As a small island nation of 23 million people, Taiwan is a destination that many travelers underestimate when exploring Asia. For locals, staying on a budget is easy as local cuisine is affordable, and public transportation is convenient as well as inexpensive. However, for travelers who are not familiar with Taiwan, planning, and budgeting for a trip can be quite daunting.
Thankfully, a trip to Taiwan doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, it can be quite affordable. Here are some tips on how to visit Taiwan on a budget.
With its beautiful scenery and rich culture, Taiwan is a popular destination for travelers. But it doesn’t have to be expensive to visit as there are ways to explore the island on a budget. Here are some tips that can make estimating expenses easier for those visiting Taiwan on a budget:
Look for affordable accommodation options such as hostels or guesthouses.
As in most countries, hostels are the most affordable choice of accommodation. Typical costs for a bed in a shared dorm room is $10-20 in Taipei with many options available in the $15-20 range. The cost of budget accommodation is fairly consistent around Taiwan so one can expect to pay these prices in most cities around the island.
Another way to save money on accommodation is to share the cost of a hotel with a friend. Budget-friendly hotels typically cost between $30 – $40 per night for a double room. Sharing this with a friend will cut the cost in half.
There are many affordable accommodation options available in Taiwan, such as hostels and guesthouses. These options can help you save money on your travel budget.
Eat local food at street stalls or markets – it’s both delicious and cheap!
Local food is quite affordable in Taiwan but most travelers miss out on most of the affordable shops due to language barriers.
Common Taiwanese food to look out for when visiting Taiwan on a budget are:
Dan Bing – (蛋餅) – Egg crepe – This popular morning dish is widely available at local breakfast shops. Dan bing is an egg crepe and can come plain or with a wide range of fillings. My favorites are bacon, cheese, or corn. Prices range from NT$25-60 (~ $1-2) depending on the filling.
Lu Rou Fan – (滷肉飯) – Braised pork belly over rice is filling and is probably the cheapest you can pay for a meal, although hungrier travelers may view this as a snack. A bowl of rice topped with tasty braised pork belly is something that I have come to greatly enjoy after staying in Taiwan. The cost can be as low as NT$30 (~ $1) per bowl.
Bian Dang – (便當) – Taiwanese lunch boxes come with your choice of meat, veggies, eggs, and tofu. Bian dang restaurants can be self-service where you help yourself and pay by weight, or packaged by staff based on your selection of available dishes. Expect to pay roughly NT$100 (~ $3.33) per lunch box.
Xian Su Ji – (鹽酥雞) – Taiwanese popcorn chicken is a popular street food that is tasty and cheap! These boneless chicken bites are deep-fried and served with basil, garlic, and other seasonings. Street vendors all over Taiwan offer fried chicken so there should be no trouble finding a vendor! Expect to pay NT$60 (~ $2) for a reasonably sized bag of chicken bites.
Explore Taiwan’s many scenic hiking trails
If you want to go hiking in Taiwan, there are plenty of options available to you. There are many different trails located all around the country, each with its own unique scenery and viewpoints. You can find easy trails suitable for beginners, as well as more challenging mountain hikes that are for more experienced travelers. Many of the trails around Taipei are also accessible by public transportation, so you don’t need to worry about renting a car.
The most accessible hike for those visiting Taipei is Xiangshan – (象山) – Elephant Mountain. The Xiangshan MRT station, the terminal station on the Red Line, stops near the start of the hike so there is no need for bus transfers or taxis. The hike is fairly short at roughly 1 mile round-trip but has a wonderful viewpoint that overlooks Taipei. Just know that it is heavy on stairs so not great for anyone with knee problems.
Visit some of the island’s many temples – many of them offer free admission.
There’s no shortage of temples in Taiwan and they are great to visit if you’re on a budget. The architecture is stunning inside and out and they are typically quite ornate. Temples are a good way to take in stunning architecture and learn about the island’s rich history without spending a dime.
The best way to save money while traveling in Taiwan is to avoid tourist traps and stick to budget-friendly activities. Instead of going out for expensive meals, opt for street food or cook your own meals. Instead of staying in luxury hotels, look for affordable hostels or guesthouses. And instead of taking taxis everywhere, use the public transportation system. By following these tips, you can easily save money and enjoy your trip to Taiwan on a budget.
Finally, don’t forget to spend time in Taipei – the capital city. Taipei is a bustling city with plenty of free attractions and activities to keep you busy. There are also many budget-friendly restaurants and shops available in the city.
How much does it cost to travel in Taiwan?
If you’re looking to travel on a budget, Taiwan is a great destination. You can get by on as little as $50 USD per day if you’re willing to rough it a bit. This includes shared accommodation in a basic hostel, public transportation, and food from street vendors. With some budgeting, you may even be able to afford a taxi ride or two.
Of course, if you want to stay in nicer hotels and eat at restaurants, your costs will be higher. But overall, Taiwan is a very affordable place to travel. Here is the expected cost to travel in Taiwan for a single person.
Sample shoestring budget for Taipei
Shared Hostel: $10-15 per night
Transportation: $0.50 per bus ride
Food: $5 per meal
Drinks: $1.50 per latte or milk tea
Target: $40-50 per day
Sample low-cost budget for Taipei
Shared Hostel: $15-25 per night
Budget Hotel: $30-40 per night
Transportation: $0.50 per bus ride / $3-10 in-city taxi ride
Food: $5 per meal / $12-20 per dinner
Drinks: $1.50 per latte or milk tea
Visiting Taiwan on a budget is possible by planning ahead and being aware of where to find the best deals. Avoiding souvenir shops and western restaurants where you will pay higher prices is a big factor in visiting Taiwan on a budget. By following these tips, you can enjoy all that Taiwan has to offer without breaking the bank.