The Broke Student's Guide To Maximising Your First Trip To Taipei In 5 Days

by - December 25, 2019

Taipei has always been a place I wanted to visit because it's affordable, has great food, great culture, and friendly people. I finally got the chance to go this year with the boyfie and some of his friends, and I'd say it was my favourite visited country of 2019!

Unfortunately, we only had time to fit in 5 days for Taipei, as I had to go for another trip after that. I did have an itinerary planned before the trip, which included bucket lists, must-go night markets, shopping, meeting friends, and clubbing - and I planned to do all these within a S$800 budget.

Our budget for the entire trip was S$2000 for the two of us, inclusive of our Scoot flight tickets (S$700) and Airbnb (S$416).

With that, here's a list of things we did which may help you plan your own trip to Taipei - all planned according to location! Do keep in mind that this was my first trip there, so most of the places we chose were rather touristy. However, there are also lots to do in these touristy places, so I've tried my best to narrow down the best things to do and best food to eat while you're there!

Note: My boyfriend and I need a lot of sleep, so we allocated an average of 2-3 activities a day to ensure that we will get at least 8 hours of sleep everyday! So for those of you who believe sleep is for the weak, you'll be able to add another 1-2 places to each day :)

Day 1

We took an early morning flight and landed 6 in the morning at Taipei Taoyuan Airport. As we were in Taipei during the first week of December, the weather was freezing (around 19°) and we had to layer ourselves with sweaters and winter jackets.

Our Taipei Airbnb

Our Airbnb was located in Xi Men Ding, and cost S$415.66 for 4 nights. We got a cute "London" concept loft (because my boyfriend really wanted it LOL), which was super cosy and only a 3 minute walk from Xi Men Station. The loft was located in this hotel-looking building with a lobby and receptionist, and came with all the basic amenities. There were also coin laundry machines and dryers on every level so you could also do your laundry for S$2.

Shop and eat at Xi Men Ding

Xi Men Ding takes the crown for the most touristy place in Taipei, but I absolutely loved it. Here, we got to do our brows, try all the different bubble stores, shop, eat street food, and even witness police raid illegal food vendors - twice! We spent most of our money here at this shop called "Fifty Percent", which had many trendy and affordable clothes. Do give the shop if a visit if you find yourself in Xi Men Ding!

Take aesthetic photos for the 'gram at Zhong Xiao Dun Hua

Think of Zhong Xiao Dun Hua as Taipei's equivalent of Tokyo's Harajuku; there are plenty of shops selling clothes and jewellery from local brands, with a few cafes for tired shoppers to rest their feet. While we initially came here to shop, we came a little bit too early and the shops weren't even open yet, so we went around the empty street taking pictures. Some advice - don't come before 11am because there won't be any shops open for business at that time!

Eat where you shit at the Modern Toilet Restaurant

Dining at a toilet restaurant has always been on my bucket list, and after failing to accomplish it while I was in Tokyo and Bangkok (because they closed down, sobs), I was super determined to visit this one in Taipei. Taipei's Modern Toilet Restaurant is located near the Shilin Night Market, so you can choose to have an early dinner here before continuing your food journey at Shilin.

The Modern Toilet Restaurant was everything I wanted it to be from the toilet bowl seats to poopy dishes, and I was really surprised that the food tasted really good and not like shit, ha ha. The food cost about S$15 per person for a set meal with soup and dessert, but it is very affordable for a themed-cafe. There also weren't many people there, and most of the diners were tourists.

Try the XXL chicken, watermelon milk juice and play games at Shilin Night Market

After dinner, we headed to Shilin Night Market to continue eating. We tried the famous Shilin XXL chicken, soup noodles, watermelon milk juice, and mentaiko fries, all which were absolutely delicious and came in really big portions. We didn't do much shopping as we felt like most of the things here were quite overpriced, so we focused on eating and played some carnival games. I even brought home a small prize that night!

Day 2

Try the best soy milk in Taipei - Yong He Dou Jiang

I was never really a soy milk fan, but I have to say that Yong He Dou Jiang has made me a believer. The shop specialises in their soy milk and you tiao, and they're only open for breakfast and supper. The queues here are also pretty long all day every day, so do come mentally prepared to queue and squeeze in tiny tables with other tourists. Honestly, the you tiao and xiao long bao that we ordered were pretty meh, but the soy milk was warm, heavenly and just sweet enough. Whether you like soy milk or not, this place is a must-try.

Explore more food and see the beautiful hilltop scenery at Jiu Fen Old Street

If you're a fan of "Spirited Away", you'd be fangirling all the way from the start to the end of Jiu Fen Old Street. Apparently, Jiu Fen was the inspiration for the Japanese anime, which will explain all the "No Name" memorabilia that you will see at almost every shop. One wont need to wonder why the creator was so intrigued by this place, especially once you reach Jiu Fen's lookout point overseeing the lake and traditional wooden houses. It is incredibly beautiful.

The food here is great too, and we tried the grilled mushrooms, peanut ice cream and famous Lai Ah Po Yu Yuan. You can also write a letter to yourself at Jiu Fen and have it mailed to your future self!

Note: To beat the tourist crowd at the lookout, just walk a little further down left, off the beaten path where you can see a similar view without tourists photo-bombing your shot!

Make a wish and release floating lanterns at Shi Fen

Floating lanterns are beautiful and it is even more beautiful when you're releasing them together with those you love by your side. This experience in Shi Fen was definitely one of the highlights of my Taipei trip, and was also on my bucket list.

While it was raining when we arrived, my friends and I were determined to get a lantern in the sky. We just headed to a random shop that offered the service from S$5-S$10, wrote down our wishes in calligraphy ink and went out into the rain. The wind was strong and the rain poured, but together we lifted our lantern into the sky and it shoot off like a rocket.

Most people come in the evening for photos, but I'd say that releasing them at night made the experience even more beautiful.

Day 3

Fu Hong Beef Noodle

On day 3, my boyfriend and I toh-ed so bad that we only woke up around 5pm. As it was raining for 3 days in a row, we decided to get something soupy. A quick search on Google Maps showed us the top beef noodle restaurants around the vicinity, and Fu Hong Beef Noodle had 4.2 stars out of 9,816 Google Reviews. From Xi Men Ding, we walked about 10 minutes and found ourselves at the small shop and quickly settled in.

We ordered two bowls, one small and one large which cost less than S$5 each. I absolutely loved the beef chunks as they were juicy and the most tender that I've even eaten. The soup was also extremely flavourful and we finished the entire bowl without leaving a single drop. The shop also offers free refreshments, but you probably wont need it since the soup will fill you up!

Get free flow ice cream and beer at Tian Wai Tian Mala Steamboat

If you love mala, Tian Wai Tian Mala Steamboat is the place for you! At about S$25 per person, you can eat anything you want for 2 hours - including free flow beer and ice cream! As my friends and I were planning to club later that night, we felt that this place was the best place to eat up and drink up. Truly enough, all our faces were red and flushed by the end of the night!

The food was also great, with an array of seafood, meat, vegetables, and dessert. The mala was a bit too spicy for my liking as I'm used to the Singaporean "小辣", but it was still delicious and we slurped it all up. Also, it's best to make a reservation as this place is always fully booked.

Rave to sick beats at Wave Club

Clubbing is Taipei isn't too expensive, and it is possible to find one without spending too much money and waking up the next day with a bad hangover and empty wallet. We decided to go to Wave as they had reasonable cover charges and free flow drinks that night. The cover charge rates can be seen here.

I enjoyed my first clubbing experience in Taipei because the people aren't too rowdy and were generally polite - even when drunk. The music at Wave was so-so, but the lights were pretty nice and I spent most of my time admiring it! The club is also quite big, and the queue for the free-flow drinks is very fast. Overall, I rate it a 7/10.

Day 4

Do cheap shopping at Wu Fen Pu

I really enjoyed Wu Fen Pu because it was so big and there were so many clothes to buy! While most think that shopping is usually for guys, Wu Fen Pu had a great selection of male clothes and left my boyfie spoilt for choice. However, female clothes are definitely cheaper and easier to find.

I bought a few skirts, jeans, and tops, and tried to haggle for the best price. The sellers were very polite and it didn't seem as they wanted to rip you off, unlike many sellers you'd find in places like Bali. After all that shopping, I still had a lot of money left for the rest of the night!

Try endless street food at Raohe Night Market

I have to say that my favourite night market was the Raohe Night Market. Super squeezy? Yes. Super crowded? Yes. Super good food? Yes Yes Yes.

I was lucky that the weather was cool and pleasant, so I could roam around without feeling sticky or being caught under the sweaty underarms of a backpacker. We ate so much that night - coffin bread, fried soft shell crab, beef noodle soup (Chang's Beef Noodle Shop), braised pork rice bowl, pork pepper buns, fruit juice (超大杯), aiyu jelly, thai milk tea, and so on. It took about 2 hours for us to finish exploring the whole market.

Note: It gets really crowded in the beginning of the night market, but it gets better towards the end. Also, it's best to buy food from a few stalls, walk to one side and finish eating it, and then walk back into the crowd and continue on so you can really enjoy the food in peace.

Day 5

Go cafe hopping at Yong Kang Food Street

We didn't have much time on the last day, so my boyfriend and I just decided to walk around Yong Kang Food Street and look for things to eat and do. We spent most of our time at Angel Cafe which had amazing mentaiko pasta, and ldid some earring shopping later.

Most people know that Yong Kang Food Street is known for the world's first ever Din Tai Fung. What they don't know is that just beside Din Tai Fung is Toasteria Cafe which serves the best Mediterranean food I've ever tasted. The entire meal cost S$40 for the two of us, and we enjoyed amazing cheese toast, hummus, and pasta. The restaurant also has 4 levels, and had an amazing view. Rest assured we left for the airport with happy stomachs!

Note: You can walk to Taipei 101 from Yong Kang Street!

You can enjoy on a budget in Taipei!

Taipei was really a great experience for me, and honestly 5 days weren't enough. There is so much to do, and it's no wonder some people come back time and time again. Thing were so affordable, and the people were so nice and polite! The best thing was that we didn't even use all our cash, and had about S$150 left at the end of the trip.

I think one big factor that made this trip so affordable was the weather, as it is really cool and chilly in December. So if you're looking for an affordable place to go in December, do put Taipei on the top of your list.

Love this post? Feel free to share and comment below or check out my other travel review to Bangkok here.

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