Taiwan has been the center of talks recently for travelers and first timers due to the move of granting a VISA Free entry to Filipinos. Just a short background, Taiwan or Formosa (Republic of China) is actually not a country but an inalienable part of the territory of China (People’s Republic of China) and anyone who wishes to establish a diplomatic relations with PRC shall discontinue any formal diplomatic relations with the ROC, thus choosing between Beijing and Taipei. Taiwan just like Hong Kong and Macau has a greater autonomy when it comes to running their government, with a different currencies and even different policies.
Taiwan as a tourist destination:
People of Taiwan are generally welcoming, they have efficient means of transportation, dishes that you’ll surely enjoy, world-class architectural designs, preserved beauty of nature and a rich cultural history. We’ve experienced all of these during our 3-day visit.
Is Taiwan a budget friendly destination?
Yes, it is! For me, Taiwan is cheaper than Hong Kong but a little expensive as compared to other South East Asian Nations.
Will I have a difficulty conversing in English?
50% Yes! But don’t worry, Taiwanese are very advanced people. They always use “Google Translate” and an app like “Siri” when talking to foreigners.
What are the things to do in Taiwan?
A lot! And I listed some of those below. 🙂
1. National Chung Cheng University (Ying De University – Meteor Garden)
This is the most remote University in Taiwan located in the county of Chiayi. It was also the first public University established after Taiwan’s economic success in the late 80’s. This has been part of our itinerary because of the hit TV series “Meteor Garden”. Majority of the production setting was taken here and a lot of Pinoys who visited Taiwan never missed the chance of getting here. I highly recommend you to buy their unlimited THSR ride online because it will cost you less than purchasing a single journey ticket.
How to get there?Drop off to Chiayi HSR Station from Taoyuan HSR Station. Take the bus # 106 from Chiayi HSR to Chung Cheng University for NT$48 (New Taiwanese Dollars). Since there are limited schedule of trips going back to Chiayi HSR, bus # 106 will direct you to Chiayi TRA Station for NT$20 instead (please take note that there are different kinds of train in Taiwan just like LRT, MRT and PNR in the Philippines). So from Chiayi TRA, you need to take the bus BRT2 to Chiayi HSR Station for FREE.
2. Sun Moon Lake
Prepare for an early adventure because this spot is a bit far from the city center. This lake is considered the largest body of water and a home to indigenous people of Taiwan. From the “Ita Thao Visitor Center”, hop from “Ita Thao Pier” to “Shuishe Pier” to “Xuanguang Temple Pier” back to “Ita Thao Pier”. The likeness of the east side into a SUN and the west side into a MOON is where its name was derived.
How to get there? Drop off to Taichung HSR Station then take the Exit #5 via Nantou Bus for NT$350 2-way trip. Shuttle boat in Sun Moon Lake is NT$300.
3. Rainbow Village
This was started by a veteran soldier, Mr. Huang. Veteran villages are scattered in Taiwan as a simple housing for “Kuomintang Soldiers” after they retreated from the Mainland China. But thru the years, these were disappearing one by one due to the modernization of area. Mr. Huang, one of the villager, started to paint this dying village until getting the attention of the nearby locals. This was then preserved and saved from demolition.
How to get there? Drop off to Taichung HSR Station then take the Exit #6 via Bus #70, #26 or #99. Ride to and from the Rainbow village is FREE.
4. Shilin Night Market
Experience Taiwan on a budget! Then Shilin Night Market is a place you must visit. This place is popularly known for authentic local foods and cheap merchandise. But unlike other night market, food vendors usually leave early than usual. Because of so many foods to choose from, you may want to try their Bubble Tea, Stinky Tofu and the very famous Oyster Omelet.
How to get there? Drop off to Jiantan Station Exit 1.
5. Shung Ye Museum & National Palace Museum
Take time to explore the rich culture of Taiwan and its people. The National Palace Museum of Taiwan is home to hundreds of thousands of artifacts, collections of significant artworks, paintings and calligraphy, rare books and historical documents. This museum has 2 branches, the Northern branch which is located in Taipei and the Southern branch which is in the county of Chiayi. Entrance fee is around NT$300 for the two museums. We bought ALL our tickets online so I cannot give you the exact figures in NT$.
How to get there? Drop off to Shilin Station Exit 1 then take the bus #255, #304 or #815 or minibus 18 or 19
6. Taipei 101
I will feel sorry if you didn’t make it to the top of Taipei 101, this is a well known tourist spot not just in Taipei but in Taiwan. This became the 2004 tallest building in the world before the Burj Khalifa in Dubai existed. Tourists may access the 88th to 91st floors via a high speed elevator for around NT$500. If you’re wondering if tourists can also access the 101st floor, well yes, but only for VIPs who are willing to spend more. 🙂
Relax and have a cup of Starbucks coffee in the 35th floor of this building. You need to book for reservation at least a day before your actual visit by calling +886 2 8101 0701. Rules to remember: 1.) spend at least NT$200 per customer, 2.) time limit is 90 minutes and 3.) no slippers or shorts though I’m wearing those 🙂
How to get there? Drop off to Taipei 101 Station.
- Purchase Easycard for a hassle free bus and train rides for NT$100
- Download “Google Translate” app
- As mush as possible, purchase your passes online to get a discount
- Purchase unli-THSR rides to explore more of Taiwan
- For those travelling on a budget, 7/11 is a food haven
- Secure a copy of Train routes
Breakdown of Expenses in PHP
- P2,074.81 – RT airfare via Cebu Pacific
- P2,042.00 – AirBnB (accommodation for 4 nights)
- P1,620.00 – Travel Tax
- P11,735.42 – Allowance inclusive of all tickets and passes
TOTAL Expenses: PHP 17,472.23
Taiwan is generally safe and a tourist friendly place. Have a memorable trip!
Callistus B. San Diego