VISA-Free Privilege, The Philippines to Taiwan
Taiwan has easily become a popular travel destination for Filipinos. This is after the VISA-free travel privilege offered by the Taiwan Government to Philippine Passport holders for a limited period of time. The first trial period ended on July 31, 2019, but has been extended up to July 31, 2020. This is probably because of the influx of Filipino visitors for the past two years.
In this article, I am going to share with you what transpired during our 3 full day trip to Taiwan. And it’s not just Taipei. I am proud to say that we have seen the best Taiwan tourist destinations to date.
Before anything else, let me share with you what happened from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Taoyuan International Airport.
Day 1 – August 16, 2019
Manila to Taipei
We chose the cheapest flight for August 16, the last flight for the day. We departed on time at 23:55 and arrived earlier than expected in Taipei at 01:15 on August 17.
It’s Php376.00 for 5 days of unlimited internet with NTD100 for calls and NTD50 for SMS. We got the FarEastOne sim because we heard it is the most reliable network in Taiwan. And based on my experience, it really is.
With no sleep yet and with an early call time a few hours from our arrival at the airport, we rushed into finding a van for hire because the MRTs are already out of service when we arrived. We’re 9 in the group and the vans for hire only accommodate 8. Thank God we were able to talk our way into a deal and we were allowed to squeeze ourselves in. It cost us NTD1800 for 9 pax to Ximending where our hotel is.
We arrived at our hotel an hour after. It took us around 10 mins to find our place, TX Apartment. I booked our hotel via Agoda. It is a condotel located at Wanhua District, a couple of blocks away from Ximending Shopping District. It is really affordable and it is managed together with other hostels/condotels in this area like the Art Inn. We got a great deal for this booking via Agoda here.
Here are the photos of our room at TX Apartment for appreciation.
Most of my travels are usually DIY. Because I don’t want to spend too much on overhead costs for pre-arranged travels. But for this trip, my friends ans I decided to try various pre-grouped, pre-arranged tours for the first two days of our stay.
Check out our itinerary:
We booked this tour via Klook. Click this link and get Php150.00 off your first booking with Klook.
This tour started with the pick-up/meet-up near Ximen MRT Station Exit 4. The nearest landmark for this pick-up point is GaKuDen Bakery.
We boarded the tourist bus 15 minutes before departure and we left at exactly 9AM.
It is known for its rock formations made by the sea breeze and seawater. This cape is a must-see in the North Coast of Taiwan.
Make sure to bring a hat or an umbrella because the place tends to be very hot during the summer. Make sure to be patient as well especially if you want to line up to have your photos taken at the famous rock formations like the Mushroom or the Queen’s Head.
Jiufen Old Street
This is my favorite part of our Day 1 tour. It offers everything that makes me happy – food, bargain finds and an amazing view of the mountain and the sea. Jiufen is also known for A Mei Tea House, the inspiration for the Japanese animated movie, Spirited Away.
Shifen Old Street
Probably one of the most famous activities to do in Taiwan is the lantern lighting and launch at Shifen Old Street. But aside from that, you must not forego the chance to visit the Shifen Waterfall and cross the Shifen Hanging Bridge. It was raining when we went there but it didn’t spoil the fun.
Ximending Shopping District
We capped the night at the Ximending Shopping District. It’s a haven of milk tea shops, local food finds and retail stores. It spans a couple of blocks and is accessible to public transport especially the MRT which has 6 exits within this area. It’s fantastic that our hotel is just 10 minutes away on foot.
Unlike our first day which we booked via Klook. Our second day was through a travel agency referred by a friend. After carefully assessing their rates and comparing it with other travel agencies, we confirmed with Meljane Travel and Tours. It is a travel agency co-owned by a Filipina who married a Taiwanese. They are based in Taiwan, so our costs are lower compared with agencies which outsource services to Taiwan partners.
The service provided by Meljane was superb and we really felt like we’re treated like a family!
Taichung City Tour
Taichung City is currently the most populated city in Taiwan, it became a city in 2010. Our trip to this city is special because it has the countryside feel to it – cool breeze, lush greens and less traffic. And if I were to go back to Taiwan again, I will definitely spend a day in Taichung again and I will make sure its during spring.
Green Fantasy Resort
I must say that our visit at Green Fantasy Resort is a beautiful accident. Our itinerary originally included Summit Spring Resort but mid-August was a bad timing due to the migration of flying insects in the area.
Every curb and corner of this place is Instagram-worthy. In fact, it is a popular e-session or prenup pictorial venue in Taiwan because of its themed areas within the resort.
Houli Flower Farm/Zhongshe Flower Farm
Another Instagrammable location in Taichung is the Zongshe Flower Farm. You better get your phones, DSLR, selfie sticks, etc. ready because it will take you hours of photography sessions here.
Known for its lively murals, Rainbow Village is filled colorful stories as well. It used to be a retirement home for soldiers and one of the veterans’, Huang Yong-fu a.k.a Rainbow Grandpa is the last one inhabiting this village. In 2010, he decided to paint on the walls of the soon-to-be-demolished government property. But his drawings drew the locals’ and tourists’ attention that the government decided to preserve the place and made it a tourist attraction.
Gaomei Wetlands and Windmills
I accidentally fell in love with this place, despite the fact that I voted “No” when our tour guide asked us if we still want to go because we might get caught in traffic when we head back to Taipei. We proceeded because we were outvoted. Hehe. And I’m glad we were.
You’ve probably heard this before, “when you travel, eat like a local”. That being said, going to places where locals go on a weekend in a wise idea and it’s our last stop for the day – Shilin Night Market.
This is the place you shouldn’t miss if you want to go on a food trip in Taiwan. The food stalls attract people not just with food but with showmanship in preparing the food. I highly recommend the Wagyu and Takoyaki stalls.
Taiwan City Tour
We were supposed to go to Chiang Kai Shek Memorial but we got lost…
We went to Taipei 101 instead. We opted not to go to the viewing deck because of the fear of heights. Hahaha. We went to the Taipei 101 Mall instead.
One Piece Mugiwara Taiwan
Last-minute shopping at Ximending and we got lost but found a gem along Ximending’s Cinema Street. My husband was delighted when we saw the One Piece Mugiwara Store in Taiwan!
Taipei Main Station
We checked out from our hotel and took an Uber to the Taipei Main Station where we will take the Airport Express Train.
Travel Expenses to Taiwan
4 Nights, 3 Days Expenses – Manila to Taiwan
We will definitely visit Taiwan again soon to visit other tourist attractions that we may have missed during this tour. Please feel free to share in the comments sections your suggested itinerary the next time we come back.