Taiwan is often known as a destination that requires a hefty budget to visit, but this guide shows travelers how to save money along the way.
Taiwan can seem like an exotic destination that is hard to reach, especially since it is a tropical island. As one of the Four Asian Tigers, the country has a fast growing economy that might make travelers think it’s expensive. Fortunately, this is not entirely true – Taiwan can be totally economical. A seven-day vacation in Taiwan’s capital Taipei can be affordable if travelers plan their trip the right way. Read on to find out how to visit Taiwan and stay on budget.
Travel on budget
Taiwan is about the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined. As it is an island, the only means of getting there are by plane or boat. There are several ferry services from mainland China, but these routes could prove to be more complicated (and expensive) for English-speaking travelers. The plane is the easiest and fastest way to get there. The northern tip of the island is the most densely populated area and location of Taipei, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan. Taoyuan, about 40 minutes west of Taipei, is home to the country’s busiest international airport.
People wishing to visit Taiwan will have to look for flights if they want to get a good deal. The plane ticket will probably be the biggest expense there, so reducing that amount can make the entire vacation more affordable. According to Kayak, November, December and January are the peak times to get there, so budget travelers should avoid these months. Instead, they should try to visit the island in March, when flights are cheapest. Typically, flights between the United States and Taiwan cost around $ 1,100, but people can get tickets for as little as $ 650. All prices in this article are in USD.
- Roundtrip flight to Taoyuan International Airport: $ 650 to $ 1,100
Upon arrival, travelers can easily take public transportation – city buses or metro – from the airport to Taipei. Most travelers who have visited Taiwan say that the airport information desk is extremely helpful in giving them the bus route number they need to get closer to their hotels. The trip will take around an hour and a half and cost around $ 7.
- Roundtrip from and to Taoyuan Airport: $ 14
Taipei is famous for its fantastic public transportation and travelers should take advantage of it. The city has a network of buses, the metro – called MRT – and a bike-sharing program called YouBike. The MRT and city buses cost roughly the same. Fares depend on distance traveled, but are often less than $ 1.80. Metro users can get a fare card at stations or 7-11 throughout the city, then add a balance to them. Visitors to the city can rent bikes through YouBike with their credit cards. The cost is around $ 1 per hour. Users should return bikes within the stated limits and within four hours to avoid high charges.
- Four metro trips per day for seven days: $ 50.40
- Seven bike rentals via YouBike: $ 7
Buses and trains will also take travelers over longer distances, for example to the beautiful Yangmingshan National Park. The bus to this destination costs around $ 15. Buses to the Beitou hot spring area cost around $ 5.
- Round-trip bus trips to two destinations near Taipei: 40 $
Total cost of transport: $ 761.40 – $ 1,211.40
Where to stay and eat cheaper
There is a wide choice of accommodation for travelers in Taipei. These can range from modest hostels to five star hotels. Single travelers on a budget will want to book a bed in a shared room at a hostel. These cost around $ 20, but can be cheaper. Couples can get inexpensive hotel rooms for around $ 25 per person, or $ 50 for a double room. Often times, these hotels include breakfast, so tourists won’t have to worry about shopping.
- Seven nights in a hostel or a budget hotel: $ 140 to $ 175
The location of a hostel or hotel is extremely important to keep costs down. Choosing accommodation close to public transport is essential to avoid expensive taxi rides. In addition, hostels and hotels should be located near a grocery store or inexpensive restaurants to facilitate eating.
Taipei is home to amazing night markets like Shi Lin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, and Ningxia Night Market. Hungry tourists can try an incredible variety of Taiwanese street food here. The best part is the food stalls aren’t expensive and the fare is delicious. People should expect to pay around $ 3 for a snack and $ 7 for a meal. Eating in restaurants with indoor tables costs around $ 20 per person.
This food budget includes $ 21 of groceries for breakfast during the week. Lunch, dinner, and afternoon snacks are sourced from food stalls. The budget allows travelers to eat three meals in restaurants.
- Cost of food for seven days: $ 186
What to do
Taipei is a bustling city and there are thousands of things to do – choosing the right ones for a seven-day visit is difficult. Here is a list of eight places to visit.
- Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) – a park with hiking trails and observation points with fantastic views – free
- Lungshan Temple – The most famous temple in Taipei – free
- Yangmingshan National Park – known for its hot springs, cherry blossoms and volcano – free
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall – a memorial to a Chinese president, has an impressive changing of the guard ceremony – free
- Lin Family Mansion and Garden – a museum with traditional garden architecture – free
- Beitou Hot Springs Area – Japanese-built Hot Springs Resort – $ 2 to enter the bathhouse
- National Palace Museum – huge collection of Chinese art – entrance fee $ 13
- Taipei 101 – Tallest building in Taipei – observation deck admission $ 22
Cost of admission fees: $ 37
Travelers should remember to add about $ 200 extra for “their budget over budget”. Something always happens or costs a little more, so it’s good to be prepared.
The grand total: $ 1,324.40 – $ 1,809.40
next: 10 things you can only do in Taipei, Taiwan
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