Taiwan may not be anyone’s first choice when it comes to Asian travel, but since the country is opening itself up to tourist, they are definitely worth the visit.
I had been meaning to visit Taiwan for a while now just because I was curious about the country, the culture, okay, maybe even of the food. There’s just something about visiting countries with strong cultural standing. Luckily for us, Taiwan issued a visa-free memorandum for Filipinos for a couple of months — I think many took advantage of this chance since its effectivity. lol
Our Taiwan trip was one of the out of the blue, late night trips that we thought will not even push through because we have exactly a month to prepare a budget and itinerary. Good thing my friends and I are always game to do random, spur of the moment things that makes it more fun.
Okay, so onto the trip.. From the Philippines, as of writing, there is only one flight per airline the flies MNL-TPE and the time is midnight.
TIP #1: Make sure to book your hotel a day early to make sure you have a place to stay when you arrive in Taipei. (or if your lucky, your hotel can accommodate an early check-in request for when you arrive)
Travelling from Manila to Taipei is about two hours of flight, our flight then was at 11p.m. so we arrived at around 1a.m. — we had to stay in the airport vicinity up until 5:30 a.m. because I booked a pocket wi-fi rental via Klook and its pick up is at Taoyuan Airport Terminal 1.
Although, most hotels offer a per hour rate so you can sleep in for a few hours before your check-in or before you start roaming around the city.
TIP #2: Klook is your best friend!
Klook became very handy for us, booking the same day tickets for Taipei 101, they also offer tours (which I suggest you grab to because it will make your life easier especially if you are planning to visit Yehliu-Juifen-Shifen area), and of course the souvenirs/delicacies.
TIP #3: Have your PHP changed in the Ph or in TPE airport.
We did not have any of our PHP changed before living PH, then we only had a few NTD (New Taiwan Dollar) changed in the TPE airport. On our first day, we had to go to the Bank of Taiwan (main branch) just to have our money changed! They only have a few authorized money changer (from PHP to NTD), so to relieve you of the hassle just have your PHP changed at the airport. If you have USD with you, you are good to go!
TIP #4: EASY card is your second best friend!
Getting around Taipei is easy via their MRT routes (everything is connected everywhere!) The easy card is also useful for buying in the convenience store, and as payment methods for attractions such as the Taipei Zoo.
You will have to pay 100 NTD as a deposit for the card and top it off with your consumable. We loaded a total of 800 NTD (700 NTD consumable, 100 deposit) for our 8 days stay. SO you can say that transportation in Taipei is pretty cheap, and you get to go around quicker.
TIP #5: Know the weather or season when you visit.
Taiwan weather can be unpredictable. We visited in December, and it was said that it is already the start of the winter season. True enough, the weather was cold when we got there (11-17 degrees Celsius on a daily basis). However, we were experiencing light drizzles throughout our stay.
Lucky for us, during our visit to Yehliu-Shifen, Mr. Sun came out and gave us a bit of warmth at 22 degrees Celsius (but the wind is still cold!).
Just knowing why you want to visit the country is enough to get all giddy and excited to visit. These were the things I think helped a lot to know before visiting an unknown place, especially where English is not the first language spoken 🙂