The Ultimate Taiwan Guide For The Trip Of A Lifetime
Become a Taiwan expert in 5 minutes!
Rough Guides ranked Taiwan as one of the Top 10 Best Countries to visit this 2017! We’re not the least bit surprised because this beautiful country has something for everyone!
This sweet-potato shaped island has been gaining popularity with travellers in the last couple of years not just for its delicious food and charming landscapes, but also its affordability. Taiwanese people are also genuine, friendly and absolutely down-to-earth. More often than not, that’s the main thing that keeps people coming back every time.
So what are you waiting for? Jet over and experience Taiwan before it goes mainstream!
As with all travelling trips, we spend most of our pre-trip time sitting in front of the computer searching on how to make this the perfect trip. We find out what places are must-visits, where are the insta-worthy foods and of course, information on how to get around the city!
We know the pains of combing through thousands of pages on the web so here’s THE ultimate guide to having the best time in Taiwan!
1. The Basics
The Taiwanese currency is New Taiwan Dollar (NT$), though it is commonly referred to as Yuan. Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 NT$ and notes in 100, 500 and 1000 NT$.
Tipping in Taiwan is generally not expected, although it is greatly appreciated.
Here’s a mini guide to help you out with tipping estimations.
2. Staying Connected
For most of us today, staying connected while on holiday is a must. The Taiwanese government has rolled out schemes that make Wi-Fi readily available at multiple hotspots, especially popular areas like train stations for all to use.
Free Public Wi-Fi
Taiwan now offers multiple Wi-Fi hotspots across the country open to visitors from abroad.
All you have to do is show your passport to staff at tourist offices (visitor information offices) at the airports and train stations to gain access to the free basic iTaiwan Wi-Fi service. Each connection only lasts 4 hours before you’ll need to re-connect. Check out the location of Wi-Fi Hotspots here and some popular FAQs answered here.
Tripsle Pro Tip: With the same iTaiwan account, you may use local internet Wi-Fi service in other cities such as New Taipei, Tainan, Taichung, Tauyuan, Hsinchu, Changhua and Taitung.
Be very careful with what data (e.g. passwords, usernames etc) you share during connection because the connecting process uses unencrypted transmissions. This might cause information you put out there to be stolen.
If you’re looking for consistent and stable internet connection, we recommend renting a Pocket Wi-Fi (sometimes known as a Wi-Fi Egg). At only 75g, this handy device allows for an unlimited flow of data (we love this so much!), no deceleration to 3G and guaranteed connection across 99% of Taiwan! We’re pretty sure this will be your travel BFF!
When you’re travelling with family or a group of friends, you can connect up to 5 devices at once (be it phones, tablets or laptops) and everyone is able to enjoy high-speed Wi-Fi for almost 8 hours. That’s a bonus for all the Insta-story (or Snapchat) junkies out there – snap anytime, anywhere!
Tripsle’s 4G Pocket Wi-Fi is available for pick up at Taipei Taoyuan, Songshan or Kaohsiung Airports making it no doubt, very convenient for inbound travellers arriving at international airports other than Taipei.
Taoyuan International Airport(TPE) – Terminals 1 or Terminals 2, Unite Traveler service counter #3
Songshan Airport – Greeting Hall, next to Gate E of Terminal 1,
Luggage service counter (Opening hours: 6:00am-10:00pm)
Kaohsiung Airport – Kenting Express Shuttle Counter
(Opening Hours: 6:00am-12:00am)
However, do note that Pocket Wi-Fi devices must be returned to either Taoyuan or Kaohsiung counters.
This works well for users who want to do ‘open-jaw’ or multi-city itineraries – meaning flying into Taipei, before taking the THSR down to Kaohsiung and flying out from the South or vice versa. Increasingly, many savvy travellers opt for such itineraries for greater flexibility in exploring Taiwan.
On the other hand, if you’d like to have more than the basic Wi-Fi connection, you may go for a 4G SIM Card instead. 4G SIM Cards are available for 3, 5, 7 or 10 days and best of all, registration is not required!
With the 4G SIM Card, there’ll be no worries of bulking up unwanted roaming costs (we know we all have that fear of a $500, or more phone bill) as you enjoy unlimited 4G internet access and make outgoing calls.
NT$100 for 3 or 10 days
NT$50 for 5 days
NT$150 for 7 days
In fact, similar to our Pocket Wi-Fi, the 4G SIM Card has a wide coverage, enabling connection in more off-the-beaten-path areas of Taiwan. Perfect!
Pick up is available upon arrival at Taoyuan International Airport:
Terminal 1, Counter 3, Unite Traveler
Terminal 2, Counter 3, Unite Traveler
You don’t have to worry about SIM Card sizes because the Tripsle 4G SIM Card comes as a 3-in-1; Standard, Nano and Micro!
Unlike several SIM Cards out there where there’s a limited cap of 4G data with the price you pay, activation fee deducted, complicated activation procedure etc, the Tripsle Taiwan Unlimited 4G SIM Card has a very hassle-free activation – simply insert and restart your phone, Tadah!
Tripsle Pro Tip: Do take note you must be at least 20 years old to purchase a SIM Card
Getting out of Taoyuan International Airport
Taoyuan International Airport (for those who aren’t sure of Taiwan’s geography) is actually located about 50km away from Taipei. Getting to Taipei city from TPE is really easy because of its the intricate and very convenient public transport system!
Here are a couple of travelling options:
Note: The Airport MRT connects Taipei Main Station to both terminals and operates 2 different services.
Express Service: A direct train ride with zero stops from either terminals to Taipei Main Station, vice versa under an impressive 35 minutes.
Commuting Service: A train ride that stops at every interval train station between Taoyuan International Airport and Taipei Main Station.
As a matter of fact, With so many travelling options, we’re having a hard time choosing which to take! Should we take the MRT because it should be one of the more pocket-friendly options? But I have too many luggages with me!
How now brown cow?
No worries my friend, with (quite a bit of) hard work and an analytical mind, we have tabulated a comparison table so it’s easier for you to compare and choose the more optimal mode of transport.
Assuming one is travelling from Taoyuan International Airport to Taipei Main Station:
Tripsle me a Carpool Now!
Tripsle Pro Tip: If you’re flagging a taxi from Taipei city to the international airport, it is important to specify Taoyuan International Airport and not Taipei Airport or you’ll be driven to Songshan Airport instead!
Transport in Taiwan
Transport in Taiwan is extremely convenient because of the various modes and readily available for commuters to pick and choose.
Taxis, or as the locals affectionately call Xiao Huang, are abundant in Taiwan and can be one of the most convenient transport mediums. Taiwanese taxis have no regulated car model but with outstanding features such as its yellow body and white-red license plate, we’re sure you’ll be able to spot and flag one down in a breeze.
These taxis run on metres with fixed rates. In Taipei, the first 1.25km is NT$70 (US$2.32), with every additional 200m charged at NT$5 (US$0.17). (i.e a 10km ride will cost you about US$10.55). Travelling between 11pm – 6am will have an additional night surcharge imposed, usually no more than 20% of your total bill. Take note that cross-city rides usually don’t follow the meter, instead the taxi driver will quote a price.
However, most taxi drivers (司機, si ji) do not speak english. Therefore, we advise you to retrieve the address of your destination in Mandarin (if you’re staying in a hotel, you can get the hotel front desk or concierge to assist you) and pass it to the taxi driver.
Tripsle Pro-Tip: If you’re having troubles getting a taxi (which shouldn’t be the case if you’re in metropolitan Taipei), you may download apps of the 2 major taxi companies in Taiwan
Taiwan Taxi (iOS, Play Store)
M Taxi (iOS, Play Store)
2. Public Bus (City Bus)
Buses are one of the most popular mode of transport for the locals and if travellers are able to get around it, we bet you a lot of time and money saved.
The bus system in Taipei is extremely intricate and with ample practice you’ll be a pro at this. Though slightly daunting with the many different lines, colours and names, it’s not that difficult to make sense of it. We’re here to help!
Most buses have fairly simple segmentation of their routes which indicates about 3 distinct fare zones. Unlike the taxi, buses charge a flat rate for each zone/sections no matter the distance travelled. The confusing part comes when travellers realise the baffling 3-stroke characters indicating when to pay the fare.
A bus showing 上, you should pay NT$15 (US$0.49) upon boarding the bus
Or a bus showing 下, you should pay NT$15 (US$0.49) upon alighting the bus
If you realise that the the character has changed from 上 to 下 halfway through your ride, be sure to pay again when you alight because you’ve crossed into another fare zone. Easy huh?
Tripsle Pro Tip: Bus fares can be paid via cash or an Easycard. It allows you to conveniently switch between the MRT and Public bus system when getting around in Taipei. You can purchase The Easycard at all MRT Stations, 7-11 and Family Mart for NT$100 (US$3.30).
It contains no balance so you have to top it up with some credits. If you’re departing, you can bring your Easycard to any MRT station to get a refund of your balance credits.
Tripsle Pro-Tip: Buy the student Easycard if you have some sort of documentation to prove you’re a student – it saves you NT$3 (US$0.10) on every ride!
3. Taipei MRT
The Taipei MRT is the biggest in the whole of Taiwan and there’s a daily ridership of almost 2 million! It is important to note that lines are commonly referred to by their terminal station and not its colour.
You can pay for your MRT fare via the following modes:
Single-use Tokens (purchased from machines at the MRT Station)
One-Day Pass (unlimited rides till end of the day for NT$150)
24-Hour Pass (unlimited rides for 24 hours for NT$200)
4. Taiwan High Speed Rail
THSR is a high-speed rail line that covers the West coast of Taiwan. It starts from Taipei Main Station and ends at Kaohsiung in the South. Lo and Behold, it can reach up till 300km/h!
Much like the popular Japan Rail Pass, Taiwan has its own train pass packages to help tourists save some transport money, especially so if you’re planning to visit places outside of Taipei (which we highly encourage you to!).
5 Day Joint Train Pass (THSR+TR)
3 Day THSR Tourist Pass
With this pass, you’re able to jet around most of Taiwan; from the West Coast (THSR) to the East Coast (TR). These bullet trains bring you to several key locations that you must visit:
Sun Moon Lake
Da Han Bridge (bungee jumping everyone!)
Shei Pa National Park
Lotus Water Park (wakeboarding time!)
Rao He Night Market
Feng Chia Night Market…and so many more!
You can check out our 3 Day THSR Tourist Pass Guide and 5 Day Joint Train Pass Guide to discover the many places of interest, both mainstream and hidden gems.
5. Car Rental
Renting a car is an awesome option for those with a driving license and would like more control over the flexibility of their time and itinerary. It offers a very different experience from taking the public transport. With total control, you’re up for a great adventure filled with fun memories!
Taiwan is filled with undiscovered places of interest that sometimes are hidden in the nooks and crannies of this island. Several places are almost impossible to access solely via Taiwan’s public transport, such as Cingjing Farm, Sun Moon Lake, Alishan, Kenting National Park and the picturesque Taroko National Park.
Tripsle Fun Fact: The closest train station to Taroko National Park is a whopping 26km away from its headquarters – that is at least a 40-minute drive!
With its charming landscape and breathtaking flora, a scenic drive along the highway and off-beaten tracks in the countryside will be the star to an epic holiday in Taiwan. Driving in Taiwan can be confusing if your hometown follows the UK’s left-of-way. When you’re on this island, cars are driven on the right. That being said, it’s not impossible! Get yourself familiarised with the driving regulations and driving habits here before you step on the accelerator.
Reserving a car will be much cheaper than requesting for one on the spot, therefore we encourage you to book ahead of time. With Tripsle’s Car Rental Service, you can conveniently pick up your car at the Taoyuan International Airport and immediately kickstart your ultimate Taiwan holiday!
With Tripsle, you can opt for a Toyota Vios, Toyota Altis or Ford Focus (1-4 pax) or a Toyota Wish if you have a huge group of 7!
Tripsle Reminder: You need to produce your International Driving License and Domestic Driving License along with proper identity documentation when retrieving your vehicle.
Here’s a quick guide to some tips and tricks while driving in Taiwan:
Driver and Passenger Safety
Please remember that you’re on the right side of the road and all in the car should wear seat belts.
The road conditions in city areas are usually pretty decent, however when you start venturing beyond the city’s periphery, you have to be careful with the rougher roads (that can sometimes have potholes)
Tripsle Pro-Tip: It is forbidden to turn RIGHT at a red light.
Driving in areas other than Taipei can give international drivers nervous sweaty palms because most of the time, people tend to disobey traffic rules. Scooters are a very popular form of vehicle on the roads and new drivers should pay careful attention to these weaving vehicles.
Basic Road Signs
A SINGLE solid line differentiates the slow lanes from the fast lanes – please remember this! Also, you can check this to identify the different road signs and its interpretation.
To avoid getting the infamous parking ticket, be sure to take note of the following accepted speeds.
|When approaching a railroad crossing||15km/h|
|Roads without lane markings||40km/h|
|Regular Roads and Lanes||50km/h|
|Highways||100km/h (unless stated otherwise)|
6. Car Charter
Now this is the perfect option for those clueless about driving, yet wishing for 80% control over their time and flexibility! By engaging a driver with a car, you can create and put together your own Taipei Itinerary within a 4 hour or 8 hour charter. Especially when you’re travelling in a big group, taking the public transport might result in 2 or 3 getting left at the train platform because they were too slow hence missing the train! With a car charter, nobody gets left behind.
You’ll waste less time on trying to hail a cab, the chances of getting lost in the middle of a foreign land is lower and all you really have to do is sit back, relax and gaze out of the rear window.
The Car Charter also allows you to venture beyond the city to scenic destinations such as Yehliu and the North coast. With convenient pick ups at your hotel lobby (as long as you’re staying within Taipei or New Taipei City) and a full optional 8-hour day from 7.00am – 10.00pm, we say it’s time to Tripsle yourself a car charter!
Similarly, getting to places such as Cing Jing Farm becomes much easier when you book a car charter – if you’re interested in a car charter only to Cing Jing Farm, check out Tripsle’s Cing Jing Farm Tour (inclusive of transport)!
Tripsle me to Cing Jing Farm now!
Yes we’re 100% certain you’re ready to conquer the land of food, shopping and picturesque scenery!
What are you waiting for?
Tripsle me a Taiwan adventure now!