As far as East Asia goes, Taiwan is a place where you’re sure to get a lot for your money. For such a small island, there is a wealth of things to do- you can experience big cities vibes in Taipei, go hiking through Taroko Gorge National Park and visit the aboriginal paradise of Orchid Island. Budget travel in Taiwan is easy but there are so many more reasons to explore the country than just that.
We only spent a week in Taiwan which definitely wasn’t enough time to enjoy everything that the country has to offer. One of the reasons why I really loved Taiwan was because I could enjoy Chinese style cooking along with Japanese good manners and Taiwan’s own unique quirky vibes. Even if you just visit Taipei for a few days, you’ll soon realise that Taiwan shares lots of the best bits of its neighbouring countries but still has a unique character all of its own.
Plus, it’s significantly cheaper than the likes of Japan, making budget travel in Taiwan almost effortless.
Here’s the lowdown on how to visit Taiwan on a budget.
Getting Around Taiwan
Public transport in Taiwan is clean, efficient, and best of all, cheap as chips! In Taipei, you can use the metro for next to nothing making it easy to hop around different districts of the city.
Intercity transport isn’t expensive either and the country has a great rail service linking major cities. High speed trains make it easy to travel from one end of the country to another in no time at all!
A lot of backpackers also like to hire motorbikes to tour the country on. Drivers in Taiwan are extremely polite so the roads are very safe- like on any trip, don’t scrimp on travel insurance though!
Metro Fares: NT$20-65 ($0.65-$2.15/£0.50-£1.65)
Taiwan to Kaohsiung High Speed Train: NT$1530 ($51/£38)
Scooter Daily Hire Cost: NT$500 ($17/£13)
Eating Out in Taiwan
We spent a week in Taiwan and only sat down in a proper restaurant twice for a meal. The night markets are so good that you won’t want to eat anything but street food- no matter how big your budget is! Plus, exploring them is an adventure in itself. We went to a different one every night of the week in Taipei!
If you’re trying to watch your spending and have a strict budget, I would advise you to be careful at the street markets. It is easy to get carried away, buying little odds and ends because they’re cheap, but all these things will add up and might make your cheap dinner less economical than eating in a restaurant.
As well as street food, convenience stores are also great for picking up food on a budget. I love visiting 7/11’s in Asia to see the differences between what’s on offer on each country. Asian convenience stores usually have fresh and delicious food- plus, there’s often one on every street so you’ll never struggle to find one! I got particularly addicted to the hotpots that you can make up yourself at 7/11s in Taiwan…. I’m alway a fan of hot, soupy foods but this was something else!
I’d also recommend visiting casual, local eateries. Beef noodles are an institution in Taiwan so make sure you get your fix! One of my favourite meals was a Taiwanese breakfast which is basically carbs wrapped in carbs, deep fried then maybe wrapped in an extra layer of carbs. While I wouldn’t recommend eating this every morning, you should definitely try it at least once and wash it all down with a huge glass of soy milk.
Cost of street food: NT$20-120
Where to Stay in Taiwan on a Budget
Accommodation is generally cheap in Taiwan. If you want to splash you on a fancy hotel, you shouldn’t break the bank too much! We stayed in 2 hostels and 2 hotels while we were there, neither of which were expensive.
Hostels are generally great quality and, as usual, great places to meet other travellers!
If you’re staying in Taipei, I thoroughly recommend Eight Elephants and Dreaming Dragons for a more grown up vibe in a charming, local part of the city, and Meander for a party vibe in the heart of the city centre.
Here are some hostels to check out in Taiwan!
Best Hostels in Taipei
Best Hostels in Kaochung
Best Hostels in Taichung
Best Hostels in Jiufen
Best Hostels at Taroko Gorge National Park
Average Cost of a Dorm bed in Taiwan: NT$400 ($13/£10)
Average Cost of a Private Room in Taiwan: NT$1,250 ($40/£30)
Things to Do on a Budget in Taiwan
The amount of free things to do makes budget travel in Taiwan very easy! In Taipei, just walking around the city and admiring the architecture is fun and costs absolutely nothing. Similarly, you can head up Elephant Mountain and enjoy unrivaled views of Taipei 101 and the surrounding city. Actually, the only thing that we paid to do in Taipei was take a cable car to the tea fields and enjoy a pot of locally brewed tea.
In all honestly, we weren’t even on a mission to do things for free in Taipei- it was just coincidental that most things were!
Another place we visited was Taroko Gorge National Park. This is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in Taiwan with plenty of opportunities for hiking and scouting for waterfalls. We visited independently, which was really easy, and the only thing we needed to pay for was our all day bus ticket! Another effortlessly cheap activity!
Maokong Gondola: NT$240 ($8/£6)
Taroko Gorge National Park Bus Pass: NT$200 ($7/£5)
Daily Cost of Budget Travel in Taiwan
Budget travel in Taiwan isn’t difficult- actually, you could easily not pay too much attention to your spending and still do very little harm to your bank balance. As a moderate budget, I would recommend $35 per day. This will be enough to stay in nice, modern hostels, try local foods at night markets and travel comfortably between a few different places, too. But, of course, you could travel for much more or much less, too.
I hope this post can help out anyone travelling to Taiwan on a budget. As always, if you have any tips of your own, leave them in the comments!
Don’t miss these other posts about budget travel in Taiwan!
Pin it for Later
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you book through these links, I’ll receive commission that helps me run this blog- I appreciate your support! As always, all opinions are my own.