It’s been a while since I went somewhere, and I recently had fancied a quick, no fuss adventure, so I thought about where to go that’s near, and doesn’t require a song-and-dance visa or travel permit.
Me: Hello, Alvie? Were you the one who got a passport some years back because she wanted to go to Taiwan?
Alvie: Yes. Why?
Me: Let’s go!!!!
And so we went.
I got reasonably-priced plane tickets from Traveloka, and booked a hotel thru Booking.com, all the while looking at travel blogs for tips and what-to-dos for the Taiwan first-timers that we were.
In the past, I had wondered what there was to do or see in Taiwan, as a friend whose wife hailed from there says there was nothing to do, except he always brought those nice pineapple cakes whenever he went to visit. I also knew very few people who had actually been.
Which is why I was happily surprised that our 3 days had not been enough for us to go to the interesting places we’d read up on or heard about.
Anyway, here are some things I picked up during our visit.
- You can now visit without a visa! This is valid from November 1, 2017 to July 31, 2018, so plan that trip now. Unfortunately, we went in October, so my friends had to get an online visa for our trip, which set them back some PhP2200, but it was easy and approval was sent thru their email just after a couple of days. I, on the other hand, had to fill up an application form for a Travel Authorization document, also online, because I have a valid US visa. That one was free. Both types of travel documents you just need to print out and bring with you on your trip. Bring duplicates, as Immigration may choose to keep a copy.
- We arrived very early in the morning, so the metro from the airport had not been available. Some would choose to spend the time at the airport, so you keep lodging/hotel costs down, as well, but we opted to get a transfer service to take us to our hotel, instead. Fortunately, a friend of a friend knew someone offering tour services, so we arranged for airport transfer. This cost us NT$1500, but we were fine with it, seeing as it was our first time in a strange place, and all of us being delicate ladies (LMAO), we thought it would be safer to not wander around in the middle of the night. Also, it gave us time to get some shut eye before we did some exploring.
- Like a lot of countries, the metro was an affordable and efficient way to get around, but the taxis weren’t bad, too. Uber also available.
- Because we went during the rainy season, though I thought October would have been dry enough already, and because some places we visited were in the mountainous regions, some rain was expected. Bring a parka or raincoat, or be ready to shell out NT$50 for one of those plastic disposable ones.
- For our travels outside of the city, we opted to go with our tour services friend, as we did not have time to get lost or walk to places from the bus or train station. We shelled out NT$4500 for the use of a van for 10 hours. I think it was a wise decision, too, since we bought those famous pineapple cakes to bring home on this outing. I don’t know how we would have carried boxes of those stuff back to the hotel, otherwise.
- Very few locals can speak English, but we managed. They were also very nice and polite, unlike in some places we’ve been. (no hugot, just saying)
- If you want to go on the Hop On Hop Off bus, online sites (like Klook or Kkday) sell tickets at a discounted rate. However, you can only purchase them a day before, so if you suddenly get the urge to hop on the bus right this very minute, just wait for the bus at the Main Station, and pay as you get on. There is no ticketing booth or office. A tour guide will assist you on board.
- Food is everywhere! Night markets, corner shops, convenience stores (Family Mart and 7-11) will ensure you are well fed.
- At the currency exchange rate of PhP1 = NTD1.70, this trip will not break the bank.
- A second trip is in order!
11. For “Meteor Garden” fans, that tv show that made the girls (and guys) crazy in the early 2000’s, watch out for the places where this series shot on location, like my friend, Alvie, did. LOL.
Some photos from our short stay.