Cavemen Backpackers

My mom had left for Manila already and we’ve checked out of Ximen Wow Hostel. I wanted to extend my stay there but they were fully booked that night. Again I am off to find a new place to stay before I check in to the Airbnb room I booked.

I searched for good cheap hostels near Ximending, I thought that it was a good opportunity to hostel hop and experience other places. There were a few hostels that came up while filtering through good prices. In the end, though, there were two that peaked my list. They were Cavemen Backpacker Hostel and NEOSOHO. Their price really just differed for about $1-$2, so it was up to the reviews for me to decide. Reading through, Cavemen Backpackers appears to be better as it is newer than the latter. I also read some issues about how the hostel smells old so I thought, heck it’s just a dollar more so I went with Cavemen Backpackers.

Location

It was kinda difficult to find the actual building at first. The sign was small so it was easy to miss. I actually passed by the building on my first attempt to find it. I consulted google maps and it shows that I was actually standing right off the building. So I asked the doorman on the building in front of me. I was directed to the next building where a small signage was.

Cavemen Backpackers is just about 200 meters from the nearest Taipei Main Station entrance. It is also near Coffee Alley where you can find good restaurants and coffee shops to hang out.  If you are a Museum geek, this will also work for you as it is just walking distance from the Taiwan Nation Museum. Other attractions near the hostel are the Peace Park and the Presidential Palace. Ximending, if you are up to walking, can be reached at just about 900 meters from the hostel.

If you are arriving late at night via bus at Taipei Main Station from the airport, you can just walk up to the hostel, no need to take a cab. If you are a night owl, I am not quite sure that you’ll like the night scene in this area. Also, though it is near a Taipei Main Station entrance, keep in mind that Taipei Main is huge and that you have lots of walking to do inside the station to get to the platforms itself.

Facilities

Cavemen Backpackers has a central bathroom with multiple toilets and shower stalls. One for each gender. It really feels like a big college dorm if you will. I find it clean and airy as it is located at the end of the hostel. The hostel also has a laundry room that you can operate with Taiwan dollar coins just a room away from the shower area.

The reception area is well lit and open as you get off the elevator and on to the glass doors. Adjacent to the reception is a huge working and lounge area. There are tables and chairs that are comfortable enough to work on for hours.

 

 

 

 

Common Areas

The hostel has a spacious area where you can lounge. They had tables where you can work or eat food. The entire area is well lit and the temperature was just right.

I arrived earlier than my check-in time so I comfortably lounge at the common area. I actually fell asleep while waiting for my bed to be ready.

 

 

Overall I feel that Cavemen Backpackers hostel is a good buy. The facilities are clean and the location is not that far from the Taipei Main Station. There are good places to eat and hang out. The only thing that I think is a low for the hostel is that it feels a little too sterile. I didn’t feel the right energy of a youth hostel. I’d say that its a good place to stay for a night or two. If you are planning to stay long term, you might want to reconsider another place somewhere like in Ximending.

 

Ningxia Night Market Eat Out

On my last couple of days in Taipei on my last trip there. I hanged out with a local friend checking out the area I was staying at all the way to the underground Taipei City Mall. To my surprise he actually planned to bring me to one of the best food night markets there is in Taipei, the Ningxia Night Market. Continue reading

Visa Free Entry For Pinoys OFFICIALLY EXTENDED UP TO JULY 2019

Sources from Taipei have announced that the visa free entry for Filipinos have been extended by the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Although the extension has no definite coverage yet, it was reported that the Taiwanese officials said that this is a result of Filipinos good behavior while in Taiwan. Filipinos are advised to continue following the provisions of the visa free entry policy by not overstaying and getting involved specially in organized crimes.

Reports also say that the official announcement of the extension could possibly be after the dragon boat festivals.

This is a developing story and will be updated as soon as we gather more information.

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Update:

Taiwan has officially announced through Minister Chang Ching-sen that Philippine passport holders  can enter Taiwan up to Jul 31, 2019 because of their good standing as visitors and while causing good impact to the Taiwan tourism industry.

Mikey Bustos also became Taipei’s ambassador for tourism and is currently working with the Taipei government in promoting the city.

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Featured image used courtesy of Jirka Matousek

FunNow: Taiwan’s Underrated Travel App

Sometimes you just start a plan then it just rolls like a snowball and gets a little too big. Anyone who can relate to that? Hahahaha! Well that is what happened on my last trip to Taipei.  I invited a couple of friends to go visit my favorite city out of the Philippines, then another friend new about it and told another friend who then told another friend! Us three became twelve people by the time of our trip! It was overwhelming.

I usually take the bus from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main station and just walk from there to Ximen where I usually stay. Easy right? Yeah if you are small group…. laggingf twelve people with you in an ungodly hour may not be a good experience for your friends. So I thought that I had to get small van to transport us from the airport to the hotel. I looked at the usual sites like KKDay and Klook but they seem to be too expensive as per my backpacker instincts. I always plan ahead of time but the stinginess in me just kicked in and I just cant bear to pay that much.

I dug deeper into the depths of Google and checked on more options. I then stumbled upon a saving grace, MyFunNow.com. The site also has an App that makes the booking experience a lot better! Being a budget traveler I always make sure that I compare my options to get the one that offers the best value!

My Options

I also checked on other popular travel sites but they seem to add so much fees after their published rates that makes it pricey. They also  ask to book at least a week ahead while FunNow only needs at least 8 Hours to fix your van transfer and sometimes even upon arrival! Long story short, I decided to go with FunNow and booked two vans to shuttle all 12 of us from the Airport to our Hostel.

How To Book 

  1. Download the FunNow App on from the Google Play Store or IOS Store
  2. Search for your desired service (Ex. Transfer Service)
    funnow
    myfunnowmyfunnow
  3. Click on Pick Time and choose your desired pickup time.
  4. Click on Book and choose additional services (Optional)
    myfunnow
  5. Add your flight details and your hotel’s address.
  6. Proceed to the payment page and key in your payment details to finalize your booking
  7. Confirmation will show up on your bookings page in the app while you will also receive a confirmation email containing your driver’s contact information.
  8. You will then be fetched at the arrival area of the terminal that you specified.
  9. They will wait for you for 60 minutes for free from the time that you specify.
  10. If you need assistance they also have 12 hour customer support from 9:00-13:00 via Line @myfunnow application.
    Whats app :+852 96882148 (9:00- 23:00).

The vans that we used smelled good and had GPS so we knew that we were going to the right place. The drivers also were attentive to their driving and drove on a speed that felt safe but not slow. What I love most about the drivers is that they are the jolliest of all people even if it was 3 in the morning! Having so much fun with people from traveling in such a short time is a great way to start an awesome trip. Because of that I think people should know more about FunNow. Not only your save money from activities and services, but you also get the best experience out of it.  So next time I visit Taiwan or cities like Hong Kong I will surely check out FunNow’s offerings to save money !

Must Try Food In Taipei

They say Taiwan is how China could have been if it wasn’t for the cultural revolution. They shunned many of their traditions and beliefs and turned themselves to the communist ideology. None the less, there is one thing that China and Taiwan shares best; Food Culture. Not known to many Taiwan is one of the best places in Asia to discover flavors that you did not know existed. Taiwanese Food combinations that can be quite odd but taste so good. Continue reading

Hover Over Trees At The Maokong Gondola

Blessed with a mountainous topography, Taiwan is rich with mountains and hiking trails that you can leisurely trek in one of your visits. Together with a good climate, it could actually be a good place to grow herbs such as tea. Maokong is a little village at the top of the hills of Taipei. Continue reading

Beitou: Bathing Nude In Sakuraoka Hot Springs

One of the activities that I look forward every time I visit Taiwan is a visit to one of their Hot Springs. The Beitou district of Taipei is heaven for hot springs junkies like me and if you are comfortable bathing nude in public you will absolutely enjoy this activity.

On my second time in Taipei, I went out of my way hunting for this particular spa; The Sakuraoka Hot Springs Spa. I knew about this hot springs facility way back but couldn’t find it. So this time I made sure to find it and experience the spa. I was really interested by their website where they show that can see the Taipei 101 and a good view of the forest while dipping in their hot tubs.

So i got off at the XinBeitou MRT terminal and started to look for the place. Maps.Me seem not to be working so I tried to use Google Maps. Both couldn’t find the address so I keyed the name of the place instead. It worked! But….. the map threw the pin on an off road destination in the mountains. I checked if it was walk-able but it’s just too far, and the incline could be too taxing. So I hailed a cab.

Finally, I got to the Spa.

The interiors are okay nothing grand but gives you a sense of Japanese influence to it. I approached the counter asked for admission.

Entrance Fee: NT$ 200 (Monday – Friday), NT$ 250 (Holidays, Friday night till Sunday)
Towel Fee: NT$ 50 (you can bring your own)
Visit Duration: Unlimited

One of their staff walked me to the bathing area. I then undressed and kept my clothes in a shelve, of course I’ve got no photos of the wet area, I mean people are naked… duh! LOL!

The Men’s area has two pools. One has water jets that are really relaxing. The wet area isn’t that huge so it can be crowded specially on weekends and holidays so always check first before you commit. That applies to any spa that you go to. Their second pool in the men’s wet area is the hot tub, and when I say hot -it really is hot. It takes some time to adjust to the pool’s temperature, but once you get comfortable it’s just gonna be heaven.

 photo from sakuraoka website

How to get to Sakuraoka Hot Springs

  1. Take the MRT and get off at the Shipai Station in the red line.
  2. Take any of the buses 508, 535, 536 or 612
  3. Get off at Xing Yi Lu San bus stop and walk down Lane 300 take the road down hill on where the road forks. The spa is on the right side.
  4. Fare is NT$ 15

You can always take a cab either from Shipai or Xin Beitou station, costs around NT$ 150.

 

For someone comfortable in public bathing like me, this was one of the best that I’ve experience, comparing to what I’ve experienced around Asia (note: haven’t been to Japan though). Soaking for hours while staring at the forest with the Taipei 101 emerging like its one of the trees there was just relaxing. Honestly, I’ve never felt so much peace of mind ever than how I’ve had while I soak in the tub. It felt like it was just me, the tub and nature communing. Not a single negative thought came across my head.

I’ve also heard that there’s another Hot Spring spa in the area that’s better (there’s actually a lot of hot spring spa in that area including a gay spa so be careful if you don’t want to end up in one like me, LOL!) called Emperor Spa. But that’s for another visit. If you haven’t done public bathing the Japanese way, I strongly suggest you do. You’ll appreciate your body a lot more and it will feel very liberating. It will make you think, why have I been embarrassed on doing this; there’s nothing to it really!

 

 

 

Food: Best Kong Rou Fan In Taipei

Aimlessly wandering around an unfamiliar city can lead you to wonderful discoveries, that much I can attest to how wonderful Taipei is. It was a little past 12 in the afternoon when I decided to step out of my hostel and brave the impeding rain brought by the dark clouds over Taipei. Continue reading

Travel Guide: How To Get To Taipei From The Airport

So just landed in the Taoyuan Internation Airport and you are ready to explore Taiwan. But then there you are standing in the arrivals area, over whelmed on all of the Chinese characters you see. Inside your head you are lightly freaking out asking your self How to do you get to Taipei from the Airport? Continue reading