Part 1: Introduction
and overall impression
My first visit to Taiwan was in 2005, when I made a three
day stop in Taipei on my way from Bangkok to South Korea.
Since then Taipei has developed considerably, improving a
lot its looks and cleanliness. Taipei is now a clean and
elegant Asian metropolis, comparable to Tokyo in some
There is plenty to see in Taiwan. In fact the two weeks we
spent there barely allowed us to scratch the surface.
There are lots of trekking opportunities and the terrain
is very varied due to all those mountains. Taiwan may be a
small island, but there are mountains which are almost
4000m high. Several cities on the west coast are very
interesting, with a wealth of historic places and temples
to visit. Kaohsiung is interesting as well due to its
modern architecture, pleasant neighbourhoods and beautiful
Chinese temples. The local food in Taiwan is interesting
The cost of spending a holiday in Taiwan is comparable to
cost level in a developed country. Hotels are not
cheap, but also not extremely expensive. Eating out is
The food in Taiwan is special. Every mall has an own food
court and there are many night markets with food stalls in
every city. Among the local delicacies we discovered in
this trip are pineapple cakes and mochi sweets to make
The tea, especially the oolong tea, is special in Taiwan.
There is a huge selection of different tea types sold in
convenient 1/2 litre bottles. Very special, very delicious
It's possible to have a very inexpensive lunch or dinner
in the convenience stores (7-eleven or similar). These
sell pre-cooked food packages which just have to be heated
up in a microwave oven or noodle soups to which you just
have to add hot water. These stores have seating areas,
where customers can have their meal.
Because of the abundance of street food and food courts we
rarely went to a real restaurant. The one we tried in
Kaohsiung had excellent food for very moderate prices.
We stayed in hotels, spending between 65 and 110 Euro per
night (mostly around 80-90). This was for comfortable
rooms in mid-range hotels (we looked for the cheapest
rooms with a minimum standard). Overall hotels are not
cheap in Taiwan, with price levels comparable to Western
Exchange rate (March-April 2013)
1 Euro = 38.5 TWD
1 Euro = 1.30 USD
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.
ATMs are everywhere, so that you can easily get cash with
a Cirrus/Maestro ATM card.
phones and prepaid cards
We bought prepaid cards from Taiwan Mobile upon arrival at
the airport in Taipei. These were quite pricey (1145 TWD
for 30 days of unlimited Internet + 345 TWD of calls,
voice-only SIM card for 345 TWD). The coverage was good.
Later we discovered that cheap SIM cards are available in
the 24/7 convenience stores, so perhaps we should have
bought the SIM cards there. No idea however if these
cheaper SIM cards are perhaps from networks with poorer
Most of the time we used the Internet access of the hotels
(WLAN). When not in the hotel, we had connectivity
with the smartphone.
This was not as good as we had hoped, as initially it was
a bit fresh in Taipei, then skies were often overcast and
we got quite a lot of rain on the east coast. Probably we
visited Taiwan in the wrong season. The temperature was
moderate, and most of the time not too hot.
We didn't get any new vaccinations for Taiwan and I
suspect that none are needed, given that Taiwan is a
VISA / Entry
We got into Taiwan without having to obtain a visa in
advance. This probably holds for all nationals of
We felt very safe while in Taiwan. Taiwanese are overall
very polite and a bit "Japanese" for what concerns
properness and observation of the laws.
- What's amazing about Taiwan are all those beautiful
Chinese temples, present in most cities.
- Personally I liked a lot Alishan, with its cool
landscapes and tea plantations.
- Oolong tea, pineapple cakes, mochi sweets and other
- Kaohsiung proved to be a pleasant surprise, well
worth a visit.
- Also Taipei has become much nicer since the last
time I visited it.
- The landscape around Guanziling is beautiful.
- Trying to get by car into Taipei on a Friday
afternoon is not a very good idea, due to the heavy
We used the train to get from Taipei to Hualian (fast
comfortable train) and then flew from Hualian to
Kaohsiung. Then we continued the trip with a rented car
from Kaohsiung to Taipei. Driving in Taiwan is quite easy,
it's just a matter of getting used to the traffic
conditions. Driving in the cities and the mountains was