I just got back earlier this week from a 6-day trip to Taiwan, and it was awesome.
Brace yourselves guys, we’re going to get a lot of Taiwan content coming up in the next few days! I’ve got plenty to talk about, from accommodations, to attractions, to food, to a whole lot of other things that K and I experienced on our Taiwan trip.
For now though, I’d just like to talk about one aspect of Taiwan first: COST.
In this blog post, hopefully I can give you some tips on exploring Taiwan on a budget, because I certainly could’ve used them myself. I don’t know how many times we had to do an ATM run (okay, maybe just 3 or so) since we had already run out of cash, cash that I thought would suffice for the duration of our trip.
As a (usually) frugal traveller, I don’t even know why I’m saying “Taiwan on a budget” because to be very honest with you, there is no such thing as Taiwan on a budget.
How Much Did We Spend In Taiwan?
First off, I want to say that Taiwan is one heck of an expensive country!
Well, I mean, compared to my home country, that is. Here in the Philippines, you could probably survive decently on just $600 USD for an entire month, with all your expenses like bills and groceries included. In Taiwan though, you could burn through that money in just a matter of days.
We stayed in Taiwan for a total of 6 days and 6 nights and we spent roughly ₱60,000 PHP ($1200 USD) for both of us. Half of that went to accommodation and flight-related expenses, while half went to food, transportation, and attractions. We’re not big on souvenirs (although I do enjoy collecting refrigerator magnets) so we didn’t budget a lot of money for that. Still, $200 a day is pretty expensive for us and especially for me, considering that I prefer budget travels more than anything. 🙂
Tips For Exploring Taiwan On A Budget
That said, you don’t have to spend a fortune on your Taiwan trip just to have fun. Admittedly, our $1200 USD budget could’ve still been reduced. Here are some tips for exploring Taiwan even if you’re on a shoestring budget.
1. Avail promo flights
One of the biggest expenses that come with travelling is transportation costs. Depending on where you are, Taiwan flights could be more expensive than average. If budget is your main concern, you should try to avail promo flights. Many airlines hold promotions and sales multiple times throughout the year. The best way to do this is to sign up for newsletters or to avail a free membership with the airlines you’re most interested in.
There are also companies that offer perpetually cheap flights. Aptly called low-cost carriers or LCCs, these airlines offer very competitive fares as compared to a traditional airline. However, you have to purchase add-ons for everything, as your fare doesn’t include anything else, even travel insurance.
What airline did you use coming from the Philippines? K and I purchased our tickets from AirAsia, a Malaysian low-cost carrier that’s quite popular here in the Philippines. We left from Clark International Airport since it’s cheaper than Ninoy Aquino International Airport and we only paid roughly ₱6,000 ($120) per person for a roundtrip flight. The only downside is that we had to pay an additional $10 each to use our card as a payment method on AirAsia’s mobile app. Side note: this is really why I want to get that AirAsia card from RCBC!
2. Book everything in advance
Like I said, Taiwan is one heck of an expensive country (at least when compared to the Philippines) so it’s practically impossible to book something “cheap” here, especially if it’s accommodation we’re talking about.
However, I did see some considerable discount when booking in advance. For instance, our Hotel Fun Linsen booking was roughly ₱8,000 ($160 USD) for 3 nights when I booked it a month before, but when I checked again just a few days before our trip, it already jumped to ₱18,000 ($360 USD) for 3 nights, which is more than double!
This is certainly a huge amount of savings if you think about it and it also gives you plenty more to spend on other things while you’re in Taiwan.
3. Use booking apps to book attractions
Booking apps can save you a ton on attraction prices.
Like Klook, for example. I swear this is not a Klook advertisement! I’m not an ambassador nor am I paid by Klook to recommend them. It’s just that, if you’re going to a Southeast or East Asian country, Klook is one of the best money-saving services you can ever find.
We got transportation passes and restaurant discounts for a very affordable price. Isn’t it amazing that you can skip the long lines and get a cheaper price if you buy tickets to attractions using Klook? They even have a 2-hr walking tour of Taipei that you can book for free. Yes, for free. You can also use my code QBNAW or click on this link to get an additional discount on your first booking!
Another favorite booking site of mine is Traveloka. They offer promos and discounts all the time so you might want to check it out.
What booking app do you recommend? Each one has its pros and cons. I wrote reviews for Traveloka, Agoda, Expedia, and Booking.com, so feel free to read them first before making a decision!
4. Get the Unlimited Fun Pass
K and I got ourselves 3-Day Unlimited Fun Passes for Taipei. The pass includes unlimited bus rides (except for 4 digit buses), unlimited MRT within Taipei, unlimited tourist shuttle rides, and tickets for the 12 main Taiwan attractions. For roughly ₱3,000 ($60) each, Unlimited Fun Passes are definitely a steal! They have options for 1, 2, or 3 day passes, in case you’re interested.
Read More: Exploring Taiwan: Unlimited Fun Pass Review
If you’re not too keen on the attractions listed on the Unlimited Fun Pass, or if you don’t want to feel rushed during the 3 days that you have to visit all those attractions, you can just avail the 1, 2, 3, 5 day transportation pass instead. This gives you unlimited bus, MRT, and tourist shuttle rides everywhere for the entire duration of your trip.
5. Try out street foods
Restaurants in Taipei are kinda expensive, and as a picky eater, I was definitely not amused.
However, street foods in Taiwan are absolutely yummy! I especially enjoyed the torched beef cubes at Shilin Night Market near Hotel Fun Linsen, and the prices ranged from just NT$100 to NT$300.
Read More: Exploring Taiwan: Taipei Night Markets
6. Pick souvenir shops wisely
K and I aren’t a big fan of souvenirs, like I said, but I do like my refrigerator magnets! Instead of souvenirs, we actually collected brochures and booklets from various tourist attractions around Taipei. Most tourist sites gave them away for free and they’re surprisingly high quality. We did buy some cute pouches for friends and family as well as a shirt for my dad, though.
Where can I buy cheap souvenirs in Taiwan? I would say that the cheapest place to buy souvenirs would be in Jiufen Old Street. We got most of our souvenirs there since the prices are definitely much cheaper than those in the city center of Taipei.
Is Taiwan For The Budget-Conscious?
If you’re not too picky about the accommodations and the food, I think Taiwan is actually a decent choice for budget-conscious individuals. There are plenty of hostel options for backpackers and plenty of street food options, after all.
If I wasn’t with K, I’d probably be okay with the dorm-type backpacker hostels in Taipei, which cost just around ₱400-₱800 ($8-$16) per night. Of course, you’ll have to make do with the shared bathroom and the possibility of getting rowdy roommates, but it is doable for non-picky people. Personally, while I’m picky about certain things like the room’s lighting and the temperature inside the room, I don’t really mind roommates and I can sleep through a noisy night just fine.
Read More: Budget Accommodations In Taiwan
Taiwan is my first international travel with K so it’s definitely a memorable one for me. Yie, kilig! But anyway, I hope you got some valuable tips here! Make sure to check out this tag if you’d like to read more Taiwan stories from me!
(Note: This post is still incomplete and will still be updated in the future with tags and links. Nevertheless, thanks for checking it out!)
’til our next adventure,