What to do in Taiwan and what budget should you anticipate for this destination? Well, you’re at the right place to get a good grasp in answering all of these questions!
When we started planning our round-the-world itinerary, I must admit that Taiwan was not among the countries we wanted to visit. It was only when I tried to leave Japan as inexpensively as possible that Taiwan came out. We have no regrets whatsoever because it was a lot of fun!
What to do in Taiwan?
Taipei 101 is the symbol of the Taiwanese capital. Today the 10th tallest tower in the world, it was the world’s tallest skyscraper from 2004 to 2010, until it was overthrown by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. The building is magnificent and very imposing, especially from the viewpoint of “Elephant Mountain”.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, built in honor of Taiwan’s first president, is another popular place in Taipei. On the outskirts of the gigantic square where it is located are the no less impressive National Theater and National Concert Hall.
We visited the Shilin night market, which is considered to be the largest night market in the country, offers a large selection of exquisite food. We tasted the Taiwanese hot dog, a pork sausage coated in sticky rice, one of Taipei’s 34 Street-Food recommendations in the Michelin guide. It was absolutely delicious!
A Taiwanese gastronomic destination which we have also very much appreciated is Din Tai Fung, a restaurant specializing in Xiaolongbao (or steam ravioli). It is originally from Taipei but the concept is now being exported around the world.
As our hotel was located in Beitou, we took the occasion to walk around this district where hot springs gush out of the ground, forming hot water streams. The water in Hell Valley is so hot that one must avoid dipping a finger in it, or risk being burned there!
Another very famous night market in the country, the Feng Chia (or Fengjia) Night Market, was a few steps away from our hotel in Taichung. So we had no problem visiting it 2 nights in a row and immersing ourselves in the cosy street food atmosphere.
We discovered this nice little place in Taichung called Painted Animation Lane. As its name suggests, many cartoon heroes are painted on residential facades. It was a delight for both young and old!
Our visit to Taichung was punctuated by a breakfast at Chun Shui Tang, the place where Bubble Tea was born!
For a better preparation
Our visit to Taiwan lasted 8 days in total, distributed as follows:
- 5 in Taipei, the capital;
- 2 in Taichung, the second largest city in the country;
- 1 in Taipei again, before our departure flight.
We had initially rented a car to drive around the island and thus visit several other places. Believe it or not, 80 USD per day was the cheapest option! But after some thought, I was resigned to cancelling the reservation (and the originally planned itinerary) when I realized that there were a lot of scams involved with the car rental company.
In Taipei, we slept 5 nights at the Aloft Taipei Beitou, a Category 2 hotel for 12500 points per night. We had booked it at 7500 points per night while it was still a Category 1 and benefited from the 5th free night offered by the Bonvoy program.
In Taichung, we stayed at the Fairfield by Marriott Taichung, another Category 1 hotel, for 7500 points per night.
We returned to the Aloft in Taipei for one last night before leaving Taiwan.
So to speak, our accommodation in Taiwan was fully paid for with 52500 Marriott Bonvoy points: a total value of 1080 USD for these 8 nights!
In Taipei, it is very easy to use the subway. Trains and buses are very inexpensive ways to connect major centers. We chose the train to travel from Taipei to Taichung and back.
As everything is in Chinese and English is not widely spoken in Taiwan, we really enjoyed using the Google Translate application!
Have you ever heard of Bubble Tea? It’s a liquid made from tapioca pearls that has been very popular throughout the chinatowns of the world! Our pace was one Bubble Tea per person and per day. Sometimes twice a day, when we suddenly craved it. It’s like a real drug, I admit. Meanwhile, it’s so easy to feel tempted when you have a tea shop every 100 meters!
Taiwan is renowned for its truly innovative culinary culture, strongly influenced by Chinese (south-eastern) and Japanese cuisine. When it comes to street cooking, Taiwan has very few rivals. In other words, a Street Food stand must innovate to stand out or risk disappearing.
As we paid for our accommodation with points, Taiwan was not expensive for us at all. The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:
- 26191 TWD (873 USD);
- 3274 TWD (109 USD) per day;
- 818 TWD (27 USD) per person and per day.
|Expense Category||Amount Spent|
|Flight||10911 TWD (364 USD)|
|Accomodation||0 TWD (0 USD)|
|Transport||5374 TWD (179 USD)|
|Eating out||6246 TWD (208 USD)|
|Groceries||2300 TWD (77 USD)|
|Activities||1360 TWD (45 USD)|
|Total||26191 TWD (873 USD)|
In a nutshell
|Dates||2019-04-18 to 2019-04-26|
|Number of days||8|
|Cities we visited||Taipei, Taichung|
|Inbound||From Japan by plane|
|Outbound||To Hong Kong by plane|
|Mode of transport||Train, subway, city buses|
|Distance travelled (excluding flights)||522 km|
|Number of photos taken||1440 (180 per day)|
|Currency||The New Taiwan Dollar (1 USD = 30 TWD)|
Short and sweet, that’s how we can summarize our stay on the island of Formosa. We were unable to tour the island. But Taiwan seduced us with its peaceful character, its food and its smiling population. It was a smooth transition to our next destination: Hong Kong!
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