Most first time visitors in Taiwan explore Taipei exclusively and budget is the most common concern. Taiwan is cheap compared with its Asian neighbors like Seoul, Tokyo, and Singapore.
There are two airports serving Taipei. Most flights arrive at Taoyuan International Airport where you can take Kuo-Kuang bus to the city center for Nt 123. If you’re arriving in Songshan Airport which is located inside the city and connected by MRT, you will most likely spend Nt 20 to 35 to reach your accommodation.
Exploring the city using MRT is the most convenient way. Purchasing an Easycard would give you 20% discount on rides. It can be purchased at any MRT station using the vending machines which can be easily seen. It can be reloaded for up to Nt 20,000 but you won’t need such a high amount. Nt 500 is enough for 3 to 4 days use. Amount unused can be refunded at information centers at any MRT station.
Eating at traditional restaurants costs around Nt 100 to 200 while snacks at night markets costs Nt 50 to 100. I found choosing what to eat in Shilin night market confusing as all of them look delicious. After a while, I noticed that some shops are packed with people falling in line. I figured that those must be the best picks so I joined the pack.
The famous pearl milk tea costs Nt 40 to 60. Shaved ice with assorted fruits and milk on top is the best dessert I had in Taiwan and you can find it in Shilin night market. The flavor melts inside the mouth and it’s so delicious. Delicious is even an understatement.
A trip to Taipei isn’t complete without going to Taipei 101 which used to be the tallest building in the world. Taking a picture with it proves problematic because of its height. Finding the right angle takes time. Going there at around 5pm is the best time to see its charm before and after sunset. After sunset, the building is lit up.
If you wish to go up, entrance to the observatory deck is Nt 500 and can be reserved online. Paying on site and online cost the same. Paying online would only make things easier in case there are many visitors on your day of visit. Nearby Taiepei 101 is the city hall which is also worth a visit as they have exhibits on display from time to time with free entrance. When I was there, the exhibit was about traditonal fishing boats in Taiwan.
Admission at Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is free. There is a musuem inside which is not free but I forgot the amount since I didn’t bother going in. Changing of the guards take place every hour until afternoon. There is also a small pond inside and roaming around the whole place would take about one hour.
Taipei weather is around 35 degrees in the summer end of June to August and walking around may be unbearable. Otherwise, an umbreall is a must. Taipei is also known for its torrential rain which may occur throughout the year. Disposable raincoats are available at convenience stores.
Taiwan is perhaps the convenience store capital of the world. You are bound to see them everywhere and you would likely to spend Nt 50 to 100 buying snacks and drinks while touring around. You can also go to convenience stores to call a taxi. Just approach the staff to call for you. There is no fee to do that and that’s convenience at its finest. Flagdown rate is Nt 80.
Entrance fee to Taipei Zoo is Nt 60. Easycard can be used to pay to avoid falling in line. The zoo is big and has different sections. The pandas are the stars in the zoo. They are cute and adorable but they are placed inside a glass wall and there is no way to hug them unfortunately. There are also penguins on display, equally cute and adorable.
Roaming around the expanse of the zoo can take about one to two hours. Convenience store and snack shops are available inside. The zoo is open everyday from 9am to 5pm and last entry is at 4pm.
A budget of Nt 10,000 for three to four days as pocket money is already decent in Taipei. But as with many budget, it boils down to one’s control on spending.