I’ve recently visited Taipei, Taiwan which was supposed to be a solo trip. It turned out to be my first international trip with my partner since his family was coincidentally having some sort of mini-reunion because of a wedding.
ANYWAYS, some tips and memories to be left down below. This is going to be some sort of a dump post as I will be typing down whatever comes to mind that I may deem helpful for others.
- Have your PHP converted to USD in banks then have your USD converted to NTD once you’re in Taiwan. A friend told me it would be best to have it converted in the Bank of Taiwan stall which can be found just before going to the immigration in the airport I believe.
- BDO – need to have an account; present your passport and plane ticket/itinerary
- BPI – need to have account
- METROBANK – need to have an account; will not sell USD on weekends
- Convert your PHP to NTD straight-up. I did this and got a good rate when I had it converted in Raintree Mall (Cebu City). It was 1.90PHP = 1NTD compared to the rates available in Ayala Mall and in the Airport.
- Withdraw your NTD in Taiwan. I’ve read that some people do this for convenience but I have been told that it can be pricey since there will be a charge for withdrawing in a foreign country.
WHERE DID I STAY?
I stayed in Pillow Hostel which is good for backpackers, solo-travellers, or generally for people who doesn’t mind sharing and are also travelling in budget.
What I liked about the place was that it was really near the Taipei Main Station with exits Z8 and Z10 nearby, just a 5-10 minute walk (depending on your speed). It was also very well-maintained and clean. They have a 24/7 reception area and you can even rent out some stuff for free. If you forget to bring indoor slippers with you, you can just buy a pair of paper slippers for 10NTD. You will have your own locker with lock as well for safe-keeping of any important items you may be bringing with you.
Take note that you have to make your own bed as well before and after your stay. They will have the linens for the duvet, bed, and blanket on your bed. When you leave, you have to remove those same linens as well and place them in a basket beside the reception area or if that’s unavailable, the receptionist will get it for you.
AIRPORT to TAIPEI!
I booked 2 Taoyuan Airport MRT one-way tickets + 1 EasyCard through Klook.com and if you follow the link, you will get a small discount on your own booking too!1 token is good for 1 trip, so if you’re getting 2 tokens for yourself (rountrip), make sure you keep hold on the one you’ve used to tap to get in the train since you need to insert that before exiting the platform at your arriving station.
The EasyCard is actually a very convenient form of payment if you’re in Taipei. You can top it up at any MRT stations or 7/11 stores and use what you have to pay for your transportation or for purchases (if the store allows). I used mine for all my transportation fares and for purchases from 7/11.
KLOOK ALL THE WAY!
I actually booked most of the essentials in advance through Klook.
- I opted to get a sim card with unlimited data instead of renting a pocket wifi. You can get a pocket wifi instead if you’re travelling in groups. I’ve read that the pocket wifi is good for 4-5 people.
- I bought an entrance ticket for Taipei 101 Observatory in advance here as well to skip the line. Take note that you would need to indicate the date and time of your 101 visit as well but the staff is quite accommodating.
- You also can book day tours through Klook if you want to join other tourists.
TIPS TIPS TIPS!
- I saved a lot by just buying my breakfast from 7/11. They have all sorts of food there. I usually get melon pan and coffee before I head of for adventure.
- There will be signs in the MRT stations telling you that you are not allowed to eat or drink while on board the train.
- SEGREGATE! Do make sure that you segregate your trash properly. There will also be special bins for the food waste before throwing the container in their respective bins.
- Download the Train Map in advance. I saved myself the hassle of looking at the train maps in the station by having the map in my phone. The trains would normally indicate the last station of where it will be headed.
- Read the signs! The Taipei Main station is big and so easy to get lost in it. Honestly, I got lost 3 times on my 2nd night since I went home late from Shilin Night Market and the place where I normally pass by was already closed. I learned how to read the signs on that same night.
- Listen very well. If you’re on a bus, the driver normally announces the next stop. There’s a red button just above the seats and you would need to press that if you want to get off on that next stop. There will be drivers who announces only in Mandarin, some will be able to announce in English. So, keep your ears open if they’ve announced the name of the next stop. They do not have recordings.
- Google Map is your best friend! I used Google Map to know what train or bus to get on for my travels and even for when I’m walking. It gives real-time update of the traffic situation within the immediate vicinity as well.
- Practice CLAYGO. Not all establishments will clean up after your meal.