Oh Taiwan, how do I start? I’m torn between blogging the nitty gritty of traveling or waxing my epiphanies in poetry and romantic photographs. Taiwan was never on my list of places to visit. Well, neither was Thailand but I fell in love with it the moment we stepped foot on Ratchathewi Station during an evening downpour.
I do love travelling- my feet and stomach start to ache when I go too long without moving. However, I’m not the visit-every country-in-the-world type, I’m more of the I’ll-visit-this-and-this-because-of this-and-this. Like how I want to go to Madagascar to see the Baobabs (because The Little Prince), or Calgary just because of Deathcab for Cutie’s Follow You into the Dark song or Turkey because one of my good friend is Turkish. But Turkey is far and expensive.
Taiwan, however is only a two-hour plane ride away from the Philippines and it only costs around 140 CAD back and forth (on a promo flight). It’s also home to Milktea, Xaiolongbao and one of my best guy friends, Bruise Wayne (it’s a joke ok).
At first I had no idea what to do in Taiwan. What was in Taiwan anyway? Nobody I knew ever went to Taiwan for vacation, they always either went to Singapore, Hongkong, Japan or South Korea. After months of browsing I finally pinpointed the top destinations I wanted to see.
1) Taroko Gorge
If I hit these three items on the list, I was happy. I mean, what was the point of going if I didn’t at least see one of their top tourist destinations, right?
WHERE TO STAY
I picked Meander Hostel because it ranked high on TripAdvisor, it was also close to Ximen station and it looked really cool in the photos. I wanted to book a 4-person dorm room but it was all full so I booked in the 8-person dorm. It was definitely okay too. The beds were soft and fluffy and the blankets are comforters. We also had small lockers inside the room for gadgets. There’s not much space though, so less luggage, the better. The restroom is clean and well maintained as well with hot showers and soap. They also provide free breakfast, there’s wifi, water stations on certain floors, there’s entertainment every night. Unfortunately the elevator is only for check-in and check out. There are 6 floors btw.
I arrived in Ximen station around 10:45 pm and had to walk about 4 blocks to Meander, it wasn’t scary. Some shops were closed but the place is along a busy road. I would stay there again. A night would cost around $28-$35 depending on the rooms. I booked with hostelworld.com
If you’re planning on staying at Meander, they send you a map that’s so easy to follow. You won’t get lost. From Taoyuan Airport, you just need to ride the Kuo Kuang 1819 Bus Line for $125 NT.
Get off at Taipei Main Station> Take the Blue (Bannan Line towards Yongning) to Ximen Station which is one stop away>
Get out of Exit 6 (there are signs to help you)> Cross towards Watsons and walk all the way (past Starbucks) until you reach Kanding Rd. There’s a restaurant in the corner and you’ll cross the street to Meander’s building which is already heading to the bridge.
If you’re going around the metro I suggest you buy an EasyCard which is a reloadable card that you can use for MRT, buses, even convenience stores. If you plan on buying tokens all you have to know is how much it costs to get from point A to point B. Taipei Main Station to Ximen Station cost $20 NT, so you just select that option. The machine won’t ask you where you’re going.
- Buy travel sized toiletries, snacks, medicine
– My medicines included anti-histamine, antidiarrheal, tylenol and my trusty travel sized red Tiger Balm (which worked so well during my moments of travel anxiety.) I didn’t get anything for dizziness and nausea since I’m not prone to it but I felt dizzy a few times while driving around Taiwan – maybe it’s their driving lol. Don’t forget your mosquito repellant too.
- Got my eyebrows threaded, and a manicure done- have to look good in photos!
- Made a taiwan music and movie playlist- because you always want to associate a song for a specific trip to remember it by. I downloaded a few Leehom Wang songs (his poster greeted me at the airport btw) and Meteor Garden theme songs! I was also planning to watch You’re the Apple of My Eye (a popular Taiwanese romantic film) but didn’t have enough time. If you’re planning to go to Jiufen, do watch Spirited Away! I’m also watching a Taiwanese drama called Office Girls lol.
- Have a specific scent – I just went with L’occitane Verbena since it’s the only travel sized EDT I had. plus a few almond scented soap and body wash (also another sense to associate with Taiwan but I think the stinky tofu makes me remember it the most.)
Then I was off to my flight. It only takes two-hours to get to Taiwan from the Philippines by plane, and there isn’t any time difference. Taoyuan International Airport is quite far from the city center. I arrived at 8:50 and got out around 9:50 PM. From Quezon City, I just commuted to the airport too, taking the MRT from Q Ave to Taft, and then getting on the HM bus near the station. This bus goes around all Naia Airports. If you want to know how to commute to Manila’s airports and vice versa here’s a good post: How To Go To NAIA by Public Transport please not the bus they have on the photo doesn’t look like the bus they use now. It will still have an HM Airport Shuttle sign on it though, but looks like an ordinary bus.
What to Do When You First Arrive at Taoyuan International Aiport
I followed the people ahead of me but when it came to the immigration lineup, the set-up is pretty wide. There’s a sign board that says e-gate pass and all. Ignore that and walk ahead until you see the sign that says non-citizen. All you have to do is line up, give your documents and have your finger prints scanned.
Get a Temporary sim card
I missed the mobile stations at first glance and had to go back, they’re on the same floor as when you exit, along the hallways. Different mobile companies offered different packages but almost at the same price. I got a temporary sim card from:
Taiwan Mobile for $300 NT with 5 days unlimited data and $50NT worth of calls. The unlimited data seems to come as a standard in the package, the only difference is the minutes and length of days. Since I only needed minutes for emergencies, I chose the cheaper one.
Get an EasyCard (as mentioned above)
You will have to pay $100 NT deposit and then reload it but it’s very convenient and doesn’t expire.
How to Get to Taipei Main Station from Taoyuan Airport via commute.
Since my hostel was located a few minutes walk from Ximen station, I figured I should just commute. I was going to get an Uber but felt that it would be quite expensive. What’s a girl to do if she arrived late in the night on her first solo international trip? I took a risk and decided to commute.
- Buy ticket at the airport 1 basement from Kuo Kuang 1819 Bus Line for $125 NT. It’s last stop is the Taipei Main Station and takes around 45 minutes without traffic. If your hotel is near any of the transit lines, you can just go in and hop on a train to your destination.
I had nothing to worry about commuting, the Taipei Main Station facade is huge and you won’t miss it. When I got inside, there were instructions in English and the ticket machines were very user friendly. It can look like a confusing maze the first time you walk in but just follow the signs and you won’t get lost.
If you have any questions, please comment and I’ll try my best to answer it. I feel like I missed something on this post. Thanks!