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Facts For Travelers

Visas: Some visitors from Western Europe, Australasia and the USA can stay in Taiwan for 14 days without a visa. Everyone else needs a visa, which allows a 30-day stay. Single entry visas are easy to get, but if you want a muliple entry visa get it before you leave home. Because the Republic of China (Taiwan) is not recognised by most countries, you'll have to get your visa from a Taiwanese 'pseudo embassy' - look for trade offices, travel services or friendship associations.
Health risks: No particular risks, but you should consider vaccinations for hepatitis.
Time: GMT/UTC plus eight hours
Electricity: 110V, 60 Hz
Weights & measures: Metric

When to Go

Try to avoid major public holidays, especially Chinese New Year (usually early February), when transport will be full, shops and restaurants closed, and hotels unusually expensive. Summer weather can shorten tempers and increase the price of airfares. While October is climatically pleasant, it is also holiday-ridden - try November instead. In late August/early September it's Ghost Month, which means there will be no Taiwanese travellers on the road and temples will be at their most active.


You'll need to get hold of a lunar calendar if you want to have any hope of attending Taiwan's big events - very few of them occur on the same date every year. If fireworks and crowds crank your engine, visit Yenshui, Luerhmen or Peikang for the Lantern Festival, on the 15th day of the first moon. Kuanyin's Birthday, on the 19th day of the second moon, is a good time to see temple festivities in full swing. During the Ghost Month , the seventh lunar month, ghosts from hell walk the earth. No one travels, swims, gets married or moves house, but everyone visits Taoist temples. National Day (10 October) is celebrated with gusto, fireworks and a light show in Taipei. Chinese New Year (first day of the first lunar month) should probably be avoided.


Money & Costs

Currency: New Taiwan dollar (NT$)

* Budget: US$2-8
* Mid-range: US$8-20
* Top-end: US$20-50

* Budget: US$10-20
* Mid-range: US$20-100
* Top-end: US$100 and upwards

Costs in Taiwan for the traveller are on a par with a good number of European countries, reflecting the rise in the standard of living on the island. However, Taiwan is still cheaper than Japan (which isn't saying much). If you stay in youth hostels, live on noodles and travel by bus, you could get by on US$15 to US$20 a day. If you want a bathroom of your own, a few souvenirs, a couple of taxi trips and a decent feed or two a day, budget US$35 to US$50 a day. Staying in Taipei will cost you more than heading out into the country.

Travellers' cheques and cash can be changed at international airports and large banks, but you'll have trouble with travellers' cheques in rural areas. Stick to US dollars for cash and cheques if you can - other currencies will cause you problems. When changing cheques, shop around, as commission costs can vary widely. For the most part, only larger banks such as the International Bank of China (CBC) and Bank of Taiwan can change money. There are no legal private money changers in Taiwan, but if you're stuck some jewellery shops will change cash. Major international credit cards can be used at big hotels and flash restaurants or to get cash advances at your card's offices.

Tipping is not the done thing in Taiwan. The only people who really expect you to shell out are hotel bellhops and airport porters, who will expect about US$1 a bag. Big hotels and restaurants will stick 10 per cent service charge and 5 per cent value added tax on your bill. Taiwan is not a third world country, so don't expect to haggle yourself a bargain - you may be able to get a slight discount (around 10 per cent) in street markets and small shops.

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