It’s also a great rest stop especially on a hot day to enjoy a well-deserved dessert.
How does a lemonade topped with freshly plucked peppermint leaves or matcha freeze made with tea leaves from Shizuoka prefecture sound? :)
All the flavours look just as tantalizing. The flavours are usually determined by what fruits or nuts are in season, and kept as natural as possible. When in season, they have an interesting dragonfruit flavour.
Nothing artificial is added when making the gelato, just lots passion and hard work. Can you imagine squeezing a whole bucket of oranges by hand?!
I chose a lychee rose and matcha flavour combination.
Time to enjoy. The texture was smooth and not overly sweet, with nature’s taste filling your palate.
Time seems to move slowly in Yilan, as you automatically slow down to take in sights of its mountainous naturescape.
I enjoyed the refreshing peppermint lemonade.
And an affogato makes the day even better. Coffee, anyone?
Chalet Gelato 夏蕾義式冰淇淋
No. 27 Hemu Railway Road, Lane 1, Yilan, Taiwan
Tel: +886 3 933 3030
Opening Hours: 9:30AM – 6:00PM daily
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/chalet.gelato
A homely and comfortable minsu I stayed at while in Yilan was at Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿. The spacious two-storey house is the home of Chen-jie 陳姐, who stays with her family at a smaller house just behind this main building. The minsu is named Yoshino Cherry as Chen Jie’s husband likes cherry blossoms, and the minsu is also home to some cherry trees.
I like the feeling of being welcomed into a real home as opposed to checking into an unfeeling hotel room when I travel. The airy living room made me want to sink right into the inviting couch (which I did at night, chatting with my friends, Chen Jie and her husband before heading to bed).
There are only 4 rooms at the minsu, with one of them having 2 rooms (that’s why there are 5 keys here). Each room has a different theme, and opening each room door brings a gust of anticipation.
The Eiffel Tower room is the only room located on the first floor. It would be good for elderly who cannot climb up the stairs or couples who want more privacy (which was taken by the only pair of lovebirds in our group).
I stayed at the Royal Earl Room. Something tells me it will be my kind of room from the crown painted on the room sign.
Woohoo! Grand-looking Victorian bed, red chandeliers and a silver couch – #like. It comes with a balcony too.
I was lusting after the Rose Garden Room too – just look at the gorgeous rose headboard with matching rose cushions!
The Mediterranean Room comes with 2 bedrooms, so it would be suitable for a family or 2 couples.
I felt like singing “Under the Sea”…kids would like this room.
Welcome to Greece…well even for just a wall mural. I like the four-poster bed and cosy ambience.
Yoshino Cherry is surrounded by farmland so it would be lovely to have a leisurely high tea at your room balcony and basking in the serenity of Yilan’s naturescape.
High tea is served every afternoon, and Chen Jie prepares everything herself. One unique thing about this minsu is that it offers one free DIY activity for its guests daily – it can be baking pastries with Chen Jie, or a pottery class with your little ones.
Guests are welcome to use the kitchen. I can almost film a cooking show in this huge space!
The big kid in me was pretty happy with the swing I discovered at the back of the garden.
There is also a children’s play pool. I lost no time in getting pally with the resident Willy the whale. In addition, the minsu has some electric mini cars which are a big hit with kids so parents won’t need to worry much about kids getting bored. The minsu can also arrange for BBQ for you.
Places you can visit near the minsu include Luodong Night Market 羅東夜市 and Dongmen Night Market 東門夜市 which are about 15 minutes away by car, and Sophisca 菓風小舖 a popular DIY candy store is only 5 minutes drive. Kavalan Whisky Factory 金車威士忌酒廠 and several parks are also nearby (see their website under ‘Scenic Spots‘).
We checked out the field opposite the minsu after high tea. Look at those papayas! If only they were ripe…
Most of the areas around were rice fields.
There were small patches of vegetables grown as well, such as spring onion. They must be one of the plumpest spring onions I have seen.
Time seems to slow down here where life is simple.
The highlight of this minsu for me is definitely their breakfast. It is one of the most delicious and nutritious meals I have had. Chen Jie serves Chinese or Western-style breakfast, and both are just as good. Chen Jie epitomizes the spirit of minsu owners very well – we feel her warm hospitality and passion to make her guests feel at home from every little detail at the minsu.
Yoshino Cherry presents their guests with a souvenir before they leave. Chen Jie used to be a special needs teacher before starting the minsu, and these handmade soaps are made by her former students.
The road ahead is long, and I know not what awaits. So just smile and enjoy the present moment :)
Yoshino Cherry Minsu 吉野櫻民宿
Tel: +886 3 922 7900; Mobile: +886 939 930 116 (Chen Jie 陳姐)
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YilanYoshinoCherryBedandBreakfast
Room rates start from TWD2,400 to TWD11,000 to book out the entire minsu (good for 12 pax)
Nearest Public Transport: Yilan Train Station宜蘭火車站or Yilan Bus Station宜蘭轉運站; followed by a short taxi ride (about TWD220 – abt USD6.80/SGD9.90)
From natural environments, cold/hot springs to a wealth of scenic attractions, Yilan is one of the best areas in Taiwan for a leisurely getaway with loved ones, and North Zart is one of the most unique and beautiful minsu in the region. Made entirely out of wood, it feels as if you were momentarily transported to the cabin lodges of Europe.North Zart is located about 15 minutes away by taxi from Yilan Train Station. It offers 13 rooms for doubles all the way up to 6 persons in a room split between two buildings. If you are travelling in a big group (more than 10), you can consider booking a whole building exclusively.
Santa Claus greets you as you approach the entrance of the wooden cabin building. Feels like Christmas all year round!Amazing sunshine smiling down at us. The minsu can help to organise BBQs outside here at night.Lovely outdoor area to chill outThe minsu built the palace theme building a year after the opening of the wooden cabin theme building. The owner conceptualized the design of the entire area, including the landscaping and gardens outside. Amazing living hall which comes with a deepsea aquarium and a TV capable of playing 3-D movies.For the literary ones, pick up a book from its library and immerse in a good read at a favourite corner in the minsu.Lovely decor all aroundThe fragrance of Chinese fir used to build the minsu permeates the spaceThe owner Mr Lin, is a coffee aficionado – you definitely have to ask him to make you a cuppa coffee. We enjoyed chatting with him as he shared with us more about the minsu. I must say he is very meticulous, as you can see the thought and effort that was put into setting up the place, and all the little things done to give the place a warm, homely feel. His family helps to run the minsu too.How I am feeling right now – happily contentedBreakfast is served at the basement of the wooden cabin building.It offers a typical Taiwanese breakfast.The double room was spacious and well-stocked with beverages and snacks.The bathroom was just as spacious.The Rrom for four persons came with a fake coconut tree lolI loved the balcony which overlooks the garden.Some of the rooms also overlook the rice paddy fields behind the minsu which belongs to Mr Lin.And one of the highlights of the minsu – a cold spring! What an amazing treat!The minsu by night looks surreal, and I am tempted to laze my vacation away all day.We got into a little mischief at Luodong Sports Park nearby (you can borrow a bicycle from the minsu for a nice ride in the morning) – with some fireworks and sparklers :)We enjoyed our stay at the very pretty North Zart as well as exploring Yilan’s attractions. As public transport is not readily available in Yilan, I would suggest you book a car or take a taxi. By day you can explore numerous scenic areas such as Meihua Lake, Wai Ao Beach (black sand!), Turtle Island or attractions such as Lanyang Museum and Jimmy Plaza while by night you can visit Luodong Night Market for some local eats. Jiaoxi Hot Springs is also not too far away.
北方札特 North Zart
Address: 269, Taiwan, Yilan County, Dongshan Township, 廣安村廣興路682巷132號
Tel: +886 918 612 581
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NorthZart
View Map https://goo.gl/maps/WgqGJNMR7pS2
Booking website: http://www.kitravel.com.tw/booking/northzart/index_en.html
Room Rates: http://www.northzart.com.tw/contact-fee.html
Getting from Taipei to Yilan
1) Kemalan buses (葛瑪蘭客運) at Taipei Bus Station Taipei Main Station. Fare: About NT$129 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website: http://www.kamalan.com.tw/route.php
2) Capital Star buses (首都客運) at Taipei City Hall MRT Station near exit 3. Fare: About NT$120 Travel time: About 50 mins. Website: http://18.104.22.168/businfo.html
Taiwan Railways to Yilan Train station. Travel time: About 1hr 30mins. Fare: TWD 200 – 250
Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA): new.twtraffic.com.tw/TWRail_EN/index.aspx
Train ticket prices: service.tra.gov.tw/tw/ticketprice/excel.aspx
Getting from Taoyuan International Airport to Yilan
1) Take Kuo Kuang Express buses from the airport to Taipei Main Station. Travel time: About 1hr 10mins. Fare: About TWD 115
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)
Getting from Kaohsiung to Yilan
1) Take THSR train to Taipei Main station. Travel time: About 2hrs. Fare TWD 1,490.
2) Transfer to buses to Yilan (See Getting from “Taipet to Yilan” above)
Tucked away in the picturesque mountains of Cingjing, Nina de Chocolate is a cute, little candy house making exquisite handmade chocolate bearing interesting flavours with locally-sourced ingredients such as Cingjing gooseberry, kaoliang liqueur and even Alishan wasabi.
Located within Florence Resort Villa, Nina de Chocolate reminds one of a candy house found in a fairytale. It is one of the attractions in Cingjing, and people come here to buy their special handmade chocolates home or have tea.
Even their mode of transport is so cute!
The theme of the place is whimsical, and great for families with kids or just about anybody with a sweet tooth (dats me!).
Enjoy the cool air and have your chocolates at the outdoor terrace.
The chocolate atelier is maintained at an optimal 18 degrees celsius to ensure the best quality of chocolate, so if it gets too crowded, visitors are offered tea and invited to wait at the terrace for a short while.
With such delicious dessert, everyday is Christmas ;)
Nina de Chocolate was opened by the owners of Florence Resort Villa as a present for their daughter named Nina who loves chocolate, and Nina also means ‘girl’ in Spanish.
The interior of the shop is a cosy space with a retail area and chocolate DIY corner. All the girls were naturally attracted to the chocolate. The welcoming shop staff also offer you chocolate samplings *squealing with glee* :)
Nina de Chocolate uses Swiss Lindt and Belgium chocolate to ensure a smooth, rich taste and no preservatives are used. They creatively use locally-sourced ingredients such as gooseberry and red tea from Cingjing, wasabi from Alishan, Kaoliang wine, Taiwanese black sugar and peaches to create unique flavours.
How do I resist this amazing spread – I want to try every single flavour! :p The chocolatier also offers seasonal flavours, do ask for them when you visit.
My eyes lit up when I saw the alcohol series; there’s cherry liqueur, blueberry liqueur and even rice wine flavour!
Their attractive packaging makes for awesome gifts to bring home. Do note they do not keep long as no preservatives are used, so only buy if you are travelling home within the next 3 days.
This is the lucky girl Nina :) By the way, the three Italian gondolas beside her are made of chocolate. They do not melt as the air in Cingjing is perennially cooling.
These attractive chocolate pops sure make attractive gifts to bring back home for visitors.
These chocolate-coated nuts have a slightly longer shelf life, so you can buy them home. They are easy to pack in the luggage too ;)
These ink stamps are so Japanese-inspired!
The pretty chocolatier introducing the cocoa bean to us, and showing how to make a chocolate-coated gooseberry which was freshly plucked.
What’s more special than simply visiting a shop to buy chocolates? We made our own at their DIY chocolate-making class. Classes are held daily and each session lasts about 2 hours with a maximum 15 pax. While you can register on the spot, the DIY classes are pretty popular with kids and groups, so I would encourage you to make an advance booking online if you can.
Here’s my very own chocolate mold and decorative ingredients; time to unleash the Picasso in me :)
After you are done with your designs, chocolate which was earlier prepared by the staff is poured into the mould and put into the refrigerator to cool for 15 minutes.
And viola – my masterpieces! :)
Proudly showing off the fruits of our labour :)
And we indulged in a chocolate feast to reward ourselves ;)
One of the most special flavours in the shop is this attractive pink-coloured one named Galaxy. Much like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, it is made up of cotton candy, strawberry crisp balls, Belgium white chocolate and…… jumping sweets which fizzles in your mouth!
Looking inside of Galaxy – Interesting flavour worth a try :)
Oooh…the kaoliang rice wine is oozing out of my chocolate! *hic*
I love dark chocolate, and the 85% raw chocolate sent me to the moon. I can still remember the feeling of smooth, rich chocolate filling up my mouth. Mmmmmmm…sinful pleasures ;p
This green wasabi flavour is one of the shop’s most popular offerings – there were only three left! (And I ate two muahaha)
Saying it with a chocolate – I LOVE it!
My master creations all wrapped up and ready to go home with me :)
Nina de Chocolate is really a fairytale come true, cos’ we had so much fun and chocolate to last the entire trip – I felt like a child again :) Do drop by for a visit the next time you are in Cingjing!
Nina de Chocolate 妮娜巧克力工坊
Address: 南投縣仁愛鄉大同村榮光巷8之3號 (at Florence Resort Villa 佛羅倫斯民宿)
Tel: +886 (0)4 9280 2988
Opening hours: 9:00AM to 7:00PM