- For the holy mountain in Shandong, see Mount Tai.
Taishan City-level County is divided into 20 townships.
The mainland townships are Baisha, Beidou, Chixi, Chonglou, Diajiang, Doushan, Duanfen, Duhu, Guanghai, Haiyan, Nafu, Sanba, Sanhe, Shenjing, Shuibu, Sijiu, Taicheng and Wencun. The island townships are Shangchuan and Xiachuan.
Sanba was merged into Baisha and Nafu into Shenjing in 2006. Shangchuan and Xiachun on the Chuandao Islands are governed as a single entity. Taicheng, or Toising, is the administrative capital and the largest township by far with the most of the civilized amenities.
From most major cities in the Guangdong province, you can take direct buses to the main city of Taicheng.
For international travellers arriving in Hong Kong, you have several options.
- Take a cross-border bus direct to Taicheng. This trip costs roughly HK$250 and takes 3 hours. You will have to get off the bus to cross into Shenzhen and then get back on. Buses are available the Airport and in Mongkok.
- Take a cross-border van that transfers to a bus in Shenzhen. The advantage of this service is you do not have to get out of the van to cross the border which will help greatly if you have too much luggage. This will cost slightly more than the bus-only cross-border option.
- Take the metro to Lo Wu station to cross into China. Then from the Lo Huo transportation hub, you can book a bus direct to Taicheng. This option costs about HK$30 for the metro ride and ¥110 for the bus ticket.
- Take the ferry to Zhuhai. Then taxi to Gongbei bus station where you can book a 2 hour bus ride to Taicheng (with a stop in Duhu Town). This will be the most stomach churning option as the ferries bounce across the water!
For international travellers arriving in Macau, cross into China at Gongbei. As you walk out into Zhuhai, you will see stairs going down into an underground shopping mall. The mall is a maze but it will let you cross the streets without the need to play "frogger" with aggressive Chinese drivers. Keep an eye out for the signs to point you to the bus station. The bus ride from Zhuhai to Taicheng will take about 2 hours and cost ¥65.
For international travellers arriving in Guangzhou:
- There is a direct bus from the airport, cost about ¥65. This will be the cheapest and most convenient transport.
- You can also book a direct bus from the bus stations outside Kengkou metro station and Tianhe Coach Terminal metro station. Both will cost about ¥65. The Kengkou buses take 2 hours while the Tianhe buses take 3 hours as Tianhe buses make more stops.
- For a more expansive tour, take the metro to Guangzhou South Railway metro station. Then take the Guangzhou-Zhuhai (Guanghai) intercity rail to Xinhui. After a 15 minute walk (or a 3 minute motorcycle taxi ride) to the next door bus station, you can take a local bus to Taicheng. In terms of moving vehicle time, this is the fastest option as the trains hits 200-225km/h. But after adding transfer wait time, total trip might be even longer. However, if you haven't ridden high speed rail before, it may be worth the experience although this is only medium speed compared to the 350-450km/h lines sprouting up between the major cities of China.
To travel between the towns of Taishan, local buses go everywhere. The two main bus stations in Taicheng are Taishan Central "Juong Cheh Jaam" and "Top Saan" stations.
Within any of the towns in Taishan, expect to use taxis whether 4-wheel cars, motorcycles or 3-wheelers. In the smaller towns, motorcycle and 3-wheel taxis will be the only option.
Taishan towns are relatively small and flat so biking is a good way to get around. At ¥200 to purchase a 1-speed commuter bicycle, it may be cheaper/easier to buy and sell it afterwards at a loss than to find a fancier rental.
Finally, you can hire a van taxi to drive you around both within the local cities and between them.
The local language of Taishan is Taishanese "Hoisanwah" (99% similar to the local languages of Kaiping and Enping), which is a Yue Chinese language like Cantonese and often considered a dialect of it even though it's truly not, and it's only marginally mutually intelligible with it. However, Cantonese is the lingua franca of Guangdong province (outside of Shenzhen where Mandarin dominates) while Mandarin is the national official language, so most non-elderly locals would be able to speak both Cantonese and Mandarin at least decently.
As in most of China, English is, long story short, non-existent.
The word "shan" in Mandarin (saan in Cantonese) means mountain and Taishan is chock full of them. Almost any small village you visit with have a picturesque landscape towering above fields of rice. Most of the time, these mountains are not hikeable but during tomb sweeping month (see below in the Do section), trails will be cleared.
- Shi Hua Shan (Stone Flower Mountain/Sek Fa Saan), Shihua Park Rd, Taicheng. Just on the outskirts of Taicheng is Shi Hua Shan -- an accessible and hikeable mountain. Midway up is a small temple. At the base of the mountain is a small lake where you can rent pedal boats to enjoy an hour and the town square with a corner allocated to kid amusement rides.
- Beidu mountains (Buk Do). Beidu has a unique mountain landscape with big boulders everywhere -- sort of like M&Ms ontop of an ice cream scoop. There is a public beach requiring an entrance fee but if you walk 100 meters up the road, the beach area is free (as of 2009).
- Mei's Courtyard, Duanfen. This is the place to get your fill of 1930s Chinese architecture. The quintessential 3 story house rings a giant courtyard. Various Hong Kong movies have been filmed here with souvenirs/props left behind for viewing.
Many areas around the world are famous for exporting foods and goods from the local area. Taishan is famous for exporting people. Everybody in Taishan has a relative who just emigrated to another "country" (whether developed in North America/Europe/Hong Kong/Singapore or developing ones in Latin America/Africa). Some are waiting their turns for their parents/off-spring/siblings to sponsor them and many more get money sent to them from overseas.
Hence Taishan's primary industry is leisure for not only vacationing overseas Taishanese but for the many locals who don't need to work. What you will find are scores of karaoke clubs, hair salons, foot massage parlors, facial treatment parlors, hotspring spas (outside Taicheng), internet bars.
- Stone Flower Mountain Park (Shihuashan), Shihua Park Road, Taicheng. Stone Flower Mountain Park is a 5 mile path around the Stone Flower Reservoir right above Stone Flower Square (you probably get the naming structure right?). The path is smooth enough for biking, skating and running. There are various bike rental vendors where you can rent 2-person or 4-person surrey's for 30-35 CNY per hour. Along this path are 2 separate climbs -- one goes to a broken house, the other an active temple. From this park, there is a path that connects to the GD Greenway to Kaiping.
- Tomb Sweeping Month (Huan Shan/Huang Saan), everywhere. In Chinese custom, 1 month after the end of Chinese New Year is Tomb Sweeping Day. In Taishan though, offerings to ancestors can be made any time during the entire month instead of that single day. This is in part due to the large overseas population who want to return to make offerings but obviously can't all pick a single date. Hence during the entire month, people hike up mountains not only make offerings to their own ancestors but also join in on those of neighbors and friends. You will see the typical decoration of grave sites, burning of paper money, firecrackers and so on. But afterwards, it's a feast of roast meats (most often goose and pork) and cakes. It's a sign of respect when others join in with Taishanese on their offerings and they would feel especially proud if a foreigner "gwi loe" made the trek with them. So if you're in Taishan during this month, make friends with locals and join in.
- Fudu (Fu Doe) Hot Spring Holiday Resort, Duhu Town (Doe Fook). A very large and scenic outdoor hot spring spa. You can also sit in a spa where fish eat the dead skin off your body. The spa and pool areas have no shade so do evening trips during the intense summer months. When surprise summer storms roll through, the water slides and wave pool are closed for safety reasons. Buy entry fare at local travel agents for ¥55-¥75 depending on the 'season'.
- Sunrise Hot Spring Spa (Hay Wun Loi), Sanhe Town (Saam Hup). A smaller spa but closest to the main city of Taicheng. All the spa areas have some coverage to keep the summer sun from roasting your skin. The larger areas for kid wading, wave pool, etc. have no such protection so keep out until the sun goes down. They also have a heated indoors swimming pool perfect for those who want to do laps instead of soaking. Regular price is ¥93 but if you can buy entry fares at local travel agents for ¥65. During the off-season, price can get as low as ¥35.
- Dreamland Resort (Hong Queue), south part of Baishan County (West S367 from Sanhe Town). Large and scenic outdoor hot spring pa. Free sandwich and fruit snacks. Fares at local travel agents for ¥70.
- Hei Sha Wan (Hak Sa Wan/Black Sand Bay), Tonggu Village (S273 to Tonggu). This is a small bay with sand black from upstream mineral deposits. There is a swimming area with lifeguards where you will have to pay a ¥10 parking fee and a ¥5 shower fee afterwards. During the summer months, the water is warm and pleasant and you can spend hours floating on the surf waves -- with or without a swim ring. At night, the sunsets are pure red due to the nearby coal power plant. Luckily, the black smoke is blown away from the beach -- a place to visit and not to live for sure. Update as of 10/2014 -- admission price has gone up, the crowds are denser, the area is dirtier so I'd recommend either Beidu or Shangcun/Xiacun for beach fun.
- Lang Qin Wan Beach (Long Kum Wan), Lang Qin Wan, Baidu. A newly opened beach area. It's a good hour drive from Taicheng -- the last part on twisty roads which means the beaches has fewer people and is cleaner. There is an official beach that costs 35CNY for entry. There are also 'private' beaches connected to local villages where guests at the village hotels/restaurants have free access.
- Xin Da Di (Sun Die Day), Gaoye Shopping Center, 1st level. If your hair gets a bit long on your travels, ¥30 will get you a haircut. But if you only trust your personal hairstylist, you can still come here to get a relaxing shampoo and light massage for ¥15.
- Zi Zu Tan Foot Massage Healthy Center, Santai Ave Middle at Qiaoguang Ave (northwest corner block). After many days of travel, your legs may be weary. Come here and for ¥65, you can get a 70min foot and arm massage. For ¥80, it's 100min foot/arm/back massage. Included is a simple meal of rice, noodles or fruit (your choice).
- Hair Salon (name unknown), Yanfu Ave (outside old Liu Fu Village entrance/Gul Look Fook Moon -- on the right w/ green sign), ☎ +86 750-5101128. Do you like spicy foods? Unfortunately, Taishanese do not so the selection of spices and curries for dining are limited. But as an alternative, this hair salon will wash your hair with a ginger shampoo that will set your scalp on fricking fire! It is like eating hot Thai curry but the feeling is on your head and neck instead of in your mouth. The "mint" sensation lasts for 2 hours afterwards. ¥30 for this pleasure (torture?).
- Xiachuan Island (Ha Chee-un) (Shanzui Port near Haiyan Township). For a summer beach vacation, Xiachuan offers a small but modern beach town with prices 1/3rd that of Hainan. You can play on the surf, scuba dive, parasail, jetski and rent 2/3/4 seat bikes. The cost is ¥94 for a roundtrip boat ride, ¥20 for the on-island bus ride and ¥40 for the resort entrance fee. Buying a full package from a travel agent should give you ¥20 discount and save on time in waiting in lines. Hotels there start at ¥150 away from the beach (although at most a few minutes walk) and can go up to ¥800 during peak periods. Food is expensive (for Taishan) at the resort so before entering the resort -- or after leaving it -- hit the local towns for delicious+fresh+cheap seafood.
- Currency Exchange, Pedestrian St, Taicheng (east end under archway and across from Tian Liang/McDonald's). At these two locations, you will see a half a dozen middle-age women sitting on stools holding calculators -- these are Taicheng's money changers. They handle mostly U.S., Hong Kong and Canadian dollars. The last time I had to use one, they charged 1% more than getting cash from a China Construction Bank ATM (no fee via global alliance using Bank of America debit card) but this was back in 2009. I do not know if spreads have changed now that the ¥ is semi-floating.
- Bu Huan Jie (Pedestrian Street/Po Huang Gai), Taixi Rd, Taicheng. This is a quarter of a mile area closed to car traffic. At one end is the Gaoye Shopping Center. The other end empties out into snack street a block north of the Tian Liang Shopping Center. Along the way are shops, shops and shops spilling out into side streets. While cars are allowed in the side streets, traffic is very light as most drivers know they can't cross Pedestrian Street.
- Dong Men Shi Chang (Dong Moon Si Cherng), Dongyun Rd, Taicheng. Pedestrian street generally is for tourists and returning overseas Chinese. When locals want to shop for clothes and shoes, they go to this place first. It looks like a converted parking garage with a huge ramp that goes up to the 2nd floor. Inside, everything is old and grey with rusted metal but the prices are downright cheap. Since this place caters to locals, do not expect plus size clothes. There also is no A/C so avoid during summer days -- summer nights are barely passable.
- Gaoye Shopping Center (Serng Yip Sing), Xinhe Rd at Beitang Rd, Taicheng (west end of Pedestrian St). At this shopping mall is a hotel w/ 2 restaurants inside the hotel, western restaurant, McDonald's, KFC-clone, pharmacy, supermarket, video arcade, movie theatre, book store and lots of shops. On the 2nd level near the upstairs McDonald's entrance are shops selling children's clothing. Unlike Dong Men Shi Chang, these clothes are targeted towards returning overseas Chinese and will have many brands/characters familiar to the outside English world.
- Teeland Shopping Plaza (Tian Liang/Teen Lang), Tongji Rd at W Ring Rd (west end of Pedestrian St). This is the other major shopping mall in Taicheng. On the 2nd level, you will find a supermarket taking up half the floor. The other half will be clothes targeted towards women working in offices -- or OL (office lady) in the Chinese vernacular. On the 3rd level is a jungle gym you can drop your kids off for an hour or two. They will give you a wristband to match up against your kid although they will trust you if your kid runs to you saying "mommy/daddy". If you need some American fast food, there is a KFC on the ground floor while McDonald's is across the street.
- Hai Mei Jie (Hoi Mei Gai), Nanchang St, Taicheng (betweem Xirong Rd and Donghua Rd). Along this street, there are numerous shops selling dried seafood (salted fish, dried oysters, dried scallops, etc.) In the middle of the block is a building with many more tiny shops inside.
- Dian Nao Shang Chang (Deen No Serng Cherng), Tongji Rd at Jiankang Rd. At this corner, you will see half a dozen of computer shops at the street level. Upstairs are dozens more. While you will not find anything unique here, you will not get ripped off as this is not like the cross border shopping malls in Shenzhen or Zhuhai looking for gullible foreigners. So if you need replacement parts for a failed laptop or more memory cards for your camera, you will get competitive prices here.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
The primary cuisine in Taishan is Cantonese with an emphasis on simpler fares. For example, you will not find much of the deep fried dim sum found in larger Guangdong cities. Likewise, instead of fried rice/noodles common in Chinatowns across the world, steaming in stainless steel cabinets is the cooking style of choice.
The most famous dish in Taishan is Stone Bowl Eel Rice "Wong Seen Fon". In Guangdong's major cities, a scattering of restaurants will have "Toisan Wong Seen Fon" as a specialty but Taishan is the place to go to experience the original, especially Shuibu Town. Rice is first cooked halfway before being mixed with precooked eel in a clay pot. The clay pot is then fired up to finish cooking the rice. Where the rice touches the clay pot, oil from the precooked eel drips down and makes a crispy layer called "fon jil". (Taishanese call this layer "nuong" which is also the word for burnt.)
Also popular amongst Taishan locals are restaurants that serve western, Cantonese and coffee/tea. In the local language, this is referred to as "Cha Chaan Teang" which roughly translates to Tea Cuisine. If you have a hankering for sandwiches, steaks, pizza or spaghetti, you can halfway satisfy your need. The western foods are cooked in a style similar to "Hong Kong style fast food" you might find in Chinatowns across the world.
Finally, Taishanese love late night dining. After dinner at 6PM, it is common for locals to head out at about 9PM-10PM to fill their stomachs with everything from dim sum to street vendor fare to breakfast foods to desserts.
There are three main fruits that are grown locally:
- Cavendish and latundan bananas available year round. Local "boon day" bananas sell for ¥3/lb, Hainan's for ¥5/lb and Thailand for ¥7/lb.
- Sugar cane available from January to March. During this period, street vendors with carts of sugar cane are everywhere. For ¥1.5-2/lb, they will peel and chop a 7 foot tall stalk of cane for you. If your teeth are not up to chomping down on tough fiber, either choose the softer black variety or find a vendor who will squeeze a cup of juice for ¥1/cup.
- Durian is available from May to August. The variety grown is Taishan is somewhat less fragrant than those in other parts of Southeast Asia -- but for some people, even that's too much to take. :)
- Breakfast vendor (name unknown), Yuan Mei Lu at Dong Jiao Lu (1st restaurant closest to the intersection). The dish of choice here is noodle soup. There is no variation at all -- it comes with a bit of vegetable, fish patty, mushroom and pork. However, the noodles are firm and fresh. And best of all, it only costs ¥3.
- Breakfast vendor (name unknown), S Gate Rd/Nanmen Lu, Taicheng (1st restaurant to the right of Bank of China with a yellow sign). This restaurant arguably pulls the best steam noodle rolls in Taishan using the aforementioned cooking cabinets. The batter and egg form thin and discrete layers that remain separate when rolled together. This allows the sweet soy sauce to disperse evenly throughout.
- Street Vendors, various. Gaoye Shopping Center motorcycle parking lot near McDonald's. Pedestrian ST near KFC. Pedestrian St near west end. The later the hours, the larger the selection of street vendors. Many BBQ vendors don't roll their carts out until 9PM.
- Xiao Chi Jie (Snack Street/Sil Sik Gai), Xianqian Rd at Zhengshi Rd, Taicheng (2 blocks north of Yut Yul #1 Kindergarten). Various shops offering fruit juices, milk tea, iced coffee and an assortment of snacks. Chabel Snacks here has free WIFI and Macau-style custard tarts "poe tot". The Taiwanese flat bread (similar to Malay bread) across the street is worth a try and right next door is noodles for ¥3.50. Farther down the street at Cheng East Rd and N Ring Rd is Young Station Snacks ... also with free WIFI and a similar menu to Chabel but with slightly more expensive prices.
- Da Yu Ji Pork Chop, Xianqian Rd between Zhengshi and Xuegong (Snack Street). Formerly known as Chabel. Tea cuisine, blended fruit drinks, Macau-style egg tarts, Macau-style chicken/pork sandwiches. For less than ¥20, you can get a sandwich and drink.
- Gook Yull (Sand Oven), any dried & unplanted farm land (ask locals). During the winter months after the soil has dried out, the locals like to head out to farm areas for the equivalent of an outdoors barbeque. They build a tower of dried soil clumps, heat it searing red, place food wrapped in foil underneath and collapse the tower. This is called "gook yull". (I do not believe there is a Mandarin phrase as this a Taishan custom.) The meat turns out especially moist and flavorable -- far better than any baked food I've tasted from a traditional oven. Unfortunately once spring comes around, the fields are filled with water and the soil does not dry out again until December. There is a BBQ/sand oven field along Taihai Rd that is open year around and the staff will build the heated soil towers for ¥60-80. But they do not provide any food so you will need to find locals willing prepare food for a sand oven outing.
- Hua Run Chao Shi (Vanguard Shop/Wa Yun Chil See), Gaoye Shopping Center, 1st floor. Your best bet for western food supplies is Vanguard shops. If want a slice of pizza, a donut, peanut butter, oatmeal and so on, you can get it here. It's also the only store with fresh refrigerated milk as all other stores only sell room-temperature box carton milk.
- Restaurant (name unknown), Qiaohu Rd at Chaoyang Rd. You may have seen Chinese BBQ restaurants around the world with pre-roasted meats hanging in the window and they slice off pieces for you when you order. At this restaurant, the roast chicken "sil gai" flattened and half-cooked with a light "char-sil" sauce. When you finally order the chicken, they finish the cooking process by lathering it with boiling oil (not dipped). This leaves the chicken tender, hot, crispy and not greasy when it's brought to your table. I've had Chinese-style roast chicken in several countries now and this is consistently the best I've had. This restaurant also has clay pot porridge "bo jai jook" (see the entry for Wu Shang).
- Sunbus (Yerng Gong Sun Ba), Xue Gong Lu at Xianqian Rd (yellow building). For cheaper "Tea Cuisine", Sunbus has a wide selection and decent prices. During the times they offer their specials (off-hour lunch), they have a meal plus drink for 15-20¥.
- Japanese Restaurant (name unknown), Zhengshi St (between Xianqian Rd and Dong Yun Lu). Come here for cheap sushi. The rice is a bit soft/mushy but for 10¥ you can get a dish of 6 basic rolls. They also have a wide variety of noodles and rice dishes (slightly Japanese style) for 10-20¥.
- Teeland Snack Street, Teeland Shopping Plaza. At the ground level, there are various food stalls offering small snacks. Right outside the gift shop (N Gee Fong) is a stall with the cheapest Macau-style custard tarts (poe tot). For 10¥, you can get 6 small ones.
- Wei Tao Zui Cafe, Caolang St at Zhengshi St (across from Yut Yul #1 Kindergarten). You have a hunkering for lasagna? Cross-cut fries? Mashed potatoes? Risotto? Pasta with spaghetti sauce instead of just sweet ketchup? They have it. The menu isn't big and you periodically have to wait for a table (which is out of the ordinary for Taishan) but the food is the most "western-style" within a hundred mile radius.
- O.K. Duk, S273 at Xihu Rd, Taicheng (Off S49 freeway entrance towards Sijiu town). Hot pot (dah bene loe) is a popular method of cooking for the Chinese. Most of the time, hot pot restaurants will have a small stove on a table with a pot of water and you add whatever small items you like. At O.K. Duk, you sit at huge stone tables with integrated charcoal pits that stews gigantic 10lb fish in a slightly spicy broth. And when you're done with the fish, you can add in various side dishes like fresh bean curd, deep-fried bean curd, winter melon, beef meatballs.
- Guo Lin (Gu-ah Lum), S273, Shuibu Town (near Leideng Hospital). Clay Pot Eel Rice "Wong Seen Fon" is the restaurant's specialty. They also make a tasty fish dish "Lim Yee Mun Fa Sung" that is first deep fried and then stewed with peanuts. Private rooms surround a serene courtyard in the back and sometimes you can see the crocodiles they raise for meat.
- Li Yuan (Lay Yeen), Dagang Juicun, Shuibu (east from Shuibi Cultural Square past S49 highway). Here you will find a picturesque indoor/outdoor restaurant serving Shuibi cuisine. The cooking style is slightly different as they serve frog rice simmered slowly in an iron wok but the taste and texture comes out similar to the eel rice cooked in stone bowls. At times, they will have freshly caught wild boar on the menu. My favorite here lately has been deep fried talapia stewed with dried bean curd "Fook Sull Jut Mun Foo Jook".
- Wu Shang (Wu Serng), Xihu Rd at 273 Provincial Road (outskirts of Taicheng on the way to Sijiu). The cuisine here is Sijiu-style except they also offer "Bo Jai Jook". Instead of the typical rice porridge, it is cooked in a clay pot until it is thick enough to stick upside down from a spoon. This gives it more flavor and texture -- especially the porridge that has stuck to the sides of the clay pot. (You can accidentally make this dish by reheating a big pot of jook over 2-3 days.)
- Tian Meng Yuan (Sweet Dreams Cafe/Tim Mong Yeen), Tongi Rd at Gexin Rd, Taicheng (2nd location Fucheng Ave near Huanshi East Rd). Pulled noodles "lie meen" are amazing as long as they don't get soft/soggy waiting to be delivered to your table. The clay pot rice noodles stewed with beef brisket "bow jai fun" is also good.
- Xin Hua Yuan (Sun Fa Yeen/New Garden Restaurant), Beijiao Rd. Here you will find Cantonese food and dim sum at modest prices. On average, the same dishes will be half the cost compared to Fu Lin Men (see the below splurge entry).
- Arc de Triumph, Hotel Gaoye, 2nd fl. If you have a hankering for an American breakfast, the best place to get it is at Hotel Gaoye's breakfast buffet which runs from 7:30AM to 10:30AM. In addition to coffee/eggs/ham/bacon/sausage, there also are Chinese breakfast foods. The cost is ¥38 plus 10% tip -- hotel guests eat free. Update: buffet is only open on weekends.
- Fu Lin Men (Fook Lum Moon), 18 Tongi Rd, Taicheng (Skymall Hotel, 3rd fl). This restaurant offers Cantonese food most similar to what's available in Hong Kong or Guangzhou. You can also have dim sum here both early in the morning and late evenings.
- Country Garden Phoenix Hotel (Bi Gui Yuan/Bik Gwi Yeen), Shaganghu Development Zone, Taicheng. The Cantonese restaurant here arguably has the best dim sum in Taicheng. Dim sum is served mornings and late evenings -- the hours in between are open for lunch/dinner.
- Nan Sha (Nam Sa), Taihai Rd at Huanshi Middle Rd, Taicheng (just north of Bi Gui Yuan McDonald's). This restaurant specializes in fresh seafood. Especially good when available are the baked squid and hot plate sizzling oyster dishes. Also try the steamed turbot "doh bo".
- Duhu Seafood Street (Doe Fook Hoi Seen Gai), S365, Duhu Town (make a left at the 1st and only traffic light). This is a town 30 minutes drive from Taicheng. You will find many open air stalls selling live seafood. Pick whatever meets your fancy and take it to any of the local restaurants who will then cook to your preference. If you like fresh abalone, you can get it here from ¥5 to ¥15 per abalone depending on size/quality.
- Cu San (Chee Serng), Gaoye Shopping Center, 2nd fl. This is a western-style restaurant in Taishan with a huge menu offering everything from steak to lamb chops to grilled salmon. One of the managers speaks English fairly well and she will take orders from obvious "gwi loes".
- Landmark Shopping Center (Di Huang Guang Chang/Day Wong Gong Cherng), Taihai Rd at Tongji Rd, Taicheng. This is a brand new shopping center. As it just opened in January 2011, there is not much shopping to do yet but you can get plenty of snacks and drinks. Midway across the length of the center are several open-air bars. During Spring and Autumn nights, the weather will be cool and refreshing for an outdoors drink. Summer nights could be oppressive though and winter nights perhaps too cold.
- Sheng Wang KTV, 18 Tongji Rd, Taicheng (Skymall Hotel, 4th fl). This is a newly remodelled karaoke clubs with a good selection of English songs. Rooms rent out on a food/drink minimum starting at ¥150. What this means is you have to spend at least this amount on food and drinks to meet the room charge.
- V8 Club (V Ba Ba/V Baht Baht) (Alley 2 blocks off Fucheng Ave in Dongmen neighborhood). V8 is the most popular night club in Taishan. Head there for a night of smokey drinks and loud songs.
- Hotel at Bi Cui Yuan, Huanshi Rd West at Nan Sheng Lu (at Bi Cui Yuan/Bic Choy Yeen). This hotel is located at the right-hand side of residential condo complex. You can book a 3 hour room for ¥50. For a full day stay, it costs ¥80-¥110. There are many cheap hotels in Taicheng but this was recently built-out in 2010/11 so for the next few years, the rooms will be in decent condition.
- Overseas Chinese Hotel, 1 Tongji Rd, Tiacheng.
- Gaoye Hotel (Go Yip), Gaoye Shopping Center, 220 Taixi Rd, Taicheng, ☎ +86 750-5598888. This hotel is located at one end of Taicheng's pedestrian shopping street so you have walking access to many of Taicheng's restaurants and shops.
- Country Garden Phoenix Hotel (Bi Gui Yuan/Bik Gwi Yeen), Shaganghu Development Zone, Taicheng, ☎ +86 750-5688688. This hotel is luxurious but several miles from the main city center. If you ask the hotel to call a taxi for you during late evenings, do not wait inside the hotel as guests leaving the restaurant often will flag down and take your taxi as they walk along the side of the road.
- Hua Yuan Jiu Dian (Garden Hotel/Fa Yeen Jul Dim), S Gate Rd West/Nanmen Lu W, Tiacheng, ☎ +86 4008106868. This hotel overlooks a lake in the middle of the city on opposite from Garden Coffee. During cooler months, a brisk 15 minute walk will bring you to the east end of Pedestrian Street. During the summer months, catch a cab to go places.
The following places have free WIFI for customers. Some will be password protected but don't be shy to ask for the password -- say "serng mong mut mah" and point to your smartphone/tablet/laptop.
- Hotel Gaoye (entire building including the Western Buffet and Chinese restaurants)
- Cu San
- Hua Yuan Ka Fei
- Tian Meng Yuan -- 2nd location at Fucheng Ave near Huanshi East Rd (1st location near Pedestrian St does not have WIFI)
- Xin Da Di -- confirmed at Gaoye Shopping Center location
- He Lan Ka Fei (Holland Coffee) -- near east end of Pedestrian St on 2nd fl above a clothing retailer
- Chabel Snacks
- Young Station Snacks
- Vinroy Coffee at Caolang St and Jiankang Rd (near Tian Liang back entrance)
There are also numerous internet cafes "mong bahr". Near Pedestrian St, you will find one at:
- Tian Liang Shopping Center (back entrance to the right of a bedding store)
- Taishan Ren Min Yi Yuan (People's Hospital/Yun Men Yee Yeen), Huanbei Ave at Jiankang Rd. If you need emergency medical treatment, the People's Hospital is the largest medical facility in Taishan. They have departments covering pediatric, ear/nose/throat, diagnostics/xray/ct/ultrasound. Treatments will be cheap (e.g. ¥140 for a CT Scan) but you will need to pay cash before a doctor will see you.
- Dentistry Practice (name unknown), Huanbei Ave at Dongcheng Ave (brightly painted yellow/orange building). This is Taishan's biggest and most modern dental facility. A family of dentists in New York returned to open this dentistry practice. It is as clean, modern and equipped as any in the developed world -- newer than what our dentists had back in San Francisco.
Pharmacies are plentiful in Taicheng. Here are two listings:
- Gaoye Shopping Center, outside level (to the right of Hotel Gaoye's entrance)
- Tian Liang Shopping Center, outside level (to the left of KFC)
When it gets warmer (over 80F/25C), mosquitoes come out in droves. Unlike more modern cities, there are plenty of streams, ponds and rice paddies for these blood sucking insects to breed. Many locals don't show much reaction to bites but if you have no such resistance, you may soon be sporting ugly welts. Pick up mosquito repellent "mun pah suoy" and avoid shorts even though it can get scorching hot during summer days.
And did I mention scorching hot? Temperatures over 90F (32C) are pretty common during the summer with an extra +10F/+5C for humidity. Apply sunscreen generously and carry an umbrella to keep the sun off your head. The umbrella also will be useful for the summer thunderstorms that roll through without warning.
Men in China smoke like fiends and Taishan is no different. (Females rarely smoke in mainland China.) If you can't handle the smell of second-hand smoke, stick with either outdoors restaurants or places with private rooms. Luckily, almost every medium/large restaurant will have private rooms. The key words to say are "law fong" which in this context means "get me a room".
In Taicheng's outer neighborhoods, streets with have either wide sidewalks or separate roadways for bikes/mopeds. But inside the shopping core around Pedestrian street, sidewalks will often be blocked by motorcycles/mopeds or vendor wares. Hence expect to be walking alongside car traffic while hugging parked cars. Obviously if you can find stop lights to cross at, walk the extra block instead of saving the few minutes. Where not available, you will need to follow locals in crossing to the middle of the street and then waiting for traffic on the other side to subside. Luckily, drivers in Taishan are not as psychotic as in other parts of China as I have yet to observe the absolute blatant disregard of traffic lights and laws common in Hainan. While most won't stop to let pedestrians cross, they at least won't purposely try to endanger you. No sudden moves, let cars work their way around you and keep alert.
Traffic is mostly light except for 4 commute periods. For a less chaotic walking experience, avoid these times:
- 7.30AM-8.AM -- people going to school/work
- 11.30AM-noon -- people going home for lunch
- 1.30PM-2PM -- people going back to school/work
- 5.30PM-6PM -- people going home
- A 15 minute bus ride north will bring you to the neighboring town of Kaiping "Hoi Ping" and its historic diaolous.
- 45 minutes west are the numerous hot springs of Enping "Yun Ping".
- Further west (2 hours) is Yangjiang "Yerng Gong", the knife manufacturing capital of China.
- 1 hour north on the way to Guangzhou is Heshan "Hawk saan" with its temples in the mountains overlooking the highway.
- The closest major city (1M+ population) is Jiangmen "Gong Moon" -- 45 minutes to the northwest with an Intercity Rail station. There you can catch fast trains to either Zhuhai or Guangzhou and the cities in between. (Xinhui station is closer by distance but takes longer to travel to due to lack of a direct highway path.)