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  • Overview

    Situated off the coast of mainland China, mountainous Taiwanbuzzes with action. From thriving cities to its arresting naturalbeauty, the island offers travellers an enticing menu ofattractions.

    Chinese nationalists fled to Taiwan when the Communist Partyseized control in 1949. Under their leader, Chiang Kai-Shek, theyleft the mainland with national treasures, gold, and foreignreserves. Their goal was to regroup and retake China. They did notand relations between the two parties remain tense. Still, Taiwanhas thrived since the civil war ended.

    Today, its cities are wonderfully layered, with traditional folkfestivals and ancient temples existing alongside glass-frontedboutiques and bustling streets. Visitors relish the harmoniousblend of old and new in one of Asia's great economic successstories.

    For nature lovers, Taiwan's national parks have some fascinatingwildlife species, many of which are rare or endangered. Popularoutings include train trips through the Alishan mountain range orhiking in Taroko Gorge.

    All told, visitors to Taiwan will enjoy the cream of Asiansophistication, and some of the region's finest landscapes.

    Taipei 101

    Taipei 101 is the city's financial centre and was once theworld's tallest building. Designed to resemble a gigantic bamboostalk, it is Taipei's major landmark. There are observation deckson the 88th and 89h floors.

    The building's lift takes a thrilling 40 seconds to get fromground level to the 89-th floor, where a spectacular view awaitsvisitors. Decent restaurants and some of the city's swankiest mallsmake up the lower levels.

    Address: No. 7, Section 5, Xinyi Road, Xinyi District,TaipeiCity
    Transport: MRT Red Line (Xin-Yi Line) TAIPEI 101 Station, ExitNo.4. About a 10-minute walk from the MRT Blue Line (NangangLine).
    Opening time: Daily from 9am-10pm
    Taipei 101 Taipei 101 sese_87
    Shilin Night Market

    Taipei's biggest and best night market is not just for shopping.Instead, it is a cultural experience that every visitor shouldenjoy. The action begins when the sun sets and thousands of stallsand stores open for business. They sell everything from clothing topets, souvenirs and DIY tools. It's wise to visit with an emptystomach, given the array of tempting treats on offer.

    Address: The neighbourhood of Dadong Rd., Danan Rd., Wenlin Rd. andJihe Rd., Shilin Dist., Taipei City 111.
    Transport: MRT Jiantan Station, or any one of numerousbuses
    Opening time: Late afternoon to early morning hoursdaily
    Shilin Night Market Shilin Night Market Arun
    National Palace Museum

    Taipei's National Palace Museum houses an astonishing collectionof Ancient Chinese artefacts and artwork. Representing over 5000years of Chinese history, it is the largest and perhaps finestcollection of Chinese art in the world.

    Once displayed in the Forbidden City, Beijing, the collectionwas moved to Taipei as a result of the Chinese Civil War. Visitorscan view world-famous exhibits such as the 'Jade Cabbage' (a pieceof jade carved to resemble a cabbage head), and a valuable copy ofthe Qingming Scroll.

    Address: 221 Zhi Shan Road, Sec. 2, Shilin
    Transport: MRT Tamsui-Xinyi Line to Shilin Station and then bus R30(Red 30). Other routes that will take you to or near the Museumplaza are buses 255, 304, Minibus 18 and Minibus 19.
    Opening time: Daily from 8.30am-6.30pm. Free guided tours inEnglish at 10am-3pm daily.
    Website: www.npm.gov.tw
    National Palace Museum National Palace Museum eazytraveler
    Longshan Temple

    Longshan is one of the most popular temples in Taipei. Dedicatedto Guanyin the Goddess of Mercy, it is an excellent example of thearchitecture commonly seen in Taiwan's older buildings.

    Built in 1738 to be a place of worship for Chinese settlers, itstroubled history has seen it destroyed several times. To date, ithas suffered damage by earthquakes, fires and even American bombersduring World War II. Undaunted, Taipei residents have rebuilt iteach time, and it remains very much in use.

    Address: 211 Guanghzhou Street
    Opening time: Daily from 6am-10pm
    Longshan Temple Longshan Temple Tomas Fano
    Taipei Zoo

    Taipei Zoo is home to hundreds of animals, including localTaiwanese species such as the flying fox, Formosan black bear andChinese pangolin. Arranged into different habitat sections thatcontain their native species, the zoo lets visitors see Africansavannah wildlife, tropical rainforest creatures and more incontext. Visitors should set aside at least three hours to takeeverything in.

    Address: No. 30, Sec.2, Xinguang Rd., Wenshan Dist., TaipeiCity
    Transport: MRT Wenshan-Neihu Line: Get off at Taipei Zoo Station.MRT Nangang/Banqiao/Tucheng Line: Get off at Taipei City HallStation, and then take bus route G1, BR18 or BR21 to TaipeiZoo.
    Opening time: Daily from 9am-5pm (closed on Chinese NewYear)
    Tiger at Taipei Zoo Tiger at Taipei Zoo pelican
    Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park

    Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park is the pride of Taipei. Built inmemory of the former Taiwanese President, the walled complexcontains an impressive, pyramid-shaped monument to Chiang Kai-shek.It's also home to the National Concert Hall and NationalTheatre.

    Everything stands inside a lovely park, which is fronted by avast plaza where folk performances or other events often takeplace. The Memorial is also the main venue for Taipei's famedLantern Festival, Shangyuan. It draws thousands of lantern-carryingrevellers to mark the Chinese New Year.

    Address: Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
    Transport: MRT lines Danshui-Xindian, or Beitou-Nanshi, alightingat the CKS Memorial Hall Station
    Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park Gavin Anderson

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Taipei has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are warm, sunnyand humid, with average daytime highs reaching 90°F (32°C). Wintersare cool and mild, with temperatures of around 61°F (16°C). Due toTaipei's location, it is affected by the Pacific typhoon season,which occurs between June and October.

    Taiwan has sub-tropical climate. Temperatures vary from hot andhumid in the south, to cooler in the north and inland mountainousregion. Sudden rain showers frequently occur all over the country,making rainwear an essential part of a visitor's luggage.

    The driest time of year is autumn (September and October). Ashort, generally damp and chilly winter follows, during which snowfalls on the island's mountain peaks. Summer temperatures can reach90ºF (35ºC) at the coast. Summer is also typhoon season.

    Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated about 24 miles (38km) southwestof Taipei city centre.
    Time: Local time is GMT +8.
    Transfer Between Terminals The Skytrain provides free transport between Terminal 1 andTerminal 2, and a shuttle bus also connects the two terminals.There are regular buses to Taipei's other international airport,Songshan.
    Getting to the city: Several bus companies provide services to Taipei and otherdestinations around Taiwan. The journey to Taipei takes about 55minutes. Travellers can buy tickets at counters in the arrivalssection, and the bus platforms are located outside theterminals. Buses depart from the airport roughly every 20 minutes. Meteredtaxis are available 24 hours a day, but are more expensive. Also,there's a shuttle bus to the high-speed rail service that connectstravellers to various stations in the city. Travellers can find English-speaking assistance at a Visitor'sDesk in the Arrivals hall.
    Car Rental: Car rental service counters are located in the Arrivals lobby ofboth terminals.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis from the airport to downtown Taipei are available all dayand night, but fares vary substantially depending on traffic,distance and route. Taxis are metered.
    Fascilities: The airport's banks have bureaux de change and ATMs. Travellerswill also find a post office, wifi, information desks, and atourist-services desk. Both terminals have Asian and Western-food outlets, as well asbars and restaurants. There is ample duty-free shopping, withseveral boutiques stocking a wide range of goods. A business loungeoffers VIP service, and there are good facilities for thedisabled.
    Parking Plentiful parking is available. It is free for the first halfhour, thereafter rates start at TWD 30 for 60 minutes and TWD 20per half hour thereafter. The daily rate is TWD 490.
    Kaohsiung Siaogang Airport
    Location: The airport is located six miles (9km) from the citycentre of Kaohsiung.
    Time: Local time is GMT +8.
    Transfer Between Terminals The airport has two terminals.
    Getting to the city: The KRTC Metro provides easy access to Kaohsiung. Intercity busservices offer routes from the airport to Kenting. The bus toKenting departs every 20-30 minutes between 6am and 1am. Thetwo-and-a-half-hour journey costs TWD 309. The bus to Chiayi was suspended in 2014, so travellers will needto take the airport metro line to Kaohsiung Railway Station, andtransfer to bus or train routes to Chiayi.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies are located between the International andDomestic Terminals, close to the bus stop.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the curbside outside the terminals. Taxisrun on meters, with surcharges added for things like use of thetrunk.
    Fascilities: Airport facilities include dining and shopping options,insurance, currency exchange, telecommunication services, a postoffice, a nursery and a VIP lounge.
    Parking Motorcycle parking is available at TWD 20 per day. For cars, thefirst 30 minutes are free. It costs TWD 30 for the first hour andTWD 15 for every 30 minutes after that. The daily rate is TWD 240and is reset at midnight.
    Website: www.kia.gov.tw
    Money:

    Taiwan's currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (TWD). Foreigncurrencies can be exchanged at government-designated banks andhotels. Receipts are given when currency is exchanged, and must bepresented in order to exchange unused dollars before departure.Major credit cards are accepted and ATMs are plentiful. Banks areopen Monday to Friday.

    Language:

    Mandarin is the official language of Taiwan, butTaiwanese (also called Hokkien) is often spoken. There is a growingnumber of English speakers.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin, flatblade plugs are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    US citizens do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days,provided they hold a passport valid for the period of intendedstay. Visas cannot be extended or converted. Visitors not holdingreturn/onward tickets could be refused entry.

    Passports must be valid for six months from date of arrival.Visas are not required for stays of up to 90 days for holders ofBritish passports with nationality of 'British Citizen'. Those withtemporary or emergency passports endorsed 'British Citizen' canobtain a visa on arrival for stays of up to 30 days. Holders ofBritish passports with other endorsements should confirm officialrequirements.

    Canadian nationals do not require a visa for stays of up to 90days, provided they hold a passport valid six months from theirdate of arrival.

    Australian nationals may stay in Taiwan for up to 90 dayswithout a visa, provided they hold a passport valid six months fromtheir date of arrival.

    South African nationals require a visa for travel to Taiwan anda passport valid for six months after intended travel. Passengerswith an ROC (Taiwan) Business and Academic Travel Card issued byChinese Taipei are exempt for a maximum stay of 30 days.

    Irish nationals may stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without avisa and require a passport valid for at least six months fromentry.

    US citizens do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days,provided they hold a passport valid for the period of intendedstay. Visas cannot be extended or converted. Visitors not holdingreturn/onward tickets could be refused entry.

    New Zealand nationals require a passport valid for at least sixmonths from entry. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90days.

    Travel Health:

    According to Taiwan health regulations, travellers arriving fromareas infected with yellow fever must carry vaccinationcertificates. Also, travellers are advised to have up-to-datevaccines for hepatitis A and typhoid, while long-term travellersshould be inoculated against Japanese encephalitis.

    Due to recent outbreaks of dengue fever, insect repellents andother measures to prevent mosquito bites are recommended for thosetravelling to the southern part of the island. Visitors should onlydrink bottled water and should be wary of potential food poisoning.Taiwan's medical facilities are first-class, but health insuranceis recommended for travellers.

    Tipping:

    Aside from baggage handlers and service personnel ininternational hotels, tipping in Taiwan is generally not expected.Hotels and restaurants will usually add a 10 percent service chargeto the bill.

    Safety Information:

    Most visits to Taiwan are trouble-free. The country has only alow incidence of petty crime, and is considered safe. The onlythreats are natural ones, given that the island is prone totyphoons and tropical storms, as well as earthquakes and tremors.These are seldom severe.

    Local Customs:

    The concept of 'saving face' is very important on the island,and tourists should try to avoid embarrassing the Taiwanese.Self-control is another key point of etiquette, with localsfrowning on outbursts and other public spectacles.

    Also, Taiwanese customs include a number of superstitions, suchas not writing another person's name in red. Visitors should removetheir shoes before entering a person's home. Physical contact withstrangers is considered impolite.

    Business:

    Doing business in Taiwan is a pleasure for those who value ahigh work ethic and technologically savvy business partners. Theisland has traded heavily with the West for many years and businessformalities have melded over time. That said, it's important toobserve and respect the cultural heritage many cling to.

    Confucian values tend to dictate business etiquette in Taiwan.Consequently, local attitudes revolve around gratitude, respect,mutual understanding and studiousness. Also, bar a fewmulti-nationals, most businesses in Taiwan are medium-sized andfamily-owned. In this context, the family's paternal head is alwaysconsulted, meaning business decisions can take longer.

    Two important aspects of business culture in Taiwan are face and'Guanxi' (relationships). Face relates to the dignity of a personor a company, and it informs all social and business interactions.It's important to save face at all times. For this reason,foreigners should not correct colleagues or expect them to correctthemselves.

    Regarding business relationships, gift-giving and conductingdeals slowly are key to operating in Taiwan. Generally, businesspeople give a simple gift to all members involved in a meeting, anda better gift to the most important person. It's impolite to opengifts in front of hosts.

    Foreigners should always accept invitations to events outside ofnormal business hours, as this is when locals build relationships.Business people consider it disrespectful to make direct orprolonged eye-contact with someone who is in a very seniorposition. However, they always direct conversation to the mostsenior person in the meeting.

    The Taiwanese expect punctuality for meetings. Shaking hands iscommon for men and women nowadays, though a bow goes a long way asa sign of respect. Business hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday toFriday. Business cards are exchanged often and should be printed inboth English and Mandarin. Work clothes tend to be formal andconservative. Men wear dark suits, women wear modest dresses andskirts rather than pants. Mandarin is the language of business andhiring a translator is often necessary.

    Communications:

    Taiwan's international access dialling code is +886. Localnetwork operators provide mobile telephone services in variousregions. Most hotels in Taipei have internet access in theirrooms.

    Duty Free:

    Travellers aged over 20 may enter Taiwan without paying customsduty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 454g tobacco, 1 bottle ofalcohol (maximum 1 litre), and a reasonable amount of perfume.Travellers are also permitted to bring personal goods valued up toNT$20,000 duty free (or NT$10,000 for those under 20 years). Guns,narcotics, fresh meat and fruit are prohibited.

    Useful Contacts:

    Taiwan Tourist Office: +886 2 2349 1500 (Taipei) orhttps://eng.taiwan.net.tw/

    Taiwan Embassies:

    Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Washington DC, UnitedStates: +1 202 895 1800.

    Taipei Representative Office, London, United Kingdom: +44 207881 2650.

    Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 2315080.

    Taipei Liaison Office, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 4306071/2/3.

    Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Barton, ACT, Australia: +612 6120 2000.

    Taipei Representative Office, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 6785413.

    Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Auckland, New Zealand: +644 473 6474.

    Foreign Embassies in Taiwan :

    American Institute in Taiwan, Taipei: +886 2 2162 2000.

    British Office Taipei (formerly British Trade and CulturalOffice), Taiwan: +886 2 8758 2088.

    Canadian Trade Office, Taipei: +886 2 8723 3000.

    Liaison Office of South Africa, Taipei: +886 2 2715 2295.

    The Australian Office in Taipei: +886 2 8725 4100.

    Office closed in 2012.

    New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office, Taipei: +886 2 27205228. After hours emergency assistance for New Zealanders Phone:+886 934 404 594.

    Taiwan Emergency Numbers : 110 (Police), 119 (Ambulance and Fire)
    Taiwan

    Public transport in Taipei relies on the MRT (subway), and thecity's vast bus network.

    The MRT covers most tourist spots and is generally the bestoption for transport. All MRT stations have ticket machines, withprices ranging from about TWD 20 to TWD 65, depending on thedistance. Travellers can purchase day passes, while therechargeable EasyCard is a good option for those spending more thana few days in the city.

    The bus network is a bit confusing for foreigners and most getby without using it. Metered taxis are available, though driversrarely understand English. Travellers should have destinationswritten down in Chinese if they plan on using taxis.

    The soaring Taipei 101 Tower is the capital's greatestengineering feat, and one of its best-loved sights. It's also thecity's international financial centre.

    Another popular attraction is the National Palace Museum.Through its collection of ancient artefacts and artwork, itshowcases some fascinating aspects of Chinese culture. Fortravellers interested in Taiwanese spirituality and religion, avisit to the Longshan Temple is a must.

    As the sun goes down the night markets open up. They're usuallypacked with tourists and bargain-hunters, who throng the alleywaysin the heavy, humid night air. Taipei also has many bars andnightclubs.

    If the city becomes too stifling, visitors can relax at one ofthe spas in the northwest. They utilise the Beitou area's hotsprings. Hikers can enjoy the Yang Ming Shan National Park.