Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Things to do in Taichung (Taiwan)

Taichung is one of the less visited cities in Taiwan and is just a few hours away from the Taoyuan International Airport (240 NT for a bus ticket). Situated in the southern part of Taiwan, Taichung is the home of the famous bubble tea where it was first created.

Some travelers might miss or skip this city, there are things in Taichung that will surely catch your attention.

Traveling within Taichung is never been a problem. Although the city doesn't have a metro/subway line as its mass public transport, an efficient BRT(Bus Rapid Transit) network does the job done. Little do we know, the BRT network in Taichung is free of charge( Yes, it's absolutely FREE as of this writing!!!) provided you have an easy card (you can buy this at 7/11) with some balance in it and that the distance you travelled does not exceed to 30km and up(if I am not mistaken with the limit). Just by tapping your easy card to the bus card terminal, you can then board the bus, be sure to retap it again when you disembark in the bus as failing to do so will cost you 20NT. You can use google maps to trace or to know which bus number(bus number is located on the upper portion of the windshield of the bus) to board and which bus stop to wait and etc. depending on the details of your trip. Attractions within the city are relatively close to each other making every trip FREE of charge, now who doesn't want to visit Taichung?

BRT Station

PS: while writing this article, I am on a bus heading to the capital, Taipei!

Now let's get started, here the things you can do while in Taichung.

Do the Free Walking Tour

The best way to know a city is through walking. Originally saw the free tour on Couchsurfing and immediately contact the organizer. The tour is facilitated by a local. In this tour, you will learn the cities history, traditions, local delicacies( love the free taste of cakes and tea!) etc and the best thing its free and you can tip them if you want, you decide. There are 2 tour routes being offered and they do have English and Mandarin. Meeting point is in Taichung Station for more info check the image below.

Taichung Station
Street Art
Tour Info
Local Guide

Visit some Parks and Temples

Parks are generally a good place to relax. You can easily see a beauty of a city by just looking on it. Temples, on the other hand, connects you to the culture and tradition of the city and its people. Parks and Temples are generally free of charge in Taichung.

Maple Garden Park (best to visit at night)

Inside Taichung Park

Temple in the central district

Visit a Night Market

The very busy streets of a night market are so inviting. The delicious food and affordable goods attract tourist and locals alike. Ranging from local food to western and Asian food, they got you covered. The famous and biggest night market in Taichung is the Fengjia Night Market. Now get ready for a ton of free taste that awaits you!

"Da Chang Bao Xiao Chang", a must try but get ready for a long queue.

Fengjia Night Market

Day Trips to Nearby Places

For some travelers, Taichung is served as their base towards other nearby attractions. Doing a day trip from Taichung to other places somewhat maximize your stay in it.

Most recommended day trips are Puli, Wufeng, Dakeng, Sun moon lake and etc. Usually, it will take 1 - 2 hrs by bus to this destinations.

Here is a link to my Sun Moon Lake day trip: here

Sun Moon Lake

Have you been to Taichung? Share your stories and experiences below.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sleeping in Taoyuan International Airport (Taiwan)

Taoyuan International Airport
I just recently arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei at midnight via Cebu Pacific Airline and since it is in the middle of the night, most public transports were still close and the taxi was one of the only option left for you to get into where you want to go. Low-cost airline usually has a very bad flight schedule/timing commonly arriving at midnight or dawn. Having said that I will still prefer a cheap flight ticket even with the bad flight schedule.

If you are a backpacker/budget traveler, spending the night in the airport would be your best option. This way you can save a night of accommodation and a super expensive transportation fare.

This post will give you an idea what it is like sleeping in the Taoyuan International Airport and which part is the best place to stay, what to expect and why.

PS: while writing this article I'm riding a bus from the airport to Taichung on my mobile phone so bear with me.

After several minutes of roaming around the airport, for me, the best place to sleep was in the area around the North Meeting Point (NMP).

To get to NMP after immigration, proceed to the Customs inspection area then go straight and once you find an intersection,  turn right.

From here you can see a Tourist service center just go straight and then you can now see a sign "North Meeting Point".

Tourist service center

In this area of the airport you can have all the things you need like the sleeping benches/sofas with charging station(this is what I like the most), 24hrs Money changer (be sure to exchange only a small amount of money just enough for a metro ticket and food as the exchange rates are insane), Restroom and etc.

Sleeping on the benches and sofas may not be comfortable but it gets you rested(at least for people like me) before your planned adventure. Some people used the airport carts as additional space to rest their foot or their heads as it goes "kanya kanyang discarte lang". You can get crazy by sleeping on the floor or on the cart for as long as you are not blocking the way. Securities were also nearby so even if you sleep much, your things are still there and well guarded( there are lots of CCTVs as well).

Money Changer and Restroom beside it
Sleeping benches/sofas
Charging Station (sockets are similar to PH but in TW  its 110v and most plugs nowadays accept from 100v - 240v be sure to check)

Just a few steps from here you can see a pocket wifi rental if you are keen on getting one. Also just beside it is an escalator leading to the ground floor where a 24 hr store is located(if you want to grab something to eat). From the store walk straight and buses are stationed here, buses which go to Taipei city or into nearby cities. Buses leading to HSR station is also stationed here. It is also where the ticketing booth is.

As for me I went to the store, bought some breakfast items and ate them just on the benches beside the bus station and ticket outlets.

Signage near NMP

7/11 like store in the Airport

On the bus station, there is a nearby restroom and a free drinking water( hot and cold).

Water Dispenser in the airport

The spot where I slept was just beside the escalator and pocket wifi rental as it had a few people around and there is a charging station nearby.

The spot where I stayed

Overall it was a decent stay and slept for around 4 hrs before I get into my bus to Taichung. Is it safe? Yes, it is very safe.

Have you tried sleeping in Taoyuan International Airport? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Paying Philippine Travel Tax Online

Traveling soon and want to get rid of the long queues paying for the Philippine travel tax? Worry no more, just late last year the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) launched a system online that will make it easy and hassle-free for travelers wanting to pay the travel tax which is a requirement for most Filipinos traveling abroad.

You might be wondering who pays for the Full Travel Tax, Reduced Tax and those who are exempted. More info below.

People who pay for the Full Travel  Tax: Click here
People who pay for the Reduced Travel  Tax: Click here
People who are Exempted from Travel Tax: Click here

In order to avail the online payment, travelers need to register on the TIEZA website. Click here

On the header of the homepage go to"Travel Tax" then click "Pay Travel Tax Online".

TIEZA website

After that, you need to register in order to proceed.

Registration Page

After registering, you can now proceed in applying.

Application Page

With regards to the payment type, they will only accept VISA card and Bancnet Card and as you notice on the Payment type option there is a note that a 1.75% Convenience fee(roughly PHP 28 added to your bill much cheaper if you use the Bancnet Card only for 10PHP) is charged for this application. Once all details are placed and checked, you can now log your application then redirected to the payment page.

Payment Page.

Once payment is done you will then received an electronic receipt. Simply bring the receipt and present your passport and ticket on the day of your departure.

Have you tried this service from TIEZA? Share your stories in the comment section below.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Visa-Free Countries using US visa [Filipino Citizens]

So you just scored a US tourist visa and wondering how you can maximize the use of it considering it takes a huge effort to obtain one. Little do we know, we can extend our hard-earned US visa benefits by using it to enter to another country.

This article only refers to Filipino Citizen carrying a Philippine Passport with Valid US Tourist Visa. Some of these countries may require the US tourist visa to be multiple-entry and have been used at least once to travel to the US. Using the US tourist visa, some countries may require you to apply for a travel certificate or Visa on Arrival.

If you are still to apply for a US Visa here is a guide: US visa Guide

Here is the list of countries you can enter by just using your valid US tourist Visa.

North America


Just a few kilometers from the US, Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can enter Mexico Visa-free for 180 days.

FOR ALL NATIONALITIES. In accordance to National Institute of Migration of Mexico regulation, effective May 1st, 2010, all foreigners regardless their nationality traveling to Mexico, with a valid USA visa, will be allowed to visit Mexico through any port of entry – air, land, sea- without a Mexican Visa; this includes tourist, transit and business trips.

Central America

El Salvador

Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can obtain a visa on arrival to enter El Salvador up to 90 days.

Since there is no embassy in the Philippines for El Salvador, if you have any query best is to contact the El Salvador embassy in nearby countries (eg. Japan).


Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can obtain a visa on arrival to enter Guatemala up to 90 days.

Since we don't have a Guatemalan embassy in the Philippines, if you have any query best is to contact the Guatemalan embassy in nearby countries (eg. Japan).


Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can obtain a visa on arrival to enter Honduras up to 90 days.

For further details, contact the Honduran Honorary Consulate in Manila: idhiports@yahoo.com / r_zosa@pldtdsl.net / (+632) 634-5708 or visit them at Suite 19-A Strata 2000 Building No. 12 Garnet Road, Ortigas Center Pasig City Manila Philippines


Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can enter Panama visa-free provided that they have used the US Visa at least once.

For more info please visit the embassy of Panama: Panama Embassy in Manila Website



Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can enter Albania visa-free.

For more info, please contact the Albanian Honorary Consulate General in Manila, Philippines at (+63) 2 899-5533 / 5758 or (+63) 2 897-0592, email them at inquiry@benedictosteel.com or visit them at 1143 Pasong Tamo Street Makati City Manila Philippines.


Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can enter Montenegro visa-free up to 30 days.



Just a few hours by plane from the Philippines, Filipinos with a valid US tourist Visa can visit Taiwan for 30 days.

A detailed guide here: Taiwan Visa Exemption

Please note that information stated above may change without prior notice.  Best is to contact respective countries for queries and clarifications.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

How to apply for Taiwan Visa Exemption [Filipino Citizens]

Taiwan has recently become a new destination for Filipino travelers due to the increase of flights from and to Taiwan from the Philippines from different airlines. Taiwan has its own charms and hidden gems that need to be explored.

UPDATE (July 28, 2018): Filipinos are  still  VISA FREE for another year till July 31, 2019.

Update as of  August 2018: If you have an expired visa or resident card of the mentioned countries Below and was expired less than 10 years from  intended travel to Taiwan then you are still eligible to apply for a ROC. More info here.

Filipinos traveling to Taiwan requires a visa. While applying for Taiwanese visa seems to be easy (though I haven't tried it yet), there is another way to get into Taiwan without securing a visa provided you are qualified and fall into some conditions. Taiwan recently announces the ROC Travel Authorization Certificate for some Southeast Asian citizens(Applicable to citizens of India, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos) to enter Taiwan visa-free provided some conditions are met.

To be eligible for a ROC Travel Authorization Certificate, the following conditions must be met:
  1. The applicant’s passport must have a remaining validity of at least six months starting from the date of arrival in Taiwan.
  2. The applicant must possess an onward/return air or ferry ticket.
  3. The applicant has never been employed as a blue-collar worker in Taiwan.
In addition, the applicant must possess at least one of the following documents issued by Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, any of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, or the United States:

  1. Valid resident or permanent resident card
  2. Valid entry visa (may be electronic visa)
  3. Resident card or visa that has expired less than 10 years prior to the date of arrival in Taiwan
Please take note of this:
  1. Nationals of Indonesia who possess a valid Japan Visa Waiver Registration are eligible for a ROC Travel Authorization Certificate.
  2. The visas in the aforementioned list of required documents do not include work permits.
  3. Online applications can only be made by persons holding valid regular passports. Persons holding temporary, emergency, or informal passports, or travel documents other than a passport, cannot submit online applications.
  4. If any mistake is made during the online application process, the applicant may submit a new application.
  5. Once the application has been approved, the applicant is kindly requested to print out the ROC Travel Authorization Certificate. The applicant must present the certificate and the required documents for inspection when entering Taiwan. Entry will be denied if the required documents are not produced.
  6. An approved ROC Travel Authorization Certificate is valid for 90 days. Multiple entries within these 90 days are allowed. The holder of a ROC Travel Authorization Certificate may stay in Taiwan for 30 days, starting from the day after arrival. If the holder wishes to apply for another ROC Travel Authorization Certificate, he or she must do so seven days prior to the expiry of the current certificate.

I applied for the ROC Travel Authorization Certificate since I have a valid  US Visa and by looking at the requirements, I am also eligible and have met those conditions.

Online Application for R.O.C Travel Authorization Certificate

In the online application, all you need to do is fill up the form(basically your personal info like your passport info, your VISA that you will be using and etc.). After filling up, if your request is approved you can now print the certificate. 

Important Note: You need to keep this certificate in entering and leaving Taiwan, as the immigration officer will check this.

My R.O.C Travel Authorization Certificate
Have you tried applying for Taiwanese Travel Authorization Certificate? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below.