Last May 2015, my high school friends & I had a short weekend in Taipei. We got our tickets for less than ₱3,000 & spent less than ₱15,000 for the whole trip. Click here to know more about our previous trip. We were not able to visit a few places so I told myself I will go back for another weekend in the so-called Heart of Asia.
Taipei 2017 crew while having breakfast (R-L: Rona, Shiela & yours truly)
Fast forward to June 2017, my colleagues & I were able to book another batch of tickets less than ₱3,000; ₱2,877.48 to be exact. That’s roughly ₱100 pesos more than our ticket in 2015. Tickets were booked 2.5 months before the trip. Pretty good deal, right? We scheduled our 3-day trip during the Eid Muslim Holiday, where it was declared a special non-working holiday in the Philippines.
₱5,754.96 for 2 round trip tickets to Taipei. Super cheap, right?
Note: The Office of the Philippine President has just declared the regular & special non-working holidays for 2018. Click here to have an idea on the 2018 long weekends. You can now start planning your trips for next year.
Note 2: I previously blogged about travelling with your full-time job. Check out this link to help you plan out your trips & your vacation leaves.
Going back to our 3-day weekend trip, let me elaborate below how it went. I will also discuss our entry permits & accommodation, pre-trip bookings, the places we visited & some random stuff.
Last year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Republic of China (Taiwan) announced that they will ease the visa application scheme for Filipino passport holders. In addition to that, those with valid & expired visas (for the last 10 years) for certain countries like Japan, South Korea & the like can enter Taiwan visa free but with a valid entry permit. You can apply for the entry permit here.
A few months ago, he Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Republic of China (Taiwan) announced that they will try a 1-year visa-free entry scheme for Filipino passport holders. Due to some internal matters, the visa-free entry scheme was postponed to a later date, possibly September 2017. Watch out for the official announcement soon.
My friends & I all have valid/expired Japan & South Korea tourist visas so we only needed an entry permit to enter Taiwan. To be fair, the application process & the approval of the entry permit took us less than 5 minutes. Make sure to bring your valid / expired visas + the printed entry permit with you during your trip.
Taipei has a wide range of accommodation choices; from affordable & top-rated hostels, simple & beautiful guesthouses, modern-themed boutique hotels to the luxurious branded hotels. Just like every trip, I searched & read through different platforms where is the best place to stay in the city.
We decided to stay in Hostelworld‘s 4th Best Large Hostel for 2016 – Star Hostel Taipei Main Station. Going by the name, the hostel is located a few minutes walk from the Taipei Main Station & also to Taipei’s central bus terminal. The hostel has both private & dormitory rooms. Since we are traveling on budget plus we don’t mind sharing the room with other travelers, we each got a dormitory bed for NTD 620 a night.
My dormitory bed for 2 nights
Each bed includes a comfortable bed & pillow with sheets (plus comforter), curtains for privacy, a reading light & plug & access to a fast Wi-Fi. Each guest is given an electronic locker & a security key card (no need for padlocks). All rooms are air-conditioned & fitted really well. Common shower areas & toilets are clean & well-maintained. Luggage storage is free before check in & after check out (before 11:00 pm).
Taiwanese burger, hard-boiled egg, fruits & a cup of milk tea for breakfast!
Free breakfast is offered to all guests. Breakfast set differs per day; but it always has fruits & eggs plus coffee (or tea), toast with butter & jam. Guests also have access to a common kitchen & spacious lounge areas.
Star Hostel Taipei Main Stations spacious common area 😍
The hostel rates in Taipei are very close to that of rates in Japan & South Korea. Yes, it may be a little expensive than the hostel rates here in Southeast Asia, but you definitely get more than you pay for. For someone who has stayed in a number of hostels around Southeast & East Asia, the rates of Star Hostel Taipei Main Station are reasonable & super affordable. Make sure to check this hostel when you’re flying to Taipei soon. They are fully booked most of the time; make sure to secure your dormitory bed early.
Things To Book Before Leaving The Philippines
Have you ever heard of Klook? It is a website that offers discounted travel activities & itineraries, attraction tickets, airport transfers & pocket Wi-Fi rentals in major tourist destinations all over the world. We decided to avail some offers prior to our trip to Taipei.
List of pre-trip bookings we made with Klook.
We got out pocket Wi-Fi for only ₱91 per day, a total of ₱273 for 3 days. Pick-up & drop off was super fast & easy. You just need to present your voucher (either printed or via the mobile application) & your passport to the attendant & you will be given your pocket Wi-Fi package.
Jiufen & Shifen Bus Tour
We initially thought of getting the Yehliu Geopark – Shifen – Jiufen Tourist Bus (costs a little over ₱1,000 per person) but we ran out of slots on our preferred date; we opted to get the Shifen & Jiufen Tourist Bus worth ₱763 each. The pick-up & drop-offs were on time. The guide spoke very basic English, but he could still understand us. The bus seats were comfortable. We were given enough time to explore & walk around the Shifen Old Street & Jiufen.
Taipei 101 Observatory Tickets
Observatory tickets cost a little over ₱1,000 each if you buy them in the ticket counters. Klook offers the admission ticket at a discounted price; we got ours for ₱846 each. Ticket redemption is as easy as 1, 2 & 3. You just need to show your voucher (either printed or via the mobile application) to the attendant at the ticket counter.
It doesn’t end there, Klook offers promo codes on top of these discounted rates. We saved ₱500+ each because of a promo code that only valid at the time of booking. Make sure to look for Klook promo codes before booking your next activity & attraction ticket.
I’ve been to most of these places way back in 2015 so I won’t talk about them anymore; instead I will show more photos of these beautiful places. There will be minor details about the places I’ve been to for the first time.
Outside Taipei 101, on a hot cloudy day. ☁️
Taipei City Hall Public Square
The Taipei City Hall Public Square is located at the back of Taipei 101. You will pass by this square if you decide to walk from Taipei 101 to Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall. The square is located in front of the City Hall Building.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
My friend, Shiela & her rainbow flag outside the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall
The Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall was built in memory of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the Republic of China. The hall shows the life & achievements of Dr. Sun Yat Sen. The nearest train station is the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall Station on the Blue Line.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Trivia: This iconic gate of the Liberty Square & Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall is called Dahzongmen.
228 Peace Park
Located a few minutes walk from the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, the 228 Peace Park is a memorial park dedicated to the victims of the February 28, 1947 massacre in Taiwan where thousands of people were killed during an uprising. The park can also be accessed by going down the National Taiwan University Hospital Station of the Tamsui Line (Red Line).
Shilin Night Market
Crowded market on a Sunday late afternoon
Shilin Night Market is Taipei’s biggest & most famous night market. We went here for street food. Yes, the market has so many kinds of street food to try – from stinky tofu, oyster mee sua, oyster omelette, pork knuckles to fried milk, xiao long bao & flame grilled steak cubes. Make sure to go there with an empty stomach, you’ll definitely eat a lot.
One of the hundreds (if not thousands) of stalls in Shilin Night Market
The Shilin Night Market can be accessed via Jintian & Shilin Stations of the Tamsui (Red Line).
Shifen Old Street
Flying lanterns & people taking photos
View from the local Shifen Station
Came across this small restaurant in Jiufen which serves 8 pieces of really good xiao long bao for only NTD 120. I finished 2 servings! 🐷🐷🐷
Vibrant colors of Jiufen 😍
Tour Me Away Pub Crawl*
Tour Me Away is one of the well-recommended Taipei ‘things-to-do’ in TripAdvisor. This organization is a group of adventure-seeking & easy-going Taiwanese locals who want to meet people & show their beautiful city to visitors. They offer various walking tours & activities, depending on your interest.
Pub Crawl group! Thanks to Rona for the photo. 🤳
My friends & I took their Saturday night pub crawl activity. For only NTD 700, we had different kinds of drinks (Taiwanese beer, gauliang & the 81-shot roulette) in 3 different bars. We also met a bunch of amazing people whom we spent the night (& early morning until around 3:30 am) with. The pub crawl fee also includes a free entry to Triangle, a bar / club in Zhongshan District. It was a fun fun night!
Check out the TourMeAway website for all available tours during your trip to Taipei. You’ll definitely enjoy it!
*We went home from the Pub Crawl minutes before 4:00 am & decided to stay in the hostel common area until around 5:00 in the morning. We were so tired we woke up super late that morning. We were supposed to go to Yehliu Geopark; but we thought sleep was far more important that those rock formations. I promise to go back to Taiwan for the Yehliu Geopark day trip!
One of the reasons why I flew to Taipei was to try my luck in buying the new HTC U11 smartphone. I’ve been an HTC user for some years now & it’s been a while since I changed my phone. I thought the HTC U11 will be a great upgrade from the HTC One M8.
My new phone!!!! 📱😍
I bought my new phone in the HTC store in Guanghua Digital Plaza. The 6 GB RAM x 128 GB Blue variant cost me NTD 21,990 or ₱36,856.85 (amount reflected in my credit card statement) minus ₱1,488.14 tax refund = ₱35,368.71. For a phone with such high end specs + super big memory, the price is super worth it.
Breakdown of Expenses
Curious how much I spent for this trip? Let’s have a look below (doesn’t include the phone). Note that we exchanged a few NTD here before we left. Exchange rate that time was NTD 1 = ₱1.85.
Note: We set a daily budget of NTD 1,000 for lunch & dinner plus transportation, possible entrance fees & beers. This daily budget was just right; we even had some extra dollars in our pockets at the end of each day.
Thoughts: Spending less than ₱15,000 for a 3-day overseas trip (airfare included) is such a great deal. We visited a number of beautiful places, stayed in a high-rated hostel, drank enough dose of alcohol, walked around while having a constant Wi-Fi connection for such a low cost. Taipei isn’t as expensive as you think. If given the chance, I would add a little more in the budget & stay for a few more days.
This basically sums up my recent Taipei trip. It was nice to go back & explore this beautiful city for the 2nd time. I’ve been to the city both during summer or ‘almost’ summer; so for the next trip, I want to check it out during winter season. I wonder when would that be?
Have you been to Taipei recently? What do you think of the city? Were there other places I need to put in my list when I go back for the 3rd time? Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments below. You can also send me an email to email@example.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.