Taiwan is a fairly inexpensive country to go to for Filipinos. With the current exchange rate of NT$1 to PhP 1.56, the money you bring from the Philippines almost has the same value when you go to Taiwan, save for that Peso-USD, USD-NTD exchange that depreciates your money twice.
To maximize your stay, do as much activities as you want to, unless you’re there to really chill out, like what we did for the New Year vacation. What we did in 5 days can actually fit into 3 or 4 days, depending on how much activities you can cram in one day.
For a fairly-spaced itinerary, 4 days should be enough – unless you have plans to go to Taichung, then maybe add 1 or 2 more days.
As stated in the previous Taiwan blogs, the buses have English translations of each bus stop so one won’t get lost (unless asleep the entire trip?).
I know some of the instructions here won’t make sense until you’re there, so do yourself a favor by saving the link, or taking screenshots.
DAY 1: JIUFEN and SHIFEN
7am: Leave Taipei for Jiufen – at the Zhongxiao Fuxing station (brown and blue lines), walk from exit 1 to the bus station and wait for Keelung bus 1062 bound for Jinguashi and alight at Jiufen.
815am: Arrive at Jiufen and walk the alleys of the defunct gold mine-turned-shopping district
11am: Leave Jiufen for Shifen Waterfalls – get on a bus 788 bound to Keelung Train Station (Ocean Plaza), get off the bus at the Ruifang station and get on another bus 4708 and alight at the Shifen Station. Walk or take the cab to the Shifen Waterfalls. Ruifang is in the middle of Jiufen and Shifen so you’d pass by it when you go to both places.
1230pm: Arrive at Shifen Station
1pm: Arrive at Shifen Waterfalls
2pm: Head back to Taipei – From the Shifen station, take bus 4703 to Ba Du and alight at Ba Du station. From Ba Du station, take another bus (1121) headed to Hsinchu and alight at Songshan Station. Walk towards the train station and take the train to your destination.
Total expenses on transpo and entrance fee should be: NT$ 200 per person, but if you want to cut the time in half and insert more activities in one day, hiring a cab if there’s 5 or 6 of you in the group, it should be a better choice at NT$3,500 including Yehliu Geopark.
As for us, we booked a shuttle service from Ximen to Jiufen and Shifen vv, but we missed the bus and forfeited the trip (which was paid for in advance). Had we not missed it, we would have had the chance to release a sky lantern in Shifen.
DAY 2: TAIPEI 101, XIMEN, CHIANG KAI-SHEK MEMORIAL HALL, ELEPHANT MOUNTAIN AND SHIDA NIGHT MARKET
All of these activities / places are found within the MRT system. All you need to do is change trains and walk a bit to your destination. No bus rides. Just load your Easy Card with about NT$200 for this day and you will be fine. Better yet, get the 24-hour unlimited MRT pass for $180. They also have a 1 day pass NT$ 150 (different from the 24-hour pass), 48-hour NT$ 280 and 72-hour pass NT$ 380. Visit their site for more information.
Also, download this app (the green icon with the m on it) so you can have an offline-guide to the train stations and lines in Metro Taipei.
Since we get on the green line at the start of each day, it was logical to follow this route, as you can see below.
Start with Chiang Kai-shek (pictures and changing of the guard ceremony every hour on the hour until 440pm), Taipei 101 (Observatory ticket costs NT$600) and if you plan on going to Starbucks at the 35th floor, you’d have to call and reserve the day before and you can only stay for 90 minutes, with a purchase of NT$200 per person.
You can also trek to the Elephant Mountain from the Xiangshan station (red line terminal station).
All 3 activities should take about 4 hours.
In the afternoon, you can go back to Ximen (mini-Shibuya pedestrian, food and shopping), and then Taipower Building should cap your day for a stroll at the night market.
You should be headed home by 8pm depending on how long you want to shop around Ximen and Shida.
DAY 3: TAIPEI ZOO, MAOKONG GONDOLA, YEHLIU GEOPARK
Start at 7am so you’re at Yehliu Geopark at about 830am. You may also take your lunch there since they’re known for fresh seafood cooked while you wait. Alight at the red line Taipei Main Station and walk to the bus station across, look for east exit 3 and get on the 1815 bus to Jin Qing Center, alight at the Yehliu Geopark crossing. Note that you’d have to walk for 10 more minutes to get to the entrance.
At 11am, head back to Taipei using the same route and from the Taipei Main Station, take the red line to Xiangshan and alight at Daan, change to the brown line headed to the Taipei Zoo (terminal station).
Tour the zoo for 2.5-3 hours and ride head for the Maokong Gondola at 4pm (they close at 5). If you can take the crystal cabin, do so as it provides a different feeling looking down at the trees.
From the Maokong station, sample the street food for a mere NT$250 per person, you’d get to taste their pancit, squid balls, lamb skewers and juice. If you can eat more, adjust your budget accordingly.
Once you’re ready to head back to the city center, take a taxi-pool that fits up to 6 persons and pay NT$75 per passenger. It will drop you off at the Taipei Zoo train station.
Estimated cost: Fare – NT$400, Taipei Zoo entrance – NT$50, Maokong Gondola – NT$80, Food – NT$ 400 = NT$930
DAY 4: Free day for souvenir, and other nearby attractions like Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, Daan Park, National Palace Museum before heading to the airport. Additionally, you can take a free walking tour for 2 hours every 2pm with the help of Tour Me Away. I booked for a tour but we didn’t make it on time.
HOW TO GET A VISA:
1. Visa Exemption – this is how we got our permit to enter the country. If you have a valid or expired (not more than 10 years ago) visa to any of the following: Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, UK, US or any of the Schengen countries. It only takes 5 minutes to do this, yo just need to input your passport and visa information and you will be issued a permit that you can print and show the immigration officer.
2. Tourist E-Visa – if you don’t have any of the visas mentioned above, you can get one the by filling out the online form. Take advantage of this new provision, it was only announced and made effective on October 2016! This is on trial for a year.
3. Tourist Visa – lastly, you can still submit your form and requirements to the Embassy. Please refer to the table below which I got from their website.
|Information on Visa Fees, Processing Timeframe, Filing and Releasing Time
Rush Handling Fee
|停留簽證【單次】Visitor (Single Entry)||2400||1200|
|停留簽證【多次】Visitor (Multiple Entry)||4800||2400|
|居留簽證【單次】Resident (Single Entry)||3100||1550|
(Special handling fee for US citizens)
|7550||Visitor (Single Entry) 1200
Visitor (Multiple Entry) 2400
Resident (Single Entry) 1550
Application of APEC Business Travel Card (For ROC Nationals Only)
Replacement of a Lost or Damaged APEC Business Travel Card (For ROC Nationals Only)
|Visitor Visa : 3 Working Days
Expedite Processing: 1 Working Day
Resident Visa : 4 Working Days
Expedite Processing : 2 Working Days
Resident Visa for Missionaries: 2 to 4 weeks
|Filing and Releasing Time(送件及發件)||Filing Time(送件) : Monday to Friday 8:45AM to 11:45 AM
Releasing Time(發件) : Monday to Friday 1: 45PM to 4:30PM
|Note||1. This Office reserves the right to withhold the reason for the disapproval of any visa application.
2. In case visa applications were declined after review, the FEES CHARGED ARE NOT REFUNDABLE.
This move by ROC should open more tourism opportunities from the Philippines to Taiwan. And while we have local budget carriers to take us there, it’s not enough to just read this article. Go book your tickets now!