Thu, Jan 22, 2009 - Page 13 News List

Stay in for the holidays…but not at home

A few ideas for travel around the island, but book fast as Lunar New Year is just around the corner

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORER

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If the traditional Lunar New Year ritual of staying at home doesn’t hold appeal but you haven’t made plans, there’s still time to make a getaway.

Hotels at popular vacation destinations like Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), Hualien (花蓮) and Kenting (墾丁) are filling up fast, but there are still spaces for at least a partial vacation away from home. Hotels that haven’t filled to capacity yet are likely to have rooms available on Lunar New Year’s eve (Sunday) and Lunar New Year’s day (Monday). During the entire holiday, be prepared to pay higher than average prices.

In getting around the island, some say that the first day of the Lunar Year will be an easier time to travel as everyone will be at home, but it’s safest to assume the worst for traffic all next week, starting from Sunday. Save yourself a headache by taking the train or the bus. And bring a book for the ride.

TAIPEI: HOT SPRINGS AND HOTEL LUXURY

In Taipei, the Lunar New Year usually means cold temperatures and rain, but hot springs resorts in Beitou (北投) and Wulai (烏來) offer a warm respite. Many of the resorts are already at full occupancy, but still welcome daytime visitors to their public baths. Spring City (春天酒店, www.springresort.com.tw, (02) 2897-2345), in Xin Beitou (新北投), offers private baths for NT$600 per hour, and rooms ranging from NT$6,800 to NT$25,000.

The luxurious Villa 32 (www.villa32.com (02) 6611-8888) is booked full for the week of the Lunar New Year, but its public hot springs are open and cost NT$2,000 for four hours. Villa 32 is also offering a variety of specials during the holidays for day-trippers — see the “promotions” section of its Web site.

In Wulai, the Wulai Spring Resort (www.wulai-spring.com.tw, (02) 2661-6161) still has rooms as of press time, ranging from NT$3,600 to NT$8,800.

If you still have the government-issued consumer vouchers, then consider a night at The Grand Hyatt Taipei (台北君悅大飯店, taipei.grand.hyatt.com, (02) 2720-1234). The hotel is accepting NT$3,600 in vouchers in exchange for one room for one evening, which is valued at NT$15,400. Other offers include an upgrade to the Grand Club Room (valued at NT$19,250) for an additional NT$2,200, or the Grand Suite (valued at NT$20,350) for an additional NT$3,300.

SUN MOON LAKE

The mist-covered mountains that surround Sun Moon Lake

(日月潭) make this Nantou County (南投縣) spot one of Taiwan’s most popular scenic destinations, especially during the Lunar New Year season. Two mid-priced hotels, Sun Moon Lake Hotel (水沙蓮觀光飯店, www.sun-moon-lake.com.tw, (049) 285-5855) and the Fleur de Chine Hotel (雲品飯店, www.fleurdechinehotel.com, (049) 285-5500), are nearly at full occupancy from Sunday to Jan. 30.

One chance of getting a room is the pricier The Lalu Hotel (涵碧樓, www.thelalu.com.tw, (49) 285-6888). During the Lunar New Year holiday, the Lalu offers a “lakeview” suite for two for NT$21,300 per night or a villa for two at NT$31,000 per night, plus 10 percent service charge. The prices include breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner. If you can wait until Jan. 30, prices return to normal — nearly half of the Lunar New Year rates.

There is a cheaper option for those who want to stay on Sunday or Monday. The hotel’s Lalu Elegant Package includes a one night stay for two persons and buffet breakfast for NT$13,900 on weekdays and NT$15,900 on weekends.

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