Safe, convenient, inexpensive, allowed me to rest well at night
I traveled by myself to Taipei for the first time from California, U.S.A. from July 01 to July 09, 2006. I originally booked a private room with air conditioning for two nights, but I ended up staying in Happy Family 3 for eight nights in a row. I loved the location, convenience, and low cost of staying at Taiwan Hostel Happy Family. Happy Family has three facilities. They are all in the same general area within five minutes' walk from the Taipei Station. HF1 is closest to the Taipei Station. It is literally across the street from it. You would walk past it if you look too far away. HF2 and HF3 are a little farther away down on North Zhong San Road, Section 1. HF2, which also serves as the office, is in the alley behind the OK convenient store north of the Civic Highway. There is no clear signs pointing to HF2. Many people get stuck once they have arrived at the OK store area, including me. A kind person showed me the way to the Happy Family 2 facility the first night I got there. If you ever get lost, just find the OK store and ask the clerks. They are used to seeing foreigners hanging out near the store, and they know about Happy Family. There are a number of useful stores near Happy Family 2 and 3. The OK convenient store opens twenty-four hours; a restaurant serves western style bacon, ham, eggs, jam, breakfast, and sandwiches; other cafes and restaurants serve their own specialty foods starting early in the morning. The underground shopping area at the Taipei Station is huge, and it only takes two minutes to walk there from HF2. The cleaner provides same-day service for your laundry. One can easily access city buses, trains, the MRT subway system, airport buses, taxis from where the hostel is. You can walk to many different places nearby. Many Taiwanese government buildings are only a few blocks away in one direction, and the popular night shopping area is also within walking distance in the other direction along North Zhong San Road. The room I stayed in was small, but it had everything I needed -- a fan, a bunk bed, a closet, a desk, and a chair, electric outlets, and lights. The air conditioner was running strong at night and it made it really comfortable to have a good night sleep. The room and the sheets were clean when I received my keys to the room. The bathrooms in HF3 needed some improvements, but they were usable. I took my time to enjoy a cold water shower after every long day of travel in high heat and humidity. Warning -- You need to bring your own toilet papers to the bathrooms at HF. You can get them in the OK store down the street. I paid about 500NT (US$16) per night for a private room with AC at HF3. The YMCA a few blocks away charges 1800NT (US$60) per night for a single room with AC and bathroom. I saved quite a bit of money by staying at HF compared to staying in a cheap hotel, and that money helped me go a long way during my travel. Just so that you know the scale of things, it costs about 25NT for a 500mL bottle of coke and 35NT for a 375mL can of beer at the convenient stores. The outside temperature was about 28C or 82F at 11 p.m. when I was there in early July. You need to have AC in the room, otherwise you will have a tough time falling asleep. The HF3 facility has a washer, but no dryer. You have to hang dry your clothing if you do your laundry there, or you can bring your dirty clothes to a cleaner a few shops down the street. The cleaner charges 50NT for 1KG (2.2 lbs) of clothing, wash and fold. I paid 300NT (US$10) for 6KG (13 lbs) of my clothing for a week. I just dropped off my dirty clothes at the cleaner in the morning, and I picked them up before 10 p.m., clean and nicely folded. It was well worth the time and hassle saved. You can also watch TV in the living room, which does not have air conditioning. I did not spend much time in the facility during the day at all. I just got up, washed up and went out for fun. If you just want a safe, convenient, and clean place to stay for the night and store your belongings, then Happy Family is definitely a good choice. The residents at HF are all busy doing their own things on their own schedules. I felt safe returning to the hostel at all hours of the day. If you need anything, you can easily get help from the friendly staff members at HF, Mr. Lee and Mr. Huang. I will go back to Happy Family the next time I visit Taipei.