I have always been wanting to go travel again since I had our firstborn. But due to a lot of things I need to do as a mom, plus I am not really sure if I am ready to leave our son for a few days to travel internationally, I have to wait for a year and eight months to finally do it. But hey! I was able to do it and now ready to share that trip with you.
So the question is, Why Taiwan?Well, I just happened to get some good stories about it lately and I have always been curious as to what it looks like as that is where my used to be favorite F4 boy band (popular Taiwanese band in the Philippines way back 2003) resides. And I am glad that I decided to visit it, had a great start to satisfy my wander lust for travel. This was supposed to be my first time after a very long time to travel solo again, but God didn’t let me travel alone as a female co-worker of mine decided to join me on this trip about two weeks before my flight, which I welcomed with a big smile.
Here’s how I was able to pull off this trip to reality.
First, I booked a flight going to Taiwan on the first week of March which was two months away from my intended trip, via Cebu Pacific Air, this was a good timing as I got a promo ticket for only Php 4040.00 including a 15 kilograms baggage allowance on my way back to the Philippines. This was a cheap deal, but there are cheaper deals that Cebu Pacific Air and other airlines are offering from time to time, you just have to be patient in waiting for it. My co-worker, who asked me to join this trip two weeks before my flight got her ticket on same aircraft I am with for Php 5,600.00 without baggage allowance. So I guess, booking ahead of your flight is really something to consider in planning a trip.
Second, secured my e-visa using this link. I have paid Php 2, 739.39 for this and got the result within twenty four hours upon submission of the e-form. Do one really need to get the e-visa? Yes, if you are a Philippine passport holder, however you will be allowed to enter Taiwan without applying for the e-visa if you have been issued visa or resident card from Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, United Kingdom and the United States of America that has expired less than ten years to the date of arrival in Taiwan. You are qualified to are qualified to apply for the Republic of China (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate (TAC) which allows multiple entries to Taiwan valid for three (3) months with every stay up to thirty (30) days. So you can add up your supposed e-visa fee to your pocket-money instead. Isn’t that amazing? My co-worker has previously been issued with a US Visa so she just applied for the Travel Authorization Certificate for free.
To apply for TAC, please click here.
Update: Beginning November 1, 2017 until November 1, 2018, Taiwan allows Filipino travelers to go to Taiwan without a visa.
Third, researched for the possible hotel and booked for the best one that I thought we needed for this trip. I booked through agoda and trip advisor, you can also try booking on booking.com, agoda.com, or look for best deals in tripadvisor, airbnb or even try couchsurfing.
Fourth, planned and finalized our itinerary.
Last, packed my things and prayed that we would be able to enjoy the trip.
Here’s our 3 Days, 3 Nights Itinerary
DAY 0 (May 5)
1000PM – Departure in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3
1210AM – Arrival in Taouyan International Airport Terminal 1
0330AM – Check – in at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel.
DAY 1 (May 6)
0930AM – Breakfast
1000AM – Longshan Temple
0010PM – Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
0300PM – Taipei 101 Mall/Snack
0530PM – Taipei 101 Observatory/Dinner
0830PM – Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
DAY 2 (May 7)
0830AM – Breakfast
1000AM – Tamsui Old District
1100AM – Fisherman’s Wharf Bridge
0100PM – Lunch @ Tamsui Old District
0400PM – Hashuan 1914 Creative Park
0530PM – Elephant Mountain Trail
0730PM – Ximending Night Market/Dinner
0900PM – Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
DAY 3 (May 8)
0830AM – Breakfast
1000AM – Taipei Zoo
0400PM – Maokong Gondola Station
0700PM – Shilin Night Market
0900PM – Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
DAY 4 (May 9)
0200AM – Departure from Taouyan International Airport Terminal 1
0004AM – Arrival in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3
1. Meet People
Some people wants to go solo while travelling, I like that too. But I recommend, whenever you travel, find out if you have friends or relatives you can meet in the place you are visiting and who knows they might be available to show you around the town during your stay. Isn’t it more fun to be with people who are already familiar with the place that is stranger to you? If you want privacy though, it is still up to you to do that.
For this trip, I have met two people, first was a high school classmate, who I haven’t met for fourteen long years and is now working in Taiwan. Second, was I finally met one of my cousins in person , who I only found in facebook. So, that alone is enough reason why I cannot forget Taiwan.
2. Book a hotel that is near an MRT station.
For a hassle-free trip in Taipei, book a hotel that is located near the MRT. Hey Bear Hotel where we checked-in is located across Taipei Bridge Main Station and that really made our life easy.
3. Get an Easy Card and maximize its use (MRT, Bus and entrance to Taipei Zoo)
We arrived in Taiwan at about 1210AM of May 6, and due to volume of tourists that time we were able to pass through the immigration at around 0200AM. There was no MRT anymore as MRT operates only from 0600AM – 1100PM only. If you are on a budget and doesn’t want to pay for a night in a hotel you may opt to stay at the airport until six and wait for the bus ride going to Taipei Main Station and from there you can go ride in MRT going to some tourist spot first to kill time as checking in at hotel is usually at 2 in the afternoon. But since we really wanted to go get some rest already, we have decided to get a taxi cab from the airport to Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. It costs us 1020NTD. It was kind of expensive for a thirty – minute taxi ride but we were glad we arrived safe at our hotel and was able to rest still prior to our tour in the morning. For the three-day tour we bought an easy card with a total load of of 500NTD. We used this for the MRT ride, bus and even as entrance fee to Taipe Zoo. If in case you were not able to exhaust this, you can refund the remaining NTD equivalent at any MRT station on your last day there.
4. Withdraw from ATM terminals of the country your are visiting.
We brought peso to Taiwan and exchange some of it at the Taoyuan airport, my friend who’s working in Taiwan said it was a bad decision as the airport offers the lowest exchange rate among all other options. So I suggest that withdrawing money directly from your ATM card is wiser when travelling abroad in general. Also, just a reminder to travellers, please exchange enough NTD as you cannot see money changers in Taiwan as frequent as it is in Manila.
5. Try iTaiwan Services for internet use.
The use of internet has been a part of our daily lives already. But, do we really need it when travelling? My answer is, it depends as to what place you are in and what kind of getaway you really wanted it to be. For instance, if you want to be away from home but still want to be updated from time to time about what’s happening from the family you left behind then having an internet is something you should have, otherwise, you can enjoy your trip without it. For this trip, I would recommend everyone to have an internet as this will be a very big help for you to research on the places that was on your itinerary. Now, how did we get internet service in public spots in Taiwan? We got it by simply registering at this link a few days before we left for Taiwan. You can get your passwords on the tourist service center located on here. And relied on the hotel wifi service everytime we were there. There are sims and pocket wifis you can buy or rent at the airport, but for three days, I suggest just register for the iTaiwan service. Why pay if you could get one for free?
6. Learn basic Mandarin or just be creative in communicating what you want.
Not many people knows how to speak English in Taiwan. So communication had been really hard for us when we get there as we don’t speak Mandarin at all. From the taxi driver to the people on the road, do not expect the local to speak English, so you really have to be creative in letting them know what you want. Like for the taxi driver, I have printed the name and address of Hey Bear Capsule Hotel written in Chinese and just gave it to the driver, so he easily understood where he need to drop us off. On our first night, we ate at a restaurant near our hotel and no one knew how to speak English, so what we did was looked around and just point the food that we want on the table of those who have ordered their dishes already. It was very unfortunate that their menu was written in Mandarin without any picture on it.
7. Try Taiwan Food (be it streetfood or the one you can have at restaurants).
I will always remember Taiwan as one of the best places to find great street food that are cheap and affordable. Always look for food where there are a lot of people falling in line to buy it. It means a lot about its taste.
Read more about food to eat in there in my post Food Porn in Taiwan.
8. Know the places you want to visit.
I like all the places that we visited but just a few tips, for three days trip you should be able to know what you really want to see. Like if you are not interested to stay in the city then you can go outside Taipei and discover Taiwan’s hidden natures, but if you are a city fanatic then you will probably enjoy Taipei alone. Make sure to not put a lot in your itinerary or if you do just be flexible and prioritize what you want to see or not see.
9. Prepare your budget.
I spent a total of Php 10,395.12 for the airfare, e-visa, travel tax and hotel. For the pocket money I have brought Php 10,000.00. For three days, with food and transportation, I have spent Php 5,000.00. I have indulge a lot with food so we have tried eating at restaurants and at the street. The remaining Php 5,000.00 I used it to buy a bag and some souvenirs for family and friends I left at home. So if you are just there to travel, a pocket money of Php 5,000.00 is more than enough for your three days trip.
Just be there physically and mentally and enjoy it!
In the end, did I miss my son? Yes, very much. I have missed him a lot, but soon he will be with me on the road again. It is good to sometimes have my time alone too though. Will I visit this country again? Of course! But when I get back, I would like to see Taroko Gorge in Hualien, Taichung and a lot more of the great places in Taiwan. I hope you guys like what you have read and is now interested to see Taiwan for yourself too. See you on the road!