Taipei has always been my favourite place to visit. I went to visit Taipei at the end of October during autumn, and the temperature is just nice to walk and explore the cities. It is indeed a solo traveller city and here are tips & guides on how I did it.
One of the biggest expenses of the trip will be the flight. It will be long 5 hours flight and even the low-cost airlines offered not-so-low prices due to peak season in Taipei. To minimize the cost impact on my budget, I pick the earliest flight of the day and return with the latest flight of the day. The earliest will be 7.00 am from KUL-TPE and 11.30 pm TPE-KUL. This actually helps to save some of my money. Be flexible in your time and prepare to sleep overnight at the airport.
2. Area to Stay in Taipei
Few areas in Taipei are where most of the tourists stay. It varies according to the budget & your travel style as well. If you are into shopping, Zhongxiao East Road is the best option and for conveniences - of course, Taipei Main Station as it connects everywhere. In my case, if you solo traveller on a budget and keen to get a feel for the young vibe and lots of entertainment, you may choose to stay at Ximending Neighbourhood or "Harajuku of Taipei.”It's a vibrant area with a lot of street food, arts, cafes, colourful neon light and full of backpackers. Ximending is located in Wanhua District and has one MRT Station (Ximen) it's only one MRT station away from Taipei Main Station which is a plus. Ximending also homes to famous Red House and night markets. One of the reasons I choose Ximending as well as its location for Klook picks up location. So it's easy for you to travel if you use Klook. You don't have to spend more money to get to picks up locations
3. Activities Arrangement
Thanks to advanced technology nowadays, you can join group activities and tours as a solo traveller. Klook is one of the best options to be able to do activities which are beyond or far from the city. In this case, as most of the activities or places that I want to visit were on the outskirts of the cities, Klook made it possible for me to do so. You need to install the Klook apps and choose Taipei as the city> Choose DayTrip and pay. Kindly pay attention to where the pickup locations are. This is very important to ensure that your hotel/accommodation is near or has easy access.
To commute around the city or to the airport- MRT is the best way to do it. You only need Taipei Easy Card which you can buy at Aiport or Pre-buy via Klook and collect at the airport. You also can get the Easycard at all MRT stations and convenience stores such as 7/11 or FamilyMart generally for NT$100. With Taipei Easy Card allows passengers to conveniently ride the Taipei MRT or bus systems.
Taipei to me is pedestrian-friendly and walking on foot is possible and safe to do. For most of the location which is less than 2km, I would consider walking on foot. It saves money and you get to experience the city and more to see! I have never had the opportunity to rent a shared public bicycle at that time - YouBike; a public bicycle-sharing service offered by the Taipei City Department of Transportation. This could be an option as well to commute around Taipei City. The fee charged by the hour is NT$15 first 30 minutes.
5. Internet Access
These are essential items when you are a solo traveller. I heavily rely on the internet to ensure my daily travel goes smoothly from looking for info, follow-up trips & flights, bookings, safety or even translation if you need to. For this case, I use Pocket Wifi. Pocket WiFi is a small powerful device about the size of a mobile phone (in my case) that uses a SIM card to convert 4G signals into a secure WiFi connection. It is light and most importantly, UNLIMITED. I would recommend you pre-book your device before arrival via Klook and pick it up at Aiport. It cost roughly NT$50 per day. The Pocket Wifi connection and coverage are generally good. Even when I was out from Taipei City and up at the mountain, the connection was still good. Plus, the Pocket Wifi can connect up to 5 devices.
6. Money Changer/ Exchange Rate
The official currency of Taiwan is called the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$). Banknotes are issued in NT$100, NT$ 200, NT$500, NT$1000, and NT$2000 and coins come in NT$50, NT$10, NT$5, and NT$1. The currency exchange in Taiwan is strictly regulated by the government and therefore, the Money Changer is not spread everywhere like in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur or any other ASEAN city. There are very specific locations and only authorise businesses or banks can change your money. These are recommended locations if you want to change your money.
Taiwan Business Bank near Longshan Temple
Sinopac Bank near Longshan Temple
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi @Taipei Station
Pacific SOGO Branches
Breeze near Taipei Station
Bank offers the best exchange rate but the operation hours are limited, therefore the mall can be a good alternative too. You will be required to bring your passport or valid ID for a money exchange transaction.
7. Culture & Safety
Taiwan is still a conservative Asian country but progressing quite well compared to its neighbours. Generally, Taipei itself is safe when I was there. Although Taiwan ranked 2nd for the safest country in the world in 2020, does not mean you are 100% safe and can walk everywhere without precaution. Like any other country, there are several rules & practices you need to observe or follow. Obviously, general safety rules still apply like no flashing, walking alone in a dark alley or displaying inappropriate behaviour in public. Pickpocketing happens in most tourist areas, so be vigilant at all times. Respect religious & historical sites such as temples and museums by wearing modest attire and low down your voice. Remove your shoes before entering someone’s home. All in all, based on my personal experience, the Taiwanese are very helpful and friendly. I myself enjoy walking on the street of Taipei and enjoying the wonderful Autumn weather.
There you go, some of my solo travel tips that you might want to consider. Do check the relevant website for the price, and operation time updates. All in all, Taipei is highly recommended for solo travel.