Below are some simple tips that I think will be very useful when you plan to take your next holiday in Taiwan. All of them are based from our personal experiences during our trip between 26 December 2012 to 04 January 2013. I hope they could be helpful in your planing and preparations.
Telecommunications: On using Mobile Phones
– There are several mobile providers in Taiwan offering prepaid cards with different plans to suit your needs.
– We used Taiwan Mobile service during our last holiday, they have 5 day and 10 day pass aside from the normal prepaid sim card that they offer. Data usage is free during the days allocated plus free local air time calls of certain amount. The card can still be top-up if you stay more than the 10 days.
– We bought the 10-day pass with unlimited data plan and 550 NTD worth of local calls worth 800 NTD, the data connection is not bad at all.
– There is a shop at Taoyuan International Airport (T2/Arrival Area) that sells this different mobile prepaid cards (Upon exiting after you have pick up your luggage, turn left and then left again, on the right side you will find a counter where you could choose different mobile service providers). Keep in mind that the shops open from 8am until 9pm only.
Transportation: Taoyuan International Airport to City
– There are numerous bus line that serves Taoyuan International airport.
– We took United Bus #705 from Terminal 2 to Taoyuan HSR station, costs 30 NTD for approximately 25 mins travel time. From Taoyuan HSR Station, you could proceed to Taipei or other parts of Taiwan via the HSR trains.
– At Taoyuan International Airport T2, upon exiting after you pick up your luggage, turn right, and then right again, at the end of the hallway, to your left is a glass door, inside is the ticketing counters for all the bus line that serves Taoyuan International Airport.
Transportation: (HSR) High Speed Railway
– If you are traveling with a companion and wants to seat together, buy the tickets over the counter so you could request for a seat together. If you buy the tickets from the vending machine, most likely the machine will automatically give you any seat available and likely you will have to seat apart (I’m not sure but when we first and only time we used the machine, there aren’t any button or step wherein you can choose the seat number).
– If you are traveling with luggage and not the backpacker type of bag, it’s best to request a seat in front or at the rear end of the train where the luggage are stored, in this way you can check your luggage easily and at the same time, more faster when alighting the train.
– You can get discounts on your tickets if you buy them in advance (at least 7 days I think).
– If you bought advance tickets and decided on that day that you want to take an earlier schedule than the one you have bought, you can do so but have to pay an additional charge (we paid additional 35 NTD for our Taipei-Taoyuan trip to be able to take the earlier train).
– HSR train schedules and fare, check Taiwan’s High Speed Rail webpage.
Transportation: Traveling to Kenting
– Kenting Express bus leaves Zuoying HSR station every 30 minutes.
– There are total 7 bus stops after leaving Zuoying HSR station until you reached Kenting for approximately 137 mins trip.
– Ticket price is at 325 NTD one way, we can also buy a two trip which I think is more advisable.
– When waiting for the bus at Kenting going back to Zuoying, the first bus arrives at 9 in the morning. It is best that you arrived at least 30 minutes. In our case, we arrived 8am and we were 2nd on the queue, by the time the bus arrives at 9am, the queue was quite long but the bus is already half full. SO the other half on our queue got no choice but to wait for the next bus which is in another 30 minutes time.
– For more details, check Ping Tung Kenting Area E-bus System
Transportation: Traveling to Chiayi
– Chiayi HSR Station is different from Chiayi (TRA) Train Station which is in Chiayi town proper.
– There is a free shuttle bus that brings HSR passenger from HSR Station to TRA Station and vice versa. Just show your HSR ticket to the driver to avail of the free ride.
– From Chiayi TRA station, the fist bus that arrives/leaves is at 6am going back to Chiayi HSR Station.
Transportation: (TRA) Local Trains
– Local trains (TRA) that connect the whole island is operated by TRA, other main lines are the Taipei Metro and Kaohsiung MRT.
– If you’re going around Taipei for the whole day, it’s best to get the Taipei 1-day Pass worth 180 NTD, typical fare from Taipei to Ximen Ding is 20 NTD per trip, Ximen to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial is also 20 NTD.
– There are plenty of choices to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Taiwan, there are the usual hotels, hostels, farmstay and homestay. For farmstay and homestay, better check them at least 3 months ahead of your stay. We learned about farmstay too late so we cannot get any vacancy for the schedules that we like so we ended up staying at hostels.
– I will write a separate article about the hotels that we stayed, sort of “review” based from our personal experiences.
– In Kenting, we stayed at Austa Star Inn, in Chiayi we stayed at Shin Kao Hotel and in Taipei, we stayed at NiHao @ Taipei Hostel, all of them are just walking distance from bus stop (in case of Austra Star Inn) and train stations (in case of Shin Kao Hotel and NiHao @ Taipei Hostel).
– I love their 711 foods, the taste is not bad, it’s affordable and readily available.
– Typical price for the food on the photo above, (top) simple dinner for two in Chiayi costs 155 NTD, (left) 711 food costs between 40 to 70 NTD, (right) noodle for two at Sam’s Noodle in Ximen Ding costs 290 NTD.
– One thing we learned, it is extra difficult to find Taiwan souvenir t-shirt during winter season in Taiwan.
– We only managed to find one store in the “whole” of Ximending but the designs are very limited. You can also find one at the museum store in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall but a lot more pricey compared to the one in Ximending.
– When using the toilet (whether at hotels or restaurants), most if not all have a reminder not to flush your used toilet tissue into the toilet bowl. I think it’s because of their old plumbing designs that made it prone to clogging. So as thier guest, I believe we should respect and follow this reminders.
Flight – S$ 564.53 via Scoot Airlines
Hotel – S$ 122.38 Austra Star Inn (3N @ Kenting)
Hotel – S$ 126.57 Shin Kao Hotel (3N @ Chiayi)
Hotel – S$ 100.84 Ni Hao @ Taipei Hostel (1N @ Taipei)
Hotel – S$ 184.86 Ni Hao @ Taipei Hostel (2N @ Taipei)