Taiwan may seem like a hard-to-reach, exotic destination, especially since it's a tropical island. As one of the Four Asian Tigers, the country boasts a high-growth economy which could make travelers think it's expensive. Fortunately, that's not entirely true--Taiwan can be completely budget-friendly. A seven-day vacation in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, can be affordable if travelers plan their trip the right way. Read on to find out how to see Taiwan and stay within budget.


Getting Around On Budget

Taiwan is roughly the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined. Since it is an island, the only ways to get there are by airplane or boat. There are several ferry services from mainland China, but these routes could prove more complicated (and expensive) for English-speaking travelers. Flying is the most straightforward and quickest way to get there. The northern tip of the island is the most densely populated area and the location of Taipei, New Taipei City, and Taoyuan. Taoyuan, around 40 minutes to the west of Taipei, is home to the country's busiest international airport.

related: Here's What Travelers Should Know Before Any First-Time Trip To Taiwan

People hoping to visit Taiwan will need to research flights if they want to get a good deal. The air ticket there will most likely be the largest expense, so lowering this amount can make the whole vacation more affordable. According to Kayak November, December, and January are peak times to fly there, so budget travelers should avoid these months. Instead, they should try to visit the island in March when flights are the cheapest. Generally, flights from the US to Taiwan cost around $1100, but people can get tickets for as little as $650. All the prices in this article are in USD.

  • Round trip flight to Taoyuan International Airport: $650-$1100

Upon arrival, travelers can easily take public transportation--either city buses or the metro--from the airport to Taipei. Most travelers who've visited Taiwan say that the airport's information desk is extremely helpful in giving them the bus route number they need to get nearest to their hotels. The trip will last about an hour and a half and costs around $7.

  • Round trip to and from Taoyuan Airport: $14

Taipei is famous for its fantastic public transportation and travelers should take advantage of it. The city has a network of buses, the metro--called the MRT--, and a bike-share program named YouBike. The MRT and city buses cost about the same amount. The fares depend on the distance traveled, but often they are less than $1.80. Metro riders can get a fare card at stations or 7-11s throughout the city and then add a balance to them. Visitors to the city can rent bikes through YouBike with their credit cards. The cost is about $1 per hour. Users should return bikes within the indicated boundary and in fewer than four hours to avoid expensive fees.

  • Four metro rides per day for seven days: $50.40
  • Seven bike rentals through YouBike: $7

Buses and trains will also take travelers longer distances, for example to the gorgeous Yangmingshan National Park. The bus to this destination costs around $15. Buses to the Beitou hot springs area cost around $5.

  • Roundtrip bus trips to two destinations near Taipei: $40

Total cost of transportation: $761.40-$1211.40

related: 10 Impressive & Unique Attractions That Will Make You Want To Plan A Trip To Taiwan

Where To Stay And Eat For Less

There's a huge selection of accommodation for travelers in Taipei. These may range from lowly hostels to five-star hotels. Solo travelers on a budget will want to reserve a bed in a shared room in a hostel. These cost around $20, but can be cheaper. Couples can get cheap hotel rooms for around $25 per person, which is $50 for a double. Often these hotels include breakfast, so sightseers won't have to worry about grocery shopping.

  • Seven nights in a budget hostel or hotel: $140-$175

The location of a hostel or hotel is extremely important to keeping costs down. It's vital to choose lodging near public transportation to avoid expensive taxi rides. Also, hostels and hotels should be near a grocery store or inexpensive restaurants to make meals easier.

Taipei is home to amazing night markets like Shi Lin Night Market, Raohe Night Market, and Ningxia Night Market. Hungry sightseers can try an amazing variety of Taiwanese street food here. The best part is that the food stands aren't expensive and the fare is delicious. People should expect to pay around $3 for a snack and $7 for a meal. Dining at restaurants with interior tables costs around $20 per person.

This budget for food includes $21 worth of groceries for breakfast during the week. Lunch, dinner, and afternoon snacks are from food stands. The budget allows travelers to eat three meals in restaurants.

  • Cost of food for seven days: $186

What To Do

Taipei is a busy city and there are thousands of things to do--picking which ones to fit into a seven-day tour is tough. Here's a list of eight places to visit.

  • Xiangshan (Elephant Mountain) - a park with hiking trails and observation points with fantastic views - free
  • Lungshan Temple - Taipei's most famous temple - free
  • Yangmingshan National Park - known for its hot springs, cherry blossoms, and volcano - free
  • Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall - a memorial to a Chinese president, has an impressive guard-changing ceremony - free
  • Lin Family Mansion and Garden - a museum with traditional garden architecture - free
  • Beitou hot springs area - Japanese built thermal resort - $2 to enter the bathing house
  • National Palace Museum - huge collection of Chinese art - admission fee $13
  • Taipei 101 - Taipei's tallest building - admission to observation deck $22

Cost of admission fees: $37

Travelers shouldn't forget to add another $200 or so for "their budget over the budget." Something always comes up or costs a little extra, so it's good to be prepared.

The Grand Total: $1324.40 - $1809.40

next: 10 Things You Can Only Do In Taipei, Taiwan