Taipei City, Taiwan

Taipei City, officially known as the capital of Taiwan has always been one of the most visited countries of Filipino travelers. Not only for the purpose of tourism but also for business and employment. I can still remember my first visit, I was so surprised when I saw huge groups of Filipino tourists and OFWs roaming around the city. It made me feel at home and at the same time easy for me moving from one tourist spot to another.

Taiwan, formerly known as Formosa, is one of the countries in East Asia. It’s neighboring countries are China (West), Japan (Northeast) and the Philippines (South). While it may be considered a small country, it’s economy is considered as one of the largest in Asia.

I have always been a fan of ancient civilization, calligraphy, architecture and pleasing sceneries. Although the Philippines may have it all, traveling to Taiwan helped me to understand their culture and way of living.

Furthermore, Taiwan is almost 2 1/2 hours flight from Manila with no time difference. Whether it is a weekend adventure, a week of stay or more, you can definitely enjoy visiting the country for a short flight. Just be persistent in watching over a seat sale and you’re good to go.

Entering the borders of Taiwan
By default, any Philippine passport holder is not visa-exempt. Well, one must really understand why other countries would require a Filipino citizen like me to meet their immigration requirements prior entering their country. Right? I guess you all know what I am talking about – the famous ‘TNTs’ and the tourists turned into instant OFWs. My appeal to these people is to please do not take a shortcut by grabbing a job while overseas. While you may be enjoying the fruits of your hard work, the rest of your countrymen are being penalized for something that they have not committed. Peace!

Let’s go back on how to obtain a visa to enter the borders of Taiwan. I was able to gather the details on Taiwan’s Consular Affairs website –

  • Applying for an E-Visa thru their website
  • Applying for Travel Authorization Certificate
  • Applying physically at their embassy in Makati City.

I am currently holding a US Visa that is expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan so obviously, I chose to apply for TAC. Thanks to the government of Taiwan for granting us an easy and legal way of entering their country. Here are the steps on how I obtained this document –

  • Fill out the online application form, click here
  • Make sure that you have supplied the correct Visa ID No.
  • Review the duly-accomplished form before completing the submission
  • Print the TAC document.

If you do not have a US Visa, do not fret. Alternatively, you can use one of the visa(s) issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries and the UK. For more information about the visa requirements, please click here.

Arriving at Taipei City
CebuPacific was my airline of choice for this trip. The cheapest flight I booked had an arrival date of +1. Our plane landed around 12:30 am on March 24, 2017. At the immigration counter, I was asked to present my US Visa, the TAC document, and my passport. That’s all!

From the Arrival Hall, I followed the signages that lead to B/Floor where the bus station and ticketing office were located. I bought my bus ticket at Kuo-Kuang bus line bound for Taipei Main Station. (Watch out for Bus 1819 and wait at Station #5)

Even I tried my very best to dodge the long queue by almost sliding on every walkalators / escalators, I still missed the last trip. I was traveling alone and I didn’t want to spend a thousand of Taiwanese dollars for a taxi ride to the city center. I had to be patient that time, so I had to stay and almost fell asleep at the waiting area. My hope started to build-up when it was finally 3:30 AM. But hey!?! to my surprise, I and the other 5 Filipino tourists had to skip the first trip because all seats were taken.

It was around 4:30 AM when we were able to secure a seat and it took us almost 45 minutes to get to Taipei Main Station where I took the train bound for Taipei Bridge MRT Station – the closest train station to my chosen hostel/hotel.

Getting around Taipei City
Within the duration of my stay, I had to heavily rely on taking the train/bus and more of walking on the sidewalks. I already purchased an Easy Card during my first trip to Taipei so I didn’t really bother buying a new one nor purchasing an unli-pass. But maybe on my next visit, I will be considering the unli-pass.

The weather was gloomy and cold enough for me, no need for a cap or eye shades to protect myself from the scorching heat of the sun. And, if you have a thermal or winter jacket, believe me, you must bring one. Food stalls are everywhere with prices ranging from NT$ 55.00 to NT$ 100.00+ so you do not have to worry about your tummy.

Where to stay at?
Because I have always been a fan of capsule hotel/hostels, I searched over the internet the best capsule hostel/hotels in Taipei. HeyBear Capsule Hotel came across as one of the search results. Considering it’s outstanding review from other travelers, I did not think twice of booking a capsule at this hotel. For more information about HeyBear Capsule Hotel, please click here.

How to go to Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
From the terminal bus station of Kuo Long (Taipei Main Station), take M2 underpass and follow the signages that lead to Taipei Main MRT Station (Red Line/Tamsui-Xinyi Line). Take the train bound for Tamsui and alight at Minquan W. Road MRT Station. Transfer to Zhonge-Xinlu Line (Orange Line), take the train bound for Huilong and alight at Taipei Bridge MRT Station.

The tall dark gray building on the left side of the jewelry shop (red building) is where HeyBear Capsule Hotel. Take the elevator up to 8th Floor where their reception is located.

Travel Itinerary
My original travel itinerary did not happen as planned because of the bad weather but thanks to the locals from the hotel/hostel where I stayed at because I was able to squeeze in everything for whatever remaining days left.

Day 0 – Thursday
07:30PMArrival at Manila Int’l Airport (Terminal 3)
08:00PMChecked-in via CebuPacific
09:00PM – Passed Immigration
09:30PM – Boarding time
10:00PM – ETD from Manila Int’l Airport (Terminal 3)

Day 1 – Friday
12:30AM – ETA at Taoyuan Int’l Airport (Terminal 2)
01:50AM – Passed Immigration
02:00AM – Bought ticket at Kuo Long Ticket Counter
04:30AM – ETD from Taoyuan Int’l Airport
05:45AM – ETA at Taipei Main Station (Kuo Long Bust Terminal)
06:20AM – Checked-in at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
09:00AM – City Tour Time

  • Xingtian Temple (Xingtian Temple MRT Station)
  • Jinnian Rd Temple (Jinnian Rd MRT Station)
  • National Palace Museum (Jinnian Rd MRT Station)

12:30PM – Rest Time/Lunch Time
01:30PM – City Tour Time

  • North Gate (Beimen MRT Station)
  • Longshan Temple (Longshan MRT Station)
  • Red House Theater (Ximen MRT Station)
  • Zhongshan Hall (Ximen MRT Station)
  • National Presidential Office (Ximen MRT Station)
  • Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall MRT Station)

07:00PM – Dinner at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
09:00PM – Rest Time/Lights Off

Day 2 – Saturday
I was supposed to visit Tamsui, Yamingshan National Park and Shifen Waterfall (Pingxi District) but due to heavy rainfall for almost the whole day, I decided to make a quick drop at Huashan Creative Park.

05:00PM – Huashan Creative Park (Shangdao Temple MRT Station)
07:00PM – Dinner at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel
09:00PM – Rest Time/Lights Off

Day 3 – Sunday
07:00AM – Wake-Up Time
08:00AM – Breakfast
09:00AM – City Tour

  • Martyr’s Shrine (Jiantian MRT Station)
  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall (CKS Memorial MRT Station)
  • Taipei 101 (Xinyi Anne MRT Station / Taipei 101 Station)

12:00PM – Rest Time/Lunch
01:00PM – City Tour

  • Confucius Temple (Yuanshuan MRT Station)
  • Baoan Temple (Yuanshuan MRT Station)
  • Taipei Expo Park (Yuanshuan MRT Station)
  • Taipei Fine Arts Museum (Yuanshuan MRT Station)
  • Taipei Story House (Yuanshuan MRT Station)
  • Shilin Night Market (Yuanshuan MRT Station)

07:00PM – Checked-out at HeyBear Capsule Hotel
08:00PM – ETD from Kuo Long Bus Terminal / Taipei Main Station
09:30PM – ETA at Taoyuan Int’l Airport (Terminal 2)
11:30PM – Checked-in via CebuPacific

Day 4 – Monday
12:00AM – Passed Immigration
12:55AM – Boarding Time
01:20AM – ETD from Taoyuan Int’l Airport (Terminal 2)
03:30AM – ETA at Manila Int’l Airport (Terminal 3)

Travel Photos

Travel Expenses
RT Airfare (MNL-TPE-MNL) = Php 3,823.60
Philippines Travel Tax = Php 1,620.00
RT Bus 1819 (Airport to Taipei Main Station to Airport) = Php 455.00
Hey Bear Capsule Hotel Accommodation (2 Nights) = Php 1,580.34
Bus/Train Fare (Recharged Amount on Easy Card) = Php 546.00
Pork Bun (2 pcs per day at NT$ 30.00 each)  = Php 327.60
Barbecue at Shilin Night Market (2 pcs per night at NT$ 40.00 each) = Php 291.20
Wonton Noodles (1 bowl per night at NT$ 80.00 each) = Php 291.20
Bottled Water (1 Bottle at NT$ 30.00) = Php 54.60
Nat’l Palace Museum Admission fee = Php 455.00
Coffee (1 medium cup per day at NT$ 40.00) = Php 218.40
*Forex exchange rate dated March 24, 2017 was Php 1.82 = NT$ 1.00 

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Cintai Corito’s Garden

It has always been my dream to visit Bali, Indonesia. It offers jaw-dropping sceneries, authentic culture, mouth-watering delicacies and welcoming locals. I guess these could be some of the reasons why it is one of the most visited tropical countries in the world. But due to a lot of things to consider even now that I have my own funds to finance my trip, traveling to Bali, Indonesia remains a dream travel destination for me.

Though this dream is still construction in the making, my feet could not be stopped when I knew about the Balinese-inspired sanctuary in Balete, Batangas, Philippines.

A brief of history of Cintai Corito
The Garden started out as an ordinary private family rest house that the family visited every weekend. In 2005, however, their mother Corito was diagnosed with a terminal disease. To help her recuperate from treatment, the family often brought her to the garden because the place made her relax and temporarily forget her sickness. Two years later, Corito finally succumbed to her illness.Her husband together with his 4 children then decided to focus all their efforts on making the garden a paradise since she loved the place so much. They wanted the beautiful memories they shared there to live on thus the creation of Cintai… love for their mother and love for his wife. (Source)

Getting to Cintai Corito’s Garden
Cintai Corito’s Garden is located at Sitio Pandayan, Malabanan Balete, Batangas which can also be easily reached thru public transport.

I arrived in Balete, Batangas as early as 9:00 am and considering that my reservation in Cintai Corito’s Garden was for a lunch buffet, I opted to pay a visit first at Marian Orchard Garden.  Thus, this was my point of origin getting to Cintai Corito’s Garden.

  • From Marian Orchard Garden, take a jeepney bound for Lipa and alight at Cintai Corito’s Garden.

It is really true that Cintai Corito’s Garden was built with love and passion. As I passed the doors and walk through the pathways, there were moments when I couldn’t do anything but be amazed. While the food/s they served were not really outstanding, the details of their landscape design outside the pavilion were terrific. Indeed, it was a Balinese-inspired experience for me.

Here are some tips that I can share about this trip:

  • Book a reservation 2 weeks prior your planned travel date.
  • If you are on a DIY trip, be prepared for a 5-10 minute walk from the entrance to the pavilion.
  • The guard at the entrance will contact the receptionist to verify if you have a reservation. In other words, no reservation, no entry.

Travel Photos
All photos are taken by Wanderingdude PH Team and post processed thru Adobe Applications. Feel free to download or share them but please give credits to our Facebook and blog site as shown on the watermark.

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Going back to Cubao, Quezon City
Cintai Corito’s Garden was my last destination in this Balete, Batangas trip so from here –

  • Take a jeepney/tricycle bound for Lipa and alight at Levi Town Market / Jollibee Maraouy / Caltex Maraouy.
  • From Levi Town Market / Jollibee Maraouy / Caltex Maraouy, take a jeepney / multi cab bound for SM Lipa and alight at SM Lipa.
  • From SM Lipa Grand Terminal, take a bus bound for Cubao.

Travel Expenses
Jeepney Fare (Marian Orchard to Cintai Corito’s) = Php 8.00 
Cintai Corito’s Garden Lunch Buffet = Php 530.00
Tricycle Fare (Cintai Corito’s to Levi Town Market) = Php 20.00
Jeepney Fare (Levi Town Market to SM City Lipa) = Php 8.00
Bus Fare (Lipa Grand Bus Terminal to Cubao) = Php 165.00

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