arrive in the early evening, you should still get the chance to walk round. The architecture is atypical of Chinese Buddhist temples; it’s ornate and delicate. Statues stand watch from all sides, there’s a small koi pond filled with foliage and presided over by an elephant statue, and it’s usually vibrant with worshippers. Everyone is welcome to visit, just be respectful of people that are praying.Ximen Temple

Night markets are very easy to get to. The best way to get round is to use Taiwan’s excellent Metro system. Here’s the most convenient stops for 5 of the best markets:

Shilin: Jiantan.

Ximending: Ximen.

Raohe (Taipei’s oldest night market): Songshan.

Ningxia: Zhongshan or Shuangling (it’s about equal distance from both).

Huaxi (once Taipei’s longest market): Longshan Temple.