Planning for Taipei?? Ever wondered How, What, Which, Where and When to travel in Taiwan?
Well, this article might help you plan your trip!Taiwan is a small island nation 180 km east of China with modern cities, traditional Chinese temples, hot springs resorts and dramatic mountains terrain. Taipei, the country’s capital in the north, is known for its busy night markets, a total must-visit Asian country.
All you need to know about your Taiwanese adventure is here. This blog will help you know important details on where to go, what to do, how to book for the lowest airfare, accommodation, and even how to get a Taiwan Visa.
Looking for cheapest airfare
At first, we were just browsing cheap airline fares and promos to different destinations, nothing in specific. Until we saw the round-trip promo fare through our Facebook news feed. The Facebook post was shared by one of our friends. It was posted by MGS 88 Travel and Tours Agency, which is only for PHP 3,800 per person from Manila to Taoyuan-Taipei and back! The flight is via Air Asia and luckily, we managed to confirm the booking of our flight just by sending the online travel agency a message on their Facebook page considering our desired travel date was like 1 week before the flight and it even have 2 seats left! Dang!
Looking for Accommodation
Nowadays, there are lots of options for you if you are looking for cheap hotels or accommodation just by browsing the Internet or exploring different mobile apps (Please see booking apps list below that you can download on your mobile phone). In our case, we used Airbnb and browsed for the cheapest room available. After almost losing our patience, we finally found something valuable. Of course, always remember to read all available reviews from previous guests visible on the ad posting. It would help you know what to expect and what to prepare for your stay.
Taiwan Visa for Filipinos
Since at this time, (AUGUST 2017) there was still no official announcement that Filipinos can travel to Taiwan without a visa, we immediately called the embassy to clarify on how we get a tourist visa in Taiwan.
(ROC-TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION CERTIFICATE)
In our case, on of us is holding a US VISA so his option is to just have a “Travel Authorization Certificate” which is very fast and easy. All he did was to fill up the form online and immediately print the certificate, which serves as his entry pass to Taiwan Immigration.
For Filipinos who doesn’t have a US visa, don’t worry! There’s another magical option!
Donnie applied for the E-Visa, he just filled up the form, completed all details and paid the amount of TWD1632 or PHP 2,611 online. Normal e-visa processing will take you up to 3 days. But in our case, and thank God for this, he received his e-visa on his email 2 hours after! Fast right? Well, we were surprised too! No financial support documents needed! Imagine the hassle free application!
Taipei Adventure Begins...
When we heard the news that implementation of No Visa Policy in Taiwan for Philippine passport holders was postponed, we were so embarrassed that our interest in visiting Taiwan almost vanished. But as we browse our Facebook news feed, we can see a lot of promo airfare posting from different airlines and different travel agencies bound to Taipei. We did some research about having a Taiwan Visa, and found out that I am exempted in applying for a Visa and Donnie would take only a maximum of 3 days for his Visa. By then, our wanderlust souls were enlightened and we decided to go for it.
We arrived at the Taoyuan TPE Airport at exactly 1:10 am, 15 minutes earlier than estimated time of arrival of AirAsia. Next thing to do is to find a way to go to our suite booked thru Airbnb. Since the Taoyuan Airport Train Express wasn’t operational yet, we were advised by our Airbnb host to take a Kou Kuang bus 1914 which happened to be 24-h operational. Kou Kuang bus 1914 services passengers from and to Taoyuan Airport and Taipei Main Station. At first, we had difficulties on how we will ride the bus, so we asked around and found the dispatcher and he accompanied us to the ticket station and escorted us until we board the bus. We traveled for about 30 minutes from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station. After this, we hopped on a Taxi to bring us to Cailiao MRT Station which is just 1-km away from our target address.
And finally we arrived at our humble home in Taipei, Taiwan. We woke up at around 10 in the morning, what’s first in our itinerary list? It’s time to have photo ops in Taipei’s Shibuya Crossing called Ximen Pedestrian Area. Ximending is located in Wanhua District in Taipei City. You can ride the MRT and drop off at Ximen Station.
Next stop is Lungshan Temple of Manka located in Guangzhou Street in Wanhua District. Lungshan Temple of Manka is a Buddhist temple in Wanhua District, Taipei, Taiwan. This temple is one of the most popular ones in Taipei, so be sure to include this in your itinerary. Longshan temple is very accessible as it has its own station in the MRT, the Longshan Temple Station.
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall is next in our list, but unexpectedly, also the last one. Choose Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station and arrive effortlessly to the venue. It is one of the most popular landmarks in Taipei and shouldn’t be missed in your list. Obviously, it is named after the former President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-Shek also known as Chiang Chungcheng. He was a Chinese political and military leader who served as the leader of the Republic of China between 1928 and 1975.
Chiang Kai-Shek monument is surrounded by a park, stands at the east end of Liberty Square. Structuring the monument by north and south are the National Theater and National Concert Hall. It is located in Zhongzheng District, Taipei City.
In our Day 2, chasing temples continues. As we have our 48-hr ticket pass to MRT, we used the Metro for our transportation to Confucius Temple in Taipei, Yuanshan Station is the nearest one to the Temple. The Taipei Confucius temple is modeled after the original Temple in Qufu, Shandong province of China, This temple is located in Datong Street, Datong District, Taipei City.
Our next stop would be the Rainbow Bridge located in Shongshan District, just behind Raohe Street Night Market. It is 167-meter long bridge which lies across Keelung River connecting Xinming Road in the Nelhu District. Honestly, we were a bit disappointed because the weather wasn’t that good which made its view not so photogenic.
We headed then to ride MRT green line and transferred to MRT brown line (provincial line) which is bound to Dahu Park, one of my favorite Parks in Taipei. It is located in Neihu District which is located off the Taipei City so we felt very excited to see the park and take pictures at the “Moon Bridge”. But unfortunately, we weren’t able to take any!!!
Huashan 1914 Creative Park is next in our list, it is a multi-purpose park in Taipei City.It was privately owned winery that produced sake and ginseng wines, and bred moth orchids. In 1922, the government included wine within a list of monopoly items. They bought the winery and changed the name to Taiwan Governor-General's Monopoly Bureau, Taihoku Wine Factory. The winery then produced rice wine and liquors.
This creative park is a perfect spot for Instagrammers and other professional photographers to shoot at.
Moving on, it’s time to try Taipei’s cable car! They call it the Maokong Gondola. It is located just beside the Taipei Zoo so you can just ride the MRT brown line bound to Taipei Zoo Station. From there, you can see signs that would lead you to Taipei Zoo Station of the gondola. It is more of a public transportation for locals which allows passengers to reach Maokong Village in Wenshan District.
The area is located in the middle of mountain ranges in the district so it would give you the “nature-type feels” of Taipei. While riding the gondola, you can hear a lot of birds’ noise while overviewing a vast forest in the ground, perfect for relaxing time after an exhausting commutes from down the city.
After we get back in the city, we are scheduled to trek the Xiangshan Trail to Elephant Mountain. Elephant Mountain will give you excellent view of the Taipei 101. Just ride the MRT and choose the Red line bound to Xiangshan Station. After you exit the station, there are also signs that will lead you to Xiangshan Trail. It is about 10-15 minutes walk from the station to the trail.
As we start trekking at 7 in the evening, our knees were shivering while sweats are pouring! We have no water with us so it doubles the effort. At that time, there weren’t any water vendors at the start of the trail but then, if you are trekking at daytime, expect them to be there. Or just to keep yourself safe and comfortable, bring with you a bottle or two.There is a middle station which already gives us a not so bad view of the city including Taipei 101. It is up to you if you want to continue trekking up the highest peak of the mountain. But in our case, we decided not to, because of having a very limited time.
Our flight is scheduled at 1am so we need to get to the Taoyuan Airport at least 11pm. It is already 9pm when we arrived at our house and we need to pack our things up and get ready for our flight back home. We were hoping not to miss the plane, of course! But there is something unexpectedly happened.
We were waiting for almost 30 minutes after we see ourselves riding a Taxi to the Taipei Main Station that should allow us to ride the Airport Express Train. But it was too stressful to find out that the train’s last trip leaves at exactly 11pm. I looked at my watch and “Oh, it’s already 11:05!” It felt like we were about to face our greatest fear that time about being left by our plane. I was like thinking of backup plans like booking another flight back in the Philippines and paying extension nights for our accommodation. But I also thought of our budget left. We only have limited money and it wouldn’t work out extending our stay in Taipei! So getting back to the scenario, the Express Train Staff told us that we still have another option in getting to the Airport, He redirected us to the Kou Kuang Bus Station which I remembered our mode of transportation when we first arrived in Taipei from the Airport. We felt so enlightened that time but we still need to run our feet very fast for us to hop on the Bus and bring us to the Airport. It was raining so hard and strong winds are blowing against our direction. Imagine us, two people sharing one tiny umbrella we bought in 7 eleven, running across the streets while carrying our luggage so that it won’t get wet with shallow floods. Finally, we were able to see the Bus station and managed to buy ourselves tickets and get in very quick. It was about 35 minutes travel distance from Taipei Main Station to Taoyuan Airport via Kou Kuang Bus, they are operating 24 hours like I said in the first portion of this blog. So you do not have to worry about having left with no option of transportation to or from Taoyuan Airport.
Finally, we were able to check in to our flight and the flight was actually delayed for 15 minutes so Thank God! Well not because the flight was delayed but because we’re safe and will be able to get home scheduled.
Personally, I am very happy to have this kind of experience in Taipei. Our trip wasn’t that smooth but it indeed is a moment worth remembering after time.
What I can say to Taiwanese people is that they are still different to Chinese people. Taiwanese are much more accommodating to tourists and travelers. Most of them speak conversational English compared to any other Chinese locals from different countries like Hong Kong and Macau. I loved how Taipei has grown its tourism appeal to other countries. There are lots of Tourists attractions which can suit your wanderlust needs. The city has lots of parks whether it is a geopark or a creative par, it also have of course numerous temples around the city and around the country as well.