If you’d have told me back when I first started travelling that Taiwan would end up being my favourite place on the planet, I’d have blinked multiple times in surprise.
Let’s face it: it doesn’t sound like that exciting a place. Back then, I didn’t know anybody who had been, knew very little about it, and pictured it as an island blanketed in factories and electronics.
I was delighted, then, to discover that Taiwan is all about the dazzling cities, beautiful beaches, impressive architecture, spectacular scenery, delicious street food, and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. After spending four weeks on the island during that initial trip, I’ve since paid two additional month-long visits to this kickass country. Yes, I’ve spent three whole months in Taiwan and I’m still keen to return to explore further.
Having spent so much time in this wonderful place, I feel qualified to share how much you should plan to budget for a trip to Taiwan, especially as I’ve tried out several different travel styles during each visit.
I’ve spent a month travelling solo on the tightest backpacker budget I could manage, and averaged $22 a day.
I spent a month travelling as part of a couple in mid-range-priced guesthouses, and averaged $35 a day.
And I spent a month as a digital nomad, basing myself in an apartment in Taipei for a full month, averaging $50 a day.
Let’s take a look at how much of my expenses I spent on accommodation, transportation, food, and activities. First up: how to travel in Taiwan on a backpacker budget!
How to Travel Taiwan on a Budget
Taiwan was my first destination in Asia and the first place to show me just how affordable backpacking could be.
Rather than staying in the cheapest dorm room I could find, like I had been doing in Europe, I could afford to book the highest-rated hostel in town because it was just $10 a night; I could head to a street market and find an entire meal for a couple of dollars; take a train across the length of the island for the price of a 30-minute journey back home in the U.K.
I spent $599.82 in 27 days. That’s $22.22 per day!
Let’s take a look at my budget breakdown to see how affordable travel in Taiwan can be.
How to Save on Accommodation in Taiwan
If you’re looking to stretch your dollar as much as possible, aim to stay in dorm rooms in hostels. For some reason, private rooms in hostels and budget guesthouses in Taiwan are strangely expensive — often as much as $50 a night, whereas you’ll be able to grab a dorm bed for around $10 in most places. If you’re a solo traveller, dorm rooms are definitely the way to go, and hostels in Taiwan are clean, modern, and great value for money.
I’ve stayed in so many hostels in Taiwan over the three months I’ve spent travelling there, so I’ve put together a list of where I most recommend staying (all prices are listed in USD, as that’s where the majority of my readers are based):
Taipei: A six-bed dorm in Star Hostel Taipei East at $24/night
There’s a reason why this is the top-rated hostel in the city: it offers up so much for your money. What I love most about this spot is its location, between Daan and Xinyi, which are two of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city! The hostel itself is slick, modern, and well-designed, with a cosy common area and clean, comfortable dorm beds. I wouldn’t consider staying anywhere else in Taipei. Check out prices and availability here.
Taichung: A four-bed dorm in Stray Birds Taichung Hostel at $20/night
If you’re going to check out beautiful Sun Moon Lake while you’re in Taiwan, Taichung is the best place to base yourself, as it’s expensive to stay beside the lake. And Taichung is a worthy destination in its own right, with plenty of museums, parks, and night markets to explore. Stray Birds Hostel is in a great location, close to my favourite park in the city. And it’s *beautiful* — the design is seriously impressive. The staff are welcoming and friendly, the common room is lovely, and the terrace is the perfect place to have breakfast each morning. Check out prices and availability here.
Kaohsiung: A six-bed dorm at With Inn Hostel for $19/night
If only every hostel was as wonderful as With Inn! The staff are what make staying in this hostel so great, as they’re always only too happy to help out with any questions, assist you with travelling to your next spot, and offer plenty of recommendations for restaurants and bar. This is yet another well-designed hostel in Taipei, with a beautiful roof terrace and garden, wonderful dorm rooms, and plenty of amenities. Overall, it offers great value for money. Check out prices and availability here.
Tainan: A four-bed dorm at Cao Ji Book Inn Hostel for $26/night
Tainan is full of excellent hostels, but my favourite is Cao Ji Book Inn Hostel. This place is particularly cool because it’s a hostel that’s book themed! There’s even a library! How awesome is that? It’s also the highest-rated hostel in town. The property’s aesthetic is just as interesting as you’re imagining, there’s a super-fun rooftop area to hang out on and chat with travellers, and it’s right beside the train station. Throw in some amazing staff and you’ve got yourself the perfect hostel. Check out prices and availability here.
Hualien: A six-bed dorm at Shining Forest Hostel for $16/night
What I love about Shining Forest Hostel was the friendliness of the owners (yes, this is a common theme in Taiwan!) It’s a family-run hostel, and Owen and his mother are so kind and welcoming. It’s in a great location, beside the train station and close to the excellent night market. I highly recommend staying here for both the owners and the Taiwanese breakfast they cook up for you every morning. So good! Finally, there are free bicycles to hire from the hostel and free coffee, tea, and cookies! Check out prices and availability here.
How to Save Money on Transportation in Taiwan
I used a mix of transportation in Taiwan, ranging from daily metro trips in Taipei, to hopping on a local train around the country, to checking out the high-speed rail between Taichung and Kaohsiung. If you’re on a budget, local trains are definitely the way to go.
Fortunately, trains in Taiwan are available to book through 12Go Asia, which is one of my secret weapons when it comes to travel throughout Asia. It makes booking onward travel so simple and convenient! Instead of having to buy train tickets in advance from the train stations, you can just book your ticket online instead and have peace of mind that you have a seat.
Here were my costs for transportation in Taiwan:
Ten days of metro use in Taipei: $3.60
Local train from Taipei to Taichung: $12.03
High-Speed Rail from Taichung to Kaohsiung: $26.13
Local train from Kaohsiung to Hualien: $17.43
Local train from Hualien to Taipei: $13.00
How to Save on Food in Taiwan
Food in Taiwan is cheap, thanks to the plethora of night markets in every city. I always recommend eating the local food and doing so on the streets. Not only is the street food safe, but you’ll gain a cultural insight into Taiwanese life, too. In fact, the only time I got sick in Taiwan was when I ate in a restaurant rather than at a street food stall. Most dishes are around $1-2 per meal at the markets, so local is definitely the way to go!
For food, I paid $248.56 for four weeks of backpacking across Taiwan. That works out to $9 a day.
How to Save Money on Activities in Taiwan
The great thing about Taiwan is that many of the activities you’ll want to do in the country are free.
Entry to Taroko Gorge is free, as is the entrance to the Kaohsiung temples, as is the entrance to Sun Moon Lake, as is the entrance to the temples I visited in Taipei.
The only things I paid for in Taiwan was my bus tour around Taroko Gorge ($7.92) and my minivan tour of the Lotus Pond temples ($4), making my activities budget extremely low for my four weeks of travel.
While I limited most of my activities to free things, like hiking, prioritising museums with free entry, and wandering through markets on foot, Get Your Guide does list several budget tours that receive exceptional reviews.
I definitely want to jump on this Taipei street food tour ($46), as Taiwanese food is one of the most underrated cuisines on the planet and I’ve always wanted to delve deeper into the food scene. This one introduces you to 10 new dishes! I also love the sound of Beitou Hotsprings and Yangmingshan Volcano Tour ($147), too. If you’re not confident on scooters, having somebody else show you around and explain the significance of the different trails is a great way to explore one of the prettiest parts of Taiwan. Finally, I’m totally adding this small group tour to the northeast coast of Taiwan ($77) to my next itinerary for Taiwan.
The Mid-Range Couple Budget
Several years later, I returned to Taiwan, but this time with my boyfriend in tow. My budget had expanded over that time, too, and I was looking to stay in mid-range guesthouses and hotels. When it comes to transportation, my boyfriend and I travelled across the island in much the same way as I had as a backpacker, and definitely still ate mostly street food! Activity costs were low once more.
The Cost of Mid-Range Accommodation in Taiwan
I didn’t stay in hostels while I was travelling in Taiwan this time around, instead opting to stay in the best-rated guesthouses in the country. Here’s what the costs looked like for us (this is for the total cost of the room, rather than just my share):
- Taipei: Old Door Hostel and Bar at $64 per night
- Kaohsiung: Kindness Hotel at $85 per night
- Kenting: Kenting My Home at $27 per night
- Hualien: Aria 2 Home at $81 per night
Transportation was similar to my first visit: a mix of metro use in Taipei, the High Speed Rail, local trains for much of the rest of the country, and a scooter rental in several places. Here’s my breakdown in detail:
- High speed train from Taipei to Kaohsiung: $46.70
- Return ferry ride from Kaohsiung to Qijing Island: $1.58
- Bus from Kaohsiung to Kenting: $10.15
- A day’s scooter rental in Kenting: $9.50
- Bus from Kenting to Kaohsiung: $10.15
- Train from Kaohsiung to Hualien City: $17.65
- A day’s scooter rental in Hualien: $12.66
- Train from Hualien City to Taipei: $13.74
- Taipei metro costs for our 10-day stay: $10.93
- Return bus from Taipei Airport to Taipei: $9.06
Food was vastly different to my first visit! With my eating horizons now having widened to roughly 18 million times the size they were before, I dove headfirst into night market eating and surfaced several hours later with a duck tongue in my mouth. I ate mostly on the streets when it came to lunches and dinners, but usually headed to a cafe for a bread-based meal for breakfast.
My total food costs came to: $525.41.
Once more, many of the activities we did in Taipei were free, like access to Taroko Gorge, Kenting National Park, Yingge Ceramics Museum, and exploring the temples of Lotus Pond.
The only entrance fee we paid was for Taipei’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which was $1.58.
Taipei is fantastic for digital nomads! If it wasn’t for my extrovert boyfriend needing to know roughly 7,984 people in a city in order to keep his energy levels high, we would have seriously looked at making it our home base.
For this particular trip to Taiwan, we spent our entire month in Taipei. We booked out an Airbnb apartment for 30 days, didn’t even leave the city for any day trips, and spent the vast majority of our time eating our way around the city.
Our Airbnb apartment came to $105 per night. We were in the heart of the Xinyi district, a few minutes’ walk away from Taipei 101, surrounded by dozens of cafes and restaurants, and my favourite night market in the city: Tonghua!
No real transportation costs came up during the month.
We used the metro to get around and I paid $3.25 for a month’s worth of rides. We also paid $15.00 each way for a transfer from and to Taipei’s airport.
Street food galore! Our main reason for being in Taipei was to eat, and because we didn’t really have much of a kitchen in our apartment, we ate out for every meal. There were lots of date nights, lots of visits to international restaurants, and many, many wanders around the night market. Western breakfasts in cute coffee shops were around $7, lunches at restaurants in shopping malls and international restaurants around our neighbourhood were roughly $10 each, and our evening meals were predominantly from Tonghua night market and were around $4 a meal.
I spent $650 on food for the month.
All of our activities (mostly hiking in the nearby mountains, walking in parks, and wandering around markets) were completely free in the city!
And that’s how much it costs to travel in Taipei! To summarise, these are my daily costs for these different travel styles (so that means only my share of the accommodation is included):
Solo backpacker on a tight budget: $22.22 per day
As part of a couple on a mid-range budget: $34.71 per day
As part of a couple based in Taipei for a month: $50.03 per day
And if the affordable prices aren’t enough to convince you to visit, check out my post about why Taiwan is my favourite country to give yourself a nudge towards booking your flight.
Have you been to Taiwan? How did my travel expenses stack up against yours?
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💗 Why Taiwan is My Favourite Place in the World
👯♀️ Taiwan Has the Friendliest People in the World
🧳 How to Pack for a Trip to Taiwan
🏙 26 Incredible Things to Do in Taipei, Taiwan
🇹🇼 The Incredible Temples of Lotus Pond, Taiwan
🎀 Tickled Pink at the Barbie Cafe in Taipei
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Love the three different scenarios!
I’m surprised it cost the most to be based in one place! Just out of interest how to you keep track of your daily spending? Do you use an app or are you just meticulous at writing everything down?
I need to track most of it for taxes anyway (as a travel writer, my travel expenses count as business expenses), so I usually type everything up in a spreadsheet on my laptop at the end of the week/whenever I remember. Sometimes I use Trail Wallet, but I forget to use it a lot, so it’s mostly just an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop.
I like the different categories of budget breakdown you provided in this post! Also, a colleague of mine is in Taiwan right now and she’s sending pictures every now and then: what an incredibly gorgeous country! I can’t believe why it wasn’t properly on my radar before!
Thanks! :-) One of the greatest things about Taiwan is that it’s not really known as much of a tourist destination, so when you do visit, the locals are so excited to see you in their country :-)
I loved how you did this post in the different budget categories!
I’ve never been to Taiwan but everyone I know who has been there loved it!
Thank you! :-)
Went in Taiwan last April for ten days. I loved it so much. I wasn’t even going to consider it but I had to visit my Taiwanese friends. They showed me around, made me taste the best food, helped me book activities and were generally the best hosts. The food ohmygod so may options and so good and loving the coffee culture that’s developing. I will go back again for sure.
Isn’t it such an amazing country?! :-)
Dude I’m sold. This looks awesome. I haven’t been to Asia (except for Turkey), and I travel with my dog so it seriously complicated trip planning. But I’m defintely going to research if this is feasible for me (plus dog).
Yay! My work here is done :-)
I have read all your posts about Taiwan and the country has made it to the top of my Places To Visit list because it sounds totally awesome! Thanks for the detailed budget information, I always like to know how much I can expect to spend in a country.
Yay!! I’m so happy to hear that! :-)
I was very impressed with this information. Unfortunately, when I have used your link to the hostel you said cost you $27.28 the site shows $80 or more…So, some other expenses you wrote looked a bit too less than it is in reality. I reality would like to travel to Taiwan, but still can’t make up my mind. You have amazing information on all your blogs. I loooove all of them and wish you the best and safest travel time. Thank you very much.
Yeah, the Airbnb owner offers a monthly discount of around 50% off the daily rate for those who stay long-term. And as I said in the post, the $27.28 was my share.
Hi Lauren. Nice info, and really useful, especially since you seem way better at keeping track of your expense than i am (i do a status of assets every quarter :-) )
Since you are looking at adding these regularly, could i suggest a couple of additional info which would be useful, for comparison: first the year of each scenario, and maybe time of year), so inflation can be added (if i look at your Flip Flop hostel price, current cost from your link is 50% higher), and each compared properly.
I assume you are using US$ but maybe a note. In this case it’s obviously not NT$ because of the magnitude, but it makes things easier for the reader, if you get in country with not so obvious difference AU$, NZ$, CA$, BZ$ etc.
As a solo traveller i do appreciate that you differentiate the solo, vs couple scenarios as this as many impacts and allows me to adjust the info.
thanks again for all your work…
Thanks for your suggestions.
Good suggestions – I had the identical questions about how old the prices were.
Great summary, though, and nice to see a variety of travel styles clearly spelled out for comparison.
Not super old — I was last in Taiwan in 2016 and updated the prices in this post a couple of weeks ago to ensure they’re accurate.
well it has always been in my list and after reading your blog it seems like i can visit it soon. Thanks a lot for such a clear budget description.
Glad you found it useful, Sahil! :-)
This is great – we’ve been inspired by your love of Taiwan to visit as part of our round the world trip and will be arriving in March, can’t wait! just wanted to ask what your absolute top highlights from Taiwan have been? We only have a couple of weeks so want to make sure we don’t miss any of the best spots. Thanks :)
Hi Lauren!! Thanks for sharing your post on Taiwan – my bf and I are going in April this year for 9 days (not including travel) and cannot wait!! We are just debating about making Taipei the base for the whole time or take the first 4 nights in Taipei then maybe do a couple of days cycling possibly on the east coast or just a few days somewhere else in the north region. In your opinion for a first timer to Taiwan – could 9 days being based in Taipei with day trips cover a variety of activities? We like hiking, biking, city activities but def lots of nature! Thanks in advance :) Kira
Honestly, either would be a great option! But yep, nine days based in Taipei would allow you to hop around and do lots of day trips in nearby regions. Public transport is fast and efficient, which makes it easy to get around.
Went to Taiwan last year and it was an awesome experience! I enjoyed reading through your article, brings back a lot of great memories. This will be very helpful to travelers looking at Taiwan as their next destination. :)
Thanks, Agness! :-)
You inspired me to visit Taiwan. I just made up my mind and booked a flight, luckily there’s a budget airline that cost me $40 for a roundtrip airline promo ticket (mla-taipei-mla). My travel will be on September, I hope I could catch a nice autumn view.
I’m so happy to hear that, Lerma! I hope you have a wonderful time there :-)
We are now visa free in Taiwan starting June. Nice! I’ll be there this June. Although I applied for tourist eVisa last month and paid for it. If I only knew we will be visa-free this June lol.
Ah, that’s such good news for you! Where are you from?
My friend and I booked our flights for Taiwan (from Canada) today! :) I’ll spend 3 weeks with her, and then 3 weeks on my own. (I am a solo travel blogger after all!)
I’m thinking of basing myself in Taipei and getting some work done for those last 3 weeks. And that part will be over Chinese New Year, so not sure what to expect… I’m bookmarking your post in any case. Thanks!
Yay! I know you’ll have a wonderful time there :-) And six weeks is a great amount of time to spend in the country, even if it’s just basing yourself in Taipei and working.
Informative post! I’ll be going to Taiwan soon for my second visit and though I’ll be staying with friends this helped point me in the right direction for my budget. Thank you!
Hope you have a lovely time in Taiwan! :-)
Fantastic and detailed post, thank you! Heading to Taiwan at the end of the year and looking to recreate the first trip you took :)
Amazing! You’ll have a fantastic time :-)
Any Idea about car hire. medium car suitable for beach equipment Lauren? Thanks you all the information by the way :)
Ah, sorry. I’ve never rented a car in Taiwan.
Oh my goodness $22 a day! That’s just amazing and divine street food as well. Hopefully hitting Taiwan next year, thanks for the tips.
Sweet! You’ll love it there :-)
Thanks LAUREN for wonderful blog, Keep sharing.
Hi Lauren! I have plans of going to Taiwan too. In fact, I was looking for a budget fare. Thanks for sharing! I’ll read from time to time.
Great informative article! Thanks. We have plans of going to Taiwan in November. I checked airbnb room houses and all the rate/price says “(the published price) per night” .Is this price per person per night or per room per night basis? There will be two of us travelling.
I tried to contact a airbnb seller to ask but he just replied with a total computation based on number of nights. So I still don’t know.
Airbnb lists the price of the room per night.
Hey Lauren, I loved your posts about Taiwan! I am part Taiwanese and I am looking forward to learn more about my family’s culture when I visit for two weeks in early October. I plan to visit Taipei, Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan Forest, Taroko Gorge, and Shifen and Jiufen. I originally wanted to plan a budget of $100 US dollars a day but I am inspired by how little you had to spend and how much you were able to save for the rest of your stay there! I am more into nature, eating at night markets, and looking for free or almost free attractions so this was perfect! Any advice you could give before I head on my travels?
Great post! I’m about to relocate to Taipei for several months, this is a great guide to living/traveling cheap! Can’t wait!
I just have one question. How is it possible that you only spent $3.25 for a month’s worth of Metro rides, when the cheapest fares are NT20 one way via MRT, NT15 by bus, or NT1280 for the new 30-day pass.
I can’t figure how one could possibly spend less than $30-40 US for a month of Metro rides…
Oh, just because I’m a big walker and really enjoyed the neighbourhood I was in, so spent the majority of my time there. I probably only took the metro 3 or 4 times over that month and walked everywhere else :-)
My son would like to study abroad in Taiwan next year. I began looking at flights and came up with ones that costs more than $5000. Is that the norm? Any recommendations on airlines? He would be flying out of Houston.
Definitely not! I wouldn’t expect to pay more than about $500. What dates are you looking for? Take a look at Skyscanner to get the best prices and Secret Flying to see if there are any deals. There’s currently a flight from NYC to Taipei for $500 return for early next year for example: https://www.secretflying.com/posts/new-york-taipei-taiwan-426-roundtrip/
Thank you! He is hoping to be there next Sept-Jan
Those tours all look amazing but as a solo traveler it doesn’t seem like a can book most of them. Or at least it seems like the cost will drastically increase. Is there anyway to book them once there and join a group? The food tour especially seems awesome but I’d hate to pay the private tour price.
I was born and raised (mostly) in Taiwan. I’m so glad that you had such a great experience there! :) I left home when I was 16 and have been trying to visit once a year every since. The food is unbelievable :D
Taiwan always be no 1 of my bucket list. Reading your blog make me want go there as soon as possible. But I need to complete other plan first and maybe on 2020 I will go there
I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you :-)
Hi, thanks so much – I sortof had the same thoughts as you on whether there was enough to do in Taiwan so you have convinced me! It sounds amazing! And I love that it’s relatively cheap! Do you think it’s safe as a solo female traveller? Also they had a big earthquake when I was planning to go last time so am a bit nervous – any thoughts?
HI Lauren – great article. I’m planning on going here with my boyfriend next week so about 3 weeks and what probably fall under this range “A month travelling as part of a couple in mid-range-priced guesthouses, and averaged $35 a day”.
What currency have you provided the budget in? And is that per person or for the both of you?
Interesting blog on taiwan and very insightful. Will be visiting Taipei and Kaohsuing in three weeks time, any tips on local cuisine places to try and must see places will be helpful. Thank you.
Hi Lauren! Thank you for sharing great tips! I love that you included the expenses…huge help! I’ll be visiting Taiwan next year and I’ve been saving money so I have enough budget on my trip!