Taiwan, ‘‘Ilha Formosa’’ or ‘‘the beautiful island’’, so named by the Portuguese traders who spotted it from their ship n 1544, is a relatively small, rich and diverse sub-tropical island just off the south coast of China. Taiwan has a colorful history marked by Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese influences that have fueled the culture, creativity and industriousness of the island and its people.
The capital of Taiwan, Taipei is the political, financial, and cultural lifeline of the island. At 272 square kilometres in size, the city proper is home to 2.68 million people, and boasting an enchanting natural landscape and rich cultural offerings. It is a modern metropolis with world-class shopping, dozens of great museums, a wide variety of excellent restaurants, and history, all connected seamlessly by one of the best public transportation systems in the world. For further information, please click here.
Mandarin is the official language. English is spoken quite extensively.
Taipei enjoys warm weather all year round and is extremely suitable for travelling. The average temperature in March is 18.5℃. For more weather information, please visit Central Weather Bureau.
Most credit cards are widely accepted throughout the island. ATM machines are wide spread.
The local power supply is AC 110 Volt / 60 Hz with type A outlets, the same as the USA and Japan. The outlets also accept the same flat two-parallel pin plug as is used in the USA and Japan. Even though most hotels provide outlets for 220 volt appliances, travelers with electrical appliances that run on a different current from 110 volts will need to bring a converter.
The New Taiwan Dollar (NT$) is the currency used today in Taiwan. The exchange rate is around US$1 to NT$30. Like most countries, they come in the forms of bills and coins. Foreign currency exchanges are easy to access. Exchange service is available at the airport. banks, hotels and large department stores. For up to date exchange rates, travelers please visit the currency website
Telephone & Wi-Fi
Public telephones are easy to find in Taipei. Free public Wi-Fi service is available across Taipei city both indoors and outdoors. The SSID of Wi-Fi access is TPE-Free. Visitors who wish to use the service can set up an account with valid passport or entry permit at twelve Tourist Information Center at Taipei included Taipei Main Station and Songshan Airport. To check the free public Wi-Fi service in Taipei, please click here.
In addition to the free Wi-Fi access, payable Wi-Fi accesses are also available in most of 7-11 convenience stores across Taiwan, and in coffee shops and restaurants like Starbucks or McDonald’s. Prepaid access cards can be purchased over the counter at the stores, and the costs vary.
Tipping & Tax
Tipping is not customary in most places, but is welcomed if guests wish to show their appreciation for satisfactory service. A 10% service charge and a 5% value-added tax may be included in room rates or meals. Most taxes are already included in prices of products or services.
Taipei has a huge fleet of taxis. Charges are NT$70 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. All fares appear on the meter, except for a NT$10 charge for cabs dispatched by phone and for each piece of luggage placed in taxi trunk. Tips are not required.
Airport Shuttle Bus
Six bus companies provide frequent service between Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and important destinations around Taiwan. An average journey time to Taipei is 60 minutes.
In Taipei, buses are the most convenient means of transportation. There are a number of different routes that can be studied online as well as the bus station. They come roughly every 10-15 minutes and the adult ticket fare is NT$15. No change is available on the bus, so please prepare the exact amount of coins ahead of time. To check bus schedule, please click here.
The Mass Rapid Transit, or more commonly known as the MRT, provides travellers around the cities of Taipei an easy means of metro transportation. Passengers can enjoy a nice air conditioned ride to the Gondola, Zoo, and other parts of Taipei filled with eatery, museums, and shops. One way ticket price ranges from NT$20 to NT$65 while a NT$180 one day pass will allow passengers unlimited travel among all MRT lines throughout the day. Auto ticketing slots are located in the stations for passengers to purchase tickets or recharge their multi-transit pass. Smoking, drinking, eating and gum chewing are strictly prohibited, keeping our metro railway stations clean and safe. Detailed MRT maps can be found at each station as well as online.
YouBike - Taipei's Public Bike Sharing System
YouBike was unveiled in 2009 as a convenient, alternative transport option to citizens. The Taipei City Government expects to set up 162 rental booths - with 5,350 bikes - across Taipei City by yearend 2013, promising the citizens even greater convenience to commute and shuttle between different destinations, the Taipei Metro, and a network of bus stops for last-mile traveling. To check YouBike station map, please check here.