Some of you are wondering how Amanda and I can afford to go on vacations and still be able to save money. We both believe that saving money doesn’t mean depriving yourself of things you love to do. We love to travel and explore the world but we also know that this can be really expensive so we save and budget our vacations accordingly. The one thing we’ve been doing ever since we started dating and we still do today is set aside 5% of every pay cheque towards a vacation fund. We opened a free savings account and transfer a small percentage of every pay to this account so that we don’t ever spend it. It doesn’t seem like a lot of money at first but you’d be surprised at how much money you’ll have after a year. Over the years, this helped us build a good habit and gave us a sense of accomplishment when we reached our goal.
We recently travelled to Taipei for 13 days where we spent a total of $3,500 CAD for two people. We’re going to share how we were able to make this trip so affordable:
Flight & Accommodation
The best time to visit Taiwan is either Spring or Fall when the weather is not as hot and humid and the tourist season isn’t at its peak so we searched different departure dates between September and November to see if there were any price differences.
We found some deals for September on Expedia.ca and decided to book the hotel and flight as a bundle package for $2,500. This included round trip flight and hotel for 12 nights for two people with one layover both ways in San Francisco. If we had booked the flight and hotel separately, it would’ve costed us about $3,000.
Sometimes Expedia.ca offers discounts when you bundle your flight and hotel together and more discounts may be applied if you are an Expedia member (which is free to sign up).
Hotels are fairly inexpensive in Taipei. You can find a nice place in popular tourist areas such as Ximending or Zhongzheng for $50-$70 a night. We stayed in Hotel Relax V which is in the Zhongzheng area, approximately 5 mins walk from Taipei Main Station. The only downside about many of these hotels in the downtown core is that their rooms are extremely small but we didn’t mind it at all!
The food is super affordable in Taiwan. We spent on average about $40 Canadian a day on food ($1 Canadian = 22 New Taiwan $).
Many locals do not make their own breakfast because you can get breakfast from a local food stall/stand for under $3 CAD. We had things like Rice Rolls (stuffed with shredded pork, pickled vegetables, and slices of cruller), Egg Sandwiches, Steamed Buns, Omelettes, and Soy Milk for $1-2 CAD per item.
There are also plenty of night markets where you can get dishes for $1-2 CAD per dish so local is definitely the way to go!
With all those savings, we treated ourselves to all-you-can-eat Mala Hotpot on the last day which was about $30 CAD per person. This was so worth it in comparison to the buffets in Toronto because their selection of food was way better than anything we’ve ever had. There was everything from Angus beef to palm size shrimps and fresh crab and even 16 different flavours of Haagen-Daaz and Movenpick ice cream!
Many of the activities or attractions in Taipei are free and easily accessible by public transportation such as the Elephant Mountain, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei Main Station, Beitou Hot Springs, and Shilin Night Market.
While we enjoyed a lot of these free activities, we did spend some money on day trips to Jiufen and Shifen ($25 CAD per person) as well as Jiaoxi Village ($20 CAD per person) but there are several tours and day trips you can take to stay within budget.
There are some great places to shop in Taipei where you can find items for $5-10 CAD such as Wufenpu which is a local clothing wholesale area. It’s like a maze of shops that offer major discounts for things like clothing, shoes, jewellery, handbags, hats, and more. Amanda found some tops for under $5 CAD each and I bought two pairs for shorts for $10 CAD.
Even though we only had $1,000 CAD to spend for the duration of the trip, we never once felt like we were making sacrifices. Taiwan has a low cost of living which allowed us to stretch our dollars further. We will definitely be back!