The only guide you need with the BEST tips on conquering Taiwan

19 Oct 2017

The Klook Content Team

Klook Travel Curator

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!

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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. Refer to the mini guide to help you out with tipping estimations.

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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.

Klook 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.

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Pocket Wi-Fi

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!

Klook’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 (Opening Hours: 5:30am-1:00am)
  • 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.

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SIM Card

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 Klook 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 Klook Taiwan Unlimited 4G SIM Card has a very hassle-free activation – simply insert and restart your phone, Tadah!

Klook Pro Tip: Do take note you must be at least 20 years old to purchase a SIM Card

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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!

Refer to the infographic for the multiple 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).

Klook 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!

Convenient Taoyuan Airport transfers and transport on Klook

Sedan Taoyuan Airport Transfers (TPE) for Taipei

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Taoyuan Airport Private Transfers (TPE) for Taipei

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Taoyuan Airport MRT Ticket

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Transport in Taiwan

Transport in Taiwan is extremely convenient because of the various modes and readily available for commuters to pick and choose.

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1. Taxis

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.

Klook 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

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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?

Klook 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.

Klook 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!

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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:

  • Easycard
  • 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!).

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
  • Alishan
  • 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.

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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.

Klook 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 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 Klook’s Car Rental Service, you can conveniently pick up your car at the Taoyuan International Airport and immediately kickstart your ultimate Taiwan holiday!

With Klook, 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!

Klook Reminder: You need to produce your International Driving License and Domestic Driving License along with proper identity documentation when retrieving your vehicle

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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.

Road Safety 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)

Klook 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.

Speed Limits To avoid getting the infamous parking ticket, be sure to take note of their accepted speeds.

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 Klook 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 Klook’s Cing Jing Farm Tour (inclusive of transport)!

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Explore Taiwan!

Time for epic adventures in Taiwan!

Now that you've got your transport all sorted out, read on to find out what to do in Taiwan!

1. Taipei 101

You can't say you've visited Taipei if you don't visit the famous Taipei 101! Hop on to one of the fastest elevators in the world and arrive at the 87th floor of the Taiwanese capital in a mere 37 seconds.

You'll be rewarded with one of the best views of the beautiful island and on a clear day, you'll even get views of the mountainous spine of the city!

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2. Northeast Coast and Jiufen Village

Visit the northeast coast of Taiwan, home to quaint villages, quirky geography and flourishing teahouses!

Kickstart your day at Jiufen, a quaint village with strong Japanese influences. Fans of the Japanese animae Spirited Away will definitely find the charming teahouses familiar! Don't forget to load up on street snacks and tea before leaving.

Swing by the Nanya rock formations and catch Mother Nature in action. These rock sculptures were formed entirely through erosion!

You can also avoid the slow buses and expensive taxis, and book a convenient return day trip transfer with Klook's Jiufen shuttle bus from Ximen.

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3. Leofoo Village Theme Park

Explore a magical day out at the Leofoo Village Theme Park! From colorful thematic areas like the African Safaris and Arabian Kingdoms, enjoy the wonders of the amusement park with the family! With thrilling rides for the adrenaline junkies and safari rides for animal lovers, there is something for everyone.

There is also an adjoining water park for you to cool off from the heat and have a splashing good time with the children.

Klook your tickets and visit anyday since it's open-dated!

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4. Yangmingshan and Beitou hot springs

Escape from the city to Yangmingshan National park, nestled amongst magnificent mountainous landscapes and lucious forests. You can even take a dip into the many hot springs in the area. Sink into the healing warm waters and let your troubles float away at the Beitou hot springs!

Klook yourself a Yangminshan and hot springs tour to enjoy all that and more! Get picked up from your hotel and let your guide explain to you the geographical processes that created this natural masterpiece.

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5. Taroko National Park

Visit Taiwan's most scenic destination, Taroko National Park! If you're looking for an escape into nature and wildlife, this is the best place to find it!

Delve into the heart of the park at Swallow's Grotto, the best place to get an overview of the narrowest part of the gorge. Watch the dramatic waves crash against the walls before heading to the famous Qixingtan, a pebbled beach with killer views of the pacific ocean!

Klook yourself a Hualien private day trip and have your guide pick you up from your hotel and whisk you off in comfort to nature!

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Get these essentials for the complete Taiwan experience

4G WiFi for Taiwan

Stay connected wherever you go with a portable WiFi device! You'll also be able to upload those Instagram stories in real time! Afterall, pictures or it didn't happen right?

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Chia Te Bakery: Pineapple Cake Souvenir Set

Taiwan is almost synonymous to pineapple tarts! You definitely cannot leave the capital without getting your hands on a box of Chia Te Pineapple tarts. The gooey sweet pineapple jam coupled with the buttery pastry is guaranteed to leave you wanting more!

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Zeng Noodles with Scallion & Spicy Sichuan Sauce

Take home these popular instant noodles, Zeng Noodles which are handmade-style ribbon ramen with Sichuan spicy sauce, for family and friends back home.

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