Rejoice Kabayan! If you are planning to visit Taiwan there is a good news for all Pinoy traveler. Starting from Nov. 1, 2017, up to July 2018 Philippine nationals are eligible to travel to the Republic of China (Taiwan) completely visa-free for 14 days. So what are you waiting for? Grab your bag and let’s do your next DIY adventure.
I’ve been in Taiwan last January 2017 to celebrate Chinese New Year together with hubby and my friend. We fell in love with this country so we decided to go back again the same year, this time to celebrate Christmas season.
I’ve prepared another DIY Itinerary for you, my lovely readers.
On our first travel, we went from South to North in a 4D/4N adventure trip. Traveling during peak season limits us to maximize our schedule. But this time we are able to visit more scenic spots. Below itinerary only focus on Taipei and New Taipei via MRT and Bus.
Before you start your trip I wanted to share this essential tips that will make your travel a little easy.
1. How do I book for a cheap ticket? CebuPac and AirAsia offer the cheapest airline fare from MNL-TPE. I purchased our ticket six months before our travel for PHP4000 ++/pax. (Regular Fare)
2. How much budget would I need for a 4D/4N DIY Travel? It really depends on you, if you’re a frugal traveler like me who would like to eat at Night Market rather than Theme Resto PHP10,000 will be enough to cover your expenses. These will include transportation, food, entrance fees and pasalubongs.
3. Where can I exchange PHP to TWD? I highly recommend that you do this at TPE Airport. Rates are better and service is 24/7. There are no money changer shops in the City but you can still do the exchange with local banks or withdraw from the ATM at any convenience store (Currency Converter)
4. Where can I book the cheapest accommodation in Taipei? Cheapest Hotels will cost you around PHP2,000 – PHP3,000 per night. Whenever I’m traveling, I always book my accommodation at AIRBNB (Get PHP1,100 when you sign up).
Tip: To save money on your first day you can leave your luggage on train station lockers. (Smallest locker is TWD20 and biggest is TWD50 for 3 consecutive hours)
5. When is the best time to visit Taiwan? The best times to visit are during the fall when the weather is a little cooler, and rainfall is at its lowest. But I prefer their Winter season, growing up in a tropical country I wanted to experience the cold temperature.
- Summer (June – August) Summers in Taipei are hot and humid.
- Fall (September – November) …
- Winter (December – February) …
- Spring (March – May)
6. Will I buy both Easy Card and Taipei Pass? My answer is YES.
I bought one 3Day Pass (TWD440) and reload my existing EasyCard with TWD500. This is more practical, the Pass will allow you on an unlimited MRT and rides on Taipei City/New Taipei City buses (not valid for travel on buses with 4-digit route numbers) within the validity period. If you are traveling via TRA, Gondola, and Ferry you need your Easy Card. In addition, Easy Card can be used as contactless payment at convenience stores, department stores, supermarkets, taxis, museum and scenic spot’s entrance fees and others.
Tip: You can buy EasyCard in convenient store like 7Eleven or Family Mart or on the train station gate entrance. Card deposit is TWD100 and minimum tap amount is TWD100. Do not forget to refund your card before leaving Taiwan. You can also use the card to pay the scenic spots and museum or use it to buy anything in the affiliated stores.
Day1 – North East Coast Tour
On our first day, my plan is to visit the North East Coast of Taiwan by riding the Fulong Gold Bus Shuttle 856 using the Taipei 3 Day Pass.
This is my original plan, our stops should be as follows: G2:Jiufen -> G3:Gold Museum -> G4:Gold Waterfall -> G7:Bitou
Tip: The “Tour Taiwan Shuttle Bus Service” or Fulong Gold Bus is a shuttle bus service inaugurated by the Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications, in 2009 there are bus services specially designed for you to travel around.
Unfortunately, due to the weather condition and no sleep we just spent our day at Jiufen Old Street and decided to go back to the City to get our luggage at Taipei Main Station Locker. And proceed with our Night Market adventure.
How to get to Jiufen via TRA:
From Taipei Main Station take the train north to Ruifang Station. After exiting the station and facing the Wellcome supermarket, take a left and walk 200 metres down Mingdeng Road. Next to the police station is a bus station with routes 827 and 788 heading toward Jiufen. Please note that the bus stop next to the police station heads east toward Jiufen, and the bus stop across from the police station heads west toward Taipei. Route 825 provides weekend service only. From here, the bus trip takes roughly 15 minutes, and the fare is TWD15. Take bus 1062 back to Taipei and enjoy some time at Raohe Night Market. Alight at SongShan Station and take a 10 minutes walk to Raohe Night Market.
RAOHE ST. NIGHT MARKET. (Take MRT to Songshan Station and walk about 1km to the bridge)
One of the most popular night markets in Taipei City is the Raohe St. Night Market. During every weekend and holiday, the famous Raohe St. Night Market is often filled with crowds of tourists and local Taipei citizens.In Taiwan, night markets are well embedded in the lives of Taiwanese people. During their leisure time, Taiwanese people enjoy spending their time at night markets, where there is a variety of local food available as well as a wide array of fashionable stores to shop from. Bargaining for something you like made an exciting shopping experience at Raohe St. Night Market. The most special feature here is the variety of local snacks, including pork feet noodle string, beef noodle soup, herbal stew of ribs, bubble tea, etc.
Day2 – Museum and Beitou Walking Tour
NATIONAL PALACE MUSEUM
If you love history I recommend that you visit this museum, it houses the world’s largest collection of priceless Chinese art treasures, one which spans China’s nearly 5,000-year history. Most of the museum’s over 600,000 art objects were part of the Chinese imperial collection, which began over 1,000 years ago in the early Song dynasty.
To reach the museum from Shilin MRT station, head out exit 1 to Zhongzheng Rd and catch R30 (red 30), minibus 18 or 19, or bus 255, 304 or 815.
Tip: There are five free entrance days for this museum: New Year’s Day (Jan. 1), the Lantern Festival, International Museum Day (May 18), World Tourism Day (Sept. 27), National Day (Oct. 10) and Taiwan Culture Day(Oct. 17).
Beitou: Walking Tour
Take the MRT Red Line to Beitou Station then change the train bound for Xinbeitou (新北投). Upon exiting the station, walk straight on either side of the park to find hot springs.
Beitou lies in the northernmost district of Taipei City and has gained a reputation for being the ideal location for the best hot springs and lush greenery. Apart from that, it is also home to several preserved architectural treasures and historical sites that create a timeless beauty to this district. Tamsui is a sea-side city that became famous for its gorgeous sunsets. Previously an old fishing village, this city has been transformed into the ultimate tourist attraction with its signature local foods including fresh seafood. The awesome hot springs of Beitou and the laid-back nature of Tamsui are definitely one of the best combinations to enjoy throughout a day in Taiwan!
Our Walking Tour will start at Xinbeitou Station: Beitou Park (2mins walk) -> Ketagalan Culture Center (1mins walk) -> Beitou Hot Springs Museum (under renovation until next year) -> Plum Garden (2mins walk) -> Hell Valley (2mins walk) – >Beitou Museum (20mins walk)
Day3 – TAMSUI and Shilin Night Market
TAMSUI. Most travelers come to Tamsui Old Street for its famous snacks a-gei and iron eggs, yet the most alluring features of Tamsui lie in the riverbank with a beautiful sunset backdrop and numerous historical stories. Fort San Domingo, built by the Dutch when they occupied Taipei in the 17th century, and Hobe Fort, built for defense after the Sino-French War, both speak of the colonial history in early Taiwan. Walk on the stone steps and pass through buildings on Chongjian St., you may wander to the red-brick restaurant Red Castle, a rich businessman’s residence in the past. Order a cup of smoothie and enjoy the afternoon watching the river running to the sea.
How to get here: Take MRT to Tamsui MRT Station
Fisherman’s Wharf -> Take Ferry -> Lover’s Bridge -> Tamsui Old Street -> Tamsui Church -> Fort San Domingo – > Aletheia and Oxford University
SHILIN NIGHT MARKET
It’s no surprise that Shilin is the most famous night market in Taiwan. It’s a really large night market, shopping includes clothes, shoes, accessories, gadgets, phone cases, gifts, anything you can think of and one area is the food court. And if you want to go crazy shopping? You can have it all here, complete and cheap, it’s shopping heaven
How to get here: MRT to Jiantan Station
Day4 – Tea, Temple, Zoo and Taipei 101
Maokong Tea District
Beautiful place with beautiful views. On a clear day, you can see the whole of Taipei city and Taipei 101.
Along the streets, outside the gondola station, are street vendors selling various street eats. The place gets more exciting nearer to evening. However, I prefer to go in the morning before the crowds and tour buses come. It is just so healing to the soul to be able to watch the scenic views in peace. Visit any of the various tea houses along the road to sample the tea and to buy tea souvenirs home. There are desert shops and restaurants to eat and breathe life in the slow lane. Maokong Mountain is simply beautiful and so accessible from the city. Just take the MRT to Taipei Zoo station, hop on a gondola and you have reached. Do plan to go at least once in your visit to Taipei.
How to get here: Take the Wenshan-Neihu Line of Taipei Metro to the Taipei Zoo Station and then walk to the Maokong Gondola Taipei Zoo Station (about 350 meters).
Tip: Make sure that you get in line before the opening of Gondola’s station (9AM) to avoid the croud, this way you have a big chance to get the crystal cable.
Once you reach the top, go right and follow the signs to 樟山寺, Zhangshan Temple. The trail is scenic and makes for a good hike. Once you reach the temple, enjoy a full view of Taipei City. The temple offers free tea, you will not regret making the trip.
Taipei Zoo. From Moakong we ride the gondola down to Taipei Zoo South Station. From the entrance, you can ask for the map of the zoo at the information center. It is better for you to sit down and plan before you start your adventure. It is a huge area; you do not want to get lost in the zoo and end up either walking around the same area or missing the ones you want to see. We checked the map every time we went even though we have already visited numbers times. They also listed three recommended itineraries on their website for those who can only spend half a day at the zoo. Our preferred POIs in the zoo are – Children’s Zoo, Formosan Animal Area, Koala House, Giant Panda House, Penguin House, Insectariums, Asian Tropical Rainforest Area, African Animal Area and Bird World. The Giant Panda House is the most popular in the zoo. Sometimes you will encounter a long queue. We will use the Shuttle Train that run between Shuttle Train Station and Bird World Station occasionally. If you plan well, you can use it to head back to the entrance.
Taipei Zoo is quite large, and you need to prepare yourself for walking under the sun especially in the summertime. It is also recommended to wear long-sleeves and long pants to avoid bug bites and to wear comfortable shoes. You should bring sunscreen, hat or umbrella (most women in Taiwan use umbrellas) to avoid sunburn. Water is essential when you visit and bringing your own will be a good idea. Of course, you can buy drinks from vending machines, but it is not available everywhere. Food is offered in several places but expects long queues.
Taipei 101. A famous tourist landmark, but a bit pricey. We only went here to have our last dinner at Taipei.
If you want to take a photo, to get the best angle of the building I highly recommend that you use a monopod.
How to get here: Take the Red Line 2 (Xiangshan train) to Taipei 101 station (台北101). Alternatively, take the Blue Line 5 to Taipei City Hall Station (市政府), located beneath HanKyu Department Store. Walk south to enter the Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越) complex (known as the Xinyi Shopping District) towards 101. Being as tall as it is, you will definitely see it along the skyline.
Tip: If you are traveling in November – January, and wanted to view Taipei’s skyline I would recommend not to put high hopes on this attraction the visibility is very limited.
Airplane Ticket via CebuPac(round trip): PHP4,000++
Terminal Fee: PHP1,620
Bus from and to Airport: TWD125 x 2
Taipei Pass: TWD440
Gondola Ride: TWD120 (3 stops) plus TWD100 (2 stops)
Tamsui Ferry Ride: TWD40
Last Day Ride: around TWD100
Entrance Fee (via EasyCard)
National Palace Museum: TWD350
Taipei Zoo: TWD65 (with zoo train ride)
Beitou Museum: TWD80 (cash)
Fort San Domingo: TWD80 (cash)
around TWD35 – TWD150 per meal
bnb Room: PHP7,500 for 4Nights