Ni Hao Taiwan: Where We Stay with NT$ 1k Per Night

“Where to stay, how much” is one of the most asked travel-related questions. This blog post is about our accommodation in Taipei, Sun Moon Lake (SML) and Alishan, in April 2017. I spent a considerable amount of time and effort combing through accommodation options, so might as well benefit other travelers as well. Budget-wise, I tried keeping to THB 1,000 (around NT$ 900 / USD 30) per person, or THB 2,000 (NT$ 1.8k / USD 60) for two pax, per night. That was not an easy feat, as our itinerary covers the two most touristy places in Taiwan: SML and Alishan.

A little bit of background: We are not the “fussy” type of traveler and have pretty easy criteria, I would like to think. So long the place has is decent, clean and safe – let’s not sweat the small stuffs:

  • En-suite bathroom is a not a must; shared bathroom works for us.
  • No bed or frame, i.e. sleeping on floor on a mattress is alright.
  • Breakfast is also optional; no qualms to do without (free) breakfast if it keeps the rate low.
  • But ideally, the distance from Bus/MRT station should not exceed 10 minutes – this is important with our luggages on check-in/out day.

A few things to note:

  1. Do not be put off if  “the other side” can’t write in English. Some communications were limited to Chinese (groan!), and I relied on Google Translate. And it turned out to be really great stay – example 53 Backpackers
  2. What exactly is a minsu? Will the real minsu please stand up?  In my book, a minsu = small homestay with 3-5 rooms max, staying and interacting with local hosts, and all that jazz. Phew, we ticked all the boxes at David’s House. That was my fav stay.
  3. Do not take “lowest price guaranteed” promise blindly, as I found it cheaper booking through third party website. Always compare, compare and compare. Two places were booked on Airbnb platform, one through Agoda, another through Booking.com and one direct.
  4. Oh, and if you’re a coffee drinker – BYO. It’s a tea country after all. Only Formosa 101 and 53 Backpackers provide coffee – the rest provide tea sachets!

Altogether, we spent THB 12,588 / NT$ 11,115 for our 6 nights stay for 2 pax in Taiwan – average THB 1,049 / NT$ 926 per person per night (or THB 2,098 / NT$ 1,853 for two pax). Rate indicated below is based on 2 pax:

THB

NT $

1) Taipei
– K-House (Airbnb)

1 night

2,081

1,838

Formosa 101 (Agoda)*

2 nights

2,988

2,638

(THB 1,494 / NT$ 1,319 per night)

2) Sun Moon Lake
Love Home Garden Inn (booking.com)

1 night

1,835

1,620

3) Alishan
– David’s House (Airbnb)*

1 night

3,645

3,219

– 53 Backpackers (Direct)*

1 night

2,039

1,800

Total

6 nights

12,588

11,115

 
Average  

2,098

1,853

* Breakfast included

Taipei

We stayed in 2 different places in Taipei: the first one is for one night at Ximending area and the second one for two nights at Taipei 101 area (15-20 minutes walk).

#1 – K-House via Airbnb : THB 2,081 for 1 night (NT$ 1,838)

Our flight from Bangkok was scheduled to depart past midnight, and landing into Taoyuan International Airport past 5am. Having experienced horrendous flight timing like this before, I had my reservations about not getting sleep on the flight. Early check-in means a lot everything to us. I also wanted to stay somewhere not too far away from Taipei Main Station, as the plan was to travel out from Taipei on the very next day.

K-House

Kashiwa, the host is too nice for me to NOT to stay at K -House, plus the location at Ximen is perfect: one station away from Taipei Main Station. After hearing about my flight schedule, he/she (I have no idea of the gender of my host haha) blocked the apartment the night before my stay. We agreed with a minimal additional NT$200 (THB 226 / USD 6.50) for early check-in. But after finding out that the final cost payable to Airbnb is USD 60 for one night, I was allowed the early check-in at no additional cost. Too expensive already, I was told. Awww …

For the uninitiated, Airbnb hosts are not privy to final payable cost to Airbnb, due to additional Airbnb service fee. Stated here that “Guest service fees are typically 6-12% but can be higher or lower depending on the specifics of the reservation. The higher the subtotal, the lower the percentage so you can save money when booking large reservations.” Example: 1,866 THB (USD 54) + 215 THB (USD 6/NT$189) Airbnb fee = final cost increased to 2,081 THB (USD60).

Other hosts that I checked with gave me a non-committal answer for early check-in, and one blatantly told me pay for 2 nights.

Not the nicest-looking building
Long walkway full of rooms ..
A small, but compact room
And view from the room is superb

A (first) good stay makes or breaks your holiday … this place definitely gave a great kickstart to our holiday.

KH – initial for Kashiwa Huang
Hard bed for me

Even though the bed is hard for me, but I had no trouble sleeping … and being able to catch up on our sleep before we start exploring Taipei – that rejuvenated us, and I had to thank Kashiwa for that.

Bath tub in a small bathroom
How cute 🙂
My long-winded review

My review on Airbnb says all I’ve gotta say.

Thank you Kashiwa!

K House is located at Changsha Street Sec. 2(長沙街二段). Nearest MRT: Ximen, Exit 1 (less than 5 minutes walk).

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14158525

#2 – Formosa 101 Hostel: THB 2,988.06 for 2 nights (NT$ 2,638)

Building entrance
Formosa 101
Small but sufficient space for us

Our second accommodation is after our trips to Sun Moon Lake and Alishan, and I chose Formosa 101 hostel. As I’ve exceed budget in Alishan, I decided to stay cheap after our return to Taipei, before our flight home. On Formosa 101’s website, it says that they guarantee lowest price by booking a room directly from their website; better deal than any other booking website. But I found that booking via Agoda is cheaper! Standard room with shared bathroom on Formosa 101’s website is NT $1500, versus Agoda NT $1,319.

Self-service pantry
Brekkie spread
Toasting bagel

This hostel is ah-mazing! Good breakfast spread – bagel for brekkie, so-important freshly brewed coffee, easygoing staff … room was small but comfy. I couldn’t ask for more ..

Female shared bathroom
Shower cubicle
Sanitary napkin provided too

Shared bathrooms are kept clean. There are only 2 shower and 2 toilet cubicles – but I never had to wait. I was amazed to find that they even provided sanitary napkins in the female bathroom.

Washer & dryer available too
Washer’s instruction in English, thank god
It took an engineer to figure out how to slot in the coins

We also used their washer (NT$ 30, 32 minutes wash) and dryer (NT$40, took around 50-55 minutes).

Postbox at Formosa 101

We kept our baggage after check-out, and they allowed shower after check-out without any fuss. A very chillax hostel, and 101% recommended!

5th Floor, No. 115 Keelung Rd. Sec. 2 (No. 115, 基隆路二段) Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110
Tel: +886 955 780 359
Website: http://www.hostelformosa.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/formosa101taipei/
Email: hostelformosa101@gmail.com
Nearest MRT: Taipei 101/World Trade Center (Red Line) / Liuzhangli (Brown Line)

Kali Inn

I also shortlisted #3 – Kali Inn台北加州客棧, but unfortunately it was full. Their Double Room with Shared Bathroom costs THB 1,355/night via booking.com.

95-3 ,Guangzhou Street, 2nd Floor, Wanhua District, Taipei City 108 Taiwan 108台北市萬華區廣州街95-32
Tel: +886 2-2302-1237
Website: www.kaliinn.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thekaliinn/
Email: kaliinn510@gmail.com
Nearest MRT: Longshan Temple (Blue Line)

 

Sun Moon Lake (日月潭)

#1 – Love Home Garden Inn (日月潭愛之屋旅店庭園館) – THB 1,835 for 1 night (NT$ 1,620)

SML is not huge, but after 5pm, there are no more public transportations. I was toying with staying at Shui She, or Ita Thao or Taoshe. But since we were to leave early morning on the next day, I decided to book a place at Shui She itself. I am glad to report that there were restaurants and shops opened till as late as 8-9pm on a Sunday.

Love Home Garden Inn
Lobby

Since I was given free hand in securing accommodations, I booked Love Home Garden Inn partly to take the piss out of bf …. imagine him telling his friends that he stayed in a place called Love Home? Haha, I managed to keep it a secret until we step our footprints in SML. Muahaaa …

Big room for 2 of us
2x Double mattress on floor
It comes with a balcony too

Well, I was expecting a costly stay in this tourist town – so booking a cheap place was unexpected. I booked a Standard double room with en-suite bathroom, without breakfast via Booking.com, as the rate is cheaper. Our Double room turned out to be a quadruple room.

Less than 5 mins walk from Shuishe Visitor Ctr
Bus to Alishan

Location is perfect: located less than 5 minutes walk from bus station located in front of Shuishe Visitor Center. This is an important public transportation hub, where we were dropped off from SML and also the waiting point for bus to Alishan.

Disposable towel vs normal towel

There were comments in Trip Advisor about paper towel provided at Love Home Garden Inn. But staff checked whether we are ok, and then brought us “normal” bath towel. Bf tested the disposable towel, and said that he needed two pieces to completely dry his body. I silently replied in my head that I will probably just need 1 piece haha.

To wash that specific part of the body, geddit?

Shower gel for a specific part of the body?

No. 196, Zhongshan Road, Yuchi, 55541, Taiwan 中山路196, 魚池, 55541
Tel: +886 492856528
Website: http://love-home.okgo.tw/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.love.391
Available through Line booking Line ID: 0492856528 

SML SanGeYu Hostel

My first choice was #2 – Sun Moon Lake SanGeYu Hostel, listed on Airbnb’s platform .. but their “far-flung” location + our short stay just doesn’t cut it. If you have two nights at SML, do consider this traditional “earth house”, staying with local grandparents. SanGeYua Courtyard house was built in the Qing dynasty – the main building was built using of mud and straw, brick by brick. After a hundred year, it is still standing tall! A double room only costs THB 1,565, but please do not expect anything fancy.

At Shuishe Visitor Centre, take a bus across from the police station. After 10-15 minutes of bus ride, get off at the next police station at Toushe. Walk across the police station to get off along the left side of the road on the right and walk about 15-20 minutes. It was the 15-20 minutes walk that put me off, because of our luggage. The host 拉蜜 told me that it costs NT$300-500 for a taxi ride from Shuishe Visitor Centre to SanGeYu hostel.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1384665

 

Alishan (阿里山)

Alishan’s booking was the most challenging: expensive accommodation and Alishan is a big area. We also had to rely on public bus, since we did not drive.

Alishan Shuttle Bus Route

We stayed in 2 different accommodations:

#1 – David’s House at Xiding booked via Airbnb: THB 3,645 for 1 night (NT$ 3,219)

If only this is cheaper, I would have booked it for 2 nights. But well … 

David’s parents tea shop and David’s house
We stayed here, across the street

This is the one and only “real” homestay this trip, so I guess it is worth the money splurged. Imagine people spending their moolahs on 5-star hotel, yet I rather it goes to an experiential stay with a local family. That says a lot about my priorities, huh?

It took us 1 hour and 10 minutes from Alishan Park to David’s House, alighting at Xiding stop. After check-out, we managed to take a bus directly to Fenchihu, rather than a transfer at Shizhuo.

Another 2x Double bed for us .. it comes with a love swan LOL
Spacious en-suite bathroom

David’s House has 3 rooms altogether – I booked this room as it is the cheapest, and it fits 4 pax.

Tea appreciation ceremony by Mr Chen and Aunty Liu
Aiyu jelly making activity
Aiyu jelly made by bf and I
Aunty Liu serving home-cooked porridge breakfast
Our yummy porridge breakfast

I enjoyed myself interacting with David’s parents, and also the French family who stayed in the “main house”. Everything about this place is so ah-mazing!

My even longer review
.. and it continues ..

My review on Airbnb says all I wanted to say – two thumbs up to the amazing host.

David’s House

David’s house is at Gongtian Village, Xiding(隙頂), next to Xiding (隙頂) bus stop and nearby Xiding Elementary School (隙頂國小)

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/10255557

#2 – 53 Backpackers: THB 2,039 for 1 night (NT$ 1,800) 

53 Backpackers
53.1 Minsu

53 Backpackers (53旅人館民宿) is a cheaper alternative to 53.1 minsu, both belong to the same owner and located across from each other. Liaising with them was interesting: I managed to book direct with them, via FB messenger. In Chinese. Thank you, Google Translate.

53 Backpackers was full on our first night at Alishan- so, it was like a blessing in disguise that we get to stay at David’s House. And they are just 2.5 KM apart – David’s mom even sent our luggages to 53 Backpackers after we checked out from his place. FOC.

53 Backpackers’s stop is Anding (隙頂), located approximately 2.5 KM away from No.7 Xiding stop – so, keep your eyes and ears open for the station announcement on the bus. Coming from Alishan’s direction, you need to cross the street to get to 53 Backpackers. The place is located at a basement, very cozy and homey. Getting to 53 Backpackers from Fenchihu, we paid NT$ 150 per person on a shared van. The other two passengers were heading to Chiayi TRA.

A basement stay
So homey and cozy
Wish it’s my home
Viewing platform at the back

There are 5 rooms at 53 Backpackers, and each room has a dining table provided – breakfast will be placed on the table by 7.30am. You can also catch sunrise in the morning, before breakfast at the viewing platform at the back of the house.

Double mattress on floor
With attached bathroom

Mattress on floor, just like Sun Moon Lake.

Brekkie provided

Breakfast was egg burger with chips and coffee made by bf … 🙂

Face towel for body

They provide face towel for body .. and they gave me a look, err .. is there any problem? Haha. Well, it is indeed sufficient to dry the body, but body-wrapping is not possible lah.

Sea of clouds

Their staff alerted us to the sea cloud visibility when we wanted to check out, and we managed to take photos just across our hostel, at the viewing platform of Eryanping Trail. Gobsmacked!

No. 77, Gongtian Village, Fanlu Township, Chiayi Country 602 Taiwan 
Tel: 05 2586400 / 09 79365833
Website (under maintenance?): http://www.seeding53.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seeding53/
Email: seeding531@gmail.com 

(Update Aug 2017: Their FB page may have been removed; try emailing them instead)

Other places which I considered:

#3 – Alishan Lauya Homestay (阿里山神禾) is only 30 mins drive from Alishan Forest Park, and their Economy Double Room only costs NT$ 2,600. But it was not available on our travel date. Their bus stop is ShangHuDi station (上湖底站) in front of their door and all buses to Alishan Forest Park can stop at their homestay.

Alishan Lauya Homestay (阿里山神禾)
No.301-3, Leye , Leye Village, Alishan Township, Chiayi Country, 605 Taiwan
Website: http://www.lauya.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauya.Alishan/
Email:18654k@gmail.com 

#4 – Tea Cloud B&B (茶雲居民宿) is a tea house stay, and is conveniently located at Shizhou, the transit for bus to Fenchihu.

Double room costs NT$ 3,000 , but I thought that the place looks too commercialize, and I prefer cozy homestay.

嘉義縣阿里山鄉樂野村4116-2
Tel:05-2562886 / 0922277556 Line:@yhm6939z
Website: http://www.tea-cloud.com.tw
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChaYunJuminSu?fref=ts
Email: Mr Liu – adliu@hotmail.com

 

If you are new to Airbnb and Booking.com, here are my referral links:

Airbnb: www.airbnb.com/c/ykoh23

Booking.com: https://www.booking.com/s/yee0li12 THB 550 for you and your friends! “Recommend us to someone who books, and you’ll both get a reward after they stay!”

Notyourtypicaltourist

Travel opens up a whole new world, which is cliche but true. I am a strong advocate for independent and solo travel. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but now live in Bangkok, Thailand, resulted from a chance encounter in 2009 with my why-are-you-Thai bf. I am now split between two countries. One country for my bf, another for the family, for the occasional weekend together.

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