Experience minsu in Taiwan

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For the free and easy traveller, staying at the conventional hotel is no longer a refreshing experience. Leave behind the luxury of hotel glamour and bask in the friendliness of the locals at these smaller accommodation. In recent years, there has been a rising trend of staying at hostels with smaller and more localised lodging. Accommodation can range from backpacker hostels in USA, to the cozy homestay minsu in Taiwan, traditional Ryokan in Japan and even the historic Hanok in Korea. This is especially popular among locals, for an authentic cultural experience that is not overshadowed by the commercialism of the tourism sector.

Contrary to popular belief, staying in a minsu does not mean having to squeeze on a couch on those room. In Taiwan, there are those who open up their houses to travellers for a lower fee than hotels. Minsu consists of a range of room types and usually less than five rooms (double, triple or more) for a small group to stay. Some minsus are decorated according to themes ranging from beach, farm, hot spring, spa, castle, fantasy, Mediterranean or simply classic. For example, the Dream Town Hotel in Cingjing has a European theme, while the beachside minsu villas in coastal Penghu has an ocean or a santorini theme. The best part of staying in a minsu is that the owners usually provide home-cooked meals in local Taiwanese cuisine. You can also mingle with other guests or chat with the hospitable owners during your stay there, making your experience a personal and memorable one.

Let's take a look at the factors that you should look out for when selecting a minsu for your clients.

Accessibility

Most minsus are located in the suburbs and are hard to find. However, they usually provide transport with prior reservation from the nearest train stations. Be sure to check the area of your minsu before booking and arrive early in the day to avoid getting lost.

Although a minsu does not function like a hotel with a whole fleet of trained staff to service your every need, they are also comparable in terms of aesthetic taste and comfort. With the owners' dedication to decorate the place, some minsu are actually tastefully designed with exquisite furniture that makes the decor unique. Here are some examples of amazing minsu places that can be found on www.qiito.com.

Castle fantasy theme

As the name suggests, Xin Yuan Castle is based on a castle theme. Experience living like a royal with the exquisite decor and furniture during your stay at this minsu. From the velvet cushions to the soft floor mats, indulge in luxury and pamper yourself at this minsu for an affordable price!

Sato Castle is a stunning medieval golden ancient castle among the modern and technological metropolis. Each room has a different and interesting theme, ranging from Popeye the Sailor to Cinderella's Princess theme and much more! The décor includes a giant carriage in your own room, with a huge jacuzzi in the bathroom!

For animal lovers

What's so special about Ilancat Country House is that there are five furry animals, consisting of cats and a Chihuahua, that belong to the owners here. For all animal lovers, you may want to consider staying in this minsu and enjoy tea with the lovely furry pals.

Travelling in a large group? You may want to consider staying at The Dew B&B, which is an African themed villa minsu. The villa is mainly decorated with wooden furniture and they have beautiful four poster canopy beds that will make you want to lay in bed whole day. This minsu even provide high quality organic bathroom products for your usage.

Ten reasons to stay in a minsu

1. Unique theme and decor, different minsu has different unique personalities.

2. Personal touch. Most owners are selfemployed, relying on word of mouth to get guests. This means that hosts will go out of their way to ensure that you have the best stay possible. Furthermore, the fact that B&Bs normally have just a handful of guests allows for more individual attention and a higher level of service. The more intimate setting creates a sociable atmosphere; guests can share travel tips and make new friends over breakfast.

Owners also live in the minsu themselves, thus will ensure cleanliness of their own homes and hygiene of the place.

3. Local place recommendations and interactions with the locals, owners and other travellers.

4. Save some money for shopping! (minsu is cheaper than hotels)

5. Food prepared in minsu is often the traditional speciality of their region. Have a taste of the homemade dishes with a healthier local flavour.

6. Feel at home even when abroad. The hospitable owners are more than just concierge. They share your travel experiences and offer help if needed.

7. Minsu accommodation is now very wellestablished in Taiwan so you can expect a basic standard of quality from the minsu. Locals themselves like to stay at minsu when on road trips or for short staycations.

8. Have a private gathering. Some minsu have no more than just four or five rooms, making them ideal for groups of friends or families holidaying together. By special arrangement you may be able to book the entire property, meaning you get the experience of having your own private holiday home while still having breakfast cooked for you!

9. A higher level of security and privacy due to fewer guests and more attention is devoted to each guest from the owner.

10. Peace and quiet. The friendly, family atmosphere encountered in a minsu promotes a greater sense of respect for your hosts and fellow guests. B&Bs also tend to have plenty of quiet nooks where you can relax with a cup of tea and a good book, from cosy fireplace lounges to cottage gardens.

Tips: Things to note when booking a minsu for your clients

1. Most minsu sites are listed in Chinese. If you are not well-versed in Chinese, you might want to check some English sites on minsu booking. Qiito provides an English option for your clients' booking needs.

2. Check for the official registration number of your minsu to make sure it is a legal accommodation or book from an established site. Find out more from the official sites at Taiwan Tourism Board. Call or email the contact person before booking. This is to ensure that the contact details given are in use and you can check with the owners on any enquiries you might have. Remember to arrange for private transportation if necessary. Some minsu might not have Wi-Fi due to their locations, thus you might want to check with the owners if you cannot survive without Wi-Fi!

3. Convert your currency early and take note of additional expenses like meals, daily necessities, transport and rental.

4. Some minsus might not have Wi-Fi due to their suburb locations, thus you might want to check with the owners if you cannot survive without Wi-Fi!

5. Mosquitoes! You might want to prepare some insect repellent tools especially during the rainy season and if you are staying at a farm or nature-based minsu.

The writer is founder of Qiito (short for Quick, Interesting, Interactive, Travel Organiser), an online travel organiser and accommodation hosting platform, which helps users personalise their itineraries. For more information on the accommodations or to book one, visit http://qiito.com.


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