It has been our group’s thing to be spontaneous, and pull an all-nighter just because we’re going places. We’re used to 2am sudden trips to Tagaytay then go straight to work in the morning, see? random and spontaneous.
Okay, so our Tawain trip is one of those random trips you and your friends do, with just a month’s preparation (inc. booking a flight and accommodation).
How it came about..
We were supposed to go to Singapore for the end of November when we realized that we’ve all been to the country in 2017. We were choosing between Thailand and Taiwan, and while doing our research we came across the fact that it is cold in Taiwan in December so we’ve got a winner! Plus, the visa requirement was lifted for Filipinos for a couple of months (Nov.1, 2017 – July 2018).
Taipei, Taiwan Day 1
There is only one flight from Manila to Taiwan daily, and it is late in the evening with an arrival of next day. Travel to Taipei is 2 hours from Manila.
We arrived at around 1am in Taoyuan airport, and our hotel check-in is at 3pm. Prior to our departure, I booked our portable 4G wifi via Klook (I got it for only Php 800 good for 7days) good for our whole stay in the country, but the pickup time is not until 5:30am at the airport.
We have 4.5 hours to spare, and nothing to do. We were all tired and sleepy because we came from an event the day before, thankfully, Taoyuan airport has a lot of waiting places where you can sit and use their free wifi. We got hungry after an hour or two so we opted to have some of our Pesos changed to TND then go down to the convenience store, and wow they have a lot!
While waiting for 5:30am, we were eating, relaxing, and keeping warm (it was around 15° that time) — the process for pick up of the wifi was quick and easy! The 4G pocket wifi was also really fast!! A definite score at its price.
We rode a private car from the airport to our hotel — there is a transport counter at the airport for taxis, buses, uber, and train. The minimum amount we saw for private transport (to help us get to our hotel quicker) is at NT 1200 (Php 2,096); however, a private driver offered us the ride for just NT 1000 (Php 1,747) and there were 4 of us so we paid less than Php 500 per head.
30 mins later, we are at our place but the hotel cannot let us have an early check-in because they were full. One thing we’ve noticed is that there were a lot of hotels in the area, wait in the country that anywhere you look they are there. They also offer a per hour rate, so if you want to take some rest but your hotel couldn’t let you check-in just yet do not worry you can still rest! 🙂
In our case, we chose to seize the day and roam around the city. Have breakfast, and maybe visit some of the places in our itinerary. We were also running short on TND cash, so we had the run around Ximending just to find out that only the Bank of Taiwan allows the exchange of Pesos to TND.
After we had our TND, the first thing we bought was our easy card (it’s the beep/octopus/line card equivalent in Taiwan). We initially loaded it with TND 500 (100 is for card deposit, 400 as the consumable).
We rode a taxi from Ximending to Zhongzeng district that took only 5 mins. haha! After we had our agendas settled in the Bank of Taiwan, we had a stroll at the Peace Memorial Park, there were a lot of squirrels!! 🙂 really a lot, and the vibe was just too relaxing, that we realized it’s already 1pm, so we decided to go back to our hotel area, have lunch and just wait at our hotel lobby for check-in.
Upon arrival, the receptionists had changed, and luck for us, we were allowed to get our room and finally rest! Since none of us had enough sleep yet, we decided to take a couple of hours of sleep then head to the night market near our place at around 8-9pm, in reality we got up at aroun 11pm. hahaha! good thing we still were able to find a few stalls open for us to get our dinner.
Day 1 Places visited:
- Ximending District
- Bank of Taiwan (Zhongzeng District)
- 22 Peace Memorial Park
- Ningxia Night Market
Total Day Spendings:
Airport to Hotel (NewStay Inn II – Nanxi): 250 NTD (per head) [ 9 USD | 444 PHP]
Train from New Taipei Station to Ximending: 20 NTD [ .68 USD | 36 PHP]
Breakfast at KFC: 120 NTD [ 4 USD | 213 PHP]
Taxi ride from Ximending to Bank of Taiwan: 15 NTD (per head) [ .51 USD | 27 PHP]
Easy card: 500 NTD [ 17 USD | 888 PHP]
Ningxia Night Market: 150 NTD [ 5 USD | 266 PHP]
Total: 1,055 NTD [ 36 USD | Php 1,842]
Taipei, Taiwan Day 2:
The first thing that we ask each other when we wake up is, “What’s the plan for today?” With our Taipei itinerary pretty much lax, and our stay is quite long we have quite a lot of free time to do anything.
We left our hotel around lunchtime and headed for Taipei 101. We booked our tickets via Klook (Php 830 per head) for the 4pm timeslot. According to reviews and tips, the perfect time to visit the highest building in Taipei is before sundown, to have that perfect view of the sunset.
Unlucky for us, it was quite gloomy with light rain during our visit. We were prepared for the cold temperature but not quite for the rain.
Tips on Visiting Taipei 101:
- Buy your tickets via Klook, it is cheaper than those found elsewhere or even onsite. Since these partnerships come with discount privileges for their users.
- Check the weather! I use Weather Live app to know the weather and temperature forecasts in places we visit.
- Upon entrance to the building, Taipei 101 mall, you will find an area where delicacies are sold (Sugar & Spice nougat, beef jerky, pineapple tart, etc.). They offer free tastes and all of them have quality tastes for their prices.
- Before going up to Taipei 101, you can also grab a quick bite in the food hall at the mall entrance.
We did not stay that long at the top because of the weather, there was not much to see. On your way down from the 89th floor, you will see the ball that keeps the balance of the tower, and a display of art made with corals.
After Taipei 101, we were supposed to go and visit a night market for some activities and dinner, but since it was raining we ended up visiting the Rilakkuma Cafe (No. 3, Lane 248, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan). Although none of us really were familiar with the character, we just thought of trying.
The place looked really relaxing, and the food is good. Plus, if you are celebrating your birthday during the month of your visit, you get 20% discount on dessert plus 20mins with a huge Rilakkuma stuffed toy to join you while you eat.
Tips on Visiting Rilakkuma Cafe:
- Per head is required to order one main dish or a drink to be able to stay.
- Customers are allowed to stay in the cafe for a maximum of two hours only.
- They have a quality restroom, with seat warmers. lol! 🙂
We finished our Rilakkuma experience at around 7:30pm, so we were caught in an awkward position of whether do we still have dinner or that is it — of course, we had dinner still! haha. We chose to walk around the area for a while, and explore what other establishments are in the area, however, we ended up at the MRT station and chose to go back to our neighborhood and for real try out the night market near us. I LOVE THEIR SWEET POTATO BALLS + MASHED POTATO topped with cheese and corn and bacon!! ❤
Day 2 Places Visited:
- Taipei 101
- Rilakkuma Cafe
- Nanxi Night Market
Taipei 101 via Klook: 472 NTD ( 16.5 USD | Php 830)
Rilakkuma Cafe: 235 NTD (one meal order) ( 8 USD | Php 413)
Nanxi night market: 150 NTD ( 5 USD | Php 265)
Total: 857 NTD ( 30 USD | Php 1,506)