9 Money-Saving Tips for Budget Travellers in Taiwan

C.K.S. Memorial Hall | © 攝影家9號 / Flickr
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Updated: 29 December 2017
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If you’re planning a trip to Taiwan but you’re on a tight budget then you’re in luck because the island also known as Formosa is actually an incredibly affordable travel destination. From cheap and delicious local cuisine to popular tourist attractions that cost nothing to visit, the island has plenty to offer. But like any country it’s also easy to fall into expensive tourist traps. Follow these tips and save money on your next trip.

Stay in budget accommodation

With a booming tourist industry there are now a huge number of affordable accommodation options in Taiwan, especially in Taipei. Hostels are often the most affordable and therefore most popular choice and they are everywhere in the island’s cities. The good thing about staying in a hostel as opposed to an Airbnb place or a hotel is that you will meet up with fellow budget travellers who will no doubt have some money-saving tips of their own to pass along.

Use public transport

Taiwanese public transport is pretty good and if staying in one of the island’s major cities it’s worth picking up a combined metro and bus pass. These passes allow you to travel freely on all public transport for a given period of time and they offer good savings on fares that are already incredibly cheap. Avoid taxis if you can as they can really eat into your budget.

If you’re travelling between cities then you should also avoid the high speed rail. Yes, it’s convenient and super fast but it’s also expensive. A better option is to choose regular trains or buses for all your transport.

Visit free attractions

Taiwan is a country of many attractions but did you know that many of them are free to visit? The island’s many temples and religious sites are one example. Many of these stunning pieces of architecture are open to the public and have no admission fees.

In Taipei you can also visit Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and Martyrs’ Shrine and witness the changing of the guards. It’s a great experience and best of all, it’s free.

One place many people visit that isn’t necessarily a must see is Taipei 101. It was once the tallest building in the world and while a trip to the top is good fun, it’s a little pricey for the budget traveller. Instead take a hike up Elephant Mountain just a short distance from 101 where you’ll find incredible views of the building and the entire city.

The view from Elephant Mountain

Visit low-cost attractions

Taiwan’s many government-owned museums are incredibly cheap to visit with the exception of the National Palace Museum which at NT$250 is still less than half the price of a ticket to the top of 101. Public zoos are another attraction which are relatively cheap (admission is only NT$60!) and if you have the time, worth a visit.

Eat at buffet restaurants

Where many people go wrong on their trip to Taiwan is choosing a place to eat. If you’re struggling with the language barrier then it might be easier to opt for a chain restaurant like TGI Fridays but this is going to take a huge chunk out of your holiday budget. Better to look for a local buffet restaurant, they usually have an English sign outside and that’s all you need. Go in, grab a tray and point at the food you want or pick it yourself. The food in these places is good old fashioned Taiwanese cuisine and it’s very cheap and tasty.

Eat at the night market

Of course you can’t eat in the same place every night so when you fancy a change, head for the local night market and try anything from stinky tofu (it’s an acquired taste) to fried chicken. Night markets are a great place to try the country’s many street foods and you might even find some tasty desserts while you’re there.

The best food is on the street

Buy clothes in the night market

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Don’t buy clothes on the high street. Malls and high street stores can be very expensive so instead take a look around the local night market. Not every market has clothes stalls but the biggest ones will usually have a pretty good selection. If you’re in Taipei try Wufenpu. It’s a huge market with tons of clothing stalls.
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Use the Taipei City’s free Wi-Fi

If you’re in Taipei then you can take advantage of the city government’s initiative to make Wi-Fi freely available to all its citizens. It’s very easy to register and use and there are hot spots all over the city.

Buy beers at 7 eleven

Fancy a beer? Then forget the bar and pop into your local 7 eleven or FamilyMart. These convenience stores are open 24-hours a day and you can pick up beer and wine at supermarket prices. Most convenience stores even have seating areas where you can sit down and take it easy over a few cheap beers.

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