How to visit Taiwan on a budget

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How to visit Taiwan on a budget

Taiwan, a vibrant island country in East Asia, is an incredible destination for travelers looking for a mix of culture, history, and natural beauty.

Known for its bustling night markets, lush landscapes, and unique local cuisines, Taiwan offers a rich travel experience for those on a budget. In this guide, we’ll provide you with practical tips and advice on how to visit Taiwan without breaking the bank.

I. Planning your trip

Book flights during off-peak seasons: Traveling to Taiwan during the low season (December to February) can save you a considerable amount on airfare. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, monitor flight prices using price alerts on apps like Skyscanner or Google Flights to snag the best deals.

Apply for a visa, if necessary: Nationals of some countries can enter Taiwan visa-free, while others may require a visa. Be sure to check your visa requirements and apply ahead of time to avoid any last-minute expenses.

Travel insurance: It’s wise to purchase travel insurance for peace of mind and protection against unexpected events. Compare prices online to find a suitable plan that fits your budget.

II. Accommodation

Hostels and guesthouses: Budget accommodations like hostels and guesthouses are available throughout Taiwan, especially in popular tourist areas. These options often include shared or private rooms, common areas, and sometimes free breakfast.

Couchsurfing: Tap into the Couchsurfing community to find free accommodation with local hosts. This platform allows you to connect with locals who open their homes to travelers, offering a chance to experience Taiwanese culture and make new friends.

Airbnb: Renting a room or an entire apartment on Airbnb can be a cost-effective option, particularly if you’re traveling with a group. Make sure to book early to secure the best deals.

III. Transportation

Public transportation: Taiwan has an extensive and efficient public transportation network, including buses, trains, and the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system. Save money by using these services instead of taxis or private cars.

EasyCard: Purchase an EasyCard, a contactless smart card, to conveniently pay for public transportation and some convenience stores. The card offers discounts on fares and can be easily recharged at any MRT station or convenience store.

Rent a bicycle: Major cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung have public bike-sharing systems, allowing you to rent a bike at an affordable rate. Cycling is a great way to explore the cities and enjoy the scenery without spending much on transportation.

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IV. Sightseeing and activities

Free attractions: Many attractions in Taiwan, such as parks, temples, and museums, have no admission fees. Take advantage of these free sights to learn about Taiwan’s history and culture.

Discounted tickets: If you’re a student, bring your student ID to enjoy discounted tickets at various attractions, including museums and cultural sites.

Hiking: Taiwan’s breathtaking landscapes offer countless hiking opportunities, from urban trails to national parks. Hiking is a budget-friendly way to appreciate the country’s natural beauty.

V. Food and drinks

Night markets: Taiwan is famous for its night markets, where you can indulge in delicious and affordable street food. Try local delicacies like bubble tea, stinky tofu, and oyster omelets without spending a fortune.

Local eateries: Instead of dining at touristy restaurants, opt for small, local eateries that serve authentic Taiwanese cuisine at lower prices. Don’t forget to try the iconic Taiwanese breakfast, which includes soy milk, fried dough sticks, and steamed buns.

Convenience stores: Taiwan’s ubiquitous convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, offer a wide range of affordable food and drink options. Pick up pre-packaged meals, snacks, and beverages for a quick and inexpensive meal on the go.

Refill water bottles: To save money on bottled water, refill your reusable water bottle at public water fountains or ask your accommodation for access to drinking water. This eco-friendly practice also helps reduce plastic waste.

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VI. Shopping

Bargaining: In Taiwan’s bustling markets, bargaining is common and expected. Don’t be shy to negotiate for better prices on souvenirs, clothing, and other items. Be polite and respectful during the process, and remember that a friendly smile goes a long way.

Shop smart: When shopping for souvenirs or other items, compare prices across different vendors to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Also, be on the lookout for sales and discounts at local stores.

Avoid tourist traps: Steer clear of overpriced shops in tourist-heavy areas. Instead, venture into local neighborhoods and markets where you’re more likely to find unique and affordable items.

VII. Staying connected

Wi-Fi hotspots: Taiwan offers a plethora of free Wi-Fi hotspots, including those in public areas such as train stations, parks, and tourist attractions. Utilize these hotspots to stay connected without incurring costly data roaming charges.

Local SIM cards: If you need constant internet access, consider purchasing a local prepaid SIM card upon arrival. They are usually available at the airport or convenience stores and offer affordable data packages for tourists.

Internet cafes: In case you need access to a computer, head to an internet cafe, where you can use a computer and internet connection for a small fee.

VIII. Additional tips

Travel in a group: Sharing costs with friends or other travelers can significantly reduce your overall expenses. Split accommodation, transportation, and meal costs to stretch your budget further.

Learn basic Mandarin: Knowing a few essential phrases in Mandarin can help you navigate the local scene and negotiate better prices. It also shows respect for the local culture and may open doors to more authentic experiences.

Keep track of your spending: Monitor your expenses throughout your trip to ensure you’re staying within your budget. Use apps like Trail Wallet or Expense Manager to track your spending and help you make informed decisions about where to cut back.

Conclusion

Visiting Taiwan on a budget is entirely possible with a bit of planning and savvy decision-making. By following the tips in this guide, you can enjoy the best of Taiwan’s culture, cuisine, and natural beauty without breaking the bank. So pack your bags, book your flight, and get ready to explore this incredible island nation!