Taiwan is one of the few first-world countries not recognized by the United Nations. The Chinese characters of Taiwan 臺灣 means: Fortuitous Bay.
Taiwan is on China Standard Time (CMT). It’s UTC/GMT +8 hours, meaning that it’s 12 hours ahead of New York and 8 hours ahead of London.
- A passport with validity of at least six months upon entry.
- If you hold an emergency, temporary, other informal passports or travel documents, then you’ll need a visa to enter Taiwan.
- Japanese passport holders with their passports valid for more than 3 months are eligible for visa-exempt entry.
- US passport( including emergency passport) holders with their passports valid for the period of intended stay are eligible for visa-exempt entry.
- You’ll need a confirmed return air/sea ticket or an air/sea ticket and a visa for the next destination, and a confirmed seat reservation for departure.
- Non-criminal record and not prohibited by the local authorities to enter the R.O.C.
If you are a passport holder of the following countries, you won’t need a visa and can stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days: Andorra, Australia (Effective from January 1, 2015 for one year) , Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, 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.
Malaysian and Singaporean passport holders can stay up to 30 days.
For more detailed info, check out Bureau of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, R.O.C.’s website.
There are 3 international airports in Taiwan: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) and Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA) in Taipei (Northern Taiwan), and Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) in Kaohsiung (Southern Taiwan).
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is the largest airport in Taiwan, and services flights from many major global markets, such as Tokyo, Paris, and Vancouver, along with several nonstop flights from big U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. The airport provides services such as transit between terminals.
Taipei Songshan Airport (TSA), also in Taipei, is a smaller airport than TPE, and only provides flights to nearby countries and cities, such as Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul. The airport does have a rail system, but has considerably less passenger traffic due to less flights being offered. Most travelers coming to Taiwan from outside Asia should fly into TPE.
Kaohsiung International Airport (KHH) in Southern Taiwan is the second busiest in the country, behind TPE. Though KHH services an overwhelmingly less amount of passengers than TPE, it still is the busiest airport to service flights to Southern Taiwan. The airport provides an ample amount of amenities for passengers, such as Internet, a location for medical attention, dining, and currency exchange. The airport services flights within Asia, including Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Taiwan is a country that provides ample modes of transportation to navigate the small, but adventure-filled country. Within many cities, there should be public transit such as buses, taxis, or even bikes to get around. The bus service is large and very cheap, sometimes providing service to different cities within the country. Big cities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung offer metro train services to travel within the city.
Uber is currently available in Taipei, however it may change. Ride sharing services have been struggling in Taiwan, generally.
To venture throughout the country, Taiwan’s High Speed Rail system is very popular, and provides service from Kaohsiung to Taipei. Because of the High Speed Rail system, passengers feel a lesser need to fly within the country. In each direction, the train runs an average of 60-80 times a day. A one-way ticket for the rail system costs NT$1490, equivalent to $47 USD. The train provides spacious seating and even offers wireless services. The train is a very convenient way to navigate the country. Travelers have two options, as the train has two routes. The first route runs along the western portion of the country to Taipei or Kaohsiung. The other route navigates in a circle around the outer edges of the country, closer to the water. The rail should service a majority of cities in the country, except for those in the central inland.
Taiwan is a relatively safe destination for travelers. Be smart about where you bags are while riding on the MRT and strolling in small alleys.
The phone number for the police is (+886) 110. The phone number for ambulence and fire is (+886) 119.
- Don’t leave valuable possessions in your back pockets.
- Be vigilant in bustling, crowded places.
- Avoid hiking mountains during Typhoon season (the season lasts from July to November).
Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:
- Try to avoid taxis at night as the city is full of unlicensed taxis that don’t use meters.
- Ignore barbershops that don’t have clear windows (these places are fronts for prostitution).
Overall, Taiwan is also one of the most democratic places in Asia, so anything goes. But be street smart and have fun!
Since Taiwan is a tropical island, winters are never too cold and summers are sizzling hot. Be prepared!
- December, January, February (Winter): Cold but never snowing. Expect some rain.
- March, April, May (Spring): BEST TIME TO VISIT.
- June, July, August (Summer): Uncomfortably humid and extremely hot.
- September, October, November (Autumn): BEST TIME TO VISIT.
Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Taiwan. However, other languages are spoken as well, including: Taiwanese or Hokkien which you’ll hear more Taiwanese as you leave Taipei and enter other cities, especially toward the south), Hakka and aboriginal dialects.
Here’s a few basic words and phrases:
Thank you: Xièxiè
You’re welcome: Bù kèqì
Excuse me: qǐngwén
I’m sorry: duìbùqǐ
Good morning: Zǎo
My name is…: Wǒ jiào…
Check, please: Măi dān
I don’t understand: Wǒ bù dǒng
Do you speak English?: nǐ huì shuō yīngyǔ ma?
Where is…?: zài nǎlǐ?
Call the police: jiào jǐngchá
Although Taiwan and its international hub city Taipei are brimming with modern architecture and technology, there are a few rules you should follow to avoid the eyebrow-raising and silent judging from locals.
- Spontaneous physical movements, such as shaking your leg while sitting down, is perceived as ill-mannered.
- Offer your seat to elders in the over-crowded bus or car.
- Take your shoes off before entering someone’s home.
- Always stand on the right side of the escalator.
Wine and Dine:
- Place your chopsticks across the top of the bowl (sticking chopsticks in your food is considered impolite).
- If using a toothpick, cover your mouth with the other hand while shifting your body away from another person’s view.
- Your rice bowl should be close to your face when eating.
- Don’t refuse the food that your Host places on your plate.
Other things to avoid:
- Don’t judge locals holding umbrellas in the sun. Taiwanese are big on protecting the skin especially from the ozone layer, it’s also why local ladies forever look youthful.
- Don’t eat or drink inside the MRT, aka Taiwan’s metro system. If caught, it comes with a large fine. This is also why you’ll discover Taiwan’s metro to be impeccably clean and voted as one of the top metro systems in the world.
The R.O.C.’s unit of currency is New Taiwan Dollar (NT$). Approximately NT$ 30 (up and down) equates to USD $1.
Exchanging money in Taiwan is safe and easy. You can either exchange at the airport or local banks will have ATM machines that are accessible.
Tipping! It’s not necessary, nor is it expected.
Taiwan carries the same electricity outlets as the US and Canada. They contain two vertical slots. The standard voltage is 110V and the frequency is 60 Hz. Your converter should look like this:
Drinking water straight from the faucet isn’t recommended nor is it popular in Taiwan. Although the water served at local restaurants are safe and drinking fountains located throughout public facilities in the city are also filtered and safe for drinking.
Taiwan is a highly technologically advanced destination. There should be WiFi pretty much everywhere you go. But as a traveler, you should register for iTaiwan, which provides free WiFi for travelers up to 30 days.
Staying in the country for a long time? Here’s how to get a SIM card:
- You can find mobile stores in the arrival hall of Taipei’s Taoyuan airport. When purchasing the card, you need to show two forms of identification: a passport and another form of identification.
- You can reserve cards from the Taiwan Mobile Website.
- Convenience stores sell SIM cards, too.
- SIM cards cost around 300 NTD, which is around 10 USD dollars.
Taiwan is one of the most LGBT-welcoming country in Asia. On May 24, 2017, the Constitutional Court declared that the Legislative Yuan has two years to to change the marriage laws to fit the Constitution. On February 21st, 2019, Taiwan began this process, granting legal protections to same-sex couples. The majority of Taiwanese citizens support same-sex marriage, even the president has stated her support.
Make sure to see the annual Gay Pride Parade, which hosts more than 130,000 people and lasts for four days. The parade is hosted in October.
Taiwan has become one of the most recycling-friendly countries in the world. Here’s how the nation recycles:
- Garbage trucks will play a tune to let residents know to drop their bags outside.
- The bright yellow truck collects trash, while the white truck following it has a series of bins in which people discard their recyclable objects.
- Waste is separated into three compartments: general refuse (incinerated), kitchen waste (turned into compost or fed to pigs), and recyclables.
Taipei is full of recycling booths, giving value to mass transit access for every bottle or can placed into the booth. Those who don’t rid of their waste properly are subject to fines or public shaming.
Must See Highlights for Eco-Travelers:
- Yangmingshan National Park is full of hiking and biking trails, as well as natural hot springs
- Check out the strangely-formed rocks at Yehliu Geopark
- Go bird-watching at Guandu Nature Park
- Relax in the quiet setting of the Taipei Botanical Gardens
Aborigines inhabited the island, they had closer links to: Filipinos, Malays, and Indonesians. Ethnically, they had no ties to the Chinese.
Portuguese sailers came to the island and gave it the name, “Ilha Formosa,” which means: Beautiful Island.
Under Dutch and Spanish rule, Chinese workers from Fujian and Guandong were encouraged to migrate to Taiwan as cheap labor.
A loyalist to China’s Ming Dynasty, Koxinga 鄭成功, kicked out the Dutch then set up the island as Kingdom of Dongning 東寧王國.
Qing dynasty ruled the island as part of China’s prefecture。
As part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Qing Dynasty gave the island to the hands of Japan.
Japan colonized Taiwan for 50 years, until the end of WWII. Japan handed Taiwan over to Kuomintang (KMT) = the Nationalist Republic Group of China.
During China’s civil war, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai Shek 蔣介石 lost to Communist leader Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao) and retreated to Taiwan where he established the Republic of China (ROC).
Chiang ruled the island under a single party state of dictatorship where people lived under Martial Law – without free press, free speech, nor democracy.
Chiang Kai Shek passed away and his son Chiang Ching Kuo 蔣經國 became the leader during a period when Taiwan experienced an economic miracle. It expanded beyond agriculture, into technology and manufacturing.
The start of Taiwan’s Democracy! One party state and the Martial Law ended when leader Chiang Ching Kuo passed away, which led to the first multi-party elections.
The Taiwanese voted for its own president for the first time, and elected: Lee Deng Hui 李登輝.
Hillary Clinton might have lost, but that same year, Taiwanese voted for their first female president: Tsai Ing Wen 蔡英文.
Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.