Monday, April 23, 2018

Taipei Budget Travel Guide : Things to Do and See, Where to Stay and Sample Expenses & Itinerary

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Taipei is an interesting city with plenty to do, eat and experience even for those who are only staying for a couple of days. You can go to national parks nearby, visit cultural and historical sites, shop till you drop, eat at the markets or just relax and unwind.


Get In and Out

Taipei is accessible from Manila; many airlines (Philippine Airlines, EVA Air, Air Asia and Cebu Pacific just to name a few) have direct flights to and from the city. Book tickets in advance to get the lowest possible prices. [Read: Beijing Travel Guide]

You can easily take public transport to and from the airport. However, not all of these operate for 24 hours so you might have to take a taxi, if you’re arrival is too early or late.
If you have no choice but to take a cab, you can hire one for around NT$900-NT$1200. A cheaper option is to get on the train to Taiwan Main Station; this is around NT$160. There are also buses that depart from the airport to different parts of the city. If you want to go to Taipei 101, CitiAir Bus 1960 will get you there for NT$145. Bus 1819 goes to Taipei Main Railway Station and the fare is NT$125. [Airport transfer to Taipei]


Get a Visa

As of this writing, Filipinos are visa-free whenever entering Taiwan. You don’t need travel certificates or an e-visa to visit this country. However, the duration of visa-free entry for Filipinos is up to July 31, 2018 only.

Around the City

Taipei is easy to DIY because of the networks of buses and subway trains to and from different places. Some attractions are right next to stations, while others are just a couple of minutes walk. You won’t get lost as the names of stations are in ‘pinyin’ or English. [Rent a Pocket Wifi in Taiwan]

You can use some passes to get discounts on trips using the metro or bus. [Buy a Taipei Double Decker Bus Tour]


EasyCard

This makes it easy to pay for buses and metro rides. All you have to do is top it up with cash and you’re good to go. You can purchase this card in convenience stores and subway stations. With this card, you can get a discount whenever you take the bus or metro in the city. You can also use this to buy things at 7-11 or Family Mart.
Metro Pass

  1. One Day Pass NT$150
  1. 24-Hour Pass NT$180
  1. 48-Hour Pass NT$280
  1. 72-Hour Pass NT$380

Activate the card at the gate of the metro; once you do this, you can use it for an unlimited number of times.
Taipei Fun Pass

  1. One Day Pass NT$180
  1. Two Day Pass NT$310
  1. Three Day Pass NT$440
  1. Five Day Pass NT$700

This pass is valid for both metro and bus rides.

Buying the cards or pass reduces your expenses and makes paying for metro and bus rides fast and convenient.

Places of Interest

Taipei is an interesting city to explore and discover, here are some places to consider adding to your itinerary.

  • Taipei 101 – the famous landmark and building in the city. Go at night to see it lit up or up to the view deck in the 89th floor. The adult ticket costs NT$600 (New Taiwan Dollar).

  • Elephant Mountain – this trek rewards you with a spectacular view of the city once you reach the viewing area. The best time to go is late afternoon so that you can catch the sunset and see the metropolis lit up.
City View from Elephant Mountain. Photo by: Dmitry Lebedev under CC license

  • Yehliu Geopark – this park has unique rock formations that are picture-perfect; use your imagination to determine the shape of the rocks you’ll see during your visit. Entrance fee NT$80. [Buy ticket now]

  • Ximending – a district famous for shopping and eating; the best time to explore is at night when the buildings and shops are lit up.

  • Shilin Night Market – this market may be touristy, but it is still worth going to because of the food you can try and the items on sale. If you don’t have much time, this is a market to consider adding to your itinerary.
Shihlin Night Market | Photo by Christopher under CC license.

  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall – This is a good place to take a stroll in and take photos. You’ll also find a statue of Chiang Kai-Shek in one of the buildings. This is a free attraction.

  • Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall – Another hall with exhibits about Dr. Sun Yat Sen. This is a free attraction.
Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall | Photo by: Wayne Hsieh under CC license.

Day Trips

There are also a few day trips just outside the city, some of them are:

  • Yangmingshan – a nice park to explore for the outdoorsy. The trails are easy to walk on because they are either paved or have wooden pathways. There are different sections for those who want to go up one or some of the peaks. There are also waterfalls and ponds with clear waters that reflect the surrounding mountains and trees.

  • Shifen – a quaint railroad town that has plenty of souvenirs and food to try; you can also send out lanterns. The waterfalls are a highlight of a trip to this destination. [Buy Shifen Half-Day Guided Tour Ticket]

  • Jiufen – if you’ve seen Spirited Away, you’ll recognize the lanterns and buildings right away. Explore the markets, try the food and take as many pictures as possible. [Buy Jiufen Shuttle Bus Ticket from Ximen]

Where to Stay

Taipei is an affordable place to stay in; if you don’t mind sleeping in a dorm room, a bed costs around NTD300 to NTD565+++ a night. A private room costs approximately NTD1000-NTD2000+++ a night. The best places to stay are either near attractions or metro stations. This reduces your expenses and time spent going to and from famous destinations during your trip. Taipei Main Station and Ximending are recommended places to look for accommodation. Below are highly-rated accommodations near Ximending and Taipei Main Station (click to see the rates, reviews and availability):

Sample Expenses


Breakdown (in NTD)
Accommodation
1500 (500 each for two persons for 3 nights)
Transportation
900 (if you buy the passes and just take public transport)
Entrance Fees and/or Tours
680 (if you go to Taipei 101’s observation deck)
Food
1200 (if you eat at small restaurants and street food)
Total Expenses for 4 days and 3 nights
4280

*Conversion of NTD$1 = PHP1.77 (as of writing this article)

The total of NT$4280 each for two is a budget for those who want to explore Taipei for 4 days and 3 nights. That’s approximately PHP7600 each for two persons. If you want to eat at better places or eat more food, or if you want to stay at better accommodation and visit more places, you can increase your budget. A budget of P10000 or around NT$5700 excluding flights and taxes is enough.

*Buy your flight tickets months ahead to get the lowest possible prices.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1
Arrive early in the morning and check-in at hotel
Visit Sun Yat Sen and Chiang-Kai Shek Memorial Halls
Walk around, eat or shop at Ximending at night

Day 2
Visit Yehliu Geopark
Go to Shifen and Jiufen

Day 3
Yangmingshan day trip
Explore Shilin Night Market or other markets

Day 4

Check out of hotel
Go up Taipei 101 or just visit, alternatively, you can also hike Elephant Mountain’s trail

*You can add other places you’d like to visit during your stay or replace some places and go at a more relaxed pace.


About the Author
Joshua Berida is a full time writer, part-time wanderer with insatiable wanderlust. He blogs about his adventures at thewanderingjuan.net.
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