Taiwan was not one of those countries I was itching to go to initially, but looking for a different nearby place to go to can get pretty limited and since it was pretty much easy to convince me to go to a place I haven’t been, then it was a go.
I’m not sure how this trip came about, really. I can’t remember if I was the one who decided on this location or even the date. But I remember as I was researching on the places to go in Taipei and what Taiwan had to offer, it was not hard to say yes after all. We went almost a year ago, during fall. Oh how I love autumn!
We had a lot of help from Angela’s very accommodating Aunt who lives in Taipei for about 20 years now in terms of moving around. I also had help from forums such as Female Network’s Girl Talk and Pinoy Exchange to plan the places to visit.
Aside from purchasing flight tickets and reserving hotels, the following are vital before going to this trip.
Taipei, as of now, requires Filipino citizens a tourist visa in which you can apply from the Embassy of Taiwan at 41F, Tower 1, RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City 1200 for Php 2,400 (single entry) or Php 4,800 (multiple entry). Basic requirements for the application are listed in this site.
If you have a permanent resident card or entry visa to any one of the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, New Zealand or from one of the signatories of the Schengen Agreement, an online application will suffice. Fill-out and submit a month prior departure. Make sure to bring the passport that has the valid visa entered in the online application even if that passport has expired. Of course, bring the valid passport as well. For detailed information, click here.
Map Out Places of Interest
We created plans and lists of sights to visit in Taipei. The schedule was not on a per hour plan, in fact, we just grouped the places in the same train stops and worked our way around that. The subway system was very easy to navigate and like Hong Kong, lifts are available especially for those who have babies in strollers or elderly in wheelchairs navigating around the city. There were only a couple of places that were not exactly reached thru train and in this case, taking the bus is a cost effective alternative. But in our case, we took cabs.
There are several tourist destinations outside of Taipei reachable by train such as Kaohsiung, Tao Yuan and Sun Moon Lake. Unfortunately, we were not able to reach the countryside of Taiwan and when I asked my colleague from previous work on how long should one stay in Taiwan in order to go to the places people should see, she said around 9 days, which we didn’t have. Next time then, maybe?
We flew via Philippine Airlines which cost us roughly around Php 6,500 round trip during one of PAL’s seat sales. It was a pretty good deal if you ask me. I believe Cebu Pacific flies to Taipei as well although the flights were scheduled during the wee hours of the night/day (red-eye flight). Eva Air would be another choice to fly to Taipei from Manila as well. Flying time took around 2 hours.
Once landed in the airport, just a couple of tips for some money saving. If you intend to stay for more than 3 days and you will need to be in touch to people back in Manila, I suggest purchasing a local sim card at the airport. Some of their telcos have promos when calling to the Philippines and can be as low as Php 7 (like in our case). I can’t remember what network I had though but the seller would be able to guide you through it including information on what digits to dial.
If you are below 30 years old, rejoice because you are considered youth in Taiwan. Kidding. But seriously, Taiwan has what they call a Youth Pass for travelers below 30 years old which provided us with discounts to different must-see sights. The most useful discount for me was for the entrance in Taipei 101’s viewing deck. But for a complete list of discounts, click here.
There were buses stopping by the Taoyuan Airport and can bring tourists to the Taipei Main Station and from there, you can take the train to wherever your accommodation is. In our case, we took the easy way and just rode a cab. Depends on your haggling skills, but the rate we paid was around NT$2,000 or Php 3,000. I know, don’t gasp. It’s fine, I’m over it (haha).
I will discuss places of interest and where we stayed in the next few posts so hold on for that as this has gotten quite long. I hope I gave an idea on the preparation to be done for a trip to Taipei. Of course, don’t forget to check the weather to know what to pack.