I went on a solo trip to Taiwan from 22nd to 27th December and visited Taipei, Jiufen , Shifen, and Maokong. Traveling on a relatively small budget, it’s surprising that I was able to do the touristy activities (aka what I want to do) and still able to eat 3 times a day. Taiwan is probably not cheap since it’s a first world country and it’s expected that everything will be pricey. However, it turned out to be budget-friendly.
Here is an overview of my day schedule:
- Sun Yat Set Garden
- Datong District Sight Seeing (surrounding areas of the hostel where I stayed)
- Zhongshan Mall Sight Seeing
- Taipei 101 (I didn’t go inside)
- Elephant Mountain
- Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
- Taipei Expo Park (my feet unintentionally brought me here)
- Saint Christopher’s Church
- Shifen Old Street
- Taipei Zoo
- Maokong Gondola
- Ximending Night Market
- Early morning departure (4:00 AM flight)
Day 1 was not filled with activities because I was too sleepy. I arrived at Taoyuan at past 2 AM and I had to wait until 5:30 AM to pick up the Wifi Router that I rented. Booking an accommodation would be useless since every hostel that I found from Agoda starts check-in at 3 PM. There was no need to book an accommodation on my last night since my flight was at 4:00 AM. I was already at the airport at past 9:00 PM 🙂
Here is an overview of the expenses:
Roundtrip Airfare: PHP 2,305
Travel Tax: PHP 1,620
Three-night Accommodation: PHP 2,075
Pocket Money: TWD 3,700 or PHP 7,000
ATM withdrawal in Taipei: TWD 1,000 or PHP 2,000
Klook Wifi Router: PHP 530
Sub Total: PHP 15,530
Excess Pocket Money: TWD: 800 or PHP 1,500
Total Expenses: PHP 14,030
If you want to know the details, please read below.
In my previous blog, I confessed that Taiwan is not a dream destination for me. A big reason was the visa requirement. For a Filipino like me, visiting a country that requires a visa is a huge problem coz I don’t want to go through all the hassles of obtaining one. I actually imagined myself visiting Indochina first before the first world countries in Asia. However, it was already visa-free starting November 1 so I didn’t have to worry about that.
I saw a Facebook post by Cebu Pacific that said something like: Hey! Taiwan is now visa-free for Filipinos! Book your tickets now for only PHP 888! And I thought … uh okay. At that time, I was decided to visit Batanes. I’ve been to El Nido and Boracay and I was thinking I should visit another local place for my third solo trip. However, airfare to Batanes was really pricey, around PHP 16,000 roundtrip via Philippine Airlines. So two days later, I was still seeing the Taiwan 888 advertisement and I decided to go for it. I spent a total of PHP 2,305 for the Manila-Taipei-Manila airfare inclusive of taxes and window seat.
This is a requirement for all Filipino travelers. Since I was in the economy seat, I paid PHP 1,620. Those flying in the business class should expect to pay more.
Agoda is my go-to website for booking my accommodation. Initially, I really wanted to stay at Sleepbox Hostel because they have the capsule-style bed which I really wanted to try. I was able to reserve a capsule for only PHP 1,900 for three nights. Too bad for me I had to cancel that because my passport came late and I had to rebook my flight. I ended staying in another hostel where I paid PHP 2,075 for a three-night stay.
Initially, I converted PHP 7000 to TWD 3,700 in NAIA T3. Then I used my debit card to withdraw TWD 1,000 in Taipei. So I have TWD 4,700 as pocket money.
It’s extremely important to know that local debit cards won’t function abroad. Based on my research, the debit card must have a VISA logo or a Cirrus logo for it to function. Not sure about MasterCard. It’s best to call your bank.
Another thing I learned from my research is that Philippine Peso is not accepted in Taiwan. They accept US dollars. Fortunately, my debit card has a VISA logo on it so no problem.
Breakdown of My Pocket Money
Easy Card: TWD 900
Monopod: TWD 600
Toothpaste and toothbrush: TWD 150
Camera booth: TWD 100
Sky Lantern: TWD 200
Bus to airport: TWD 125
Souvenirs: TWD 250
Coin Locker: TWD 100
Sub Total: TWD 2,325
Food for 4.5 days: TWD 1,475
Total expenses: TWD 3,900
Excess pocket money: TWD 800
Easy Card Breakdown of transactions:
- Bus from airport to Taipei Main Station
- Train from Taipei Main Station to Taipei 101
- Train from Taipei 101 to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
- Train from Chiang Kai Shek to Saint Christopher’s Church
- Train from Saint Christopher’s Church to Taipei Main Station
- Train from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang
- Bus from Ruifang to Jiufen
- Bus from Jiufen to Ruifang
- Train from Ruifang to Shifen Old Street
- Train from Shifen Old Street to Ruifang
- Train from Ruifang to Taipei Main Station
- Train from Taipei Main Station to Taipei Zoo
- Taipei Zoo Entrance Fee
- Cable car ride from Taipei Zoo to Maokong
- Cable car ride from Maokong to Taipei Zoo
- Train from Taipei Zoo to Taipei Main Station
Easycard was worth TWD 100 and I added TWD 800 as funds. It covered my entire transportation cost including the entrance fee to Taipei Zoo as well as the cable car rides. There was a remaining TWD 144 balance but for some reason, the bus going back to airport rejected it. So the bus driver just told me to pay in cash. However, I tried to use the remaining balance in a vending machine at the airport and it was accepted.
To be honest, I didn’t compute how much I spent on food. I just based on how much money was left to me when I arrived back home. From TWD 4,700, I still had TWD 800 on hand + lots of coins. By the way, the money changer in NAIA T3 doesn’t accept coins so I just converted the TWD 800 bills to PHP 1,500.
I’m a small eater but I didn’t skip any meal. I also ate a lot of street food in Jiufen and Shifen and in Ximending Night Market. The hostel provided free breakfast. The cost of food was from TWD 20 to TWD 150. Also, I didn’t eat at any fancy restaurant. I opted for local establishments where the prices of meals were printed in big letters in front of the store. So I was confident that I can afford it 🙂 Rice meals cost about TWD 65 to TWD 144.
I’m not big on shopping. There’s a lot of Totoro and Spirited Away stuff in Jiufen. You probably know that Jiufen is Hayao Miyazaki’s inspiration for the best anime of all time – Spirited Away. I purchased two Totoro keychains for myself because I’m a fan. I also bought 8 pieces of ref magnets with Taiwan design for my loved ones. A total of TWD 250 was spent for souvenirs.
Monopod for TWD 600 was pretty expensive. It’s around PHP 1000. I also had to buy a kit of toothpaste + toothbrush at 7-Eleven for TWD 150 because I forgot to bring a sachet of toothpaste. That’s a total of TWD 750 that I could have saved instead. Anyway, it was an experience.
I might have forgotten a thing or two, but one thing is for sure. My pocket money was only TWD 4,700 for 4.5 days and I still had TWD 800 left.
Please understand that this blog post does not intend to brag. I’m a budget tourist or traveler (whichever) and I’d like to share my experience so others would have an idea. If you learn something from my blog, let me know. It will send me to the moon. Cheers!