Taiwan // What to expect: Planning the trip & Reviews
Dreaming of an exciting trip to Taiwan, but have no idea how to start planning for your trip? Here are some helpful advice and planning experiences that may help you enjoy your time in Taiwan to the fullest!
// Traveler Profile: Aki
Nationality: Southeast Asian
Resident Country: Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: 4th-year university student + part-timer
Trip Preference: Culture Experience
Main trip theme: Art, Creativity, Cuisine, Culture, Photography (with a phone, yes!)
Activities Pace: Fast (approx 10 hours/day on the road)
Travel Budget: 27,000 NTD = approx 800 USD
// Planning the trip
First and the very first, when is the most ideal season to visit Taiwan?
My answer is definitely springtime (February – April), in which the weather is not too hot or not too cold. You’d better leave the summertime and autumntime blank as it is the high peak of rainfall and typhoon season. As Taiwan’s climate is considered tropical in the south and subtropical in the north, expect the rain to come any time of the year. You would love to have a lovely umbrella in case a downpour takes place out of nowhere.
I had to buy two umbrellas because I was a forgetful dummy who left my first umbrella on an express bus without even saying goodbye nicely to it 🙁
Transportation Ticket & Sim Card Reservation
To begin with, I would not convince you to plan your trip far before the departing date, because people’s lives are different and so is their schedule. BUT, setting a plan and travel dates at least 3 – 4 months before will definitely spare yourself a lot more options to choose from in terms of the flight ticket price, itinerary, destinations and so forth.
Also, while you have 3 – 4 months till the trip comes true, you can save yourself a bit more money in case you got any costly reservations to cover for the trip, which you can not afford to pay it off at the present.
In my case, it’s the Taiwan High-Speed Railway Train for me, which was the ticket that I paid only one night before my departure date.
- Flight Ticket
For flight ticket reservations, as a budget traveler, I do recommend to use price predictor application/engine like atta.ai, Skyscanner or Google Flight to keep track of the price of your future flight and get the best deals at the best timing.
There are many LCC (Low-cost Carrier) airlines operating flights to various cities in Taiwan. I opted for Scoot Airlines, basically because their price was the lowest compared to other flight providers. It’s my first time flying with Scoot Airlines, and it was not so bad. The distance between the seats was large enough for me to straighten my legs out (I have short legs, actually) and had some good rest for 4 hours from Tokyo to Taipei and vice versa.
※Note: For anyone interested in Scoot Airlines, please keep in mind their flight schedule when you book a two-way ticket. Scoot’s departure flight can be at a very flexible time, ranging from late morning till the afternoon and the price is quite reasonable. Contradictorily, their return flight has insanely inflexible prices and schedules. To keep the price at the lowest point, Scoot offers early-morning flights, which gives you no way but to do an overnight layover at the airport and wait for hours till the check-in time.
My flight leaving for Tokyo was at 6:40 AM, and every train from Taipei city to the airport stops at 12:00 AM, so I got stranded at least for 7 hours at Taoyuan International Airport. Luckily enough, there is a bunch of long bench with charging outlets available 24/7 for passengers at the arrival hall and various rest spots available inside security for me to take nap and charge my phone constantly during this exhausting layover.
Personally, I would not think of anything bad about this situation as I got over it quite well by talking on the phone with friends and family for a few hours, watching movies and taking short naps. However, considering your conditions seriously before booking this kind of flight ticket, because not anyone could put up with long hours of waiting and being stuck at an airport just because of a low price ticket.
Make it the best for yourself to enjoy the trip till the end!
- Other transportation tickets & Sim Card
Booking transport tickets in advance is getting more and more convenient for travelers, especially when you come to other countries as a foreign passport holder. Each country has its own peculiar transportation system, make sure you do your research homework before booking any kind of ticket.
For Taiwan’s nationwide transport, the country has the Taiwan High-Speed Railway (THSR), which consists of one line that runs approximately 350 km along the west coast, from the capital Taipei to the southern city of Kaohsiung.
Meanwhile, each city in Taiwan has its own centralized means of transport in the metropolitan area. Taipei City, the capital of Taiwan, is greatly facilitated with a comprehensive MRT/TRA train system, whereas, Tainan city, the ancient city as well as the prior capital of Taiwan, is more fond of the public bus system. Taxi is also available in any city for a quite reasonable price, even if you go by yourself.
Having said that, the Taiwan tourism industry is very thoughtful and considerate of how to provide their passengers with the best transport experiences. Just like Japan, the country brings forth the THSR pass, Taipei Fun Pass, and many other transport passes of great values.
It only takes a few minutes to book these passes for a discounted price through Klook or KKday in advance. Besides the nationwide transport passes, you can also make a reservation for Easycard – the public transit IC card, as well as Sim Card, and pick it up conveniently at the airport when you arrive. Other types of public transit tickets, day tours, restaurant vouchers are also available for you to choose from.
For more details, please check Klookl/KKday home websites:
- Klook Website: https://www.klook.com/
- KKday Website: https://www.kkday.com/
※Note: Either THSR pass or Taipei Fun Pass has its own usage conditions, especially in terms of the usage period. For example, the THSR pass has several types of tickets, such as unlimited ride for 3 consecutive days, for 2 flexible days, for 5 flexible days and so forth. Be careful and always check the conditions of the ticket you will book to make sure that it’s suitable for your itinerary and other bookings as well.
Travel date: 4th Feb 2020 ~ 10th Feb 2020
On this trip, I decided to visit three big cities in Taiwan – Taipei, Taichung, Tainan
- 4th Feb ~ 7th Feb: 3 nights in Taipei
- 7th Feb: A day trip to Taichung
- 7th Feb ~ 9th Feb: 2 nights in Tainan
- 9th Feb: An overnight layover at Taoyuan International Airport for the early-morning flight on 10th Feb.
Here are my choices for accommodation in Taipei & Tainan:
- In Taipei
- Name: Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
- Location: 2 mins walk from Taipei Bridge Station
- Price: 14 USD /night – rate might be different by websites and season
- Length of stay: 3 nights
Hey Bear Capsule Hotel provides cool-looking spaceship-ish capsule beds. The dorm-style hostel is not new to me as a traveler, but I’m not quite an easygoing roommate, especially with strangers. Having said that, as it was my first time to travel solo, and a dormitory hostel is definitely the ideal inexpensive option, I couldn’t help the choice.
At first, I was quite worried about the privacy and the security of my personal belongings during my stay in a capsule hotel. But it turned out I was stressed out for nothing. Every guest will have a security card, and the hotel system is fully connected to your personal card. Elevators, restrooms, lockers, and even your capsule’s door are absolutely secured by the card itself. Only confirmed guests who own the right cards could access the system of the hotel, which is unexpectedly awesome to me.
Another bonus point was that the capsule’s height was so generous that I could sit up comfortably without worrying about hitting my head on the ceiling. The hotel is, also, only 2 minutes walk from the nearest MRT station, and it takes just a few minutes by train to get to the central area of Taipei city.
The surrounding area is covered with tons of local restaurants, bubble tea stores, and a bustling night market.
I have had the best rest ever at the hotel. Definitely a place of great values for the price!
- In Tainan
- Name: Tainan Garden Hostel – 台南花園青年旅店
- Location: 20 mins walk from Tainan Station
- Price: 13.5 USD/night for one single bed at Female Dorm Room – rate might be different by websites and season
- Length of stay: 2 nights
The very most reason why I booked the place was that, despite its dormy-style room, the hostel provides a single bed for each guest. Even though the stay at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel was comfortable, unfortunately, I could not bear the thought of having someone above me the whole time again.
The room and the bedding set were so clean that I could hardly find any dust. A two-plug outlet is placed at the top of the bed so that you can freely charge your devices. I had the whole room for myself as it was at the high peak of the coronavirus epidemic at the time being (It was speculative of me to still keep going traveling actually). The property does provide unlimited snacks, comic books, a piano, and local travel handbooks for anyone interested. Additionally, the hostel has its password-based security system, you will feel secure that only staff and confirmed guests allowed to come inside the building.
The only minus point of this place is that it is quite far from Tainan station, which was, however, absolutely fixed by the fact that its location is within the walking distance to all the famous tourist attractions in town. You can also easily rent a T-bike to go around if going on foot is not your thing.
The first day when you arrive at Tainan station, it might be a bit of a hustle to move around with your luggage. Calling for a taxi to move to the hostel will definitely solve the problem.
Enjoy the place in your own way!
Choice of destinations
I’m a 4th-year university student specialized in innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Having said that, Taiwan is such an ideal place for me to enlarge my perceptions with all the specialized areas for young people and the artistic community located all over the country.
Only in Taipei, we have already had so many museums and creative areas that are worth to visit, such as National Taiwan Museum, Hushan 1914 Creative Park and so forth. While many are established to exhibit the traditional or historical materials of the country, the others are built to serve as a gathering place for the young crowds, artists and the local community.
If you look at another post about the detailed itinerary of my Taiwan trip, you may see that my planning heavily focused on museums, old towns, and creative parks. Depending on where your hostel/hotel is located, you can really easily find the closest museum in the surrounding area on Google Map. In case the sites you would like to visit are far from each other, you can easily commute from one to another by the public transport system in any city, which is quite reasonable!
Besides historical and artistic spots, of course, Taiwan has so much more to offer. Night markets, walking districts, local markets, narrow street alleys, hot spring! Watching the prior travelers reviewing on Youtube or their personal blogs would give you a good idea of where to go, what to do & where to stay. If you are a foodie, hunt down and make a full list of local restaurants, night markets, and walking district. If you are a bubble tea hype, go for the best of the bestttt bubble stores ever nationwide. If you are into off-the-beaten tracks, don’t hesitate to book a tour or make friends with local people, who are the best guide of the country.
For me, there are some days I strongly concentrate on visiting only places of creativity, while others are quite mixed between different types of destinations, which actually gave me a balance in my view of the country in the end.
If you are curious about how I traveled in Taiwan, feel free to check out my other posts! I will keep updating my planning, ideas and reviews about places I have been to in Taiwan!
This is the end of this post. Thank you so much for reading!
Stay tuned for the next posts about the Taiwan travel series:
Taiwan // What to expect: Language, Culture, and Eatery
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan – Day 1
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan – Day 2
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan – Day 3
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan – Day 4 – Stay tuned
Taiwan // A full-on 6-day solo itinerary in Taiwan – Day 5 – Stay tuned