Not too sure where is the fun in blogging about vacations when the focus is on how much one has saved or spent. I’m not the type who enjoys blogging about how much I saved on my trip or how little my overseas holiday cost. I’m also not the ‘You Only Live Once’ (YOLO) type, either. Yes, I do enjoy finding good value for the money I’m spending, though. Stuff like helicopter rides, best hotel in the world and business class flights? Yeah, that’s right up my alley.
Today, let’s talk a little bit about Taiwan. It is a common destination for Singaporeans, with Taipei (too touristy these days) being a top choice. The country is relatively safe with no language barriers for the Chinese. A great advantage is that the transport system is fairly developed so it is easy to get around on buses and trains. Cab rides ain’t expensive when we need to use it too. There is Uber, the last I checked. With a strong exchange rate, it is quite easy and affordable to take a longer vacation.
Food (夜市), shopping, and scenic tours. Most people don’t seem to give much thought to the type of accommodation though. The number one type of properties that comes to peoples’ minds when travelling overseas is, of course, hotels. Taiwan is, however, blessed with a wide range of properties to choose from and choosing interesting types of accommodation can make vacations much more interesting!
As many people are budget conscious, I shall start with the most affordable before moving on to the most extravagant. I travel to Taiwan very frequently which explains why I get to try so much of these 🙂
I don’t think I have mentioned it before, but one of my previous jobs with lots of fond memories was working at a hostel. This is a story for another time .. maybe remind me in future 😉
Staying at a hostel is hands-down one of, if not the cheapest form of accommodation. During one of my hit-and-run trips to Taiwan, my wife and I found ourselves staying at one Ximen Corner Hostel (despite flying business class on SQ haha). For couples, the trick is to grab a private room with en-suite (connected) bathroom. As added bonuses, they sometimes provide services like airport-transfer which is far cheaper than market rates, because vehicles are shared. The SUV could make two stops at different terminals, for example.
The lounge area is great for hanging out if you’re the type who loves to make friends.
Airbnb is a fun way to see how locals live. I really like the experience, but somehow it didn’t feel as safe. Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Taiwanese news about fires and disasters haha. We checked-in to a studio apartment in Ximending during one of my trips and the experience was OK and uneventful. The number one issue for Airbnb is because I tend to reach Taiwan early and fly out late, plus I’m just too lazy to use luggage storage solutions.
Words of wisdom.
A hotel is well, a hotel – the most common form of accommodation for tourists. By providing safety, comfort, accessibility and value-added services such as luggage-holding, it may play a key-role in trip planning. Stayed in many in Ximending (didn’t like the vibe of Taipei Main Station, so my ‘home base’ is always Ximending), including Amba, Rainbow, Just Sleep (in below pic) and VIA. Varying degrees of sound-proofing, distance from train stations and insulation (especially in Winter) could make a big difference in your experience.
4. Homestay (Min-su)
Not exactly available in all locations, a homestay allows us to stay with the locals. One of such experience we had was in CingJing Starry House which was very fun. And seriously, that view is to die for.
The standalone cabin didn’t have any heaters and our only source of warmth was a heated mattress. Quite an experience!
It was a cold and rainy trip. Having home-made pickled Chinese cabbage hotpot was awesome.
5. Beach Resort
While Taiwan isn’t known for beach resorts, we found ourselves in the southern tip of Taiwan (Kenting, Hengchun) on one of our trips and checked in to Chateau Beach Resort. Its source of fame was the movie, Cape No. 7 (海角七號).
Double bath-tub with the sea-view, who would have thought? Heh.
Weather wasn’t that good on that day.
6. Hotspring Resort
And we move on the really exciting stuff. Volando Urai Spring Spa & Resort (Wulai) is one of three properties listed under Relais & Châteaux, Taiwan. The other one you can stay at is Villa 32 (Beitou) which I visited in 2017 for a private hotspring session, but didn’t stay for the night. It was winter season, which meant it didn’t make sense to opt for the room with an outdoor swimming pool.
The best property (service) I’ve ever experienced in Taiwan. Highly recommended if you’re having your honeymoon or just love to splurge.
Hotspring soaks are great during winter season!
Mention motels and shady/seedy imagery come to mind. Cheap? Dirty! For most people, anyway. Secret affairs. Hourly rentals. Yes, of course those things do happen.
And yet, the absolute number one, top-secret item tourists miss out on their Taiwan trips are motel stays. Reputable motels in Taiwan are ridiculously amazing and mind-blowing.
For starters, this particular Mulan “room” I booked in Taipei is approximately 300 square-metres in size, or about three times my HDB apartment. Another one I stayed at in Taichung is similarly as enormous in size.
Sunken bathtub with TV? Check.
Outdoor jacuzzi? Check.
Huge-ass swimming pool that you can actually swim (naked) in? Check.
Private sauna? Check.
I don’t wanna spoil the fun for you but hey, do some research and check out some motels if you’re adventurous enough to do it.
Well, after reading all these, perhaps you might want to consider non-hotel properties for your next trip to Taiwan? The country is extremely hospitable and the Taiwanese are generally very gracious hosts. Oh, and I didn’t get to try capsule hotels yet – not that easy when travelling with the wife heh.
Remember, Taiwan is more than just food, food, and more food. There are plenty more activities to try out, and properties to experience staying in. Most importantly, it isn’t always about how much we spend or save. It is about the memories we create with our loved ones such that years later, we are able to reminisce about our vacations abroad.
P/S : Turtle Chat is ‘live’! Tender Loving Care for the new project (see right side-bar) we can all have fun with. Join the Telegram Group. I’ll hang out there when I’m free 😉 No Telegram account? Use the web chat – no registration needed!
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