By now, you’ve almost certainly heard that InternChina have started offering yearlong internship placements in Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei. You might have even started the application process already! In either case, before you set off on your adventure to this East Asian hub of culture, business and trade, it’s vital to get the answers to a few important questions: is Taipei expensive? What are my average living costs? Will I be able to afford a penthouse in Taipei 101? (Spoiler – probably not!)
The good news for you is, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you budget for living in Taipei, along with some need-to-know money saving tips.
It’s important to bear in mind that Taiwan’s currency is not the same as in Mainland China, and that prices aren’t the same either. Interns can expect to eat out at an inexpensive restaurant in Taipei for around 100-120 NTD per meal, and around 200-350 NTD when they really want to splurge! Like in many capital cities, going out for drinks at a bar can be quite expensive, with a bottle of imported beer or glass of wine costing around 150-200 NTD, and cocktails generally starting at 250 NTD.
Getting confused by all these numbers? The current exchange rates for the NTD (National Taiwan Dollar) are as follows:
£1 GBP = 40 NTD
€1 EURO = 35 NTD
$ 1 CAD = 23 NTD
*Exchange rates as of 01/09/2018. To follow any changes, click here.
How much can I expect to spend per week/month?
Not everyone will have the same budget or spending habits. Some of you may be living on a shoestring, others more willing to spend money on home comforts, while some of you may simply find that once you land in Taipei, you just cannot resist going on weekly trips to Beitou Hot Springs or a cup of bubble tea every morning. Read on to see which budget is right for you!
Low Budget for those looking to save money while still having fun and trying new things:
Middle Budget for those who treat themselves to weekly nights out, often come on trips and perhaps buy more western foods:
High Budget for those who aren’t afraid to spend more on cocktail bars, frequent taxis and other luxury items:
Bear in mind that the figures above are all estimates, and the amount each intern spends will vary depending on their personal requirements. It might be reassuring to know, however, that medical care in Taiwan is incredibly cheap – with an ARC (Alien Resident Card), you can see a doctor or dentist for just 150 NTD!
Money Saving Tips !
Maybe you’re saving up for that trip to Taroko National Park, making sure you can afford the flight home, or maybe you just need to cut back after one too many trips to the spa. Whatever the case, it can be useful to know where you can draw in the expenditures and save a few extra pennies:
1. Buy a bicycle! For interns living and working in a city as flat and compact as Taipei, the value of having a bike cannot be overstated enough. When you could spend upwards of 1400 NTD per month on metro and bus rides, buying a bicycle early on (used ones can be bought for just 1000 NTD) is a solid investment that will save you loads in the long run.
2. Alternatively, if you don’t want to commit to buying your own bike, or simply don’t have the space to store it, Taipei’s YouBike rental bicycles cost just 10 NTD for every 30 minutes. With a sprawling network of bicycle parking stations spread across the city and close to all the major tourist sites and metro stops, YouBikes are a great, low-cost way to get around.
3. Become acquainted with the 便當 biàndāng (literally ‘lunchbox’)! Don’t let its simplicity fool you, this meal of rice, four vegetables and one portion of meat or fish of your choice is served up canteen-style and is great for filling up at a reasonable price! Classic vegetable options include fried aubergine (茄子 qiézi), dried tofu (豆乾 dòugān) and egg-fried tomato (番茄炒蛋 fānqié chǎodàn), and you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of 60 to 80 NTD. For an extra discount, bring your own reusable lunchbox and the cooks typically give you another portion for free (Plus, you can earn some environmental points at the same time)!
Well, we hope this guide has proved useful! Taipei is a fast-paced, dynamic and multicultural city that rewards those who choose to settle down longer than the average traveller. A new culinary delight can be discovered daily on Taipei’s street corners and there are enough creative, trendy boutiques to satisfy any seasoned shopper, but with any luck, using the guidelines we’ve laid out here, you won’t go breaking the bank just yet.
To discover more about InternChina’s exciting new programme in Taipei, click here.
For more information about life in Taiwan’s bustling capital city, click here.
By Rosa Spence
On the 28th March, myself and four other representatives from the NGO I am interning with, CDNGO06, organised and accompanied farmers from Yunqiao village on an overnight visit to Mao Xian. A district 5 hours north-west of Chengdu and only 40km away from Wuchuan (the place where the earthquake hit in 2008!).
The aim of this visit was to introduce the local farmers from Yunqiao to local Sichuanese Pepper farmers in Mao Xian. These farmers have previously worked closely with WWF to increase sustainable farming of Sichuan pepper. As a result of this collaboration, their Sichuan pepper crops have become organically certified. The farming community has become a co-operative, having received support from Sichuan Rural Credit Union – an initiative established by the People’s Bank of China to provide credit to rural areas in China.
This, in turn, has led to better access to national and global markets. The NGO hopes that the farmers from Yunqiao will be able to learn and adapt some of the techniques, used by Mao Xian farmers, and apply them to their Luo Bo crops (the main crop of Yunqiao) with the aim of increasing quality and production rates.
We left the sleeping city of Chengdu at six o’clock in the morning and traveled in a minibus to Yunqiao village. Two hours north of the City, to pick up the farmers who were coming with us. As we drove for another three hours from Yunqiao to Mao Xian, I was not prepared for the scenery that I was about to witness.
The concrete jungle of Chengdu disappeared and the skyline was replaced with towering mountains, so tall that the peaks were dusted in snow. The cloudiness of Chengdu’s city sphere also dissipated and we basked in bright sunshine and crystal clear blue sky. I think it’s the first time that I have seen cloudless skies and unobstructed sun since I arrived!
Arrival at Mao Xian
On arrival at Mao Xian, the farmers and NGO Staff were taken on a tour and shown how the pepper was produced. The first station was the warehouse, where the pepper granules were stored; next, we were taken to the building where the raw pepper granules were ground down into refined powder and packaged to be sold in the national market. They weren’t kidding when they said it had a kick to it, I tasted a single granule and my tongue went numb for the next 20 minutes!
This farming co-operative has won numerous awards for their work, all of which were displayed proudly on the wall in the meeting room. The meeting between the two communities lasted for over 2 hours, with the NGO workers and the farmers from Yunqiao taking notes about how the Mao Xian farmers’ model worked. My role as the NGO’s photographer was to document the event. The host farming community were really accommodating, with tea being provided throughout and the meeting came to a close in good spirits and a formal photograph was taken.
After the formalities were completed, there was a chance to explore Mao Xian. We were taken to see some beautiful blossom trees, their delicate petals floating in the warm breeze. I got told that these trees and most of the surrounding area had been rebuilt after the area was flattened by the 2008 earthquake. The experience was also very culturally enriching, as the next day we were given the opportunity to observe a Qiang ceremony –an ethnic minority group, with a population of approximately 200,000, located in North Western Sichuan Province.
The ceremony was enchanting, consisting of singing, chanting, dancing, drumming and role play. We were then given a guided tour around an ethnographic museum, where we were told about Qiang history and also got to observe people going about their daily routines – these people still live very traditional lifestyles, making their own clothes and tools. We were fortunate enough to witness two Qiang men forging an iron blade, using two hammers and an anvil, the precision of the technique was mesmerising – clearly, a skill which has been refined over generations!
It has been a fantastic experience, I feel very fortunate to be so included in the work that the NGO is doing for local communities, they are truly committed to helping to create change at a local scale.
Inspired by Rosa’s Experience? Apply Now!
When I was asked by one of our NGO partner companies here in Chengdu to join them on a company trip to Yunqiao village accompanying one of our participants, I became very excited. This NGO are a non-profit Community Service Organisation approved by the Chengdu Civil Affairs. Their mission is to “improve ecosystems by working directly with communities to achieve sustainable development and the construction of an ecological civilization” – the organisation offer internship opportunity CDNGO06.
I was accompanying InternChina participant Rosa on the trip to Yunqiao Village, during the entirety of the trip I was discussing with Rosa about her stay in China and her internship with the NGO. Rosa has been here for about 6 weeks and is half way through her programme; her official role at the company is Ecological Marketing Associate.
Rosa is in charge of writing promotional material and placing volunteer activities on record but she has been involved with a lot more than this, she has actually managed entire visits to Yunqiao. Rosa has also been responsible for applying for grant schemes which has included the creation of projects and allocating budget.
I was happy to hear how much she enjoys her internship, before coming to China she didn’t expect to be as involved in the day to day projects. She has been very impressed with her colleagues’ passion, especially with the Yunqiao Project that she also tries to put her heart and soul into it.
On the day of the company trip I was very nervous as I didn’t know what to expect as well as being a representative for InternChina. Little did I know, how important this day was for the company itself.
My day started around 6 am wondering what the trip would be like, obviously it wasn’t a normal workday. I was informed that 50 students from Baruch College in New York would be joining us, so I was getting prepared to meet the students and talk to them about InternChina and its work as well as gathering my business cards to go.
With my breakfast in hand I headed out to meet Rosa at the hotel where the students were staying. There I met Alina, the students’ coordinator and two of Rosa’s Chinese colleagues at the NGO. After making final arrangements and assisting all the students into the buses, we headed out towards the North West of the city at around 8:15 am.
Two hours later we arrived at a small village named Yunqiao (云桥) in the Pidu District. After arriving we met the Project Manager and he informed us about their work, especially in the area. One of the companies projects is the rehabilitation and protection of Chengdu’s Yunqiao Wetlands Water Resource Protected Area.
But what is so special about this area? Yunqiao is located between the confluence of two of Chengdu’s most important rivers: the Botiao and Xuyan rivers. Botiao is one of the four “mother rivers” of Chengdu city. Along with Xuyan river, they both are the major source of drinking water for the city.
The “Magical Earth” project is an initiative to protect native plants and animal habitats in the Yuanqiao Wetlands. One of the major problems in the area is the alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) which is a non-native species; alligator weed is considered a major threat to ecosystems because of its negative effects to both aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Through the joint efforts of government departments, community organisations, scientific research institutions and entrepreneurs, the recovery and management of Yunqiao wetlands has been gradually and successfully implemented.
Even though the initiative is very important for the village itself, unfortunately only a few villagers volunteer. But several international companies not only provide volunteers, they also provide donations.
What We Saw
This day was a day to celebrate. After the Project Manager explained to us the importance of the wetlands, we witnessed the signing of an agreement between Rosa’s Internship Host Company, the local government and the head of the village. This agreement recognizes Yunqiao village as a natural protectorate, which gives the area an official status of a natural reserve.
We were able to see the wetlands ourselves and get our hands dirty by pulling out some alligator weed. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in our favor. This made it difficult for us to stay longer and for me to explore the area a little more.
The overall experience was very rewarding. Sometimes we take for granted what nature can give us and this trip has been a eye-opening experience. Therefore, I am happy I was able to meet very passionate people within the company who are willing to give that extra push for the environment.
Especial thanks to our partner company and Rosa for providing us the diagrams of the area.
Since the first day I arrived in Chengdu I have loved every moment. From my first ride on an ofo to my last. From sweating through my first hotpot to a little brow mop at my last. Chengdu has shown me a completely new way of life, laid back, relaxed, slow paced. When you think of China you think of the crazy hustle and bustle of giant cities. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Chengdu despite being the biggest city I’ve ever been to is also the most relaxed.
My initial fears of relentless spice and unbearable huajiao, have ended in me wondering if I’ll ever find a comparable flavour back home. The range of delicious food that can be found here in Chengdu will be one of the things I miss the most.
Alongside getting to know this fantastic city I have also made some fantastic friends! The InternChina family welcomed me with open arms. The office environment is nothing but great fun on a daily basis with great team spirit. As well, all the interns I’ve met in my 3 months have been fantastic in both helping me get to know the city and sharing great stories and experiences together.
My internship has allowed me to pass on the great experience I had previously on my internship in 2015 with the interns I’ve met here in Chengdu. Organising great activities and some extracurricular events have helped me form truly great friendships.
The skills I’ve learnt during my internship are so varied and extensive there is no doubt that I will be able to use them later on in life. From the daily tasks I’ve completed to meetings and marketing, I’ve gained a wide range of transferable skills.
InternChina has given me a platform from which I can only excel. This has truly been an unforgettable experience that I’m sure I will tell stories about for the rest of my life!
What an unforgettable life-changing experience? Apply now!
It’s now time for me to leave the InternChina team after a 6 month internship in the Qingdao office. It seemed like thanking the team for the amazing time I had will be a nice topic for my “goodbye blog”. However I’ll try to show you that you should definitely consider doing your internship there as well!
First of all, are you passionate about China and want to learn more about how to do business there? Also, the internship of your dreams is one where you’ll have plenty of responsibilities and support? Finally, are you ready to learn more about yourself and your abilities? Well, if yes you should definitely keep reading! But first, enjoy a few pictures of the Qingdao team!
Business in China
When I first arrived in the InternChina team I was asked to choose what I wanted to focus on during my internship. As I wanted to learn more about business and marketing I became a Business Development and Marketing Intern. Indeed. as part of our job here we need to find new partner companies who are seeking foreign interns. First of all, you’ll need to learn and understand to concept of face and guanxi. Then you definitely will always address companies as you should in China. As a result I was even able to assist a meeting with a company all in Chinese and understand it! Thanks to my 8 years of Chinese studies I could understand the language and process of a meeting with a Chinese partner company. Also, it’s definitely a nice way to develop your own network and make connections for the future.
Funny thing about talking to companies here in China: you use WeChat! Emojis and video calls are both easy ways to communicate, and are the keys to a successful and professional relationship! Business in China is full of surprises! Regarding the marketing part of my internship our aim was to promote our services. For example I add to posts on social medias about our activities and internship offers. I even wrote an article about it, check it out! I discovered that Photoshop wasn’t that hard to use and that we could do amazing things with it!
Responsibilities and Support from the InternChina Team
Being a little too shy to use my Chinese and actually go meet companies, I reconsidered my position and wanted to look into another aspect of the company, the one that we call “booking”. It’s basically the process between InternChina and a student who wants to find an internship in China and uses our services to do it. As I am French, I was dealing with French students. They were all dreaming of coming to China and from step 1 to the final details, I helped more than 10 students in a few weeks. By talking to future interns and helping them find the suitable company and internship for them you really feel so useful and talented when you finally succeed! As part of the Qingdao office you’ll be rewarded with a delicious Tsingtao beer!
During the whole process I was never alone. One thing you should know about InternChina when you join the team, is that you’re joining a big family. We are all connected to each other via Skype even if we are all located in different countries. One of the most important part of our services is to offer support to our participants, well within InternChina you couldn’t find a more supportive team. Even if I was probably annoying at some point – by asking too much – I was always given an answer to my questions and never felt left alone. Let’s meet some of them now!
Learn about yourself
Keep in mind that doing an internship with InternChina is the opportunity of developing the skills you wish for. By that I mean that the diversity of tasks you’ll be given will depends on your own abilities and most of all interests! That’s also a way to push yourself into tasks you wouldn’t imagine to be able to do. I didn’t believe 6 months ago that I would be able to understand and take part in a Chinese meeting. Or to enjoy watching the statistics on our Facebook page and try to find ways improving them! I really enjoyed working in the office – and if you’re not an office person well be aware that you’ll have plenty of occasion to work outside the office as well.
You’ll work within an international team, and that’s one of the best way to learn about communication and culture. With the Chinese staff members I was able to learn more about Chinese culture and develop my interest of it. With my British colleagues I learned a lot of new expressions thanks to our weekly “Quiz” – have you ever heard of Hobnobs before? As between offices we are all using Skype to communicate I developed some communication skills that I didn’t know I had before. Moreover you will also learn how to be more organized and how to prioritize your work – that’s super helpful and not only for your time at InternChina! Let me introduce you to the team you’ll have the opportunity to work with:
Even if the fact to answer the question “what’s your internship like” by saying “my internship is basically to help people find internships” is awesome – doing it is even better! Interested of doing that awesome internship, or come to China with our programmes, apply now !
大家好！ Hello everyone, my name is Subin and I am from South Korea. I’ve begun my internship at the fabulous InternChina Chengdu office and I would like to share my story with you!
Having an ambitious and brave mom, I had to travel with her around the world, experience the cultural differences and learn different languages since I was a kid. I left my home country when I was 10.
Among the countries I have visited, China was the country I missed the most. The fantastic landscape, the delicious food and beautiful memories I had with my local friends brought me back to China.
The China in my memory and the China that I am living in now
I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in China: it has developed so fast in the few years I’ve been away! The life here has become so much easier with applications like Wechat and Zhifubao (Mobile Payment App). But the food is still extremely delicious and the local people are as welcoming as before.
Taobao is the best invention ever. We can buy everything on this application at the most unbelievable prices. If you come to China, try to not get addicted to it, because I already am!
The decision to come back to China was a turning point for me: from the timid daughter who followed and listened to her mom to the grown-up who makes decision by her own and is responsible for them. Therefore, nowadays my life is full of adventures and I love it!
In Chengdu this weekend we took a short trip out the city to explore Qing Cheng Shan. This mountain has 2 different area’s. The front mountain, a more touristy location and the back mountain, for serious hikers! We headed for the back mountain!
After arriving on the train we took a short bus ride to the start of the trail for the back mountain. Upon entering the back mountain area you immediately enter Tai’an Ancient Town. This area is full of old-style buildings serving tea, meals and snacks. The contrast between the old style buildings and bright neon lights was quite a spectacle.
We then crossed a river on a very wobbly bridge and started our ascent. The climb is not for the weak with thousands upon thousands of stairs leading the way to the top of the mountain. The scenery is stunning with waterfalls and rainforest like jungle surrounding the pathway. After about 2 hours of climbing, we reached an impassable lake. Luckily there was a boat to take us across. In similar fashion to a Venetian gondola, we were punted across the water to carry on our climb.
After a further two hours of climbing, we reached the top and the White Cloud Shrine. At the shrine were Buddhist monks offering to engrave your name on a medal to commemorate your ascent. As well as many people burning incense and offerings. We spent an hour here relaxing and enjoying our lunch.
It was at this point we planned our route back down. We looked at the map and chose the red route. Little did we know that red meant treachery and difficulty. This way down was a test. Steep steps. Wobbly wooden planks. A challenge. Our descent was nervy and exhilarating.
After we reached the end of the red path we headed into a jungle-like valley with beautiful waterfalls and scenery. This area featured planked walkways hanging onto the sides of the valley. This area was truly beautiful. The constant sound of waterfalls and the overhanging shrubbery created a peaceful atmosphere.
Upon our return to Tai’an Ancient Town, we enjoyed some tea by the river and a game of cards. Before we knew it it was time to return to the hustle and bustle of Chengdu.
Inspired? Apply Now!
Over the Chinese New Year period, our interns enjoyed an authentic homestay experience. Calum and Alejandra both left the city to experience a traditional Chinese New Year with their respective homestay families.
Calum’s Homestay CNY Experience in Dali
First off, I must thank my host-family for bringing me along with them for their New Year’s trip to Dali, their generosity regularly astounds me! I struggle to imagine ways they could give me a better experience here in China. Dali sits on the banks of the Erhai Lake, surrounded by mountains. Just a short flight of a little over an hour brought us out of Chengdu, and under the blue skies and sun of Yunnan Province.
Our hotel had a very homely feel, with relatively bare corridors leading to beautifully furnished rooms. The owners were an amiable family of husband, wife, and daughter. Much of the furnishing had been done by the husband, himself a keen carpenter. Each piece of the garden and the house had its own individuality. While there was no clear theme to any of it, somehow, they all came together perfectly to make us feel at home. Meals were all homemade, and I must be honest, I think Yunnan edges out Sichuan for cuisine…
The relatively small size of the business meant that often the hotel owners could accompany us on outings, guiding us through the local countryside. Experiencing Dali’s Old Town was something special. Buildings were an eclectic mix of efficient concrete structure designed to keep cool in the summer. Beautiful traditional Chinese architecture, all gilded with generous amounts of neon. This gave it an almost Vegas-like feel at times, while just two dozen metres back from the main road sat simple farming buildings. Industrious locals all trying to find something unique with which to set themselves apart and earn their living was a pleasure to see. There are some absolute gems hidden away in those streets for those willing to seek them out!
The whole trip was just the right length to shake up my Chengdu routine. Every day discovering a little more of the fountain of different cultures that is China. Perhaps in the future, I will be able to bring my family to see the area and meet the hotel family. Although I could go on for hours about how excellently they treat all their guests, I can tell without a doubt that the pleasure is all theirs!
Alejandra’s Countryside Homestay Experience
Chinese New Year with my host family was quite an experience. It started with a visit to Leshan, my host mum’s hometown. I visited a cousin whom I had met previously and who is kind of a genius with Chinese medicine (yes, I have had quite a few sessions of hot cupping and acupuncture). I went orange picking in Leshan and had an amazing lunch after. Everything is so fresh in the countryside! After lunch, I learnt how to fly cards. First time lucky I managed to fly a card just right and slice through an Aloe Vera plant. The cousin was denting tea cans with every card he flew- I need a lot more practice!
After Leshan, we head off to Guang’an, about 4 hours away from Chengdu, where my host family’s father is from. As a foreigner, you become the town’s talk in a very good way. People want to come say hi and meet you. I spent my evening playing cards, running around racing with the children and playing badminton. Once you are that far away from the city air is so fresh you’re going to want to be out walking all the time.
However, the next day the Winter Olympics were on and we were all a little tired so we decided to spend the day just chilling, except the host grand parents- they never never stop! They are farmers and their cooking is incredible, with everything they cooked grown and picked from their garden. They are so strong, healthy and always very hospitable and smiley. I offered to help but they said guests were not allowed to help. I managed to quickly pick up the plates once or twice after dinner when they weren’t looking (I call that an achievement!)
New Year’s Eve was also spent at home. I thought we’d go out to town and look at lanterns and fireworks but in the countryside, the New Year’s Eve is spent at home with all the family gathered. No disappointment there at all. We had a great time at dinner then… Fireworks concert just before midnight until 6 am. Everyone in the neighbourhood takes turns and fires amazing rounds of fireworks.
After and during the fireworks, we all went upstairs and watched the New Year’s gala on the TV. I understood half of the comedy sketches, but it was good fun watching everyone laugh. There also some dancing, singing and acrobatic performances that were all YUP! ASIAN LEVEL! INSANELY PRECISE. We then called it a night for an early wake-up call.
Chinese New Year!
I had no idea what it would be like but the amount of people that Guang’an had made it look more like a big city than a town. Turns out it is good luck to spend the entire New Year’s day outside your home. I spent the whole day with my host father playing cards and just having a good laugh and banter with his old school friends. I became one of the lads for the day. The town looked like a mix between a children’s fair and a tea house full of Mahjong and card adult players. Then towards night time it was Baijiu and dinner time. Let’s just say I had a really good night’s sleep after such a long day.
Finally, the trip to the countryside made me realise how different traditions are but also how immensely hospitable Chinese people are. The family welcomed me with open arms and were always asking twice if I was okay. Even when you insist you are alright, they always want to make sure you are more than alright and this just shows how giving and kind their character is.
Want to experience a traditional Chinese New Year yourself? Apply Now!