Among the countries in East Asia, Taiwan might not be on top of your list to visit. Neither I too when I was still starting my backpacking hobby. I learned about Taiwan from my favorite tv series – “Meteor Garden” and “It Started with a Kiss” when I was younger.
Every time I book flights bound for somewhere, I always see promo flight fares to Taiwan. Knowing that it’s just two-hours away from Manila and fares are pretty much cheap, I easily got interest to visit it. Thanks to my Japan visa that a trip to Taiwan was made possible. There’s no need for me to apply for tourist visa nor wait for visa-free travel announcement for Filipinos.
How to go to Taiwan?
As of today (June 18), Filipinos are still required of tourist visa to go to Taiwan. For your visa application, please go to this website. It’s Php 2,100 single entry visa fee. However, if you have a valid visa or an expired visa within 10 years from OECD countries like Japan, South Korea, US, Canada, before your flight to Taiwan, you can have a visa-free entry to Taiwan. You just need to get a Travel Certificate online, just get it here from this website. But (with high hopes) if you are travelling sometime on September, Taiwan Government said that they will have a one year trial visa-free entry for Filipinos to go to Taiwan. We just need to wait for it!
There are a lot of airlines that offer a direct flight to Taipei from Manila or Cebu. There’s Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Philippine Airlines, EVA Air, Cathay Pacific and a lot more, just check in skyscanner.com. I got a 2,800 pesos RT from AirAsia which I only booked 2 months before my flight date. It’s even cheaper than my flight fare going home to Davao for a same 2 hour flight.
Getting around Taiwan
Before my flight to Taiwan, I got horrible experience with Flytpack in NAIA. I don’t usually stay online when I travel. It’s just that this time, I haven’t prepared any for my trip to Taiwan except for my accommodation and my travel certificate. So, I am considering getting a wifi pack while in Taiwan.
When I arrived in Taoyuan International Airport, there are available Wifi Rental you can choose from. It’s an optional add-on for your expenses. That’s NTD $590 for 3 days unlimited WIFI good for 5 devices and you don’t need to pay for deposit on this unlike in PH. This one you can share with your friends if you are travelling in a group.
My initial plan is to go around Taipei City and to other nearby places in Taiwan like Juifen and Shilin. But when I was already there, weather is not really cooperating with me so I opted to stay in the city. The sun just showed up on my 3rd day. This just gave me more reasons to come back to Taiwan. I just fell in love with Taiwan!
To go around, I opted to get the 72 hours unlimited MRT Pass which is only NTD $380. This is cheaper than taking buses or just paying the usual MRT rates or even the easy card. Taiwan train station is by far the most convenient and easiest train ride I’ve experienced. Almost all landmarks and significant places in Taiwan are very accessible to MRT stations. I really recommend for you to take the train than the buses.
Where to stay in Taipei?
With what I usually do, I booked through booking.com. I stayed in Backpackers Inn for 2 days. It was my first time to stay in dorm type rooms during a solo travel. My stay was pretty much okay. The location is very near the MRT station and the Taoyuan MRT Airport Station. They have free breakfast which is good enough for me. Except for the time to check in, I needed to wait until 4pm for me to get inside the room instead of the usual 2pm check in time. I’m giving them 4 stars for this. There are a lot of hotels in Taipei. You may opt to stay in Ximen where you can find the Ximending Market so you can just go out at night to shop or eat.
Below is my 3 days and 2 nights DIY Itinerary in Taipei, Taiwan:
On my arrival in Taoyuan airport around 1am, I just looked for a place for me to sleep. It’s also my first time to sleep in an airport alone. I waited until 7am to go out and start my trip in Taiwan.
Via the Taoyuan Airport MRT, I stopped in Taipei Central Station and walked my way to my hotel which is just 10 minutes away. I can’t check-in yet so I just left my bag with them and started my trip. My hotel is just a 3-minute walk to NTU Hospital MRT Station. There I bought my 72 hour pass. Then that was my starting point.
Don’t forget to go to the famous Modern Toilet Restaurant, only if you have the appetite to eat poops. It opens every 11:30am. You may check their website for more information like their menu, prices and locations.
You will definitely love here – Ximen, Taiwan.
Around 4pm, I went back to my hotel to rest. My body was so tired walking the whole day with no enough sleep because I went straight to the airport from our office and when I arrived in Taoyuan, I got a hard time sleeping because it’s too cold. In short, I was knocked-out!
2nd day, I woke up full of energy and ready for my next adventures. It was raining hard the whole day.
On my last day, I finally had my body to go on a short hike in Elephant Mountain for me not to miss the panoramic view of Taipei and of course, Taipei 101.
I also had a very nice experience in Din Tai Fung where I met a new Colombian friend and ate the famous Xiao Long Bao.
Ended my day with a cool down at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall and saw kids playing around with their families.
All in all, here’s my expenses when I travelled to Taiwan for 3 days. This does not include the clothes and shoes I bought, my lunch at Din Tai Fung because it is optional and my wifi rental. If you are really on a tight budget, this trip will be perfect for you!
Here are some points for you to know:
- Not all Taiwanese/Chinese can speak or understand English, so you better prepare yourself with this. I really had struggle talking to the locals especially when buying street food or when shopping to night markets.
- Have your currency exchange in airports or with your local banks before you leave because once you are already in Taipei city you will hardly find forex exchange or might find one but the rates are very low.
- Best time to go to Taiwan is from October to March. When I went there on the last days of May, I got series of rain.
- Make sure to bring your medicines in case you’ll get indigestion, acid reflux or any stomach related sickness because of eating in Taipei. You just need to be ready!
- Taiwan got Korean and Japanese fashion influence, so if you love shopping be ready with your extra bucks and your baggage allowances because you will not really resist buying cheap clothes/shoes/bags in the night markets.
- If you love milk tea, these will be the best days of your life. Bubble Milk Tea in Taiwan are incredible cheap! I had milk tea everyday!
Definitely, I will come back to Taiwan anytime soon with my loved ones. I just love the laid-back feeling on a bustling metropolis. If you want a quick and very cheap escape (for only Php 9,000), Taiwan is the best place to be. It is a place to feed your stomach with great food, to feel serenity in your soul and to fill your mind with rich culture and learning.