These were our actual day to day itineraries during our Taiwan visit last February 2018. We followed a combination of DIY and private car tours.
Taiwan visa free entry for Philippine passport holder is until July 31, 2018 only. Have you book your tickets to Taipei? Book now!
If you miss the visa-free entry, you can apply for Taiwan Visa, just submit complete requirements to have a greater chance of getting approve. And once you have an approved Taiwan visa, you can apply for Korean Visa, Japanese Visa easier compared to if you are not a holder of a Taiwanese visa.
*Taiwan is part of the OECD. You can find the list of OECD countries here. OECD = Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
What’s the significance? OECD countries are more lenient to visa applicants who have prior visa given by a member-country of OECD. In fact, say you already got approved for a Japan Visa, you will almost automatically be approved for Taiwan e-Visa when you apply. Hindi na sila ganun ka strict pag may visa ka from other OECD member states and countries.
I am wishing to get approve for one, Japan at Korea, sana. One can wish. 😊
TAIWAN PROMO FARES
If you are not in a hurry, wait for when airlines launch a seat sale for Taipei, the money you can save from booking promo fares can mean more funds for shopping or splurging on food when you get to Taiwan.
But if you are moneyed, no wait for any promo tickets, good for you, :).
We traveled to Taiwan on a round trip promo fare from Philippine Airlines. Laki ng tulong ng free 30 kilos each of check-in bag allowance nila at free hot meal. May in-flight entertainment pa! Isa pang advantage ng PAL is that they have a morning flight to Taoyuan airport, the other airlines have late night flights.
Check mo din, baka mas mura pa mag Philippine Airlines promo tickets keysa mag budget airline promo fares, lalo na if you plan to fly with prepaid baggage and meal. Unless, you were able to booked, say a Cebu Pacific piso fare ticket, yun talagang panalo.
Hey, balik tayo sa Taiwan, kasi ang blog post na to ay para sa Taiwan vacation hehhe.
ACTUAL ITINERARY in TAIWAN 5 Nights and 6 Days
We spent 6D / 5N in Taiwan, that long hehe. Why? We don’t like packing so many places in a single day, we want to explore Taiwan in a more leisurely paced. Plus, our travel preference lately is to have one day free, winding-down, soaking in the place doing nothing significant, before we fly back home.
*I did not jot down all the actual expenses per leg of the tour but I shared what I remember on this Taiwan blog post.
For our tour contact in Taiwan for the private car, we coordinated with Ms Elma, a Filipino long time resident of Taiwan. See the post where I shared Ms Elma’s Facebook account and also have a look at Mr Huang, our guide and driver.
RAINBOW HOTEL in XIMENDING
If you talk about a strategic location, Rainbow Hotel aced it. About 5 minutes-walk from MRT Ximen Station. It is really at the center, at the heart of the Ximending action. In fact, there were street performers and busking activities a few steps from the hotel front door.
Restaurants and street vendors ang dami din sa immediate area ng hotel, may Starbucks at KFC din. Ximending is a shopping place too from big international brands like Uniqlo, Mango, Face Shop, etc to local brands, the choices are varied.
We were upgraded for free! From our booked Deluxe Three-Person Room (one double bed + one single bed), we were given the Deluxe Family room (2 double beds). Nice!
Excellent location ang hotel na to and maganda and malaki yung room naibigay sa amin. Our room was in the 7th floor, the noise from the streets are muffled enough that we rested well.
We arrived in Rainbow Hotel around 10 AM. We deposited our luggage with the front desk and left to explore what we can in Ximending.
If we are back in Taiwan, we plan to stay in Rainbow Hotel. They have free breakfast though it’s boring kasi pareho lang each day.
We stayed 5 nights and we observed that the usual breakfast fare they serve are 1 veggie viand (different types each day), plus all these other constant daily offering sausage, ham, scrambled egg, bread and jam, congee, unlimited coffee, water, and juice.
The breakfast offer can be improved but my husband says ‘ayos na yan sa rate ng hotel’. Pero, ayun nga magsasawa ka plus ang juice ang lamya – lamya, lol.
*Despite the few shortcomings we experienced, I really like Rainbow Hotel. Location 5 stars! Aside from location advantage, most of their staff are courteous and helpful too!
Check here for the updated rates of Rainbow Hotel via Agoda.
Disclosure: If you will book using Penfires Agoda link, I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Walang dagdag sa babayaran mo, you will pay the same Agoda discounted rates. Thanks in advance if you do, it helps to keep this blog alive!
DAY 1 (Saturday): IN and AROUND XIMENDING
The Red House is about 10 minutes walk from the Ximending Walker signage (center of Ximeding entertainment / shopping area), which also happens to be just across Rainbow Hotel.
We arrived at the height of the Chinese New Year festivities. Ang daming tao sa Ximending, there was also a big stage set-up in the middle of the main intersection in this district. I think sponsored by a local TV or something yung live show. Festive na festive ang vibe on our first day in Taipei.
Kami we just walked around the immediate neighborhood, trying to experience that local vibe feels. 🙂 We also chanced upon the camera lane, if you are a photography aficionado especially of the vintage kind, you might want to check-out their products.
We also dad our first taste of the famous pineapple cake. Napapasok kami sa isang store selling premium pineapple cakes, kasi ang bango ng niluluto nilang butter cookies and pineapple cake. Di naming alam mahal pala sila hehhhe.
A Box of 12 mini bite-sized pineapple cakes was NTD 400 if I am not mistaken. Sabi namin carry lang kasi first time sa Taiwan, let’s celebrate by splurging a bit. Pero one box lang, di na mauulit haha.
*Yung pasalubong na pineapple cake na binili naming were only NTD 200 from the store that boast they are the best pineapple cake in town, My Sense One. On their red boxes they proudly indicated that they bagged the Taiwan pineapple cakes competition, No. 1 sila, o di ba hehe. In fairness, masarap yung cake ng My Sense One pero mas masarap pa din yung una kaso mahal.
If tight talaga ang budget and you still want to bring home pineapple cakes, there are boxes of 10/12 at NTD 100.
Current exchange rate today May 16,2018 is 1 NTD = 1.75 PHP
100 NTD = 175 PHP
TAIWAN LANTERN FESTIVAL in TAIPEI
We were lucky, the night we arrived in Taiwan was also the opening night for the Taipei Lantern Festival so we got to witness the lanterns made by different schools and universities in Taipei plus some entries from establishments. I think the Lantern Festival and Display was a contest.
On this first day, we were also able to visit one local temple. Ang daming temple sa Taiwan, as in every few blocks meron. I said to my husband, maybe their temples are like our barangay / sitio chapels na madami.
We did not incur any touring transport cost on our first day. We just walked and explored on foot in Ximending district.
DAY 2 (Sunday): KEELUNG CITY TOUR
Tourist spots / famous places we visited and the way there;
Taipei Main Station to Keelung via BUS.
Keelung to the Baimiweng Fort via TAXI.
Baimiweng Fort to Fairy Cave Temple via TAXI.
Fairy Cave to Buddha Hand Cave via 2-minutes’ WALK.
Buddha Hand Cave to Guiyan Maitre Buddha, giant statue located in Zhong Zhen park via TAXI.
*We can’t speak Chinese, the taxi drivers don’t speak English, but we were lucky because we have two kababayans with us who toured us around their home base in Taiwan. Free tour, but of course we paid for the taxi and transport costs.
Guiyan Giant Buddah Statue to Chupu Temple is about 5-minutes’ WALK. (mabilis na picture taking lang kami dito. This temple is all lighted up during Taiwan’s Ghost Festival (usually August or in September)
Chupu Temple to Keelung Miaokou Night Market is about 15 minutes’ WALK. We took a shortcut passing the side of Chupu Temple, passing a smaller temple before we climbed down a long stair.
Keelung Night market to Keelung Bus Station is about 5 minutes’ WALK.
Keelung Bus Station to Taipei Bus Main Station is about 30 minutes.
may pa-change costume pa kaming nalalaman ng kapatid ko hehehhe
DAY 3 (Monday): TAICHUNG TOUR
*We hired a private car, rate is NTD 6,000, 8 AM to 6 PM (or until you are drop-off at your hotel, we arrived back in Taipei a few minutes passed 7 PM).
Taipei to Taichung is about an hour and 15 minutes on freeway, at an almost constant speed of 100 kms/hour.
*We did not encounter heavy traffic like what we are accustomed to in Manila / Cebu and big cities in the Philippines. Ang gaganda ng freeway nila na walang toll-fee! Hanga kami dun!
First stop: Sea of Flower
Time spent: One hour
Second stop: Rainbow Village
Time spent: around 30 minutes
*Lunch in a canteen / carenderia type just across the University near Rainbow Village. Sulit at masarap yung kain dun, the best. 4 ulam + rice was just NTD 55. Sulit talaga!
Third stop: Xinshe Castle
Time spent: 1 hour and a half
Cherry Blossoms sa Xinshe Castle in Taichung! Nice!
We only covered 3 sites on our Day 2 Taichung Tour, most of the time we were in the car cruising to the next destination. Malalayo talaga sila from each other. We would have wanted to also visit Cartoon King, di na kaya sa oras.
Some Taiwan Tour operators offer 5 or more tourist spots in Taichung a single day. I would imagine na you’ll just get off the car, spend 10 minutes, then get back-on to hit the road again. Malalayo ng sites sa Taichung. I think it’s best to prioritize sites, choose few, and spend quality time exploring and experiencing your favorites.
Anyhow, when we got back to Taipei, we ate at this chicken place from one of the side streets. I supposed famous sila because we can see pictures of people dining there posted on the wall plus magazine clippings about the restaurant. Mura lang dun ang meal, if I’m not mistaken rice + 3 ulam. If I locate the name of this side street resto, I’ll add the info on this blog.
Visit the Penfires post Taiwan Photo Blog if you want to see some of my favorite pictures taken during our vacation.
DAY 4 (Tuesday): NEW TAIPEI TOUR
We again opted for a private car tour with the same Mr Huang. I like him, I like his vibe. The tour fee is NTD 5,500, 8 hours.
When we went down the hotel at 8 AM, Mr Huang was already there at the hotel front steps, waiting for us. Good, hindi nale-late.
First stop: Yehliu Geopark
Our first stop was Yehliu Geopark. It’s home to natural rock formations in Keelung. It was a hot day, the hottest we’ve experienced in Taiwan that February getaway.
We arrived at this popular tourist spot in Taiwan to bus loads of Korean tourists, who were mostly covered from head to toe with thick jackets and multi-layered clothes. Eh ang init, namangha kami sa kanila, kami ng kapatid ko naka light, short dresses lang at si Titus was wearing a light shirt too, lol. Baka namangha din sila sa get-up namin hahah.
Finally, we saw and chatted with a group of Filipino tourists, mga titos and titas from Iloilo! Our first-time to see fellow pinoys sa Taiwan, yeyyy!. 😀
We enjoyed our time in Yehliu Geopark despite the fact that we had to strategized how to get good pics before the shots are ‘ruin’ with other tourist walking-in and out of the frames.
My best food discovery in Taiwan was also in Yehliu, in the tent food bazaars. I really love their squid balls on stick. It’s the best squid ball I’ve tasted.
Second stop: Jiufen Old Street
The A-Mei Tea House was a major draw for us in Jiufen. It’s my husband number one priority in Taiwan too. He firmly believes that the author of the Japanese famous cartoon’s Spirited Away drew inspiration from Amei Tea House for the cartoon’s bath house design.
Urged by Mr Huang, we also tried and tasted some of the many offerings, kakanins, in Jiufen like yung parang bilo-bilo halo-halo nila. The taste, okay lang.
By the way may isang Taiwanese nag-tindera who shouted at us as we were passing by, sabi nya “Baboy seaweed masarap” hehehheh
*Madaming free taste sa Jiufen! We also saw our first stinky tofu there, mabaho, aba!
*We bought pineapple cakes tidbits, masarap! plus peanut ice cream wrap, okay lang. For lunch we had braised beef bowls from a ‘hidden’ resto.
For personal souvenir, I bought a pretty owl ceramic flute. A playing guide and song leaflet was included. But it was in Chinese, I need a translator hehe.
Third stop: Golden Waterfalls
I was not that impressed with the Golden Waterfalls. It’s unique in a way because the water is rich in the mineral iron, hence, the rocks it touched turns to bronze / brownish color over time.
But alas, our country, home to truly majestic falls, have spoil me enough that I think it would take maybe Iguazu Falls and Niagara Falls para mamangha ako ng sobra sa isang talon again, ang taray haha. Plus, di ata puedeng maligo sa Golden Waterfalls. But still, it’s a good quick stop. Road side, no trekking involved. 🙂
Third stop: Yin Yang Sea coastline
This was a quick stop too. Mr Huang wanted us to see the fortress on top of the mountain and the “yin yang sea”.
Brownish / bronzy water from the Golden Waterfalls flows freely into the blue sea, so there is this “division” in the water, a demarcation, two colors – blue and bronzy / brown – resisting each other, pushing against each other, confusing the yin yang sea, lol.
Fifth stop: Pingxi District Sky Lantern
Taiwan is famous for their lantern festival. Chinese lanters are lighted-up, the sides written with wishes and the heart’s desire, then sent-up to heaven with the hope that the wishes and desires will come true.
We experienced this too. My sister did not, she said she is not supporting this tradition that is not environment-friendly.
We asked Mr Huang, through the Google translate app, what happened to the lanterns when they fall back to earth. He said that the lanterns are collected and then “cash-in”. Parang bote ng coke dati, if you return the bottle, you will get your deposit. But for the lantern, those who will return the frame, will get monetary compensation. Yung papel uses papel de hapon, light weight and biodegradable. So there. Talagang nag-explain haha.
Would have been sixth stop: Shifen Waterfall
Our Taiwan driver and guide urged us to check-out the Shifen waterfall, will only take around 30 minutes walk. Nag decline kami, pagod na, gusto ng umuwi ng Taipei hehehe.
DAY 5 (Wednesday): TAIPEI CITY TOUR
DIY Tour, MTR lang katapat!
First stop: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, bonus may cherry blossoms sa garden when we visited!
Take the MTR and exit in Chiang Kai Shek Station, a few meters from the CKS exit, you will see the famous landmarks of Taiwan.
You can climb and get to the top of these famous buildings!
Second stop: Din Tai Fung Yong Kang Branch. Yes, naging tourist spot sila, hehehe. This dimsum haven is famous for their xiao long bao.
Ride the MTR to Dongmen Station, Exit 5, walk straight. Less than 20 steps, you’ll be there. If you go there at the peak of lunch time, expect to wait around an hour, we did. Lol. Around 3 PM, waiting time was only 5 minutes. They have multi-lingual staff. They asked us from what country, then the staff continued talking to us in English.
Another group said they were Korean, so a Korean speaking staff took charged. There was also a Japanese speaking staff talking to tourist from Japan. How I know they were as I claimed? Kdrama at Japanese Anime, hahha.
*It was raining so hard on our last full day of Taiwan tour and sightseeing that we did not have a chance to go see Taipei 101. The tower which was supposed to be visible along the Xinyi Road was hidden by thick fog and rain.
*Yong Kang street in Daan District is a foodie haven. Lots of dining choices, cafes, restaurants, dimsum places, you name it. Hotels and hostels abound in the area too!
DAY 6 (Thursday): PASALUBONG SHOPPING and UWIAN NA!
We did most of our pasalubong shopping in Ximending. We got pineapple cakes, nougat (soft and chewy), pork paper with almond bits (kakaiba sya! puede sa kape hehe), egg-yolk cookies, freeze-dried veggies and fruits, ref magnets, keychain, sari’t-sari.
Finally, we claimed our bags deposited at the front desk earlier that day and onward we go.
We took the Airport MRT. Ayun pauwi na kami. 🙂
Penfires Taiwan Itinerary
This was our actual itinerary, hope this gives you a bit of idea about things to do and places to see in Taiwan.
We plan to go visit Taiwan again and concentrate more on the south side like Alishan and Sun Moon Lake. *crossing my fingers, hope this will happen in the future.
*We did not buy any Taiwan sim card. We relied on the hotel wifi and the buses wifi. But I think it would be best if at least one person in your group purchase a sim card with data package. You can buy a tourist sim good for 3 or 5 days at the Taoyuan airport.
Exchange your peso or US dollars at the airport before you leave the country or at Taiwan airport. We did the latter and exchanged some more in a store in Keelung, the USD to NTD rate was the same with the airport exchange rate.
Lastly, I hope that the Taiwan visa free entry will be extended or much better, for the policy to become a permanent one. Sana Taiwan! 😉
Where to next after Taiwan? Japan? Korea? Bhutan? Mongolia? 🙂
Cheers to more travels!