Taipei, Taiwan was never on my bucketlist despite its proximity to the Philippines. But because applying for a Taiwan tourist visa is more relaxed these days, I decided to travel to this city, which is roughly an hour and a half away by air. Little did I know, that in my short visit in Taipei, it will win me over, reason why I was excited to blog this Taipei Travel Guide.
Taipei is the thriving capital of Taiwan, standing on a basin surrounded by mountains and the New Taipei City. Interestingly, just like our country, it is deeply religious – largely dominated by Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism, among others. Upon arrival in downtown Taipei, I was greeted by neon lights with Mandarin characters, towering buildings, upscale shopping malls, electronic centers, intricate temples, purring scooters and the mouthwatering smell of Taiwanese food sold at a busy night market.
TAIPEI TRAVEL GUIDE
HOW TO GET A TAIWAN VISA IN THE PHILIPPINES
If you are Philippine Passport Holder and you plan to get a tourist visa to Taiwan, there are 3 ways to apply for a Taiwan Visa: E-visa (Single Entry), ROC Travel Authorization Certificate (Multiple Entry) and Taiwan Tourist Visa (Single or Multiple Entry). You can read my detailed blog here about GETTING A TAIWAN VISA FOR FILIPINOS. Take note that the visa free entry to Taiwan for Filipinos is currently postponed, let’s just wait for TECO’s next announcement by September 2017.
BEST TIME TO VISIT TAIPEI
When is the best time / month to visit Taipei? Because Taipei is located on Northern Taiwan, it has a subtropical weather with an average temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. So you won’t really experience four distinct seasons here. The best season to visit Taipei is during fall around November to early spring in April because of lesser rainfall. Typhoon season in Taipei ends around October. So you may want to avoid traveling here in May to August.
You may also want to avoid the Chinese New Year, which falls roughly around the end of January to early February when visiting Taipei. This is peak season, so prices of hotels are more expensive, not to mention most restaurants and shops are closed because of the holiday.
WINTER IN TAIWAN is December to February, but the coldest months are January to March.
SPRING IN TAIWAN is from March to May but take note that May to June is also rainy season. I visited in May and it’s almost always raining (especially in the afternoon) in Taipei.
SUMMER IN TAIWAN is June to August and mind you, Taipei can be as hot and humid as Manila! But expect some typhoons during this season.
AUTUMN IN TAIWAN is September to November.
TAIPEI CURRENCY AND MONEY EXCHANGE
Taipei uses New Taipei Dollar (NTD) with an exchange rate of NTD 1 = USD 0.03 / PHP 1.66. Take note that you can only exchange money at the airport or at banks, so if you are traveling to Taipei on a weekend, exchange your money at Taiwan Airport, before leaving the Philippines or withdraw from the ATMs scattered around Taipei. You can also exchange money at your hotel, but the exchange rate is really low.
TAIPEI WI-FI/ INTERNET
POCKET WI-FI RENTAL
Although Taipei City offers free Wi-Fi, I find it unreliable, sometimes the connection can get real slow and oftentimes I get a security warning (unsecured connection) that keeps on popping up on my phone. Thus, I highly recommend getting a portable Wi-Fi router when traveling in Taipei. You can rent pocket Wi-Fi at the airport, but devices may ran out quickly, so to make sure, I suggest to RENT A PORTABLE WI-FI HERE and just claim it once you arrive at Taiwan Airport (Taoyuan International Airport). You get a 4G unlimited Wi-Fi with roughly 8 hours battery life and it is dirt cheap!
But if you really insist on getting a Taiwan sim card, better to PURCHASE IN ADVANCE ONLINE HERE and just pick it up at Taiwan Airport (Taoyuan International Airport). Purchasing in advance online is still cheaper and you can pick from 3, 7 or 10 days connection.
HOW TO GET TO TAIPEI FROM MANILA, PHILIPPINES
My recent trip to Taipei was sponsored by a group of hotels and hostels in Taiwan. I spent 8 days in Taiwan (stayed 3 days in Taipei). I flew via Cebu Pacific from Manila and my return trip was via Philippine Airlines (PAL). Other airlines flying to Taiwan include Jetstar, Airasia, China Air and Eva Air. You can check out the official website of these airlines to compare rates. Flight to Taiwan from the Philippines is quite cheap, cheaper than flying to Batanes!
My friend and I was also able to snag a cheap roundtrip ticket to Taiwan from Manila, Philippines for only PHP 4,000 (with 15 kg checked-in baggage) for June via Cebu Pacific. Do watch out for seat sales and travel fares!
At NAIA Terminal 3, I was asked to pay for PHP 1, 620 / USD 33 for the travel tax, the terminal fee for PHP 600 / USD 12 was already included in my ticket.
HOW TO GET TO TAIPEI CITY FROM TAIPEI AIRPORT
Taipei has two airports: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and Songshan Airport. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport caters mostly to international flights, so if you are coming from Manila, Philippines, you will most likely land here. Meanwhile, Songshan Airport located in downtown Taipei serves mostly domestic flights and trips to Japan and China. I’ve been to both since I landed in Taoyuan International Airport and the taxi driver made a mistake of sending me to Songshan Airport instead of Songshan Train Station (talk about language barrier).
There are 3 options to get to Taipei City from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport: by train (Metro Transit Rail / MTR), by bus or by renting a car.
BY TRAIN / METRO RAIL TRANSIT
The fastest way to get to Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan from Taiwan Airport (Taoyuan International Airport) is by train – the Taiwan Airport MRT. The rapid transit has Express and Commuter trains. Taiwan MRT Airport fare is NTD 160 / PHP 265 / USD 9 for Express Train. Operating hours is from 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
The Express Train caters to airport passengers. If you are heading to Taiwan Airport Terminal 1, you will alight at the 4th stop – A12 Station / Terminal 1. But if you are bound for Terminal 2, alight at the 5th stop – A13/ Terminal 2. Travel time for Express Taiwan Airport Train is about 38 minutes.
If you are taking the Commuter Train, it has more stops, so you will alight at the 12th station – A12 Station if you are going to Terminal 1 and 13th stop – A13/ Terminal 2. Travel time is way longer – 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Taiwan has 4 rechargeable IC Cards: Easy Card, Happy Card, Icash and IPass. I bought the Easy Card and I was able to use it on MRT/trains and buses in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
At Taiwan Airport, there’s a wealth of buses to choose from that can take you to Taipei City center. More information HERE. Bus fare is NTD 125 / PHP 207 / USD 4.16 to NTD 145 / PHP 240 / USD 5. However, the last trip is usually until midnight.
So if you are arriving in Taiwan Airport after midnight, you can take the Airport Shuttle Bus 1819 to Taipei Main Station and from there, just take a taxi to your hotel since the Taipei MRT only runs until 12 midnight. Or if you are staying near Songshan Train Station or you are headed to Songshan Airport, ride the Airport Shuttle Bus 1840. Travel time is approximately 55 minutes and bus fare is around NTD 125 / PHP 205 / USD 14. Buses leave every 15- 20 minutes and they operate 24 hours a day.
If you decide to take a taxi from the airport, expect to pay around NTD 1,000 / PHP 1,657 / USD 33 to NTD 1300 / PHP 2, 155 / USD 43. Quite hefty if you ask me, but if you are 4 in a group, this is reasonable.
BY CAR RENTAL
If you are arriving in Taiwan around 11:00 PM to 07:00 AM and you missed the last airport bus or airport train, you can also BOOK THE TAIWAN AIRPORT CARPOOL TRANSFER HERE.
Pick up at Taoyuan International Airport and hassle-free transfer to Taipei and New Taipei City. Fare is about NTD 299 / PHP 500 / USD 10.
If you have the money to spend or you are traveling to Taipei in a group, you can RENT A CAR TO PICK YOU UP FROM TAIWAN AIRPORT (Taoyuan International Airport) TO TAIPEI HERE BOOK THE TAIWAIN AIRPORT CARPOOL TRANSFER HERE, good for 4 persons. You can also chose car rental from 2 days to 7 days including Taiwan Airport pick up. CLICK HERE TO RENT A CAR IN TAIPEI
GETTING AROUND IN TAIPEI, TAIWAN
BY HOP ON/ HOP OFF BUS
Taipei has just recently offered the hop on/hop off tour bus that covers the top attractions in Taipei. You can BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE.
BY TRAIN (MRT)
Taipei Metro Rail Train is dub as one of the best in the world and it’s easy to understand why. Unlike the complex subways in Japan, Taipei’s train system is pretty easy to use because there are only 5 lines. And it is super convenient since most of Taipei’s attractions are located near the MRT/ train stations. MRT fares usually costs NTD 20/ PHP 33 / USD 0.67 – NTD 50 /PHP 183/USD 83. Here’s a photo of the Taipei MRT Map, take note that the boxed numbers are the train fares (e.g. 20, 25, 35).
I highly recommend purchasing a rechargeable IC Card such as Easy Card, Happy Card, ICash and IPass so you don’t have to buy train tickets for every ride. You can also use the IC card in many buses across Taipei and even at neighboring cities like Kaohsiung. Plus if you use the IC Card, you get a discounted fare, I noticed the usually NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.67 fare becomes NTD 16 / PHP 27 / USD 0.53 whenever I use my Easy Card.
By the way, you can purchase a 24 hour pass for the MRT at NTD 180 / PHP 298 / USD 6, 48 hour pass costs NTD 280 / PHP 464 / USD 9 and a 72 hour pass will set you back NTD 380 / PHP 630 / USD 13.
To top up the IC Card, you can top at the train station or at convenience stores like 7Eleven.
You can also ask for an MRT Map at the Information Counter of any MRT stations in Taipei and you can get a Taipei Travel Map at Taipei Main Station. If you are a first-timer in Taipei and you want to make sure you are on the right track, you can also download the Taipei Metro App on Google Play.
Taipei MRT has lockers in case you need to leave your luggage. Also, eating and drinking beyond the yellow line (prior to entering the MRT) is not allowed.
BY CAR RENTAL
For hassle-free tour around Taipei, you can rent a car rental from 2 days to 7 days including Taiwan Airport pick up. CLICK HERE TO RENT A CAR IN TAIPEI
TOP PLACES TO SEE IN TAIPEI
CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL (中正紀念堂)
One of the top attractions in Taipei is the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall and this place is surrounded by a beautiful manicured garden. Here, you’ll also find the National Theater and the National Concert Hall. But the most photographed is the Memorial Hall itself for Chiang Kai Shek, the former President of Taiwan (Republic of China) from 1928 to 1975. The iconic white building is octagonal-shaped with blue roof and two stairs leading to its main hall where a massive statue of Chiang Kai Shek is sitting. If you are lucky enough, you can witness the changing of the guards here which happens every hour until 5:00 PM.
Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: 09:00 AM to 6:00 PM daily, except for Chinese New Year Eve & Chinese New Year.
Address: No. 21, Zhongshan South Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
How to get to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall:
Take the MRT green or red line and alight at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial (中正紀念堂).
SUN-YAT SEN MEMORIAL HALL (國父紀念館)
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall may not as grandiose as the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall but definitely it’s worth a visit, after all this place is dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat Sen, father of Republic of China (Taiwan). The memorial hall is surrounded by a beautifully manicured park known as Zongshan Park. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is located near Taipei 101. I was able to witness the changing of the guards here around 5: 00 PM.
Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, daily, except for Chinese New Year Eve & Chinese New Year.
Address: No. 505, Section 4, Ren’ai Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
How to get to Sun Yat Memorial Hall (國父紀念館):
Ride the MRT Blue Line and get off at S.Y.S Memorial Hall.
TAIPEI 110 (台北101)
Taipei 101 (台北101) is Taiwan’s most famous and most photographed landmark. This soaring building was once named as the tallest building in the world. Tourists going to Taipei for the first-time make it a point to see this icon. Taipei 101 houses an upscale shopping mall and boast of the Guinness World of Record fastest elevator in the world. Imagine it can take guests on top for only 37 seconds.
Tourists can tour inside Taipei 101 and climb the Observatory on the 89th Floor via the elevator to get a 360 degree view of Taipei. Observatory entrance is at Level 5. Entrance fee to Taipei 101 is NTD 600 / PHP 994 / USD 20, Student is NTD 540 / PHP 895/ USD 18 and Child (115 cm) free. But you can BUY A DISCOUNTED TAIPEI 101 TICKET HERE . Don’t miss the museum inside. And while you are in the area, you can also go shopping at Xinyi Shopping District (信義區).
Taipei 101 Open Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 11:00 AM – 9:30 PM
Friday – Saturday: 11:00 AM -10:00 PM
Sunday – 11:00 AM -9:30 PM
How to get to Taipei 101:
Ride the train on the Red Line 2 (Xiangshan Train) to Taipei 101 Station. You can also take the Blue Line 5 to Taipei City Hall Station located below the Hankyu Department Store, head south to Xinyi Shopping District towards Taipei 101.
ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN (象山)
Undoubtedly, the Elephant Mountain has one of the best views of the city but be prepared to hike up the summit with a lot of stairs! Visit during the late afternoon and catch the sunset here, wait for the blue hour and early evening to take photo of Taipei.
How to get Elephant Mountain:
Alight at Xiangshan Station (象山) and take Exit 2. Follow the right path and walk along the side of the park until you get to the end of the road. Here, you’ll see a temple on the hill. Turn left and the entrance to Xiangshan Hiking Trail (象山登山步道) is just a few steps away. The hike should take about 20 – 30 minutes depending on your stamina.
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM / GuGong (國立故宮博物院)
One of the most beautiful museums I’ve visited is the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan. It houses a large number of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks. As the name suggest, the building looks like a palace. The ticket here includes access to the adjacent Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and the Zhishan Garden next door.
Entrance Fee: Adult: NTD 250 / PHP 414 / USD 8, Student NTD 150 / PHP 248 / USD 5
Monday – Thursday: 8:30 AM -6:30 PM
Friday – Saturday: 8:30 AM -9:00 PM
Sunday: 8:30 AM -6:30 PM
Address: No. 221, Section 2, Zhishan Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
How to get to National Palace Museum/ Gugong (國立故宮博物院):
Ride MRT Red Line and alight at Shilin Station (士林). Exit and walk towards the highway, look for the bus stop and ride Bus R30 to National Palace Museum. Fare is NTD 17 / PHP 28/ USD 0.56. Take note of the last trip for the bus – 6:55 PM. Going back, you can drop by at the Shilin Night Market. Take the MRT at Shilin station and alight at Jiantian Station.
A visit to Taipei will not be complete without trying the food on one of its many night markets. The most popular and most touristy is Shilin Night Market (士林夜市).
How to get to Shilin Night Market
Ride MRT Red Line and alight at Jiantan Station (not Xilin Station).
DALONGDONG BA-ON TEMPLE (大龙峒保安宫)
Dalongdong Bao’an Temple (大龙峒保安宫) is one of Taipei’s most stunning temples dedicated to the saint Baosheng Dadi. It is no surprise it was inducted into UNESCO for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
TAIPEI CONFUCIUS TEMPLE (台北市孔廟)
Standing across the Dalongdong Bao’an Temple is the Taipei Confucius Temple.
Entrance Fee: Free but donations are highly encouraged
Daily 5:00 Am to 10:00 PM
How to get to Dalongdong Ba-On Temple and Taipei Confucius Temple:
Ride MRT Red Line 2 to Yuanshan Station. Take Exit 2 and walk towards Kulun Street. Turn right at the Dalong Street intersection and head straight until you see the Taipei Confucius Temple. If you want to visit Dalong Baoan Temple, turn left on Hami Street.
LONGSHAN TEMPLE (龙山寺)
One of the most photographed temples in Taipei, Longshan Temple. This Buddhist Temple in honor for Guanyin was constructed by the immigrants from Fujian province sometime in 1738.
Entrance Fee: Free but donations are highly encouraged
How to get to Longshan Temple:
Ride the MRT Blue Line 5 and get off at Longshan Temple. Take Exit 1 where you can find Longshan Temple north of the station plaza.
XIMENDING YOUTH SHOPPING DISTRICT
Ximending Youth Shopping District is walking distance from my hotel. This shopping haven was established during the Japanese colonial period as recreation area. Today, it is packed with shops and restaurants and is the go to place of Taipei youths. While in the area, make time to visit the Read House Theater and Zongshan Hall.
How to get to Ximending Youth Shopping District: Ride MRT Blue or Green Line to Ximen.
RED HOUSE THEATER (西門紅樓)
This was the first attraction I searched in Taipei because it was a few minutes away from my hotel according to the map, I didn’t realize I was already standing in front of it because it was under construction. This is right in front of Ximen Station adjacent to the Police Station. The Red House Theater is the main LGBT district in Taipei, surrounded by shops, cafes and restaurants. It was constructed in 1908 and home to Taipei’s creative and culture trade.
How to get to Red House Theater:
Take MRT Blue or Green Line and alight at Ximen Station. Head towards Exit 1. The Red House Theater is just in front of Ximen Station.
TAIPEI TIANHOU TEMPLE (天后宮)
I stumbled on Tianhou Temple a block away from my hotel in Ximending District. This temple is dedicated to Mazu, the sea goddess and also known as “Ximending Mazu Temple”. It is one of the 3 major temples in Taiwan during the Qing Era along with Longshan Temple.
Entrance Fee: Free, but donations are highly encouraged.
6:00 AM to 10:00 PM
How to get to Taipei Tianhou Temple
Ride MRT Blue or Green Line and walk towards Exit 6. Head towards Chengdu Road, the temple is standing on the right side beside rows of shops.
CHEAP TAIPEI DAY TOURS
Jiufen Village & The Northeast Coast
Tour includes a visit to Jiufen Village, Chinkuashih Village, Pitou Cape, Nanya Rock FormationsBay of Two Colors(Ying Yang Sea). Book Jiufen Village & The Northeast Coast Tour here:
Tour is inclusive of:
Hotel pick up & drop off (from downtown Taipei City hotels)
All transportation & driver fees
Services of an English-speaking guide
If you don’t want to join the tour package, and just want to do a DIY tour of Jiufen, you can BOOK A SHUTTLE BUS HERE TO JIUFEN HERE (includes Shifen):
This is inclusive of:
Round trip shuttle bus from Ximen → Shifen → Jiufen → Ximen
Experienced driver (with very basic English)
Tolls and parking fees
Morning trip departs at 8:45 AM and ends at around 3:45 PM in Ximen. Noon Tour starts at 1:15 PM and ends around 8:15 PM
TAIWAN NORTH COAST TOUR
Tour includes a visit to Bitou Cape Park, Nanya rock formations, Beiguan Tidal Parka and Sandiao Cape Lighthouse. BOOK NORTH COAST TOUR HERE:
All transportation and driver fees
Chinese speaking driver/guide (if you prefer an English or Japanese speaking driver/guide, kindly book at least 7 days before your preferred travel date and please indicate your preference at check out)
Insurance provided by the operator
YAMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK TOUR
Tour includes a visit to Yangmingshan National Park and Kawayu Hot Spring Bath. BOOK YAMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK TOUR HERE:
Hotel pick up & drop off (from downtown Taipei City hotels). Pick up from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
All transportation & driver fees
Services of an English-speaking guide
Hot springs admission & towel
THOUSAND ISLAND LAKE AND PINGLIN TEA PLANTATION TAIPEI
The tour starts around 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM and ends around 12:30 PM. It includes a visit to
Thousand Isalnd Lake, Pinglin Tea Plantation, Pinglin Tea Museum (closed the first Monday of each month; visit to Pinglin Old Street instead) and Wen Mountain Pouchong tea tasting. BOOK THE THOUSAND ISLAND LAKE AND PINGLIN TEA PLANTATION HERE
GOLDEN FULONG 1 DAY PASS
Tour is inclusive of Golden Fulong Shuttle Bus Ticket (unlimited hop on and off), Fulong Beach Entry Ticket (for the Sand Sculpture Festival) and Fulong Lunchbox Voucher. BOOK THE GOLDEN FULONG PASS HERE:
DIY DAY TRIPS FROM TAIPEI
YAMINGSHAN NATIONAL PARK (阳明山)
Yangmishan National Park is pretty much interesting any season. Visit here from January to March for its cherry blossoms. Meanwhile, calla lilies are sprinkled everywhere from April to May and azaleas are in full bloom from May to October. Silver glass dominates the landscape during October to November. The park is also known for its wealth of hot springs around Xingyi and Beitou Road. Buy a 1 day bus ticket for unlimited rides to famous attractions around Yamingshan National Park.
How to get to Yamingshan National Park
Take MRT and alight at Jiantan Station Exit 1. Head towards the left to the bus station. Look for north-bound buses like R5 or S15 or S17 to Yangmigshan Station. You can use cash or your IC Card like Easy Card for the bus fare.
Alternatively, you can also take Bus 260 from Taipei Main Station and just purchase the unlimited rides on shuttle 108 for NTD 60 / PHP 99 / USD 2.
YEHLIU GEOPARK (野柳地質公園)
Situated in Wanli District in New Taipei, Taiwan, Yehliu Geopark is a popular day trip excursion for tourists visiting Taipei. This area known for its rock formations including the hoodoo stones sprinkled around its coast.
How to get to Yehliu Geopark
Option 1: Look for the North Coast Shuttle Bus at MRT Tamsui Station or Keelung Station. Bus fare (unlimited rides) is NTD 200 / PHP 331/ USD 7.
Option 2: At Ximen, there is a shuttle bus that leaves for Yehliu daily around 9:00 AM and returns around 5:45 PM. The shuttle bus will take you to Yiang Yang Seam 13 Layer remains, Golden Waterfall, Shifen Old Streets and Jiufen.
Option 3: At Taipei Main Station, head to Taipei West Bus Station. Buy a ticket to Yehliu Geopark at the Kuokuang Window. Bus fare is NTD 96 / PHP 159 / USD 3 and travel time is 1 hour and 30 minutes. Tell the driver you are getting off at Yehliu Geopark and the driver should drop you off at the main road outside the park entrance.
Jiufen was an erstwhile mining town, now turned a poular tourist destination because of its charming tea houses and scenic view of the Pacific Ocean. It is also the setting of popular period movies like Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s film A City of Sadness (which won the Golden Lion award at the 1989 Venice Film Festival).
How to get to Jiufen (九份):
Option 1 (Recommnded): At Ximen, there is a shuttle bus that leaves for Jiufen daily around 9:00 AM and returns around 5:45 PM. The shuttle bus will take you to Yiang Yang Seam 13 Layer remains, Golden Waterfall, Shifen Old Streets and Yehliu Geopark. BOOK A YEHLIU GEOPARK SHUTTLE BUS TICKET HERE for a hassle-free tour of Yehliu, Shifen and Jifen. It’s a roundtrip shuttle bus from Ximen → Yehliu → Yiang Yang Sea → 13 Layers → Golden Waterfall → Jiufen → Shifen → Ximen. So in one day, you’ll be able to visit Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen. Rountrip fare is around NTD 680 / PHP 1,133 / USD 23. You’ll save a lot!
Option 2: Take the train en route to Ruifang Station at Taipei Main Station. Walk towards the exit facing the Wellcome Supermarket and turn left towards Mingdeng Road. Look for Local Resident Plaza, which is the bus station. Bus with route 827 and route 788 goes to Jiufen. The bus stop next to the police station is the bus stop for buses en route to Jiufen, while the one across the police station is the bus stop for buses en route to Taipei. Make sure you are boarding the bus towards Jiufen, when in doubt, ask the locals.
Option 3: Take Exit 1 at MRT Zhongxia Fuxing. Ride Bus Route 1062 (Keelung Bus) to Jinguashi. Get off at Jiufen. Bus fare is roughly 1 hour and fare is about NTD 102 / PHP 169 / USD 3.39.
SHIFEN OLD STREET AND SHIFEN WATERFALL (十分老街)
This popular road beckons tourists because of its sky lanterns, restaurants and shops. Catch the train running on Shifen Railway Station and also check out the Jingan Suspension Bridge at the back of Shifen Station connecting Shifen village with Nanshan village. Don’t miss the beautiful Shifen Waterfall, about 20 minute walk from Shifen Old Street.
Option 1: Ride the northbound train (except trains to Keelung) en route to Ruifang Station at Taipei Main Station. Get off at Ruifang Station and transfer to Pingxi Line. Buy a 1 day Ticket for the Pingxi Line for NTD 52 / PHP 86 / USD 173.
Option 2: Ride the shuttle bus to Shifen at Ximen. It has daily trips around 9:00 AM and returns around 5:45 PM. The shuttle bus will take you to Yiang Yang Seam 13 Layer remains, Golden Waterfall, Jiufen, and Yehliu Geopark.
Pingxi comes alive during Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year because visitors can release into the sky Chinese lanterns. Visitors also go here to see the Pingxi Old Street, a market area constructed on a hill with a railway. This place is peppered with age old shop houses.
Option 1: At MRT Muzha Station, ride Bus 1076 en route to Pingxi.
Option 2: Ride the northbound train (except trains to Keelung) towards Ruifang Station at Taipei Main Station. Alight at Ruifang Station and transfer to Pingxi Line. Purchase a 1 day Ticket for the Pingxi Line for NTD 52 / PHP 86 / USD 173.
Option 3: Ride the shuttle bus to Shifen at Ximen. It has daily trips around 9:00 AM and returns around 5:45 PM. The shuttle bus will take you to Golden Waterfall, Jiufen, and Yehliu Geopark.
Wulai District (乌来区)
Wulai District is home to the original inhabitants of Taiwan – the Yúanzhùmín and the closest aboriginal village to Taipei. It is also famous for its natural hot springs, the Wulai Falls, Wulai Gondola and Wulai scenic train.
How to get to Wulai District
Take MRT Green Line 3 and alight at Xindian Station. Exit to Bus Stop B along Beiyi Road and ride Bus 849 en route to Wulai. Get off at the last station. You can pay in cash or your IC Card.
TAMSUI FISHERMAN’S WHARF (渔人码头)
Known for its Lover Bridge, party boats, beautiful sunsets and seafood.
How to get to Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf
Ride MRT Red Line 2 and alight at Tamsui Station. Transfer to bus 26, 837 or 836 to Tamsui Fisherman’s Wharf.
WHERE TO STAY IN TAIPEI
I recommend booking a hotel nearby MRT stations like Ximen Station, Taipei 101, Dingxi Station or Taipei Main Station, etc. for convenience. Here’s a list of hotels and hostels where I stayed at in Taipei.
TAIPEI BUDGET HOTELS
101 SINGLE BAR
No.150, Section 2, Keelung Road, Xinyi District, Taipei, Taiwan, 10677
O2 HOTEL XIMEN BRANCH
7F,No.81, Chengdu Rd., Wanhua Dist,, Ximending, Taipei, Taiwan
WHERE TO EAT IN TAIPEI
YONGKANG STREET and DIN TAI FUNG RESTAURANT
Yongkang Street is Taiwan’s food mecca. You’ll find the original Din Tai Fung (鼎泰丰) Restaurant here opened in 1949 along Xinyi Road. It is famous for its soup dumpling. But if you are visiting Taipei 101, you can also look for Din Tai Fung at B1.
Honestly, everywhere I buy, I like the food being served to me in Taipei. Night markets are a great way to taste local food in Taipei, and some of the best are Shilin Night Market, Raohe Street Night market, Tainan Flowers Night Market, Huayuan Night Market, Feng Chia Night Market and Keelung Miaokou Night Market.
FOOD TO TRY IN TAIPEI
ô-á-chian 蚵仔煎 (oyster omelet)
Ba-luah e 麻辣鍋 (spicy hotpot)
Pigs blood rice cake 豬血糕 (ti-huih-ko)
Môa-chî 麻糍 (moachi)
Boabing (shaved ice mountain)
O’ahping (shaved taro ice cream)
DRINKS TO TRY IN TAIPEI
Bubble tea 珍珠奶茶
Sian-chháu 仙草 (grass jelly)
TAIPEI ITINERARY (4 Days /3 Nights)
Here’s my sample Taipei itinerary for 4 days 3 nights with budget, feel free to modify depending on your travel schedule. You can also do Yehliu, Shifen and Jifen in 1 day if you BOOK A YEHLIU GEOPARK SHUTTLE BUS TICKET HERE It’s a round trip shuttle bus from Ximen → Yehliu → Yiang Yang Sea → 13 Layers → Golden Waterfall → Jiufen → Shifen → Ximen. So in one day, you’ll be able to visit Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen. Roundtrip fare is around NTD 680 / PHP 1,133 / USD 23.
|TIME and EXPENSES||ACTIVITIES|
|10:00 PM||Arrival in Taipei (Taoyuan International Airport)|
|11:00 PM (NTD 160/ PHP 265 / USD 5.31 )||Airport MRT to Taipei Station|
|11:30 PM ( NTD 20 / PHP 34 / USD 0.66)||Transfer to Blue Line to Dingpu and get off at Ximen Station. Walk to 02 Hotel Ximen.|
|12:00 AM (NTD 718/ PHP 985 /USD 24)||Check-in at 02 Hotel Ximen (PHP 1,970 good for two so PHP 985 per person)|
|DAY 01 (Yehliu Geopark + Jiufen + Night Market)|
|07:00 AM (NTD 70/ PHP 116/ USD 2.32)||Breakfast|
|07:30 AM ( NTD 20 / PHP 34 / USD 0.66)||MRT Blue Line from Ximen Station to Taipei Main Station|
|08:00 AM (NTD 96 / PHP 159 / USD 3)||At Taipei Main Station, head to Taipei West Bus Station. Buy bus ticket at Kuokuang Window. Ride bus to Yehliu Geopark.|
|09: 30 AM (NTD 80 / PHP 132 / USD 3)||ETA Yehliu Geopark. Pay entrance fee. Explore.|
|11:00 AM (NTD 200/ PHP 330 / USD 7)||Lunch|
|11:30 AM (NTD 30 / PHP 50 / USD 1) + (NTD 30 / PHP 50 / USD 1)||ETD Yehliu Geopark for Jiufen. Ride Bus 790 to Keelung Train Station and transfer to Bus 788 to Jiufen.|
|03:00 PM||ETD Jiufen. Explore Jiufen.|
|07:00 PM||ETD to Taipei. Direct bus or Bus 788 to Ruifang Station and take train to Taipei Main Station.|
|08:00 PM (NTD 150/ PHP 248 / USD 5)||Lunch at Night Market|
|09:30 PM (NTD 718/ PHP 985 /USD 24)||ETD for Hotel. Sleep. 02 Hotel Ximen (PHP 1,970 good for two so PHP 985 per person)|
|Day 02 (Pixing + Shifen)|
|07:00 AM (NTD 50 / PHP 83 / USD 1.66)||Breakfast|
|07:30 AM (NTD 20 + NTD 30= NTD 50 / PHP 83 / USD 1.66)||Walk to Ximen Station from my hotel. Take MRT Blue Line to Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. Transfer Brown line to Muzha Station.|
|07:45 AM (NTD 45 / PHP 74.36/ USD 1.49 )||Bus 795 to Pingxi|
|09:00 AM||ETD Pingxi. Explore|
|11:00 AM (NTD 150 / PHP 248 / USD 5)||Lunch|
|11:30 AM||Visit Linjao Ridge Waterfalls|
|12:30 PM||ETD for Shifen. Bus 795|
|12:50 PM||ETA Shifen. Explore Shifen Old Street. Visit Shifen Waterfalls.|
|06:00 PM (NTD 200 / PHP 331/ USD 7)||Fly Sky lantern.|
|06:30 PM (NTD 19 / PHP 31/ USD 0.63)||Train from Shifen to Ruifang Station|
|07:30 PM (NTD||Transfer to Train to Songshan Station.|
|09:00 PM (NTD 150 / PHP 248 / USD 5)||Alight in Taipei Main Station. Dinner.|
|09:30 PM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||MRT Blue Line to Ximen Station.|
|09:45 PM (NTD 718/ PHP 985 /USD 24)||Back to Hotel. Bath. Sleep. 02 Hotel Ximen (PHP 1,970 good for two so PHP 985 per person)|
|DAY 03 (Yamingshan National Park)|
|07:00 AM (NTD 50 / PHP 83 / USD 1.66)||Breakfast|
|07:30 AM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||Walk to Ximen Station from Hotel. Take MRT Blue line to Taipei Main Station.|
|08:00 AM (NTD 30 / PHp 50 / USD 1)||Take Bus 260 from Taipei Main Station to Yamingshan National Park|
|09:00 AM (NTD 60 / PHP 99 / USD 2)||Purchase the unlimited rides ticket for shuttle 108 around the park. Explore.|
|11:30 AM (NTD 200 / PHP 331/ USD 7)||Lunch|
|03:00 PM (NTD 30 / PHp 50 / USD 1)||Take Bus 260 back to Taipei Main Station.|
|04:00 PM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||ETD Taipei Main Station. Take MRT Red Line to Taipei 101 Station.|
|04: 20 PM||ETD Taipei 101. Photo op. Go Inside the Mall.|
|05:00 PM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||Take MRT Red Line to Xiangshan Station.|
|05:15 PM||Alight at Xiangshan Station. Take Exit 2 and walk towards the Elephant Mountain Trail. Strat Trekking.|
|05: 45 PM||ETA Elephant Mountain Trail. Photograph view. Catch sunset and dusk.|
|06:30 PM||Hike down.|
|07:00 PM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||Take MRT Red Line to Taipei Main Station.|
|08:00 PM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||Take MRT Blue line to Ximen Station|
|08:20 PM||Visit Ximending Youth Shopping District. Buy souvenirs.|
|09:30 PM||Back to Hotel. Drop by at Red House Theater and Tianhou Temple.|
|10:30 PM (NTD 718/ PHP 985 /USD 24)||ETA Hotel. Bath. Sleep. 02 Hotel Ximen (PHP 1,970 good for two so PHP 985 per person)|
|07:00 AM (NTD 60 / PHP 99 / USD 2)||Breakfast|
|08:00 AM (NTD 20 / PHP 33 / USD 0.66)||From Ximen Station, take MRT Blue line to Longshan Temple Station. Explore Longshan Temple.|
|08:30 AM (NTD 20 + NTD 20= NTD 40 / PHP 66 / USD 1.33)||From MRT Longshan Temple Take MRT Blue Line to Sun Yat Sen Memorial. Explore Sun Yat Sen Memorial.|
|09:15 AM (NTD 20 + NTD 20= NTD 40 / PHP 66 / USD 1.33)||Take MRT Blue Line to Taipei Main Station. Switch to MRT red Line to Yuanshan Station.|
|09:40 AM||Explore Dalongdong Ba-On Temple and Taipei Confucius Temple.|
|10:40 AM (NTD 25 / PHP 41 / USD 0.83)||Take MRT Red Line to Shilin Station.|
|11:00 PM (NTD 150 / PHP 248 / USD 5)||Lunch|
|12:00 PM (NTD 17 / PHP 28/ USD 0.56)||Take Bus R30 to National Palace Museum.|
|12: 15 PM (Adult: NTD 250 / PHP 414 / USD 8)||ETA National Palace Museum. Pay entrance fee.|
|01:30 PM||Ride Bus R30 to Shilin Station.|
|01: 45 PM (NTD 40 / PHP 66 / USD 1. 33)||Take MRT Red Line to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall. Explore the area.|
|04:00 PM||Back to Hotel. Check out.|
|05:00 PM (NTD 20 + NTD 20= NTD 40 / PHP 66 / USD 1.33)||Take MRT Blue Line to Taipei Main Station.|
|05:30 PM||At Taipei Main Station, head to Airport MRT.|
|06:00 PM (NTD 160 / PHP 264 / USD 5.31)||Take Airport MRT to Taoyuan International Airport Terminal 1.|
|06:50 PM||ETA Taoyuan International Airport. Check-in to flight.|
TAIPEI TRIP BUDGET
People often ask, how much money to bring when traveling to Taipei? It’s a tricky question as it depends on your spending habits, where you are staying and how long you are staying. But Taipei is inexpensive, and meals usually start at NTD 60 / PHP 99 / USD 1.99 up. Accommodations can go as low as NTD 700/ PHP 1,157 / USD 23.25 per night. Water and drinks starts at NTD 15 / PHP 25 / USD .50. A budget of NTD 1,500 / PHP 2,478 / USD 50 would be safe (excluding accommodation). Most of the tourist attractions in Taipei are free anyway, save for The Palace Museum and Taipei 101 Observatory.
Here’s a sample list of my Taipei trip expenses and budget for a 4 days, 3 night stay. I spent around PHP 8,189 / NTD 4,954 / USD 166.50.
|NTD 150 x 3 x 3 = NTD 1,350 / PHP 2,231/ USD 45||Average cost of meal per person x 3 times a day x 3 days.|
|NTD 718 x 3 = NTD 2, 154 / PHP 3,560 / USD 72||Hotel x 3 nights|
|NTD 160 x 2 = NTD 320 / PHP 529 / USD 11||Roundtrip Airport MRT|
|NTD 380 / PHP 628 / USD 13||Easy Card (3 day pass)|
|NTD 80 / PHP 132 / USD 3||Yehliu Park Entrance Fee|
|NTD 96 / PHP 159 / USD 3||Bus from Taipei Main Station to Yehliu Geopark|
|NTD 30 / PHP 50 / USD 1||Bus 790 from Yehliu GeoPark to Keelung Station|
|NTD 30 / PHP 50 / USD 1||Bus 788 from Keelung Train Station to Jiufen|
|NTD 15 /PHP 25/ USD 0.50||Bus 790 from Jiufen to Ruifang Station|
|NTD 49/ PHP 81 / USD 2||Train from Ruifang Station to Taipei City|
|NTD 200/ PHP 330 / USD 7||Fee for flying sky lantern|
|NTD 250 / PHP 414 / USD 8||National Palace Museum Entrance Fee|
|NTD 4, 954 / PHP 8,189 / USD 166.5||TOTAL|
TAIPEI TRAVEL TIPS
BOOK A YEHLIU GEOPARK SHUTTLE BUS TICKET HERE for hassle-free tour of Yehliu, Shifen and Jifen. It’s a roundtrip shuttle bus from Ximen → Yehliu → Yiang Yang Sea → 13 Layers → Golden Waterfall → Jiufen → Shifen → Ximen. So in one day, you’ll be able to visit Yehliu Geopark, Jiufen and Shifen. Roundtrip fare is around NTD 680 / PHP 1,133 / USD 23. You’ll save a lot!
Purchase a rechargeable IC Card such as Easy Card, Happy Card, Icash and IPass. I bought the Easy Card and I was able to use it on MRT/trains and buses in Taipei and Kaohsiung.
Get a tourist map at the Taipei Main Station. You can ask for MRT maps at any MRT stations. You can also just take a photo of the map at the MRT stations. Otherwise, download the Taipei Metro App on Google Play.
Expect language barrier, so prepare your Google translate.
Rent a pocket Wi-Fi at the airport. Cheaper if you RENT ONLINE HERE and just pick it up at the airport.
The more famous night markets sells more expensive food, you can buy your food at hawker stalls or eateries sprinkled around the city if you want to save.
There are vending machines at the airport for drinks, buy their instead of buying at airport restaurants, you will save a lot!
FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK FOR TRAVEL GUIDE UPDATES