Travel to Taiwan – Practical Informations

How to Get to Taiwan, How to Get Around the Island and more ...

If you are planning a travel to Taiwan and Taichung, you can find on this page a summary of all the practical informations for your journey and further links to in-depth pages.

Travel to Taiwan – Visa

Citizens from several countries, including most European countries, can enter Taiwan and stay up to 90 days without visa. These are the countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria,  Canada, Chile (diplomatic, official/service passports excluded), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., U.S.A. and Vatican City State.

Passport holders of the following countries can stay in Taiwan only 30 days without a Taiwan Visa: Malaysia, Singapore.

Landing visa can be granted for visitors from Brunei, Macedonia and Turkey.

All the others have to apply for a Taiwan visa at the Taiwan offices abroad.

If you are eligible to enter Taiwan without visa, you have to enter Taiwan with a passport al least valid 6 more months and a return ticket (this can be just the printed copy of an e-ticket).

Food Court in a Service Station
Food Court in a Service Station

During the travel to Taiwan you must have your return ticket at hand because you will surely be asked to show it at the check in or at the last airport before Taiwan (it is the airline’s responsibility to check that you have your travel documents in order).

So, upon your arrival in Taiwan you will normally have to show only your passport and an immigration card (that you have likely received on board the aircraft – if not you can pick it up at the arrival). The immigration officer will put an entry stamp and clip a copy of the immigration card on your passport. The immigration card will be withdrawn when you will exit Taiwan so don’t lose it.

Travel to Taiwan – Climate

Climate of Taiwan island is influenced by 4 factors:

  • the Tropic of Cancer, that crosses Taiwan right in the middle;
  • the Pacific Ocean, that provides an apparently endless supply of humidity, rainfalls and also, in summer, typhoons;
  • the massive Central Range, that controls precipitations and the route of typhoons;
  • the huge Asian landmass, which produces cold fronts (so-called Mongolian cold fronts) that can keep winter temperatures surprisingly low for a tropical island.

So for most of the year the temperature is often above 90F (30C) degrees but in winter not seldom falls to 40-50F (5-10C), at least in Taipei, in the North. If you think that it is not too cold, you have to keep in mind that houses are not heated and strong winds are frequent.

Batonguan Trail in Central Taiwan
Batonguan Trail in Central Taiwan

Average rainfall is high – about 100 inches (2500 mm) per year – but with many differences from place to place. Maximum rainfall occurs in the north at about 230 inches (6000 mm) around Jilong! It decreases down to 40 inches (1000 mm) in the offshore islands and in Taichung area.

Humidity is stifling for most of the year. You will find that Taiwan is often more humid than any place you have ever been, including the equatorial rain-forest.

Travel to Taiwan – Best time to visit

In terms of climate, the best time to come to Taiwan is autumn, when days are sunny and warm but dry. In summer, as I said, it is very hot.

The problem that you might have to face in the summer, however, more than the heat, are the typhoons.

Taiwan is affected by several typhoons each summer. You should not be scared of typhoons, the destruction normally impacts a small area. For most of Taiwanese the coming of a typhoon just means a welcome day holiday.

Typhoons are a normal part of life in Taiwan.

But mountains and valleys have to be avoided during a typhoon (of course) and for 1 or 2 weeks after the storm (because of the flash flooding and the landslides caused by the heavy rains).

Baisha Beach in Kenting
Baisha Beach in Kenting

In addition, flights could be canceled, usually for no more than 1-2 days.

In summer the beach resorts (Kenting and some offshore islands) are jammed with local tourists.

Winter is ok, but you have to take in account that the smaller islands, as Penghu and Kinmen, are often cold and windy and not easy to reach. In this part of the year you can find snow on the highest mountains. Most of all, the pale and often gray light of the winter sky is not the best for appreciating natural marvels such as Taroko.

The first part of spring is a good time to visit Taiwan while the last part (May and June) can be affected by continuous monsoon rains (called “plum rains”).

Weather considerations aside, the worst time of all and the one really to be avoided is the week of the Chinese New Year, between January and February, when everybody travel and flights and hotels are fully booked.

Travel to Taiwan – What to bring

In summer, light (and fast-drying) cotton and linen clothes help to mitigate the heat and humidity. Short pants and sandals are totally acceptable for tourists, both men and women.

In the rest of the year (and for the mountains) the secret is: dress in layers, so you can cope easily with the sudden changes of temperature.

Taiwanese love the air conditioning at full power, so even in summer bring a sweater and a hat, if you are sensitive to temperature changes.

If you forget something, however, do not worry. In Taiwan, you can easily find all sorts of clothes. Besides the international brand names and the extremely cheap Chinese stuff, you can buy good clothes from local brands at very convenient prices. Good outdoor stores that provide a wide choice of good jackets and anoraks are everywhere, not only in Taipei (a lot of Taiwanese like to wear winter clothes more suitable for an Arctic expedition).

So, if you like, then it is not a bad idea to travel to Taiwan light and buy clothes there.

Travel to Taiwan – Power supply and sockets

The electricity is 110V. Sockets are American type, normally not-grounded. Modern appliances such as mobile phones rechargers and laptops normally are 220/110 V so probably you just need a simple adapter that can be bought anywhere.

Travel to Taiwan – How to phone to/from Taiwan

Taiwan Country Code is +886.

To phone from Taiwan to your country you have to add 002 or 019 to your country code – in the latter case charging is slightly more convenient.

Beauty of Taroko Gorge
Beauty of Taroko Gorge

Of course you can find prepaid calling cards.

Everybody, also tourists, are allowed to buy a prepaid SIM card. You need to provide 2 IDs documents with photo (so for example your passport and your own country driving license).

You can buy prepaid SIMs arriving in Taiwan at the airport (best choice, because they speak English there) and also in 7/11 convenience stores.

Travel to Taiwan – Health and Hazards

Taiwan is an advanced country. There are no special requirements for vaccinations or strange health hazards.

However, it is a tropical country and the sanitary conditions are not always similar to Switzerland (to put it mildly). So there are some simple precautions to take.

  • Tap water is not considered safe for drinking – no one drinks it without having first boiled or filtered it. You can safely use it to wash your teeth anyway.
  • Highly recommended is the vaccination for hepatitis A – sanitary conditions are mostly but not always optimal.  Use common sense and avoid to eat in places that do not look clean.
  • Bring your own personal medications. In Taiwan you can find everything but it may be that it is not easy to find exactly the same medicine you are used to. An example: ordinary aspirin is not easy to get.
  • Medical care is good, especially in the main hospitals. Most of doctors can communicate in English (they have often studied in America). Medical care is not expensive for the tourists too (but they have to pay the whole bill upfront). However, we advise you to buy a medical insurance before leaving your country. Main hospitals will issue English receipts upon request, smaller clinics will gladly help you as well if you can provide them with a translation.

Travel to Taiwan – Money

921 Taiwan Earthquake Museum in Wufeng
921 Taiwan Earthquake Museum in Wufeng

The official currency of Taiwan is called the New Taiwan Dollar (New Taiwan Dollar).

The main currencies are exchanged in the banks and you can use your credit card at ATM for cash advances – all ATMs support the English language. For further information and tips please see the page about Taiwan Currency.

Travel to Taiwan – Airports

Taiwan international airports are just 3. They are:

  • Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)
  • Kaohsiung Airport (KHH)
  • Taichung Airport (RMQ)

The last two offer only regional flights in the Far East. Taoyuan, that until recently was named Chang Kai Shek Airport, is therefore the international airport for Taipei and by far the main airport in Taiwan. Taipei has also a “city airport”, called Songshan, that is used for domestic flights and, increasingly, for direct flights to China.

Taoyuan Airport has two terminals (Terminal 1 and 2). The airport is connected to Taipei by frequent buses and taxis. In 2013 it should be finally opened the link to the efficient and convenient Taipei Metro (Taipei MRT).

Long range buses also connect Taoyuan International Airport to Taichung and the rest of Taiwan. The nearest station of the High Speed Rail is located in Taoyuan city, about 15 minutes away. It can be reached by frequent shuttle buses that cost 20 NTD or by taxi (about 300-350 NTD for the ride).

Travel to Taiwan – Getting Around

Travellers in a Taiwan High Speed Railway Train
Travellers in a Taiwan High Speed Railway Train

From this point of view, Taiwan is an efficient and modern country that offers convenient, fast and easy ways to get around. These are the main ones:

  • Airplane – nowadays is mainly used to reach the offshore islands (Jinmen, Penghu, Lanyu) and the relatively remote cities on the east coast (Hualien and Taitung).
  • THSR – the High Speed Railway runs from Taipei to Kaohsiung (Zuoying). It links together all the main cities along the western plains. If your destination is Hsinchu,  Miaoli, Taichung, Tainan, Changhua, Chiayi or Kaohsiung, this is the fastest and easiest way to reach it (and the most amazing too, trains speed up to 300 km/hr)
  • TRA – the “old rail” forms a loop around Taiwan so it connects all the cities, including the East Coast. It still has many good points, such as the low cost and the fact that the stations are in city centers (differently from THSR). As old fashioned compared to THSR, TRA is a reliable and efficient way of transportation.
  • Bus – buses are still the favorite public transportation of most Taiwanese. The good points are the bargain cost and the extensive network, which reaches a lot of places where the train does not arrive. There are several bus companies, the most important nationwide are Ubus, Ho-hsin and GuoGuan.
  • Taxi – taxis are ubiquitous and are obviously more for small, local trips, but, in case, you can also negotiate a ride between cities, given the relatively low cost – for example a ride between Taichung and Taoyuan Airport (about an hour and half) costs between 2500 and 3500 NTD, highway tolls included.
    Taxi drivers use the meter and don’t cheat the foreigner, normally. The only problem is that very often they do not speak English at all (and they will not understand your broken chinese) so it is always better to show them a card with your destination written in Chinese.
  • Your own car or bike – you will need an international driving license. Car and motorcycle rental agencies are available. Driving in Taiwan is extremely funny, a continuous discovery of mindsets and rules that can be very different from yours.

Travel to Taiwan – See Also:

We hope that this page may be useful for organizing your travel to Taiwan. I invite you to visit also these pages where you can find more informations:

Essential Facts about Taiwan – Frequently Asked Questions about Taiwan and the Taiwanese People.

Taiwan Food: chinese cuisine and beyond … – an eating day in Taiwan.

 

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