With none of the hassle and stress of planning a trip or being restricted by a pre-planned itinerary, Ownrides is an online platform for tourists to customize their private tours through booking drivers directly and affordably. Prices are quoted instantly, there is flexible pickup time and a driver with tour experience is provided. No more squeezing on crowded trains or waiting around for buses to arrive. Its safe, affordable and it's super easy!
Ownrides offer not only destination information, but also gives you local perspective through their online support. On their site, you can talk to someone who will help you establish the best itinerary for your needs, and you can build your plan step by step online with the estimated times and dates and locations on a map. Furthermore, Ownrides not only make sure your trip is as smooth and comfortable as possible, they also promise you professional and quality private drivers; only professional drivers who are licensed and have more than 5 years of driving experience are selected.
How does it work?
Simply go to their site and opt to either take a look through their most popular itineraries which can be customized to your preference or simply build your own itinerary from scratch. It is really easy and clear to use.
Ownrides will find a suitable driver for you and you can choose a vehicle from the list of car options.
Select your preferred language, Chinese or English ( an extra NT$ 300 for English).
You will see all your charges on the right-hand side of the screen. Each itinerary has its own fair price, calculated to include the fuel cost, highway toll and parking fee required for the itinerary. There are no hidden fees and you don’t get charged for anything you don’t need.
Save your trip for later or proceed to payment and input time and date.
You will be required to pay a small deposit and the remainder will be due to the driver in cash at the end of your trip. (in New Taiwan Dollar)
Once you have paid the deposit you will be sent the drivers details and communication is very easy, either through your profile on the site or via Viber, Whatsapp, Messenger or LINE.
Private driver’s service fee
Car’s fuel cost, highway toll, parking fee
Transportation for entire tour
Pick up and drop off at city
Overtime fee of 250 TWD per half hour is required if trip exceeds duration set for this tour
Gratuity/tip is optional but we recommend 10% if the driver’s service is good
Modification to tour should be discussed with the driver directly and is possible.
The world today is far more ‘connected’ to mobile devices than ever before. We use the internet everywhere we go and for those of us who like to travel, internet connection has become as important as finding accommodation and exchanging money.
If you are planning a trip to Taiwan, you will be pleased to know that data here is inexpensive, fast and can also be found for free. Whether you are interested in working while you travel, uploading blogs or your latest videos and photographs; Taiwan will keep you connected. Here are the ins and outs of mobile connection in Taiwan.
Taiwan's Free WIFI!
Taiwan offers free Wifi to all tourists! Awesome right! You can find free hotspot all over the country and on most public transport.
Be aware, however, that free connection can be slow and often allows only for light internet use, also you might not be able to access hotspots if you are outside the city. Also bear in mind, that when you use free wifi, private information on your phone is not considered safe.
Prepaid Data Providers, The Options?
In Taiwan, you will find mobile service rates to be amongst the world's lowest and networks to be very fast and efficient. If you are traveling mainly in the city you will find service is mostly consistent between the major providers. However, in rural areas, especially more mountainous parts, the coverage can vary.
The main providers in Taiwan, in terms of market share, are :
1. Chunghwa (Emome).
● Ranked third for 4G speed.
● Currently the biggest private carrier.
● Providing 3G(WCDMA)/4G services.
● Considered to have the best signal, covering mountains and more remote areas.
2. Taiwan Mobile (My Fone).
● Ranked second for 4G speed.
● Providing 3G(WCDMA)/4G services.
● Ranked number one for 4G speed.
● Providing 3G (WCDMA)/4G services.
4. T star.
● Ranked number four for 4G speed.
● Providing 3G (WCDMA)/4G services.
For a Short Stay: Unlimited Data Within Selected Days.
With all four providers, SIM cards can be purchased from their branches and at the airport when you arrive.
If you are only staying in Taiwan for less than 30 days, it is your best option to get an airport package, as these are specifically for visitors. However, you will not be able to top it up as you will have data use within a set time frame only. You can choose from one day to thirty days for unlimited 3D data and need to produce your passport to purchase.
If you are applying outside the airport you will be able to top up on your plan, but take an additional form of ID with you when you purchase the SIM. Top ups for most providers can be made in-store and at all major convenience stores
● Their 3G SIM card (NT$300), is called an Ideal Card.
● Airport packages are easily available and top-ups for data plans purchased outside the airport can be done online at https://www.idealcard.com.tw/
● Taiwan Mobile prepaid starter packs can be purchased in Myfone stores and at the airport.
● Their prepaid 3G SIM (NT$345 ) is for low data users, but cannot be purchased in store, instead, you have to order it online.
● For non-airport packages, recharge online using this link:
● TSTAR is Taiwan's smallest network and generally has a good connection but might not have coverage everywhere outside of the city.
● Their SIM card is available for free at their T-STAR branch at terminal 1 and 2 of Taoyuan International Airport, you will need to take two forms of ID with you.
Price comparison for day plans with unlimited Data.
*Taiwan Star offers airtime with packages.
*Currency is in Taiwan Dollars.
For a Longer Stay/Faster Speed: Data Usage Plan.
If you’re staying for a longer period of time or need a faster speed, we recommend you use the Data Usage Plan. These plans provide both 3G and 4G plans, but with the same data amount, 3G would be significantly more expensive than 4G plans.
● Chunghwa sells different 4G/LTE starter packs depending on your needs and you can add an additional ‘data volume plan’.
Unlike other currencies such as the US Dollar and Euro, Taiwan’s currency is something that most people may have never heard about, until they decide to plan a trip to our beautiful island. So here’s a quick intro and a few useful tips for you.
The currency name is New Taiwan Dollar, usually shortened as NTD or NT$. In Chinese, it is called “yuan”, but in our daily conversations, we just use the word “kuai”, meaning “piece” (of money).
The ISO currency code is TWD.
As of the writing of this article, the current exchange is approximately 1USD : 30NT.
B. Just so that you get a general idea of what price levels are like in Taiwan:
a bottle of water= 15NT (US$0.50)
a movie ticket= 250NT-350NT (US$8-$10)
a pack of Marlboro cigarettes= 125NT (US$4.00)
a bowl of beef noodle soup (one of our must-try street foods!)= 150NT (US$5.00)
an all-day metro pass= 180NT (US$6.00)
C. How to make payments in Taiwan?
We mostly use cash when paying for anything (unlike the US or Europe, where you can pay with a card for even just an apple!)
But of course, credit cards are still widely accepted (Visa, MasterCard…), especially in malls and most restaurants.
Easy Card! Super convenient for taking metros, buses, but also for paying at places like convenience stores, bookshops, cinemas, and even Starbucks! You can get one easily at 7-11 or any metro station.
D. How to get cash:
There are no moneychangers on the streets, but there are plenty of other easy ways to get cash.
At the airport, there are always a few money exchange counters and banks on your way out.
At any ATM, they are everywhere (and bilingual)! On the streets, in shopping malls, in front of banks and even in convenience stores like 7-11. However a withdrawal fee will be charged every time, so it is best to get enough cash for the whole trip at once.
At banks, they normally open from 9am-3:30pm and are closed on weekends, so remember to go early! You will be asked to fill out a form requiring a valid local address and phone number, just write in all the info of the hotel you’re staying at.
In big shopping malls (such as Taipei 101 or Sogo), however, the rates are usually not so friendly.
REMEMBER! Always bring your passport when you want to get cash at either of these places (except for ATMs). Oh and another thing: exchange what’s left of your cash before leaving the country, because NTD is not an easy currency to exchange especially once out of Asia!
Built nearly three centuries ago in the old part of Taipei (a district called Wanhua), Longshan Temple is the most renowned temple in Taiwan, and a must-visit for those who are fascinated with Eastern religion.
There are a variety of deities in Longshan Temple that people may pray to, depending on their needs. For instance, there is the god of wisdom, god of business, goddess of childbirth… there is even a god for matchmaking!
Worshipers come from all over the island to offer fruits and delicacies to their gods, and in return, they ask for guidance. But unlike western religions, they don’t communicate through figures like priests; instead, they use signs, which in this case are two crescent-shaped wooden blocks. Basically, like a telephone to the gods!
This ritual is known is bwa-bwe, where people with questions toss the two pieces onto the ground in front of the statues of the gods; the way they fall is the answer. If one piece is facing up and the other is down, it’s a YES. If both pieces are facing down then it’s a NO, and if both are up it means NOT CLEAR.
See, simple. If ever you have a question that’s been bothering you, here is a guide on how to properly ask the gods for help.
Before entering, you must pray to the “host” god of the temple, in order to get permission for asking questions: state your name, birthday and address to the host, which in this temple is the goddess of compassion and mercy, Guanyin.
Once in the temple, pray to the rest of the gods, starting from the right. Then you may go to the god you would like to talk to.
Ask “Are you there?”, because he/she might be busy. You need a YES to move on to your question; if not, wait for another few minutes and ask again.
Ask your YES/NO questions, and be precise. If your question involves a person, give details on who he/she is.
Now, if you want to have a more in-depth answer, you can also pull a wooden stick out of a bucket close to the altar. Each stick has a number on it, corresponding to an ancient Chinese saying.
State your question, and ask whether he/she is willing to give you a stick; you need three consecutive YES answers to pull out one stick.
Once you have a stick, ask if it is the one he/she wants you to have; same with the three YESes rule.
If the god gives you three YESes for the stick, you can get a piece of paper with your Chinese saying, and go to a member of the staff at the temple for further interpretation.
Taken from the Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget, these are our top 11 tips for backpacking Southeast Asia.
With its tempting mix of volcanoes, rainforest, rice fields, beaches and coral reefs, Southeast Asia is one of the most stimulating and accessible regions for independent travel in the world. You can spend the day exploring thousand-year-old Hindu ruins and the night at a rave on the beach; attend a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony at dawn and go whitewater rafting in the afternoon; chill out in a bamboo beach hut one week and hike through the jungle looking for orang-utans the next.
In short, there is enough here to keep anyone hooked for months. Here’s our advice for getting the most out of backpacking Southeast Asia for the first time.
Plan around the weather
Southeast Asia sits entirely within the tropics and so is broadly characterized by a hot and humid climate that varies little throughout the year, except during the two annual monsoons. Bear in mind, however, that each country has myriad microclimates; for more detail see our “when to go” pages for Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Get off the beaten track
Though Southeast Asia has long been on the travellers’ trail, it doesn’t take too much to get off the beaten track – whether it’s to discover that perfect beach or to delve into the lush surrounds of the rainforest. Think about visiting the overlooked city of Battambangin Cambodia, taking the railroad less travelled in Thailand or exploring Myanmar’s unspoiled southern coast.
Try the street food
This is the home of the world’s tastiest cuisines, and the really good news is that the cheapest is often the best, with markets and roadside hawkers unbeatable places to try the many local specialities. Night markets, in particular, are great for tasting different dishes at extremely low prices – sizzling woks full of frying noodles, swirling clouds of spice-infused smoke and rows of glistening fried insects all make for an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
Budget carefully – but have the odd splurge
Your daily budget in Southeast Asia depends on where you’re travelling and how comfortable you want to be. You can survive on as little as $20 a day in some countries, but for this money you’ll be sleeping in very basic accommodation, eating at simple food stalls, and travelling on local non-a/c buses. Think about where paying a little more will really enrich your trip.
Learn from the locals
Tribal culture is a highlight of many visits to less explored areas, and among the most approachable communities are the tribal groups around Sa Pa in Vietnam, the Torjan of Sulawesi in Indonesia, known for their intriguing architecture and ghoulish burial rituals, and the ethnic minority villages surrounding Hsipaw in Myanmar.
Embrace the great outdoors
Up for getting active? There’s plenty to keep you busy. You can tackle world-class surf at G-land in Indonesia, take a mountain-bike tour of Vietnam’s far north or discover your own lonely bays and mysterious lagoons on a sea-kayak tour of Krabi in Thailand. And that’s just for starters…
Make time for temples
Southeast Asia’s myriad temple complexes are some of the region’s best-known attractions. The Hindu Khmers left a string of magnificent monuments, the most impressive of which can be seen at Angkor in Cambodia, while the Buddhists’ most impressive legacies include the colossal ninth-century stupa of Borobudur in Indonesia and the temple-strewn plain of Bagan in Myanmar.
No, not that kind of high. Every visitor should make an effort to climb one of the spectacular mountains, whether getting up before dawn to watch the sun rise from Indonesia’s Mount Bromo or embarking on the two-day trek to scale Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia.
Hit the beach
The beaches here are some of the finest in the world, and you’ll find the cream of the crop in Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, all of which boast postcard-pretty, white-sand bays, complete with azure waters and wooden beach shacks dotted along their palm-fringed shores. The clear tropical waters also offer supreme diving opportunities for novices and seasoned divers alike.
Take local transport
Local transport across Southeast Asia is uniformly good value compared to public transport in the West, and is often one of the highlights of a trip, not least because of the chance to fraternize with local travellers. Overland transport between neighbouring countries is also fairly straightforward so long as you have the right paperwork and are prepared to be patient.
The vast majority of travellers to Southeast Asia suffer nothing more than an upset stomach, so long as they observe basic precautions about food and water hygiene, and research pre-trip vaccination and malaria prophylactic requirements – but it’s still vital to arrange health insurance before you leave home. Some of the illnesses you can pick up may also not show themselves immediately, so if you become ill within a year of returning home, tell your doctor where you have been.
For a complete guide to backpacking Southeast Asia, check out The Rough Guide to Southeast Asia on a Budget. Compare flights, book hostels and hotels for your trip, and don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before you go.
Best airline to fly with: AirAsia – They’re my personal favorite budget airline to fly with and fly to the most destinations. You will pay for checked luggage so make sure to purchase it when you book your ticket or you will be charged 4x the price when checking in.
Buses are your best friend – Traveling by bus is the way to go in SE Asia if you want to save money. But if you’re tight on time, fly. Always splurge and go for the VIP buses. They’re never that more much and it will be a way better experience.
Laos Kip is very difficult to exchange – If you’re heading to Laos you’ll have no problem getting their local currency but good luck getting rid of it when you’re out of the country. Exchange it before you leave or at the border if crossing by land.
Take local transport – It’s not as bad as you’d expect, it’s cheap and it always makes for an adventure.
Travel throughout the night – Yay for night buses! Vietnam has the best buses for overnight travel because they’re sleeper buses so you can actually lay down. By traveling at night you’ll save on accommodation and have more time to do things during the day!
Get used to haggling – If you don’t haggle you will be over paying for everything. Some things you can’t haggle for (like food), but use your skills while at markets, shops and with transportation. Start low, you can usually tell by the look on the locals face if you’ve gone too low. And don’t be afraid to walk away, most will give in and accept your offer. If they don’t then you’re probably being unrealistic.
Always go for the local beer – It’s cheap and often really good!
Uber and Grab – Grab is the equivalent of Uber, but the Asian version (you can ride on the back of a scooter for cheaper than a car). I recommend these the most for the Philippines.
Bring sunscreen from home – It is ridiculously expensive in SE Asia. It’s one of the few things I recommend bringing that are worth using the extra space in your bag for.
Avoid package tours – Though some are great, they’re always more expensive than doing it yourself. That being said, don’t skip on all. I used tours for trekking in Myanmar, Sapa, and Halong Bay.
When you travel southeast Asia you want to make sure you have the proper clothes for heat and culture reasons.
Ladies, pack a scarf to easily cover up – This is essential when visiting temples. It’s too hot to always be covered, but you’ll need your shoulders, chest, and knees to be covered when visiting temples. This is a great post on a fabulous piece for your travels.
Pack proper shoes – Treks in SE Asia are quite common, so don’t write them off just yet. With that being said, make sure you have proper shoes. And no those cute no grip Nike’s won’t do the trick (I tried and sprained my ankle!). You’ll also want shoes to easily slip on and off at temples.
Don’t pack too much, clothes are cheap! – Clothes are super cheap and easy to find at markets. Most are pretty cute too. But if you are heavier clothes may be more difficult to find because their sizes are so small!
You better have Imodium – At some point you’ll need it. Especially for long bus rides after eating questionable meat. Or for day trips on boats when bathrooms are not accessible.
Pack appropriate clothes – Please respect the locals and not only pack skinny tanks, short shorts, and belly tops. It’s fine to wear shorts and tanks, and certain places are more open than others, but this is not your home. So dress according to their standards, not yours.
Do not even think about traveling without travel insurance – If you’re not convinced you need it then read these horror stories. And if you need help deciding, here’s a guide that details what to look for.
Whatever you need to sleep on night buses – You’ll probably take at least one during your trip. Have something you can pop to make sure you get as best a sleep you can.
Always have toilet paper – There is never any around, but when you do find some, stock up!
Research cab fares before you arrive – One of the biggest scams in southeast Asia is with cabs ripping people off. Know how much it should cost to get from where you are arriving to your accommodation. You can usually figure out what cabs should cost by asking others you meet on the road. Or find out what cab companies are trusted. Email a hostel and ask.
Know if there will be an ATM – You won’t have a problem with finding ATMs in most of SE Asia, but there will be the odd spot where there are none. Plan ahead! Some examples are El Nido, Philippines and Koh Rong, Cambodia.
Wifi is everywhere, no need to buy SIM cards – Free wifi is honestly way easier to come by than expected and for the most part it is decent. That being said, SIM cards are super cheap so you’re not breaking the bank buying them. But why spend the money when you could easily save? And if you’re worried about getting lost, download Maps.me, an app that doesn’t need wifi to use maps!
Always have USD – If you ever run out of the local currency USD will be accepted. Most boarders require you to pay in USD as well. I recommend getting some in your home country and bringing it with you, though some countries (like Cambodia) dispense USD as well as the local currency.
Research scams to lookout for before you go to a new country/cross borders – A lot of scams in SE Asia are common, so make sure you know what to look out for. Most have to do with cabs, renting scooters, and crossing borders.
Weather! – No, unfortunately the weather is not always perfect and sunny and warm in SE Asia. Parts can get quite cold (like snow cold in northern Vietnam). You’ll also want to avoid monsoon season, especially if visiting an island. And know that the hottest month is generally April (aka you will never stop sweating). It varies from country to country, but traveling in off season can be cheaper.
Don’t be afraid of street food – I’ve seen people get just as sick from eating at sit down restaurants than I have from street food stalls. The only difference is that you can’t see what’s going on in the kitchen.
Agree on a taxi price before you get in – If you don’t you’ll suddenly be expected to pay a ridiculous amount. This is the same for tuk-tuks, motorbike taxis, tricycles, etc.
Don’t expect anything to be on time. But if you’re late, expect it to be on time – The one time you’re late the bus will actually be on time (it happened to me). But for the most part everything leaves late. People in Asia are a lot more relaxed and don’t care about time like we do in the western world.
Take pictures of your scooter before leaving the rental place – Whenever renting anything in SE Asia always take pictures of everything. Including close-ups of the scratches/dents so that they can’t blame you for anything and try to charge you. A good company will mark down any damages on paper and give you a copy or take pictures themselves. Even if they do this still take your own pictures.
Learn some phrases – Learning how to say hello and thank you are a good start and people really appreciate it.
Always keep your calm – This is a must. Never get angry with a local, raise your voice, or get all up in their face. This is not how things are handled in Asia. Trust me, you will never win. The locals will help the locals out, not you.
Always have hand sanitizer – Just like toilet paper, you won’t find soap much.
Get used to the bum gun – For those situations when you don’t have toilet paper. It’s a gun that shoots water to clean yourself. Don’t leave Asia without trying it!
Have at least 6 months validity on your passport – Most countries (this applies for even outside SE Asia) require you to have at least 6 months left on your passport. Otherwise they can deny you entry. The same goes for having blank pages. I’d have a minimum of two blank pages when entering a country.
Always pay the extra couple of bucks for air conditioning – Seriously, you’ll thank me later. Fans just blowing around hot air will not cut it when you’re trying to sleep.
Don’t plan everything before you go – You’ll find the best suggestions from the people you meet while on the road. It is good to have a general idea though!
Expect squatting toilets in most places – I didn’t stay in a hostel that didn’t have regular western toilets, but when traveling from spot to spot, at restaurants, and in public places it was mostly squat toilets.
Never leave your stuff unattended – This is the most important when you’re traveling. Never leave your stuff on the bus unless you have someone watching it for you.
Watch out for snatchers – For ladies I recommend having a cross body bag that you wear cross body or have your hand on at all times. All should hold onto their phones tight. Snatchers are usually people on scooters who will grab your bag or whatever is in your hand quickly while you’re walking, in a tuk tuk or on a bike.
All things whitening – We want to be tanned, but in Asia they want to be white. So watch out when buying products as most will have whitening agents.
If you have big feet and need new shoes, good luck – Asians have way smaller feet than westerns so if you break or lose your flip flops you may have trouble finding a new pair.
Learn to go with the flow and just say yes – People are much more laid back in Asia. Travel Asia and use it as a time to relax. Don’t get caught up with things being late or schedules. Just expect things as they are or it’ll be a nightmare trip for you.
Don’t expect western safety standards – You will have “OMG we’re going to die” moments when driving too close to the edge of a cliff or riding through choppy waves in the ocean. This stuff happens all the time when you backpack through Asia. Also when on a boat never expect there to be enough life jackets so don’t freak out at everything that doesn’t seem “safe.”
Know visa requirements – For every country on your southeast Aia trip you will need to know how much visas will cost, to knowing if you need a picture or not, and what currency to pay in (usually USD). Know if you need to apply online beforehand or if you can get it at the border, or if you need proof of a flight of onward travel (most don’t care but the Philippines is very strict about this).
You will see the same souvenirs over and over again – No need to panic and buy everything at once. Guaranteed you will see the same thing in the next city or country.
Toilet paper does not go down the drain – Don’t flush toilet paper. Be kind to the next person, they don’t want to deal with a clogged toilet. Throw it in the trash bin.
You will see poverty – Prepare yourself. It’s not home. And though you may be traveling to all of the pretty places, while traveling from destination to destination you will see poverty.
Be Prepared to sweat a lot – This is a helpful guide with every possible tip to help you to stop sweating while traveling.
WiFi has become the single most important essential at the airport besides water, and probably a chair. But some airports post strict requirements about time of usage, number of devices, and if you want a stable internet experience then it’s the hefty bill of international roaming that comes with it.
Anil Polat, a tech-savvy travel blogger has created a map full of worldwide airport’s free WiFi tricks. From the location to sit for best signal to how to tweak the passwords, it’s all you need to kill time in that long waiting time to board on the next flight. The offline version is made into an app and available for $1.99 on Android and iOS. However, if you are willing to update the map manually before each trip then store it on your phone, this map is offered to you for free! Here’s how:
As promised, I will be writing an entry to share several tips on how to effectively plan for a road trip overseas. Although it has been 7 months overdue but.. better late than never ?
Just to share, this self-drive Hokkaido trip is my first ever road trip with friends (been on one with the family in Perth when I was really young) and I was not the driver. Nevertheless, I guess it doesn’t matter since this post is about “planning” and not “driving”, which is kind of like my forte (I feel). Alright, here we go.