The hype is real, Taipei is fucking amazing!
Sad to say, I had lived half of my existence in Manila, a 2 hour flight away from Taipei and I have never been interested in this city, until this trip. I was curious but had little to no expectation. This is the reason why I only planned my flight from Toronto to Manila with a long layover in Taiwan.
As we all heard, when you free yourself of expectation is when you get the “knock your socks off” experience. That is certainly what happened to me on this trip and I can’t wait to go back. Let me put it this way, If you’ve never planned to travel here you are missing out.
So let me show you my awesome 13 hour mini adventure day trip in Taipei.
How Much Money I Spent On This Day Trip
I was on this trip with my brother, Bryan, and we exchanged USD$150 at the Taoyuan International Airport before heading out to Taipei. We don’t know the cost of living in Taiwan so we thought USD$150 would be enough for a day trip and if ever we will be short in cash we’re just going to find a forex counter somewhere in Taipei.
The exchange rate at that time was 31.47 New Taiwan Dollar to 1 US Dollar. Surprisingly, Taipei is very affordable. You will find the food very cheap and delicious. We probably spent 70% of our budget on food and booze. Transportation is very affordable as well. We bought bus tickets to go back and forth from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station and Day Pass for Taipei MRT Rapid Transit to get around the metro. We also rented a 4G LTE pocket Wi-Fi to help us navigate Taipei and stay connected.
We didn’t spend all the USD$150 we exchanged on our day trip so we tried to finish all of it when we got back to Taoyuan International Airport for food and booze before our flight to Manila.
How To Get There And How To Get Around Taipei
We landed at Taoyuan International Airport around 5 in the morning local time. It was too early for anything so I used this time to research about Taipei’s food and culture. At around 9 we decided to head out and check out places. Here are the thing we did before we left the airport:
1. Rent a pocket Wi-Fi Device
Being connected makes your travelling easier and more fun. This pocket Wi-Fi connects 5 devices and costs NT$100 to rent. This will help you do constant research, check google maps for direction or update your social media as you move around Taipei.
2. Currency Exchange
Before you can buy anything you need to have a New Taiwan Dollar. This day trip we allocated USD$150, in case that you do not use everything you can always exchange it back when we are back in the airport just keep the receipts.
3. Bus Tickets going to Taipei Main Station
The 1819 bus will take you to Taipei Main Station and costs NT$125. This bus is similar to the Go Buses in Toronto. This bus runs from 5:40AM to 12:30AM every 15 minutes. The travel from Taoyuan Airport to Taipei Main Station takes about 30 minutes but the route is scenic so the ride was an experience itself.
After that short bus ride, you will arrive at Taipei Main Station.
Taipei Main Station is where all major transportation systems connect. This is the starting point of our adventure and we only need that one last thing.
4. MRT Day Pass
I recommend buying the Unlimited Daily Pass because it saves you a lot of time from falling in line to buy single ride tickets. The Day Pass costs NT$150 or USD$4 while the Single Ride Tickets cost NT$30 or USD$1. You can buy these tickets at the MRT booth at Main Station.
5 Things We Did In Taipei
Before we left the airport I already listed down the places we are going to visit as recommended by the locals. We used Google Maps throughout the day trip to navigate around Taipei. Here are the Things we tried:
1. “Tao Yuan Street” Spicy Beef Noodle at Lao Wang Ji
Located at No. 15, Taoyuan Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100. Price at NT$220 per bowl, oh man! This noodle is legit you gotta have this.
To get here we took the Banan Line from Taipei Main Station to Ximen Station.
From there it’s just a short 4 min walk to Lao Wang Ji. Checkout this Google Map screenshot for commute details.
2. Oyster Omelette at Ximending
Located at No. 34, Hanzhong St, Wanhua District Taipei City, Taiwan 108 Metro Station. This Oyster Omelette cost about NT$60 or USD$2.
To get here from Lao Wang Ji, you will need to walk towards Ximen Station.
Walk towards that yellow arch and you will reach Ximending.
Ximending is a trendy area of Taipei where you can find shops and boutique stores. You see a lot of young Taiwanese around as well as other foreigners.
3. Century Egg With Tofu and Spring Onions
We stumbled upon this street food in one of the restaurants at Ximending when we are looking for the Oyster Omelets. Century Egg with Tofu costs about NT$30 or USD$1. This street food seems popular with Taiwanese people and was recommended to us by the store owner.
We walked around a little bit more before heading out to our next destination. We were feeling a little tired so we wanted to sit down and drink.
4. Local Beers at Barnana 3.0
Barnana 3.0 is located at No. 3-1, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Luosifu Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City. These 3 beers cost us NT$500 or USD$15.
We were looking for a bar open at 3 in the afternoon close to our next street food list Gua Bao and found this location. Barnana 3.0 is still close when we knocked on its door but Vivian, the owner and bartender welcomed us and gladly helped us get our local beer fix.
She is a One Piece fan and travels the world too as a hobby so my brother and I felt at home right away. I really love this place because of her energy and the bar’s vibe.
We had a conversation about how Taiwanese culture is heavily influenced by Japanese culture and you see that in every corner of Taipei. She told me, If Torontonians go to New York City on their weekend holidays, Taiwanese people go to Tokyo on theirs.
This place does a lot of impromptu art presentations and performances in the evening according to her. So if ever you are around this area check out this bar. I’ll say that this is probably my favorite experience in Taipei so far. Can’t wait to go back.
5. Gua Bao at Lan Jia
Located at No. 3, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Luosifu Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan just below Barnana 3.0. Gua Bao is a beef sandwich made of beef brisket slow cooked in sweet soy sauce until tender, sliced thin and topped with cilantro on a steamed bun. So good. This sandwich costs NT$50 or USD$2. This sandwich was perfect after the relaxing stay and the beer we had at Barnana 3.0.
After we had our Gua Bao it started raining really hard and with only 2 hours left before our flight to Manila we decided to head back to Taoyuan International Airport.
5 Other Street Food Recommendations
- Xiaolongbao at Din Tai Fung Dumpling House, 192 Xinyi Road, Section 2, Taipei City
- Pan Fried Buns at Hsu Ji, Shida Night Market, Taan District, Taipei City
- Stinky Tofu at the old Shenkeng tofu street on Shenkeng Street in Taipei City
- Niu Rou Jian Bing on Daan Rd., just around the corner from Daan Station
- Mango Shaved Ice at Ice Monster No. 297, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Da’an District, Taipei City
How To Go Back To Taoyuan International Airport
To go back to Taoyuan International Airport make your way to Taipei Main Station and take the same 1819 bus going to the airport. The bus fare is the same and the buses run from 4:30AM to 11:20PM leaving every 15 minutes.
What Do I Think And What I Will Do Differently Next Time?
It was an amazing experience and I’m definitely coming back. Taiwanese people are very nice and helpful. The streets are clean and the city is easy to navigate. I would recommend a minimum of 3 days to see all of Taipei has to offer. If I will redo this 13 hour mini adventure, I would probably select a flight with a layover during mid day so I could checkout the night markets or Stay longer for about 3 days.
Here is a 10 Days in Taiwan video by Sean Wang
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Raphael Tigno is the Founder and Creative Director of the magazine website vibeant.com. VIBEANT is an online magazine bridging global culture in fashion, art, music, culinary, subcultures, and lifestyles across the world. Pronounced as "VIBE" + "ANT", a literal translation of "ANTS ENERGY" a reference to "BAYANIHAN" virtue of Filipinos.