The Heart of Asia: Taiwan
by Chelle Luna
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Planning for your trip to Taiwan? I would consider that Taiwan is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets as it is densely populated and one of the safest country to visit. After giving you the idea about my travel to Taiwan you will also want to add it to your bucket list. Come and Explore Taiwan with me and delight yourself what else this country has to offer.
TAIWAN TRAVEL GUIDE
Taiwan approves visa-free entry for Filipinos! (9-month trial period starting November 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018)
Filipinos may travel to Taiwan may enjoy the visa-free privilege for Philippine Nationals that will be implemented starting November 1, 2017 for visits no longer than 14 days, provided that you meet the following requirements:
- Your passport must have at least 6 months validity.
- A return ticket or onward ticket.
- A proof of accommodation. It may be hotel booking or host’s contact information or arrangement of tour, event or meeting.
- You must have no criminal record in Taiwan
No need to apply for a visa or a Travel Authorization Certificate if you’re staying for no longer than 14 days. Or visit Taiwan Cultural and Economic Office in the Philippines website for more information.
Taiwan’s main international getaway is Taoyuan International Airport which is 40km southwest of Taipei. We booked our flights 3 months before our desired schedule and did a lot of research to compare which airline has the cheapest flight to Taiwan.
MONEY EXCHANGE & CURRENCY
1 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD) = 1.71 Philippine Peso (PHP)
1 US Dollar (USD) = 30.18 New Taiwan Dollar (NTD)
Unlike Hongkong, wherein you can see a lot of currency exchange booth, foreign currencies can be exchanged at government-designated banks and hotels only. I exchanged my Philippine Peso at NAIA Terminal 3 airport before arriving Taiwan and it was the best option than to exchange money in Taoyuan airport where there’s an additional 30NTD per currency per transaction. Make sure to bring your passport for bank transactions.
You can also withdraw money from ATM’s around Taipei. Just make sure to notify your bank that you’re traveling out of the country. Banks are closed during weekends so make sure to exchange your money before arriving in Taiwan.
TIP: Better to exchange extra NTD during your trip because only few money exchange around the city and banks are open from Monday to Friday until 3:30 pm and closed during weekends.
Taoyuan Airport is less than an hour away from Taipei City. There are three modes of transportation: by bus, train (Metro Transit Rail/MTR) and by taxi.
Metro Transit Rail/MTR is the most efficient way to travel and explore around Taipei. You can buy single journey tickets, you can use the IC cards or use the Taipei Pass. We used MTR as our mode of transportation when traveling around Taiwan as it is very easy to understand and where most of the tourist spots are accessible to each train station.
- Single journey tickets: There are Single Journey Ticket Issuing Machine in every station in Taipei where there are instructions on how to purchase the ticket (Available in 10 languages)
- Easy Card: It is the essential travel item in Taipei. It is very helpful during our trip wherein I don’t need to bring so much cash and just load my IC card to any 7/11 stores or inside the MTR. It provides convenience for travelers as it’s very handy and saves time in queuing in buying tickets in MTR or preparing exact fare for buses. We used our cards in making purchases in convenience stores, department stores, supermarkets and restaurant/fast-food chain. A must for travelers going to Taiwan!
- Taipei Pass: These cards are good for an unlimited number of rides during the period of validity. It is valid for travel on public buses in Taipei City and New Taipei City and on Taipei MRT system. So if you want to maximize your travel and will frequently use the public transportation it will very helpful to buy the Taipei Pass.
1-Day Taipei Pass = NT$180
2-Day Taipei Pass = NT$310
3-Day Taipei Pass = NT$440
5-Day Taipei Pass = NT$700
1-Day Taipei Pass +Maokong Gondola = NT$350
4 days are not enough to discover everything about the country. With its rich culture and history, you will fall in love with everything in this country. Below are must-see attractions that we visited and will enlighten you to know more about Taipei:
1. Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Direction: Look for the Tamsui-Xinyi line or Red line. Board the train heading to Xiangshan (last station) and get off at Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial train station and Exit 5.
Admission fee: FREE
2. Bopiliao Historic Block
Address: No. 101 Guangzhou St., Wanhua Dist., Taipei City 108, Taiwan (R.O.C)
3. Lungshan / Longshan Temple
Address: No. 211, Guangzhou Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10853
4. Elephant Mountain
Make sure you have plenty of water and proper hiking outfit! It’s really a tiring hike for 20-25 minutes. However, it’s worth it once you already reach the top. We start hiking around 1700 to witness the beauty of Taipei at night.
How to get there: Hop on a subway train to Xiangshan Station and take Exit 2. You will see a temple on the hill, turn left and take the entrance to Xiangshan Hiking Trail.
5. Taipei 101
After a tiring hike up to the Elephant Mountain, we just walk around Taipei 101.
How to get there: Take the Red Line 2 (Xiangshan Line) to Taipei 101 Station.
The famous shopping district of Taipei. My favorite place to visit during night time, wherein there are lots of shops, restaurants, food haven and tourists.
How to get there: Take Taipei MRT-Bannan Line to exit no. 6 of MRT Ximen Station.
7. (Pingxi, Shifen & Jufien)
TPE Main Station to Ruifang
- To get to Ruifang, one must hop on the local line or TRA.
- Look for the TRA platform
- Look for Platform 4 if you’re heading to Pingxi, Ruifang, Taitung, Hualien, Keelung and Yilan.
- Arrived at Ruifang and transferred to Pingxi Line
1st Stop: RUIFANG
It’s the jump-off point going to Pingxi and Jiufen. At Ruifang Station, we bought tickets for the Pingxi Line. You can buy a ticket for an unlimited pass that costs NTD 80 each.
You can choose if you want to go to Jiufen or Shifen first. Just take note of the train timetable as it leaves the station every hour. And for us, we chose to go to Jiufen to have lunch in the famous A Mei Tea House.
2nd Stop: JIUFEN
How to get there: At Riufang station, cross to opposite side of the road, walk left up to the police station and take bus #788 (every 15 minutes), bus 1062 (every 1 hour), bus #825 (weekend only) to Jiufen. Get off after about 15 minutes at Jiufen Old Street outside 7 Eleven stop.
3rd Stop: SHIFEN OLD STREET & SHIFEN WATERFALLS
It’s raining hard during our travel to Shifen. So I advise everyone to always bring an umbrella because of the weather in Taiwan. However, we still managed to visit the lists on our itinerary. The first thing we did is to visit Shifen Waterfalls.
How to get there: When you arrive at Shifen Station. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk, but there is taxi’s around Shifen that offers a ride up to Shifen Waterfalls. Or you can walk to bus the stop to take bus #795 or #846 and 10 minutes to Shifen Waterfall.
8. Raohe Street Night Market
I suggest buying your pasalubong here because it’s cheaper compared to other night markets. I enjoyed shopping here because of different souvenirs and personalized items that you will see.
Ho to get here: From Taipei Main Station, take any local train northbound to Songshan Station, then locate MRT exit 5. The night market entrance is just to the right across the street next to the temple.
9. Rainbow Bridge
It’s better to visit here during daytime where you can enjoy the scenery and fresh air. Many locals are here to jog or exercise. I enjoyed taking pictures and spending time here as early as possible. It is just across Raohe Night Market.
10. National Taiwan University
Remember Meteor Garden during your elementary days? You will have a major throwback visiting National Taiwan University where some scenes are taken here. We spent a half day touring the campus and it was really huge!
How to get there: From Taipei Main Station, drop off at Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall Station (Red Line) to transfer to the Green Line drop off to Gongguan Station, Exit 3.
One of the reasons I enjoyed our stay in Taiwan is because of their delicacies and street food. More reason to explore Taiwan not just visiting their famous tourist attractions. Because every time I hear Taiwan, food always comes to my mind. Considered to be the best food destination in the world!