Taiwan is the second international country I have visited and the highlight of my trip is not the food I’ve tasted nor the hotel we’ve stayed in but the people. The Taiwanese people were what made our trip memorable. According to taiwantourism.guide, Taiwan is “a paradise that fills with love, gourmet, and culture, and a place you wouldn’t want to miss.” and true enough, Taiwan is a country one must visit.
Taiwanese people are extremely nice. They may not know how to speak to you in English but they will try. This is true most especially when you ask for directions, and as first-timers, Patrick and I experienced the helpfulness of the Taiwanese people first hand. That is where I’d start sharing tips for first timers in Taiwan!
1. If you’re doing a DIY trip, do not be afraid to ask for directions when you’re lost. Their transport system is somewhat complicated (or so to me) so there’s a huge possibility that you’ll be lost. It may be hard to speak to the people in English but they will try. They’d write down directions for you, point the right way or if they cannot really understand you, they’d find someone who will so you can be helped. Don’t forget to say “Xiexie” /she-she/ or thank you.
2. For first timers who are in Taiwan for a tour (I was there for business), I’d suggest you book a discounted tour with Klook to avoid the hassle. While the trains and MRTs are okay, I think it’s more convenient if you book a tour because the distances between one tourist spot to another sometimes cover 30 minutes to and hour of travel, and while the public transport is easy to take too, you wouldn’t want to waste time in finding which is which to take given your limited time. I will include links to discounted tours in must-see places as we go on this article. Book as early as now, dahil mabilis silang maubos.
3. If you really insist on doing a trip on your own, the tourist pass helps. Prepare those legs and feet for a lot of walking though. You can get the 2 day tourist pass for NTD 320 and that includes unlimited rides to the MRT and some select busses. The only other train expense you’d need to shell out is if you’re going to Ruifang Station for Jiu Fen Old Street and train expense from Ruifang to Pingxi Line for Shifen Old Street. However, if you’ll get the easy card, each bus / train / mrt ride will cost you around NTD 30 to NTD 50 per trip but you can use them in convenience stores. Always keep a map handy!
4. Take the food for “free taste”. Patrick and I felt like it’ll be rude if we don’t take the free food the people offer us because they are really nice and insistent. And mind you, when I say free taste, mabubusog ka kaka-tikim because they give generous servings of tea, fresh juices, crackers, cakes and sausages!
5. It’s not necessary to prepare coins for the night market. Unlike here in the Philippines where you’d get candies as change even in big supermarkets, Taiwanese vendors give their customers the exact amount, actually sila yung mag-aadjust sayo. We bought siopao from a side street vendor and it costs NTD 16 pero dahil walang barya yung street vendor, NTD 15 lang siningil nya sakin. Syempre nagbalik ako ng NTD 1 kasi sila yung mga taong nakakatuwang bayaran ng tama, hindi nanlalamang sa kapwa. Jusko kung sa Pinas yon, ako pa mag-aadjust ‘teh.
6. Taiwan is a disciplined country. When in Taiwan, do as the Taiwanese do. Follow pedestrian rules, follow traffic rules. Stay on designated waiting lanes when riding the train. DO NOT SIT ON PRIORITY SEATS on the train and buses, believe me, mahihiya ka. Kahit gano kadami ang sakay ng tren, ang priority seats nila ay para sa buntis, matanda, may kasamang bata o PWD. Kamusta naman dito satin, ‘teh?
These tips are based on my experience. Continue reading below for guides on where to score cheap airfares, what places to visit, where to stay in Taiwan and links to discounted package tours.
✈️ WHERE TO BOOK CHEAP FLIGHTS?
Promo flights to Taiwan are usually costs around PHP 3,000 to PHP 4,500. You may check the cheapest fare through Skyscanner. Click on this link to scout for your plane ticket!
🏨 WHERE TO STAY?
There are a lot of hotels and hostels in Taiwan. Stay somewhere near the main station so you can have easy access to everything. Again, I prefer booking with Traveloka because it’s easy and hassle-free. In looking for a place to stay in Taiwan, you can score a bed in a backpacking hostel for as low as PHP 496 per night. Below are links to hotels and hostels you can book.
➡️ Angel’s Hostel Taipei | PHP 496 / night / pax
➡️ Easymind Guest House| PHP 636 / night / pax
➡️ Beimen Wow Poshtel| PHP 925 / night / pax
➡️ Poshpacker Hostel Taipei| PHP 1683 / night / pax
➡️ NYS Loft Hotel| PHP 1916 / night / pax
🚌 HOW TO GO AROUND?
Going around Taiwan is easy. You can either take the bus or the local train or the MRT. The choice is yours. You can also get a discounted package for your tours to save you the hassle! For more information on how to go around, you may visit this link.
🚄 PLACES WE VISITED [+discounted package tour links!!]
Jiu Fen & Shi Fen Old Street
DISCOUNTED KLOOK PACKAGE HERE
These two places are popular among tourists, but believe me when I say, you really must book a package tour instead of doing it yourself because the distance between Jiu Fen and Shi Fen are long. In Jiu Fen, you can go on a food adventure. Don’t forget to taste the freshly cooked shrimp cake and peanut ice cream! While in Shi Fen, you can fly your sky lantern and also go on a food trip. You can also visit the waterfalls (which we didn’t). Prepare your legs. Long walks to take.
Shilin Night Market
When in Shilin Night Market, you must prepare your feet for long walks, your tummy for a gastronomic adventure and your wallets for super cheap shopping! We went to Shilin Night Market twice because of the street food around. If you’re looking for cheap pasalubongs from NTD 50 to NTD 500, Shilin is the place to go! There are other night markets in Taiwan but I think Shilin is the most famous among tourists.
Ximending Youth Shopping District
We also enjoyed roaming around Ximending. There were lots of brand boutiques around that sells shoes, bags and clothes for almost half the price compared to Manila. If you’re planning to re-stash to de-stash your wardrobe, Ximending is the place to be!
We also visited Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall but I am not a fan of temples and buildings so I do not have great photos there. LOL!
➡️ MORE DISCOUNTED PASSES HERE!
Taipei 101 Observatory Ticket
Original Price: 1,059 PHP
Klook Price: 900 PHP
Taipei Double Decker Bus Tour
Original Price: 529 PHP
Klook Price: 426 PHP
Yehliu Geopark Shuttle Bus from Ximen
Original Price: 1,765 PHP
Klook Price: 1,200 PHP
Taipei Unlimited Fun Pass
Original Price: 5,364 PHP
Klook Price: 2,118 PHP
This pass combines attractions and transportation for one great value ticket that lets you see the best of Taipei. Enjoy entry to up to 12 top tourist attractions like Taipei 101 Observatory, National Palace Museum, and more. Includes unlimited rides on Taipei MRT, city buses, and 5 Taiwan Tourist Shuttle routes within the period of validity.
Taiwan made me mourn for my country. If only the Philippines was as amazing as Taiwan, maybe, I’d sing the national anthem again. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s a lot to be proud about the Philippines (or is there?) but can you blame me? Kung sa tourist spots lang rin naman, lalaban tayo mga mamsh. Pero sa tao? Sa asal ng mga tao? Anyare, Mareng Pinas?