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Travel and Transport


Travel By Air:


There are two international airports in Taiwan: the Taoyuan International Airport (about 40km from Taipei City), and Hsiao-Kang Airport in Kaohsiung. Most inter-national flights all land in Taoyuan. More information about Taoyuan International Airport can be found at http://www.taoyuanairport.gov.tw.

Flights from Taiwan to other parts of east and south east Asia are usually quite affordable. So, given your high savings rate in Taiwan and the low cost resorts abundant in this region, you can have a pretty amazing holiday (or two) each year without breaking your piggy bank.

A great website to book flights is EZ Travel. The site is all in Chinese, but they also have several offices you can visit.

Travel By Rail/Metro:

Trains
Taiwan has a good train system, and air-conditioned express trains serve most popular destinations. Visit the Taiwan Railway Administration website at www.railway.gov.tw/e_index.htm for information and bookings.

Classes of Trains

  • Tzuchiang 自強號: air-conditioned express
  • Chukuang 莒光號: air-conditioned but slightly slower than Tzechiang
  • Fuhsing 復興號: air-conditioned but slower and less luxurious
  • PingKuai 平快: slow with no reserved seats or air-conditioning; very cheap, many stops
  • Putung 普通號: slowest of all; very cheap

Taiwan High Speed Rail 台灣高鐵
A "bullet train" line, the Taiwan High Speed Rail(THSR), will get you from Taipei (northern Taiwan) to Kaohsiung (southern Taiwan) in under an hour. It is now more popular to travel using the high speed rail train than domestic airlines within Taiwan. You can find out more and book tickets online at http://www.thsrc.com.tw

The Taipei MRT
The mass rapid transit system (MRT) in Taipei, together with the metropolitan area's dedicated bus route network, forms a convenient, clean, reliable and safe transportation system. The MRT currently has five lines in operation (more are under construction) with running hours from 6:00am until midnight. See the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation website at: http://english.trtc.com.tw/

The MRT lines are dotted with a variety of attractions and scenic spots. As a result, visitors can take a leisurely journey through most of the attractive parts of Taipei by using the MRT service. Each station has a display of bilingual maps and ticket prices.

Riding the MRT
Auto ticketing slots can be found in MRT stations, providing ticketing services. "Single-journey tickets" range in price from NT$20 to NT$65 depending on travel distance. It is very important not to lose your ticket after you enter the MRT station, as it is required to exit the station at your destination too.

A 150-dollar "one-day pass" purchased from the service booth will allow unlimited travels among all MRT lines within one day. This is best used for sight-seeing trips with many stops, as you will probably need to go in and out of at least four stations in a day to make it worth the cost.

Alternatively, you can purchase a rechargeable EASYCARD from the MRT stations. EASYCARD has a 20% discount on fares and may be used on MRTs and also on most public bus services. An EASYCARD costs NT$500, with NT$400 worth of transport on it. If you want to return a card, you get a NT$ 100 refund.


Travel By Road:

Local Buses
Inner-city buses usually cost NT$15 for a one-way, though some longer rides are $30. One thing that always confuses newcomers is whether to pay when getting on or getting off. A sign in Chinese characters at the front of the bus shows you when to pay.

pay when you get on 上車付費
pay when you get off 下車付費

Until you get used to this, just watch other passengers getting on the bus. There is also a very comprehensive website for timetables and routes of buses, including a map of all stops in the Taipei Area available at: www.taipeibus.taipei.gov.tw/index_e.htm

Intercity Buses
Long distance buses range from the usual public bus service to much more comfortable private bus lines. As a general rule, long distance buses are slower than trains, but the prices are a little lower.

However, the service on some of the ‘luxury’ bus lines, such as Aloha, is great. The buses offer large padded seats with massage features and television screens. They are definitely nicer than train seats! Also, the bus routes often avoid the regular train station areas and focus their stops on a few of the other areas of the cities; therefore, they can be more convenient for some people than using the train.

Taxis
Major cities in Taiwan have an abundance of taxis. Charges are standardized at NT$70 flag-fall for the first 1.5km and NT$5 for each additional 300 meters. An additional NT$5 is charged for every two minutes of waiting, and a 20% surcharge is added to fares between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Charges may be raised during Chinese New Year holidays. As each local city government regulates taxi fares in all major cities independently, there are minor discrepancies.

In the smaller cities, taxis services can be less strictly controlled, and often an element of bargaining in the price exist, especially on weekends or busy days. Sometimes the driver will not run the meter for a trip.

In any locations, please note that out-of-town or long-distance travels may not apply to meter charges, so agree on a price beforehand for these fares.

Most drivers do not speak English, so it is a good idea to have where you want to go written in Chinese or carry your destination’s business card. Failing that, call somebody who can speak Mandarin and put the cab driver on the phone to them. Cabbies are used to this tactic from Westerners.

Some taxi drivers drive as though they are in a Grand Prix---you have been warned!

Catching a Cab
In most major cities you can simply flag a cab down from the side of the road. Alternatively, you can try calling a cab using this toll Free Taxi Hotline: 0800-055850 and press 2 for English service. However, you may not receive an English-speaking operator, and if you do, speak slowly to make yourself easily understood.

Taxis to and from an Airport

It costs around NT$1,200 to travel from CKS to Taipei City, and NT$300 for traveling between Kaohsiung city and Hsiaokang airport. However, when Traveling from Taipei to CKS airport, it is common to ask the driver for a NT$ 1000 of the meter flat rate, which is usually cheaper than paying for the metered fare.

ACI works with a great company that offers even lower rates. Please contact us to get further info.

Motorcycles and Scooters
Scooters and motorcycles are the most popular form of private transportation in Taiwan. There are over one million scooters in Taipei alone! They are an integral part of Taiwanese life, and many foreigners own and ride one during their time here.

Driving on the right hand side
You must have noticed that everybody drives on the right hand side of the road in Taiwan. For some of you that will take a little getting used too, and you will probably even find yourself looking the wrong way before you cross the street!

The Purchasing Process
To purchase any vehicle, you must have an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). Upon purchase, the Highway Bureau will issue you a Vehicle Registration Certificate and a license plate (for a new vehicle), for which you will be charged a fee. The seller should also provide a contract of sale and a certificate of previous ownership.

Typical price ranges for brand new scooters or motorcycles are as follows:
50cc bikes: NT$28,000 - 36,000
125cc bikes: NT$30,000 - 60,000
Top-of-the-line 150cc motorcycle: NT$95,000 - 110,000.

Used scooter and motorcycle prices vary greatly, so when shopping you should take someone who speaks Chinese and who is familiar with such vehicles to help you negotiate. Prices can range between NT$10,000 and NT$30,000 for used scooters and NT$8,000 to 25,000 for used motorcycles.

Scooter Safety
Although riding a scooter is very easy, cheap and convenient, it can also be dangerous if you don’t follow the road rules, speed, or drink and drive. Riding without a helmet is VERY DANGEROUS, and is not allowed by law. If you are ticketed for riding without a helmet, you will be fined NT$500.


Licenses:

During your first 30 days in Taiwan, you may be able to drive using a valid International Driving Permit. Eventually, to drive legally in Taiwan you should go through the local testing system. For more details and up-to-date information, please check: www.thb.gov.tw/new_english/index.htm

Driving Without a License
Although many people will tell you it is fine to drive without a license, consider this first. Most police can speak reasonable English nowadays and can give you a spot fine of NT$10,000. Even out-of-date licenses attract instant fines.

Even more concerning is that if you get into an accident, even if you are not to blame, it will be considered by the police to be your fault since you were driving illegally. You will be 100% liable for your and the other parties costs.


Parking:

For scooter parking purposes, sidewalks are divided into two parts; the part that you are permitted to park on and the part on which you are not. Parking on the upper (away from the street) half of the sidewalk, where pedestrians can walk without trees, benches, signs, etc, to obstruct their path, is not permitted. However, parking on sections of the sidewalk (usually closer to the street) that are broken up by trees, benches, or signs usually isn’t a problem (but make sure you park within the marked parking zones if they are present).

On the street, vehicle parking is only permissible on some sections. Parking in the street along a red-painted curb is not allowed, and along a yellow-painted curb only a five-minute waiting period is allowed.

Car Parking
Parking can be very hard to find, especially close to city centers. Pay parking is usually available and recommended. Look for the big ‘P’ sign.

Retrieving Towed Vehicles
If you parked illegally and your scooter has been towed away, there should be chalk marks on the sidewalk or roadway at the spot that you parked, showing your license plate number, the tow companies phone number and the name of the towing company and the recovery location (in Chinese). Alternatively, there may be a road sign saying what towing company services that area of town, and giving their phone number.

The easiest way to retrieve your vehicle is to have a Chinese speaker call the number and write the address in Chinese. Show the address to a cab driver and taxi there. The company will usually ask for your vehicle license number and your driver’s license. Sometimes you can use your ARC in place of your license. You are then charged a large amount of money (usually around NT$1000 for a scooter) and may recover your vehicle.

Note that the police accompany the tow companies and take photos of your illegally-parked vehicle, so you can’t argue with them!

Asian Consultants International