The Most Up-to-Date Taipei Digital Nomad Guide – 2018

If you like Chinese food, extensive night markets, hiking very accessible mountains, bike riding along the river, and totally-well-organized public transportation everywhere, then Taipei could definitely be a good base for you! I’ve recently seen several posts in the Digital Nomads Around the World Facebook group about the lack of reliable information online about staying in Taipei long-term, and decided to put this handy (updated!) guide together.

At the time of writing (October 2018), the exchange rate for the most common currencies to NT are as follows. Rounding each down for most currencies will help you be more budget-conscious!

  • 1 USD = 30.9 NT (~30 for easy calculating)
  • 1 EUR = 35.2 NT (~35 for easy calculating)
  • 1 GBP = 39.7 NT (~40 for easy calculating)
  • 1 AUD = 21.9 NT (~20 for easy calculating)
  • 1 CAD = 23.6 NT (~25 for easy calculating)
  • 1 SGD = 22.4 NT (~20 for easy calculating)
  • 1 PHP = 0.57 NT (multiply NT by 2 to get cost in peso)

taipei digital nomad Finding a Room/Apartment in Taipei

What’s most important for you to know overall about Taipei is how to find short-term accommodation, as it can be a little tricky to score a cheap place, and even trickier if you are not into having roommates. Although ideal short-term places can be tricky to find, it’s not totally impossible. AirBnb is the easiest option for scoring a month-long room, but it’s also the most expensive option, by far. Instead, I’d recommend jumping on some very active Facebook groups. There’s a few For Rent groups for Taipei, this one being the most active/useful: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Taiwanapartmentsandroommates/

You can also check these groups as well:

However, the very first group I listed really is the best. Nearly all affordable places you’ll find will be rooms in shared apartments. Taipei is a really social, international city and people tend to enjoy living together. The absolute cheapest room you can get will be in a large shared house. Shared houses tend to be about 10 rooms (sometimes more) and are very popular in the university areas of Taipei (Da’an, Shida, Gongguan). A room in a shared house (shared bathroom) should be between 6,000-8,000 NT. The best thing about this type of accommodation is that the majority of landlords are okay with short-term renters, even just for 1 month. (A man called Peter rents a ton of rooms in shared houses, you can check out his Facebook page or website to view the most recent listings)

A private room in a 3-4 bedroom shared apartment will run you about 8,000-12,000 NT (about 300-400 USD) depending upon the area and size of the room. Guting / Da’an / Anywhere near 101 are the priciest areas, with neighborhoods further out being cheaper. Crossing the bridge into New Taipei City will also significantly drop your rent. Private studios run about 12,000-16,000 NT, if you can find one! It’s even tougher to land one of these jewels short-term, but it’s not impossible. Be as proactive as you can on the Facebook groups to give yourself the best chance possible.

It’s also important to note that with just about any short-term room, you’ll likely be taking over a lease from someone else and you’ll have to also find another person to fill the room when you leave (except for rooms in shared houses). However, lightning does sometimes strike twice! I got really lucky the last 2 months – in July I subleased an awesome, large studio with a big window overlooking the Guting area (3 minutes from the MRT!) for 13,500 NT (discounted from 17,000!). For August I stumbled across a Facebook post in one of the groups I listed above, from a laid back Taiwanese guy that is happy to rent a month at a time, and scored a private room in his house with super-fast Wifi for even cheaper than my previous apartment. (He and I actually became close friends and I am happy to put you in touch with him. Just comment at the bottom!)

Depending on when you are planning to come, I’d start looking through the groups above about 1-2 weeks before, and start saving some posts and contacting people about rooms. Good deals are jumped on really quickly and it’s totally normal for a room to be rented within 3 hours of being posted. If you really like a room you find, make an effort to go see it ASAP.

Another option which is really only limited to Simplified or Traditional Chinese speakers/readers, is an extremely extensive website called rent.591.com.tw The interface is completely in Chinese, and most landlords are looking for long-term renters (6 months -1 year). However, if you can speak and read Chinese, you may be able to haggle/strike a deal effectively.

Internet/Data

For internet, if you can score a place with Wifi included, then awesome. Any wired connection you can get (included with your rent) will be crazy fast and stable, as Taipei has some of the most impressive telecom of all of Asia. However, if you can’t – you can buy a SIM card straight from Taipei airport from one of the 3 major mobile providers in Taiwan and buy an unlimited data plan to run as a hotspot (you can set up and activate this plan at any of the 3 major mobile providers’ stores in the city, as well). These plans are valid for a maximum of 30 days, after which they will expire and become inactive (though I have received reports from readers that at least Chunghwa will allow you to re-charge this plan at least 3 times!). If you’ll be in Taipei more than 30 days, I’ve listed options underneath the airport deals, which can also be activated at any of the 3 major mobile providers’ stores. Again, the prices are pretty similar for short-term vs. long-term and ultimately will depend on your individual data needs. Each company has very similar plans (I do not know what exactly the rate, NT/min, for ‘airtime’! Sorry):

Taiwan Mobile 

  • 5 days unlimited data + 50 NT airtime = 300 NT
  • 5 days unlimited data + 300 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 7 days unlimited data + 150 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 7 days unlimited data + 350 NT airtime = 700 NT
  • 10 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 10 days unlimited data + 400 NT airtime = 800 NT
  • 15 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 700 NT
  • 30 days unlimited data + 430 NT airtime = 1000 NT

More than 30 days:

  • 1.2 GB for 60 days: 300 NT
  • 2.2 GB for 60 days: 500 NT
  • 8 GB for 180 days: 1000 NT

Chunghwa Telecom

  • 3 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 300 NT
  • 5 days unlimited data + 50 NT airtime = 300 NT
  • 5 days unlimited data + 300 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 6 days unlimited data + 50 NT airtime = 400 NT
  • 7 days unlimited data + 150 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 7 days unlimited data + 350 NT airtime = 700 NT
  • 10 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 500 NT
  • 10 days unlimited data + 400 NT airtime = 800 NT
  • 15 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 700 NT
  • 15 days unlimited data + 400 NT airtime = 1000 NT
  • 30 days unlimited data + 430 NT airtime = 1000 NT

More than 30 days:

  • 1 GB for 60 days: 180 NT
  • 2.2 GB for 120 days: 300 NT
  • 5 GB for 120 days: 699 NT
  • 8 GB for 180 days: 1000 NT

Far EasTone

  • 3 days unlimited data + 100 NT airtime = 300 NT
  • 5 days unlimited data + 50 NT = 300 NT
  • 5 days unlimited data + 300 NT = 450 NT
  • 7 days unlimited data + 100 NT = 450 NT
  • 8 days unlimited data + 50 NT = 450 NT
  • 10 days unlimited data + 100 NT = 500 NT
  • 15 days unlimited data + 700 NT = 700 NT (3G only)
  • 30 days unlimited data = 850 NT, airtime: NT$ 550, (3G only)

More than 30 days:

  • 1.2 GB for 60 days: 180 NT
  • 2.2 GB for 60 days: 300 NT
  • 5 GB for 60 days: 699 NT
  • 8 GB for 60 days: 1000 NT

If you plan on being in Taipei for more than 30 days, I would recommend doing what I did and buy pre-paid data with Taiwan Mobile. They have shops all over the city and can set you up with a SIM and that plan if you need it. I know, it’s expensive… at least compared to Thailand where I get 5GB for $5! I teach English online so I went through a lot of data in July and it was a big money suck.

FarEastone apparently has a post-paid plan where you can get totally unlimited data 4G data for 770 NT per month, though I didn’t explore that option as I knew I wouldn’t be there for too long. Keep in mind you may need to have an ARC (Taiwan resident card) or a Taiwanese bank account to set up post-paid mobile accounts. You can check it out further here.

Getting Around Taipei

I’ve never been or lived anywhere with such well organized public transportation as Taipei. You can use 1 card (The EasyCard) for the MRT, bus, train, and Ubike (Taipei short-term rental bike); even the Maokong Gondola! (cable car in the east of the city that leads to the tea plantations). You can get an EasyCard at any 7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart, or Hi-Life. It costs 100 NT, plus 400 NT required balance added at the time of purchase (though I have received feedback from one of my readers that the 400 NT minimum balance was not required! This requirement seems to depend on what station/7-11 you buy yours at. Taipei Main Station does not require the minimum balance and since it’s most travelers’ first destination from the airport, I recommend getting it there).

I strongly recommend getting your Ubike registration set up, as it is 100% the best way to get around the city. To register your card with Ubike, visit any Ubike station kiosk and sign up using your Taiwan phone number. Ubike is also free for the first 30 minutes if used within 30 minutes of exiting an MRT station, and also free for the first 30 minutes if your journey begins in New Taipei City. As I lived in New Taipei City all of last August, my Ubike usage was almost totally free!

Quick Ubike tips: 1. Check the tires before checking out a bike. 2. Make sure the seat will adjust. Sometimes it’s stuck! If it’s OK, adjust to your height and make sure it holds/doesn’t move. 3. You can tell how new (or old) a Ubike is by looking at the yellow back wheel cover. Try to pick one that is clean and not beat up! 4. If the seat of a Ubike is turned around/all the way down, it means something is wrong with the bike. Don’t take it!

The best (and really only) way to get out of Taipei and around the rest of Taiwan is to take the train. Honestly I found the online train booking system daunting at first, though I assure you it’s actually really easy. First, go to http://twtraffic.tra.gov.tw/twrail/EN and look up your departure city and destination. Just search “all types” for train type and pick your date. On the next page, you’ll be shown the overall timetable for the date chosen. Keep in mind the “departure” and “destination” for each train will probably look different than what you have chosen, though that is only showing the terminal stations on either end of your route. If you click “train number,” you will see where your actual departure and destination is in each route.

Once you’ve picked out what train you want to take, you’ll need to make sure it’s available. Next, go to http://railway.hinet.net/Foreign/US/index.html and click One Way or Round Trip booking, and enter the information as follows. If the train isn’t full yet, you will see your booking is successful. If the train is full, unfortunately you can’t take that train. You’ll then be prompted to pay for your ticket by credit card, or by taking your confirmation to the nearest train station or 7-11 to pay for your ticket (+8 NT at 7-11. But they will do everything for you, as you have to print it out from a kiosk) I’d suggest simply doing it by credit card if you have a fee-less international card.

Food / Night Markets in Taipei

Taipei is a true night market mecca, boasting at least 7 large markets in Taipei alone (even more counting New Taipei City!). I prefer to go to them because there are normally pictures of stuff you can point to if you don’t speak Chinese, and there’s tons of choice. My personal favorites are the Gongguan Market in Taipei (at MRT Gongguan on the Green Line) and the Lehua Market in New Taipei City (near MRT Dingxi on the Yellow Line).

Most quick snacks run 50-60 NT, bowls of noodles about 70-90 NT, and plate of rice + meat/seafood 100 NT and up. I highly recommend trying the Le Cordon Bleu-like dish below at the Curry Prince at Lehua, and getting shaved ice for dessert (didn’t take the name of the shop, but it’s on the left hand side walking from Yonghe Road).

I found traditional Mom n’ Pop restaurants to be hard to get food at (well, to get exactly what you want, I mean). Typically you’ll find very few places with English menus or pictures for you to point at, and you won’t find any middle-age to older Taiwanese cook that speaks English. But, such is genuine cultural exchange 😉 Of the traditional spots that did have semi-English menus, bowls of noodles start at about 80 NT for vegetable/chicken/pork, about 90 NT for duck, and 100 NT+ for seafood. Plates of rice + meat/seafood also start about 100 NT.

Taipei surprised me with some incredible foreign/Western food as well. I recommend Burger Talks for cheap, though tasty and fresh cheeseburgers and crispy fries. Nala’s Mexican does incredible burritos fairly cheap, and 原味屋 for legit Thai food from a genuine Thai cook. For some absolutely mouth-watering fried chicken, check out what I have officially dubbed “TFC” (Taiwan Fried Chicken), not far from the Gongguan Night Market.

As you can see, Taipei has become a very ideal destination for digital nomads, due to its overall affordability, super-fast internet and 4G data, ease of public transportation, and extensive food selection. If you’ve spent time long-term in this great city before and feel I’ve missed anything, or wish to add your own recommendation, please do feel free to comment below!

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taipeiCraig is a 29 year-old, sun-loving, rum-drinking Floridian and Phuketan, and the face behind Vagabond Disposition. He has called the Land of Smiles his home for about 5 years on and off, coming and going between vagabonding journeys throughout East and Southeast Asia, as well as Western Mexico and Europe. He enjoys a competitive game of disc golf when he can find a course, as well as a laid-back match of Bocce with spirits in hand. Craig wouldn’t go anywhere without his beloved ukulele and will jump on a drum set any chance he gets. His odd sense of humor is fortunately often appreciated by his peers, as well as his students.

11 comments

  1. Thanks so much for this great article and all the photos!!! I’m debating DN-ing in Tapei next March (2019) and didn’t know anything about it so this is incredibly helpful.

  2. Pop by the amazing library in Xin Beitou, a nice place to get some work done, but come early. One of the coolest places in Taipei, I find.

  3. thanks man ! i sure would check it.. btw does winter there considered to be cold ?

  4. Thanks! This is great! I was born in Taipei in 1967. We lived there for 2 years so I don’t remember it. I will go back next year for the first time with my wife and kids. I can’t wait to visit the night food markets!

    • Wow! I am sure it has changed an incredible amount since then. Yes the markets were by far my favorite part of Taipei. I plan to write an additional article about my favorite markets, so stay tuned! 🙂

  5. Oh, the f o o o o d ! It looks so good. Any surprises? As in, you thought you were ordering X, but got *@!#* instead (with *@!#* being something truly weird).

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