Taiwan Trip Planner: ALL the Logistics

Taipei 101 at night from Elephant Mountain - Taiwan Trip Planner

Before you get into where to go and what to do, this Taiwan trip planner will help you figure out all the logistics of your trip.

Usually, before I go to a new country, I feel like I’m always scrambling around on the internet and in forums to find the simplest of answers! I wrote these guides for Thailand and Vietnam before, but for some reason, I haven’t been writing them for all the new places I’ve been. Working to rectify that for the future as I think they’re generally quite handy!

Taiwan Trip Planner

Geographical Set-Up

Overall, Taiwan is divided up into counties, provincial cities, and special municipalities. There are 22 in all, so I’m only going to name the big ones that you’ll probably travel through.

Northern Area

  • Taipei
    • This is the capital of Taiwan and the largest city. As my friend said, you could visit Taipei for a week and still find things to do.
  • Taoyuan
    • You’ll most likely fly into Taoyuan if you’re coming from afar, and it’s about an hour from the airport into Taipei. I’m not really sure of what else there is to do in the area!
  • Keelung
    • Up in the northernmost corner and is nicknamed the “Rainy Port” for, well, obvious reasons. There are a few things to do in the area, but the big one is Yehliu Geopark.
  • New Taipei City
    • The New Taipei City is actually where you’ll find Jiufen. It basically surrounds Taipei and Keelung. This confusing set-up is because NTC used to be Taipei County, but as it grew, it was changed into a city. You can’t have two Taipei cities, so they just threw “New” in front to avoid confusion. For the record, I was still confused.

Other places in the area: Hsinchu, Hsinchu County, Miaoli, Yilan

Taroko Gorge: Eternal Shrine

Middle Area

  • Taichung
    • Taichung is on the western side of Taiwan and is a good base for visiting the more mountainous areas. I had it written down for visiting Sun Moon Lake and the Rainbow Village.
  • Hualien
    • Hualien is the name for both the city and the county. It sits along Taiwan’s east coast and is mostly known for its proximity to Taroko Gorge National Park. I really enjoyed staying in Hualien for a few days, and I’d recommend it over just coming down to see Taroko or skipping it altogether.

Other areas: Changhua, Nantou, Yunlin, Chiayi, and Chiayi County

Southern Areas

  • Tainan
    •  Tainan is along the southwest coast and was actually the capital for over 200 years under the Qing Dynasty.
  • Kaohsiung
    • Kaohsiung is a port city situated around Love River. The big thing to see is the Lotus Pond with the huge Dragon Tiger Pagodas.
  • Taitung
    • Taitung is both a city and a county, and it sits on the southeastern coast and most famous for Peinan Cultural Park, which has a ton of Neolithic excavations.
  • Pingtung
    • Pingtung is also both a county and city. You’ll want to stay here to explore Kenting National Park, the oldest and largest in the country.

Islands

  • Penghu
  • Matsu
  • Kinmen

Language Basics

  • Hello Nǐ hǎo
  • Thank you – Xièx xiè
  • Goodbye – Zài jiàn (though most people just said “bye bye”)
  • Do you speak English? –nǐ huì shuō yīngwén ma?

Getting Everywhere

Flying

Taiwan’s main airport is the Taoyuan International Airport, about an hour from central Taipei. There’s also the Songshan Airport, which is in the city, and Kaohsiung also has its own international airport. I flew into Taoyuan. It’s fairly easy to get a bus to various parts of Taipei, and they’ll point you to the right desk if you’re unsure where to go.

Subway

The subway in Taipei is super easy to navigate and use (especially with Google Maps). You can buy a subway card in any 7-11 and refill it at each station.

Trains

There are different classes of trains, but I really only took the Taroko Express to Hualien. It was about a two-hour train ride and really nice. There’s also the High-Speed Rail, which will take you from Taipei to Kaohsiung in a little over 90 minutes. From what I’ve read, the classes are:

  • Chua-Kuang + Fu-Hsing (cheapest)
  • Tze-Chiang (express)
  • High-Speed Rail (fastest)

Shuttle Buses

Another option, of course, is to take shuttle bus tours! This is how I got from Hualien to Jiufen. I booked a shuttle bus tour that took me along the East Coast and just stayed in Jiufen instead of going all the way to Taipei. It would have been a beautiful day trip if it wasn’t raining and cold the whole time. This is the tour I booked. It’s more for Chinese tourists, so I only had the driver who spoke some English and a random tourist who could speak enough English to let me know what was going on.

gongzheng baozi, dumpling restaurant in hualien

Sanitary Situations

Toilets

Perfectly fine from what I remember! I even used one in Taroko because I had to pee so bad, and it was fine. I think there may have been some squatty potties in Taroko, but I can’t remember.

Water Quality

Totally fine! I brushed my teeth and drank water from the tap.

Food Quality 

Delicious! Everything seemed fairly clean as well from the night markets to the restaurants to the cafes. I could actually go for some night market food right now.

Extra Information

Visa?

You don’t need a visa for Taiwan if you’re from the U.S. Check iVisa to see if you need one.

Plugs 

Taiwan used the same as the U.S. – 110V, 60Hz AC with two and three prong options.

Money Matters 

Taiwan’s currency is called the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD), and roughly $30 NTD = $1 USD, which, yes, is confusing for those of us who aren’t that great at quickly dividing 30.

The banknotes are divided into $100, $200, $500, $1,000, and $2,000 while the main coins are $50, $20, $10, $5, and $1. You’ll want to have cash on you mostly for the night markets. I used mostly cash just to force myself to stay on budget, but you can use your CC in most places.

Tipping

As far as I recall, there was no tipping. There may be tipping in bigger, international hotels, but I didn’t stay in those.

Phone

I got a SIM card from the Taoyuan Airport. You can order one ahead and just show the kiosk your voucher once you’re there.

And there you have it! A Taiwan trip planner guide with all the little logistical info you need before you go. Let me know if there’s anything else you want to know! 

Taiwan Travel Guide

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