It’s official: Everyone is flying off to Taiwan this year. This small country, which is only a two-hour flight away from Manila, has delicious food, amazing sights, and pocket-friendly prices compared to, say, South Korea or Hong Kong. It’s totally doable to spend only P20,000 for a week-long trip there, but if you want to stretch your budget further, here’s what you should do:
Get an Easycard.
The Easycard is Taiwan’s answer to Hong Kong’s famous Octopus Card. Not only does it let you hop on Taiwan’s very efficient train and bus systems, it also gives you discounted rates for the Taipei MRT.
Stick to street food.
There’s no shortage of good, cheap food in Taiwan. Skip the restaurants and eat where the locals go—night markets, hawker stalls, and hole-in-the-wall eateries. Forget about ordering pizza and burgers, since Western food is generally more expensive in TW. Why would you even bother with pasta when you’re in the land of the best xiao long bao and milk tea in the world?
Watch where you exchange your cash.
Don’t exchange your cash in your hotel, as the exchange rate there is usually really bad. It’s better to have your money exchanged in a bank, or just withdraw from an ATM. Don’t be afraid to use your credit card if it’s more convenient!
Don’t be lazy! Walk, for crying out loud.
Walking in Metro Manila can be a horrible experience, but that’s not the case in Taipei, where several small parks dot the city. Get a map and explore on your own, or check out Tourmeaway’s free walking tours if you prefer having a guide. Too tamad to walk? Take advantage of YouBike, Taipei’s citywide bicycle rental service. It’ll only cost you $10NT (around P17) every 30 minutes within the first four hours, and there are dozens of YouBike posts all over the city.
Take a hike.
People usually go to Taipei 101 for a bird’s-eye view of Taipei, but its price tag isn’t really worth it. Instead, trek to the peak of the nearby Elephant Mountain for a more impressive view of the city—the towering Taipei 101 included. If you time your visit right, you might even see fireworks from the top!
Go on a temple run.
The architecture of Taiwan’s temples vary depending on the religion: Confucian temples are walled, Taoist temples are loud, and Buddhist temples are more reserved. You can enter most temples in the country for free, but if you can only visit just one, make it the Longshan Temple, which dates back to 1738.
Take advantage of the half-day free city tour.
If you’re in Taoyuan International Airport for a lengthy layover, you can actually see Taipei 101, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and other famous sights at absolutely no cost! Just register at the Tourist Service Centre, and make sure you’ve got at least a half day to spare.
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