By now, you’ve almost certainly heard that Pagoda Projects are 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 = 38 NTD
€1 EURO = 33 NTD
$ 1 CAD = 22 NTD
*Exchange rates as of 30/06/2021. To follow any changes, click here.
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: $24,500 NTD
Middle Budget for those who treat themselves to weekly nights out, often come on trips and perhaps buy more western foods: $29,800 NTD
High Budget for those who aren’t afraid to spend more on cocktail bars, frequent taxis and other luxury items: $36,000 NTD
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!
Monthly Estimates: $24,500 NTD
Rent – $8500
Food – $9000
Transport – $500
Extras – $6000
Treats – $500Monthly Estimates: $29,800 NTD
Rent – $11,000
Food – $10,500
Transport – $1300
Extras – $6000
Treats – $1000Monthly Estimates: $33,500 NTD
Rent – $12,500
Food – $12,000
Transport – $1500
Extras – $6000
Treats – $4000
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 100 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 Pagoda Project’s exciting paid placement programme in Taipei, click here.
On May 8th 2018 more than 30 representatives from CPAZ, CTC & InternChina visited the Pingsha Experimental Primary School to distribute funds raised at the Come Together Charity Music Festival 2017 and provide care packs to a total of 50 disadvantaged students.
The bursary money totalled 82,500 RMB, meaning over 1500 RMB was raised for each child in need!
This is CPAZ’s 12th year in a row working with families to support the education of those in need in Pingsha, and the 5th year that the CTC – Come Together Charity Music Festival has raised money for CPAZ’s mission. The day started when representatives of CTC and CPAZ distributed a total of 82,500 RMB to 50 local children in need.
The bursary for each child was 1,500 RMB, along with a care package which including a backpack and school supplies. Afterwards, representatives split into groups to visit some of the families who receive the bursary.
Come Together Community
Come Together Community (CTC) is made up of a collection of like-minded fellows who care about the community, helping out, and making a difference. The founders of CTC have collectively lived in Zhuhai and China for over 40 years, and consider Zhuhai home.
InternChina is a proud sponsor of CTC, and also one of the official organisers of CTC’s annual charity music festival each year, Come Together. The aim of the NGO is to help people in Zhuhai by uniting the expat and local communities to fundraise for charitable causes and local philanthropies.
Come Together Music Festival
In November 2017, the 6th annual Come Together Charity Music Festival was held. It was an extremely successful event, with a total of 900+ people attending and raising a total of 255,000 RMB. The event has volunteers, bands and sponsor work alongside food and beverage vendors, the schools, the venue and more local groups to raise money for local children in need.
As CTC firmly believes transparency is of utmost importance, you can view all the income and expenses of the Come Together Music Festival 2017 here to see how they got the total amount of 255,000 RMB.
The Charity Promotion Association of Zhuhai (CPAZ) is a registered CSO (Civil Society Organisation) in China. They work to promote social activism and public welfare with the aim of providing compassionate assistance to vulnerable sectors of society. They operate a range of projects with the aim of helping financially destitute, disadvantaged people and particularly young students living as orphans or with single parents.
Want to experience charity events like these yourself? 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!
What is KTV?
KTV/卡拉OK (KalaOK) is a staple of Chinese nightlife. Your Chinese friends and work colleagues may invite you out to what is basically a nightclub to Karaoke. You’ll pay for a room usually for at least a few hours and then you get to sing, drink and dance the night away!
My first KTV
I first went to KTV almost 4 years ago. I had just arrived in Nanjing and was still getting used to the culture shock of living in China, when before I knew what was happening a bunch of us were heading out to a KTV. The experience was intense, it started off with our two Chinese friends each singing a Chinese pop ballad extremely well, which would make most people feel nervous.
Luckily for me this was also my first time trying 白酒 (baijiu) – Chinese rice wine, which took the edge off! Soon we were all mumbling along to the pop songs we knew most of the words to and by the end we were singing full belt to Queen. We left at 5 am, after close to 6 hours of singing. It was one of my fondest memories of my first time in China and since then has become one of my favourite pastimes.
Some people’s Marmite
Love it or hate it KTV, can certainly make or break friendships. Often the first-time can be nerve-racking, and whether you need some liquid courage or just the support of friends, it’s important that everyone feels relaxed and not judged, as at the end of the day 90% of people don’t have golden pipes! You’ll probably discover who is accepting of other people’s music taste and who presses the skip button when they don’t like something. Most importantly you’re not auditioning for The Voice, so the emphasis is on fun!
What to expect
There is a plethora of choice when it comes to KTV. Sometimes it will be a palatial structure full of mirrors and disco lights, or sometimes it is just a simple affair with a cosier feel. Based on how much you are willing to pay you can book a small room or a huge auditorium with a balcony. You pay for the room, so the more of you there are, the cheaper it will be!
They may provide you with drinks and even food for free. There may be instruments such as tambourines and maracas in the room and even a bar and toilet. KTVs will have Western songs, however the choice may vary from just famous pop songs all the way through to a vast collection of classics!
KTVs in Zhuhai
Usually it is helpful to get a Chinese friend to help you book a KTV in advance, so that you don’t get there and find it is fully booked!
Below is a list of some of the best KTVs to visit in Zhuhai:
- GTWO 量贩KTV
- 音乐匣子（Yinyuexiazi）- Music Box
Whether you give a heart rending rendition of your favourite ballad or scream into a microphone as you attempt to make up for your lack of pitch, either way it’s going to be a laugh!
This weekend in Chengdu our interns took a visit to the famous Wenshu Monastery. Upon arrival, the beauty of the buildings stunned us. From the towering peace pagoda to the stunning halls, the architecture amazed us all.
Upon entering the monastery, you notice its layout in the traditional Chinese style. Wenshu is made of 5 south facing halls in a row leading up to the stunning main hall at the far end from the entrance. In classic Chinese style there was maintenance underway including this man precariously perched atop scaffolding on wheels using a jet wash to clean the beams.
Having toured the grounds of the monastery we headed outside to an antiques market. Here we found old communist memorabilia, including the famous little red book, and Mao-ist propaganda amongst other treasures. One vendor was sat outside his shop playing his guitar as his dog kept an eye on the passers by.
After looking around the monastery and the antiques market we headed back towards the temple grounds in search of some food.
The surrounding area to the monastery is home to some of the most famous food in Sichuan. Not ones to miss the opportunity to eat, we jumped in the line of a famous restaurant. The restaurant was packed full with no space to sit. Upon ordering our TianShuiMian (this restaurants famous dish) we managed to find a spot to sit and dug into to this amazing delicacy. Our interns loved the sweet and spicy contrast to these amazing hand made noodles!
After sampling this delight we wanted more and headed to another famous spot near the metro station. As is the case with all well-known eateries in China, this place also had a queue out the front. This time we were queuing for Guo Kui. The menu offered Beef, Pork, Pig’s Snout, Pigs Ear, Noodles and other delights to fill this delightful pastry pocket. I personally chose the pig’s snout, which didn’t disappoint.
Having filled our stomachs with great food and our eyes with fantastic scenery we all headed off. On the way back we stopped by Tianfu Square, right in the middle of the city to snap some pictures and take in our surroundings. All in all a great day out!
Interested in visiting Wenshu Monastery and trying some Sichuan cuisine? Apply now!
Written by Claire Sadler
From the most isolated city in the world to one of the largest cities in China
Coming from the remote city of Perth, Australia I thought interning in Chengdu would be the perfect opportunity to experience a different lifestyle.
Although when I first arrived, the difference between my coastal life and bustling Chengdu definitely gave me culture shock, this soon subsided with the excitement of being exposed to such an amazing place.
I have only been here for a month but in that time I have already made enough friends to freeload on almost every continent, eaten my weight in Sichuan cuisine and explored many parts of this beautiful city!
In an attempt to explore as much as possible during my stay, I have seen so much of what Chengdu has to offer. Some of the highlights have been the infamous pandas, Dongmen Bridge, the Leshan Giant Buddha and People’s Park.
One funny experience of my trip though was how excited the locals at Sanxingdui Museum were when they saw Dominique and I. A crowd of at least 20 people asked for pictures because they had never seen a foreigner there before! All I could think about was how they would have shown everyone the pictures of us.
During my stay in Chengdu I’m situated in Gaoshengqiao, known for the Tibetan culture. It is crazy how even doing day to day tasks I am exposed to this culture, as I even see monks shopping in Walmart!
In terms of my placement I am completing a marketing internship with Inspiration Tech. It has been an amazing opportunity to learn new marketing skills, specifically how to effectively promote a product and create advertisements. I have also gotten the opportunity to write articles and conduct interviews, which has boosted my experience in journalism.
The whole trip has been eye opening, inspiring and rewarding in so many ways. Interning in Chengdu was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget!
Do you want to experience Chengdu for yourself? Then apply now!
Arriving in a totally different country can be confusing more many people, both culturally and professionally. Some difficulties will be there, but after 3 months in China I can say that the first 2 weeks were the richest weeks of discovery and experience!
The difficulties encountered during this period not only allow us to develop our problem-solving skills but also make the experience even more exciting!
Before You Arrive
Of course, to avoid some problems on your arrival, it’s sensible to take some steps before your departure:
- Check the dates of your visa to buy your plane tickets. You must always return to your country at least 2 days before the end of the visa.
- Tell your bank about your departure dates and your destination so that your card does not get blocked once in China, which could be very inconvenient! In addition, do not forget to consult your bank regarding withdrawal limits and payment fees. In China you do not pay with your credit card everywhere, you often have to withdraw. Note: with a Visa card, you can’t withdraw from all bank ATMs China.
- Purchase a VPN. Without this, many Western sites will no longer be accessible and it is difficult to download a VPN in China (without access to Google & Google play!)
- Download Baidu, Baidu Maps and Baidu Translate.
- Check the weather in your chosen city to know what to pack, to avoid suffering from cold/ heat and having to buy clothes once you arrive!
- Tip! If you want to control your expenses, do not hesitate to download a currency converter on your phone.
Your First Two Weeks in China
Remember that any problems or difficulties you encounter in China will always have a solution!
I will now quote some of the “classic” difficulties that you will encounter during your first 2 weeks in China, and explain how to overcome these in a simple way!
Lost on the way to your internship?
- On your first trip to work with one of the InternChina members, take pictures of the bus stop / buildings as a landmark.
- Plan the trip on BaiduMaps. You can find a quick tutorial here!
- Contact InternChina if you are really lost or unsure about your orientation. We are here to help you!
Not sure what to do in the office? Very busy colleagues?
- Do some research on the market, the competition and make a list of the new vocabulary you encounter.
- You can then impress your colleagues and managers with your knowledge and show that you are thirsty to learn and be involved!
- Ask what is expected of you and the tasks you will need perform – the Chinese appreciate and encourage proactivity among their employees
Having problems with the language barrier?
- Explain that you are a little “rusty” in the morning (no coffee yet!).
- Ask them to clearly write their request so that you do not forget.
Do not worry, over time you will learn to understand the different accents of your colleagues!
If English isn’t your first language, are you shy because you are not confident?
- Don’t underestimate your English skills and don’t be discouraged. Your English will gradually improve over time and you will become confident very quickly!
- Remember, youu will not be the only non native-English speaker on the spot!
- Feel free to express your lack of confidence if you want to be reassured.
- Nobody will judge you, on the contrary! People are aware that it is not easy for you to start and that you need time to adapt.
Do you have trouble making yourself understood by taxi drivers?
- Take BaiduMaps (tutorial!) and ask your colleagues a few well-known places in the city.
- Add these places to your BaiduMaps favorites and learn to pronounce them in Chinese!
Believe me, this is a good workout! After 2 or 3 tries, the driver will understand you and you will be on your way to independence!
You do not know where to exchange your foreign currency for RMB?
- Simplest option: do this directly upon your arrival in China (at the airport or port). Currency exchange counters will be present.
- If not, ask one of the members of InternChina, they will know how to answer you for sure.
Some counters offer cheap exchange rates, it is sometimes better to compare before making a choice. For advice, contact our team!
Want to meet new people?
- Whether you live in an apartment or a homestay, don’t hesitate to join our dinners on Thursday evening and our activities or trips on weekends. Find out more about our services in Zhuhai here and Qingdao here.
- The other interns also want to make new friends, so don’t be shy! Add the other IC members on WeChat (Wechat tutorial) and get to know them!
- The outings between trainees are numerous, you’ll have many opportunities!
What to eat at the restaurant?
Going to a restaurant can be intimidating when the local language is unknown to us and we can not read or speak it! Fortunately, there are some useful tips:
- If the menu is written exclusively in Chinese and you can not read it, refer to the images to choose your dish.
- If you want to know what you are eating and are ready to learn some basics, here is a very useful blog on how to read a Chinese menu!
I hope these few tips will help you get a glimpse of what awaits you in China and have reassured you about your potential! With some effort, it’s quite possible to overcome any difficulties you may encounter during your first 2 weeks in China. You will come out of this experience bigger and more independent than ever! And don’t forget, our team is available 24 hours a day to answer any problem!
Ready to embark on the InternChina adventure? Click here!
Written by Sylvia Liu
It’s been a bit over a month now since I first began my internship experience in Chengdu with InternChina, and I can easily say that this experience is definitely one that will be remembered!
Having travelled to many other Chinese cities before, Chengdu is a breath of fresh air; not literally however, but rather in the sense of its pace of life.
Chengdu meanders peacefully through each day; while other cities rush and are filled with spontaneity. That’s not to say Chengdu is less developed economically, quite the contrary! Just as its numerous shopping centres, nightlife and still expanding public transport systems like to prove.
Personally I have found the pace of life charming. I have enjoyed spending my Sundays temple-seeing, sipping tea at monasteries, and nibbling on sunflower seeds while listening to the indistinct chatter of Sichuanese.
Food has also held a prominent role in my time here! You will be hard pressed to find a restaurant who won’t serve at least a bowl of chilli with the famous Sichuan Peppercorns along with your meal.
The old streets of Chengdu, the majority located in the inner South West of the city, are a delight to walk through. There is plenty of opportunity to snack on the delicious street food, while being surrounded by traditional architecture permeating with historical significance.
I believe that there is knowledge that can only be learned from doing an internship in China. In particular cultural proficiency, which is always a handy skill to have even if one does not pursue a career in international business.
Some of the more interesting tasks I’ve done at the company have included researching the potential of incorporating blockchain technology with gaming, as well as game testing for current beta projects.
The employees at the company are all very inclusive, and it is interesting to gain insight into general Chinese organisational culture. The food options available at lunch are an additional highlight of the workday. The local 7-Eleven is frequented often for its lunchtime pick-and-mix boxes!
The people I have met in Chengdu have been the best part of my internship yet. Being able to meet people from all over the world through my internship in Chengdu is something I’m grateful for. I always look forward to spending time with the other interns or going to events organised by InternChina, such as Thursday Dinner, or even weekend activities outside the city.
I can say with no doubt that it is the people I have met here that make this trip the enjoyable experience it has been!
Interested in seeing everything that Sylvia has during her time in Chengdu? Then apply now!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of WeChat and have managed to set up your account. However, for many of you, it may have ended there. Finally, after years of feeling left out of the loop, us “Wai Guo Ren” (foreigners) can saunter up to a till point and nonchalantly wave our phones at the cashier. Has anything been more thrilling than this?!
The Chinese company Tencent announced today that it will be accepting international bank cards as payment through WeChat wallet, meaning you no longer have to go through the hassle of opening a Chinese Bank account. This guide will help you to achieve your dreams of scanning and paying!
A Step By Step Guide to add your Bank Card to WeChat Wallet:
Select the “Me” icon from the bottom menu in WeChat and then select the “Wallet” option.
Select “Cards” from the top menu.
This screen may be different for some of you but essentially you want to select “Add a new card.”
With this being China, you can either snap a quick pic of your card or manually enter your card number.
After this select your bank card. If your bank doesn’t appear go ahead and select Visa or Mastercard (whichever one is applicable) and then credit card (even if it’s a debit.)
You will then be asked to enter all you personal details in the following menu.
Good to know:
If your region is not shown, enter your closest city, and for your phone number it’s up to you whether you use your international or Chinese number!
After entering these details your card should be connected to your WeChat!
In some cases this doesn’t allow you to transfer money from your bank account to WeChat or pay with you bank card. However it does allow you to receive money from others, so I’m sure you can ask your Chinese friends to help out if you give them some cash! Then they can transfer you the equivalent value so it’s available for you to use on WeChat!
For international payments, we always recommend using TransferWise. They’re cheaper than the banks, because they always use the real exchange rate – which you can see on Google – and charge a very small fee. They’re also safe and trusted by over 2 million people around the world. You can sign up here.
As you may know, in China you’ll need a VPN to use your favourite apps via Google. And most of the time the traditional Google Maps isn’t really accurate in China, so it’s better to be able to use Chinese map applications. No worries, when you arrive in China our team on place will give you an orientation and help you discover Baidu Maps. However this application is all in Chinese, so we thought this tutorial would be helpful in case you don’t remember all the information we give you on your first day in China!
Our team will help you download the app, and set up your account when you’ll arrive, so I won’t talk about those steps!
Don’t forget : when you want to use Baidu Maps, turn off you VPN – it will be faster!
Want to know how to save a location as a favourite in Baidu? Follow those steps:
- Type the location name or address. For example, the LPG Bar in Qingdao is “Laofeijiuba”
- Click on the location and it will appear on the map
- To save it for later, just press the star on the left bottom corner – you did it !
How to Find Your Favourite Places
- Click on your profile
- Click on the Star to access your favourites
- To rename it, long press on the location
- Then choose “重命名”
- Use a name that you’ll easily remember, like LPG
- Click on “确定” to save it! Easy right?
Bus and Subway Maps
Want to know the bus or metro route, and the timetable? You just need to use Baidu Maps!
- For subway line: enter the line number + “haoxian”
- For bus line: enter bus number + “lu”
- Choose the 1st choice, or one that looks correct
- Now you can see the entire route, and timetable in both directions
- Click here to find out where is the nearest bus station
- Click here to go there by foot without getting lost!
- 1st stop is indicated by the green pointer, and the last one by the red one.
Let’s say, today is Thursday, and you signed in to join us! Unfortunately you can’t use the location we gave you on our group chat. No worries, we will always give you the location, and the address so you can either follow the location, or search for it on Baidu yourself!
Let’s say tonight we are going to Magic Eggplant in Qingdao: 大尧三路26号 (Dayaosanlu 26hao)
- Copy the adress here
- To see the route, click on the blue button
- Taxi route will appear firstly, you can see how much it might cost you if you chose this option, here 10 RMB
- Click here to chose the public transportation way, and chose the first route for example ( to know more go the bonus pictures)
- How to go there? Follow the foot
- When is the bus coming? It’s one stop away on this case
- Ok we arrived at the bus stop, let’s go to the restaurant – follow the blue foot again!
For those who can’t read or speak Chinese, here is some more information on how to be a pro at Baidu Maps!
- Left part : How many stops in total / Right part : How long will the journey take
- Are you walking somewhere? First you can see how long it will take you, and how far the place is
- To pick the more suitable route, look at the duration, and kilometers to see what’s more convenient. Usually, 1st option is faster, but might have to walk more
I guess you’re now ready to come to China, so why not apply now!