Discover Taipei for PHP16,000!

After a very long wait, I finally came around to posting the final tally of our Taipei expenses. We stayed in Taipei from March 10, arriving at 1:00 in the morning and departed Taipei March 12 on a 9PM flight back to Manila.

While our stay was brief, the impressions we had of the city and its people were truly precious. We had a great time discovering its city streets, which was safe and quiet in the evenings — well, even in Ximending where the happening usually trickles down when the clock strikes 11PM.

We knew that with the short time that we had, it can’t be possible for us to see everything. So, we chose areas that appealed to us and which piqued our interests. Most of the times, we were just travelers walking down the city streets noting how different Taipei was from Manila: orderly traffic, motorcycles parked in the street and just about everywhere, clean and wide roads where buses stop on well-marked areas, friendly people and the amazing mix of old (the temples and Old Chinese architecture) and the new (gleaming skyscrapers! The Taipei 101!) We enjoyed seeing bikes-for-loan parked on ramdom city streets and we had a blast walking the long drive way leading inside National Taiwan University. We satiated our hunger in Taipei’s back alleys or at the famous Shilin Night Market or bit the hype and tried Modern Toilet (we didn’t enjoyed it). We also relived our Meteor Garden fandom and went all the way to the middle of nowhere to eat at PS Bubu. And yes, we get to have the car table, mainly because there wasn’t anyone there but us.

You can read more about our first day adventures here.

Day II: The Yehliu Geo National Park Adventure

We woke up really late, no thanks to the fact that we had to make up for the sleepless first day, courtesy of the rock-hard beds at Keyman’s (A stay in this hotel is best summarized as: nice service, centrally-located, beds that are bad for your spine). So, after getting a very late breakfast at the nearest McDonald’s, we rushed to catch the Yehliu bound bus at the Taipei Main Bus Station near Keyman’s. We paid NTS180 (PHP270) for the fare going to Yehliu which is a county very far from the city.

We had to check our map and a print out of “Directions going to Yehliu” which I found in a blog. Will post a separate account on the beauty of Yehliu — but in a hindsight, it’s like discovering a new planet and being amazed by the surreal kind of art, created no less by Mother Nature.

travel beans

travel beans

While the famous Queen’s Head is the main attraction in the expansive geo park, a lot of other rock formations will surely tickle your imagination. And the view of the ocean is just amazing. Entrance to the Geo park is just NTS 50 (PHP75), very cheap considering how nice the place is. We left Yehliu shortly after lunch, a bit famished — good thing we have brought snacks with us like jelly bread, sushi and our water bottles, so we had something to tide us until we were finally back in the city. We made a quick detour to Beitou Hot Springs and then finished the day at Shilin Night Market where we bought souvenirs for the family and had our fill of the famous fried chicken!

Day III: Reliving our Meteor Garden fandom
It’s my sister’s birthday — we started the celebration at what may be the most overhyped restaurant in Taipei – Modern Toilet. Then, we gave in to our fandom tendencies and went to National Taiwan University, said to be one of the shoot locations for the now-Taiwanese drama classic, Meteor Garden. Disappointed with our lunch, we decided to go to PS Bubu after and check if we can have our early dinner at the convertible turned dining area situated in the middle of the restaurant.

In the Meteor Garden lore, it is also the location where Dao Ming Xi brought Shan Cai on their first date. For Meteor Garden fans, you could say that it’s a bit of a “mecca” — a “must-visit” if you are in Taipei. I now knew what it meant because apparently, PS Bubu is located at the middle of nowhere. You had to take the MRT then take the bus in order to find it. Well, the field trip was worth it because PS Bubu served really good food! We ended the day by getting our luggage at the hotel and taking the bus going to Taipei TaoYuan International Airport.

Here’s our expenses for the three-day trip:

Plane fare via Cebu Pacific, bought 3 months ahead – PHP4,000.00
Airport Travel Tax and Terminal Fee – PHP2,200.00
Airport transfer upon arrival (arranged thru City Inn) – PHP900.00 each (total fee is PHP1,800)
1 night stay at Keymans “Succint Room” w/ breakfast – PHP1,350.00 each (total room rate: PHP2,700)
2 nights stay at City Inn Ximending – PHP3,270 each (total stay is PHP6,540)
Easy Card for transpo and basic groceries – PHP750.00
Entrance to Taipei 101 and Yehliu Geo Park – PHP1,020.00
Food budget for 3 days – PHP2,000.00
Souvenir budget for the family – PHP1,000.00

TOTAL Expenses: PHP16,490.00

Some things to consider:
Expenses BEFORE the trip: PHP7,100.00 (plane fare + travel tax + terminal fee + airport transfers)
Expenses WHILE in Taipei: PHP9,390 (lodging + food + transpo + attractions + souvenirs)

*Entrance to Chiang Kai Shek, Sun Yat Sen, Beitou Hot Springs, Taipei Expo Park, National Taiwan University are all for free.
* Payment for Taiwan Tourist Visa (Single Entry) is not included. Visa fee is PHP2,100.00. Get directions here.
* Entrance to Taipei 101 is PHP675 (NTD450), while entrance to Yehliu is PHP75 (NTD50), plus bus fare going to Yehliu is PHP270 (NTD180).

We were sad leaving Taipei because we knew we missed a lot of really nice attractions. We wanted to go hiking up Elephant Mountain and maybe see the Fisherman’s Wharf as well as the Rainbow bridge. But we were consoled by the fact that we can easily go back to Taipei, as soon as we find the opportunity. Taipei will always be in our hearts — remembering it as a very good city, gifted with amazing attractions and wonderful people. We can’t wait to go back again.