Dates visited:27.08.14 – 18.09.14
# of Days: 21
Daily Average Budget: $52.40 per person
Exchange Rate: USD 1 to NTD 30
All the rooms we had were well located (next to transportation hubs), clean, as well as equipped with AC, wifi, a private bathroom and sometimes a TV. Here is the cost breakdown by city:
Taipei (6 nights) – Taipei was by far the most expensive city for accommodation. We stayed at a B&B costing us USD 61.50/night. Ouch! It was a super nice apartment though.
Hualien / Taroko (2 nights) – Hualien was way cheaper compared to Taipei. Our B&B host was also amazing. He gave us several tips on what to see and do in Hualien and Taroko National Park. He lent us free bikes so we could experience biking on the Hualien coastline bike path. USD 34.50/night.
Kaohsiung (4 nights) – Kaohsiung was the cheapest city to live for us. Our B&B was pretty well located in the center of the city, right next to Central Park and the metro station, taking you anywhere you wanted in the city. Only USD 18.68/night!
Tainan (3 nights) – Our room in Tainan was nice and clean. Even though I locked our host and I outside of the building (sorry! hahaha), he was still really friendly and even gave us a gift at the end of our stay! USD 32/night.
Chiayi / Alishan (2 nights) – Chiayi lacked cheap accommodations and we were forced to book a B&B that cost us USD 54/night.
Taichung (4 nights) – we broke our stay in Taichung in half, i.e. we stayed 2 nights, then went to Sun Moon Lake and came back for 2 more nights. We splurged during our first stay (which also coincided with a weekend, during which rates are always higher), spending USD 60.62/night at Garden Hotel Taichung. The room was nice and well equipped, but not sure if it was worth the price we paid for it.
During the second part of our stay, we stayed at the Enterpriser Hotel, which cost us USD 41.64/night. The hotel was nice and multiple people would bow to us every time we passed by – it was actually quite uncomfortable at times. Another down side was the height of the ceiling in the bathroom, which was clearly made for Asians.
Sun Moon Lake (1 night) – we went to Sun Moon Lake and bargained the price at the Min Ren Hotel, paying only USD 16.69/night, which is way way lower than what the high-end resorts in the surrounding area were charging (read hundreds of dollars).
Money Saving Tips – a lot of travelers couchsurf in Taiwan and get accommodations for free! We regret not doing this because I think Taiwan is actually a great and safe place to couchsurf. Plus you get to meet and live with locals – it doesn’t get more authentic than that.
Food & Drinks
For most cities, the food costs were the same, around USD 13 per person per day. There were some exceptions though. For example, we spent only an average of USD 8.20 per day per person in Chiayi, but the daily average in Sun Moon Lake was USD 24.20 per day per person, since it is a tourist heavy area.
You could say that we splurged on the food in Taiwan but boy was it worth it. Absolutely NO REGRETS! It was a great place to have good food and I already miss it.
Money Saving Tips – we ate at a mix of places ranging from street food to fancy restaurants. If you don’t mind eating street food every day, you can spend a lot less in food. We also kind of had our bubble tea and baked goods consumption out of control and they add up pretty quickly, so watching out for that might also give you lower averages.
This category is split into two parts, intracity and intercity.
Intracity Transportation – For intracity transportation, we always relied mainly on walking or public transportation, meaning buses or metro (when available). The public transportation system was pretty convenient, clean and cheap.
Most metro rides are less than a dollar (typically somewhere around NTD 20). Bus rides are even cheaper, usually around NTD 10 or less. We spent an average of USD 1.4 per person per day on this category.
Intercity Transportation – this category starts with our flight from Hong Kong to Taipei and then all trains we took to commute between cities in Taiwan.
Flights – Our one-way flight from Hong Kong (HKG) to Taipei (TPE) cost us USD 163.42 per person.
Buses – Buses were comfortable and equipped with AC. We took a few of them to commute between the airport and the city, as well as to visit Taroko & Alishan National Parks. Getting tickets is pretty seamless and straight-forward. The cheapest bus ride was from Taoyuan (TPE) airport to Taipei Main Station (only USD 4.17) and the most expensive one was from Chiayi to Alishan (USD 16.70).
Trains – There are several options for traveling between cities using trains. They range from local trains (slower, with more stops) to high speed ones (going up to 300 km/h), with prices ranging drastically as well.
We usually used the mid-range trains, as we considered them to have the best cost-benefit. The schedules and ticket prices are online at the Taiwan Railway website.
The total cost of going around the island for us, starting at the TPE airport, going down the east coast and coming back up to the airport through the west coast was USD 46.15 per person for 6 train rides and a few bus rides.
All items from the inter city transportation category (including flights) averaged out USD 11.35 per person per day.
Money Saving Tips – take public transportation! I don’t think we took a single taxi in Taiwan because we never felt the need to. EasyCard is really useful and saves you 20% of the fare. Just like the Octopus card in Hong Kong, all you have to do is touch the card for metros/buses. Taking local trains also drastically reduce the costs of going around the island (if you have the time).
A lot of the sights in Taiwan were actually free. Below is a list of the paid entertainment activities we decided to see and do:
- Taipei 101 Observatory – Entrance fee USD 16.70 per person
One of the main attraction in Taipei, the observatories at Taipei 101 are definitely worth the price you pay for it. It provides you with great views of the city and also information about the construction of the building. We recommend the guided audio tour, as well as going an hour or so before sunset, so you have views of the city during the day and at night. Beware of possible long lines.
- Taipei Zoo – Entrance fee USD 1.00 per person
Definitely the cheapest zoo fee I’ve ever paid – and I got to see pandas!
- Maokong Gondola – Tickets with 3 stops are USD 3.34 per person
You should make this a side trip with the Taipei Zoo, since they are in the same area (there is a gondola station inside the zoo). If stopping at all stops, then buying a roundtrip ticket is cheaper than paying by EasyCard.
- Hot Springs in Beitou – Entrance fee USD 1.33 per person
We went to Millenium Hot Springs, a public hot springs in the Xinbeitou area of Taipei. The cheapest hot springs I have ever been to and one of the nicest.
- Chikan Tower – Entrance fee USD 1.67 per person
- Fort Anping – Entrance fee USD 1.67 per person
Chiayi / Alishan
- Alishan National Park – Entrance Fee USD 5.00 per person
The entrance fee to the park is fairly cheap, but the bus ride is quite expensive; however, still worth it.
- Alishan Railway – Ticket USD 1.67 per person
We wanted to experience the Alishan Railway, so we rode it for one stop. The full ticket up the mountain from Chiayi will cost much more.
Sun Moon Lake
- Sun Moon Lake Entertainment Package – USD 33.05 per person
This package includes round trip transportation from Taichung, cruise around the lake, bus around the lake, Sun Moon Lake Ropeway ticket and entrance to the Aboriginal Village. It is definitely worth the money, and getting each of the tickets individually is way more expensive. There are also other options of the package with less activities, for example, no Ropeway or Aboriginal Village ticket. We felt like we should experience all that Sun Moon Lake had to offer, thus we got the full package.
Everything else we did not mention was free. There were way too many free activities to list here.
We had some considerable miscellaneous expenses in Taiwan.
- Visa application for Carlos (USD 51.53)
- Unlimited 30 day SIM card with Taiwan Telecom (USD 33.35)
- Power bank for phone (USD 16.69) – this has been super useful!
All other items, such as souvenirs, laundry, postcard postage, etc. summed up to USD 61.49 or USD 1.46 per day per person.
We are pretty happy with our Taiwan budget summary as we stayed below our expected daily budget, while enjoying everything the country had to offer to the max!