Taiwan is somewhat of a hidden gem, hardly visited in comparison to some of it’s neighbours. We loved it though, and could have stayed far longer.
We didn’t see a huge amount of the country but then we didn’t expect to with only 13 days. We originally planned to do some shorter stops but there was so much we wanted to see in Taipei and Hualien that it seemed better to not spread ourselves too think and instead use this trip as a Taiwan taster, since it wasn’t somewhere we originally had planned to go.
The reason we did end up going was Japan – we replaced New Zealand with Japan but still couldn’t afford it for 5 weeks, so with super cheap flights between Taipei and Tokyo we thought we may as well stop in Taiwan since we had heard so many good things about it.
Most nationalities, of which one is the UK, get 90 days free on arrival. You can even extend this by a further 90 days I believe.
All costs for 2 people over 14 days.
Accommodation – £265.71 – Ave
Eating Out – £150.51
Transport – £127.71
Groceries – £55.35
Attractions – £2.45
Alcohol – £2.69
Coffee/Drinks/Snacks – £33.32
Entertainment – £11.21
Petrol – £4.34
Misc – £3.26
Laundry – £3.67
Total – £660.22
Per Day – £47.16
Guesthouse room or 2 dorm beds – £20 (Our average per night was £20.43)
Meal at a noodle shop or local restaurant – £1-3
Meal at a ‘nice’ restaurant – £3-6
Snack at a night market – £0.75 – £1
Large Bubble tea – 30-50TWD
Coke from 7/11 – 30TWD
Large beer from 7/11 – 55TWD
Large water – 20TWD
Litre of petrol – 30TWD
It’s easy to say Taiwan costs are in the mid range between Southeast Asia and the West, but it’s not that simple. Eating and daily groceries, snacks etc can and usually are reasonable bordering on cheap, but other things, such as toiletries for example, are very expensive.
Food & Drink
I wasn’t quite as blown away with Taiwanese food as I thought I would be. The famous night markets are packed with really delicious affordable food, no complaints there. But food in local restaurants isn’t always the most exciting – it usually seemed to be soup of some description when we ate.
Standard selections at night markets are Taiwanese sausages, which are very tasty – a nice mix of sweet and savoury, pancakes of various descriptions, fried dumplings and steamed buns. It’s not healthy but it’s super tasty.
Taiwan’s most famous edible/drinkable export is undoubtably bubble tea. I’d never tried this until we went to the Philippines, and indeed it is very popular all over Asia. But nowhere as much as Taiwan – bubble tea shops are EVERYWHERE, and you can’t walk more than a few steps without seeing someone carrying a cup with the sealed plastic lid.
For the uninitiated, bubble tea is a milky tea drink with tapioca pearls, or ‘bubbles’. You choose the flavour, sweetness and ice level and seconds later you have your tasty tea. I didn’t love it first time I tried it, but I’ve warmed to it now. A word of warning – it’s very calorific and filling!
Taiwanese beer is cheap enough, but nothing to write home about taste wise. There are lots of fruit beers available though. There isn’t much of a bar scene in the country, instead like elsewhere in Asia people relax with beers in a restaurant.
Thankfully, after the pitiful speeds we’d sadly got used to in Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia, the internet in Taiwan is incredibly fast. Often the connection was 30mb/s or higher up and down.
Almost all transport in Taiwan is good value – trains are very good quality and affordable, buses are always sensibly priced and the metro in Taipei is pretty cheap.
The only thing I would avoid is taxis – they are not as expensive as the west, but are far, far more expensive than Southeast Asia. A short journey from Taipei Main Station to our apartment cost around £4.
Generally, private rooms are decent enough value. Obviously not in the same value league as Southeast Asia, but still affordable. Hostel beds are usually under £10 a night, which is again good value.