When Marissa opened up the idea of spending 5 days in Taiwan, my initial thought was “five days is an overkill.” It was because I was only expecting very little; limited to some spots in Taipei and to experience the night market. I was obviously wrong because from Day 1 to Day 5 there was no boring moment and our 5 days in Taiwan was never long enough to completely explore this fascinating country with friendly locals, great food and beautiful tourist attractions. It is also safe to say that we found Taiwan as a family-friendly destination and definitely would consider coming back for future trips.
Let me start with the people and the language…
We’ve been to other Asian countries like Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia, where you can see a lot of Filipinos in the stations, malls and streets but Taiwan is an exception. A chunk of their tourism market is mostly from Mainland China so expect to see a lot of Chinese in group tours waving flags as they call their companions to walk fast and hop on the bus for their next destination.
Taiwanese in general are very kind and friendly. Of course, I am saying based on the locals that we’ve met in the train stations, hotel lobby and even on the streets as we kept on asking directions to certain destinations. Expect also for a language barrier because most of them are not fluent in English; but they’ll really try to help you — Google translate is certainly a big help to communicate with locals.
It is very helpful if you’ll learn few Mandarin phrases just to impress locals that you’re trying to fit in their culture.
Hello – 你好 – nĭ hăo/ nĭn hăo – nee how / neen haow
Thank you – 謝謝 – xièxie – hsieh hsieh
I’m sorry/excuse me – 不好意思 – bù hǎo yìsi – boo haow eeh si
Goodbye – 再见 – zài jiàn – zi gee’en
You’re welcome – 不用谢 – bú yòng xiè – boo yong sheh
Right / correct – 对 – duì – dway
I don’t understand – 聽不懂 – tīng bù dǒng – teeng boo dong
Where is the bathroom? – 廁所在哪裡? – Cèsuŏ zài nǎli? – Tse sue-oh zeye nah lee
How much is it? – 多少錢 – Duō-shǎo-qián? – Doo oh show chee an?
Money and Shopping…
You’ll be disappointed if you expect Taiwan as a cheap travel destination and your benchmark is Philippine peso. We bought Taiwan dollars prior to our trip at Php1.90 per TW$ but we saw a better rate in a money changer in Robinsons Galleria, Cebu City. ATMs that accept international cards are also available in most places and several shops also accept debit and credit cards. However, we were not able to use our Metrobank debit card maybe because Metrobank and some other Philippine banks still require its account holders to call them if you want to use your card abroad.
Taiwan has a lot of upscale shopping malls and if you are travelling with kids who love books, Eslite Bookstore is the place to go. Shopping souvenir items is also an exciting slash challenging experience. We prefer buying it in the night market and haggling with the vendors was fun.
Food, Glorious Food
Taiwan is popular for having delicious food, so prepare yourself for a hard-to-control nom nom. You can try some themed restaurant like the Modern Toilet Zoo Cafe. Some notable hotels also have buffet but our favorite is Taiwan Buffet. We’re not sure how they do the pricing in Taiwan Buffet but it was very cheap and they have a lot of dishes especially for us who are into low carb diet.
They also have the most exotic food; we saw a lot of it in Ximending Walking District but for picky eaters, there’s always McDonalds and KFC around the corners.
Transportation and WiFi
I envy Taiwan for having a way way better transportation system and road networks than our country. You can buy the EasyCard for TWD100 to pay for buses and trains. For a family of four like us, we prefer taking Uber because of convenience in transporting from one place to another. We also availed the 3-day unlimited ride of Taiwan High Speed Rail because part of our itinerary was to visit Kaohsiung and Taichung. If you’re keen in looking for discount codes like my wife, you’ll be able to get a better and lower price in Klook.
We did not bother in buying a Taiwan SIM card because WiFi is pretty much plenty. Their tourism bureau offers “iTaiwan” Free WiFi service to international visitors for 30 days, extendable up to 90 days as needed. Amazing, isn’t it?
We stayed in Diary of Ximen Hotel in Wanhua District, a 45-minutes drive from Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Strategically located near the shopping districts, night markets, police station and Ximen MRT station. They have good and clean rooms; their receptionist are well-mannered and tried to impress us by adding “po” in his sentences upon knowing that we are Filipinos.