7 things you should prepare for Taipei

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Prepare for Taipei

When you intend to visit Taipei the capital city of Taiwan, it will be helpful when you prepare a number of things prior your actual visit. Of course you will check the weather first to determine the best time to visit Taipei. Then you can go preparing your next visit to Taipei but keep the next 7 key-items in mind!

1. Know your airport

Taipei has two airports. The main airport is named Taiwan Toayuan International Airport (IATA code: TPE) and is situated approx 30 Km (19 Mi) from Taipei city. The other one is next to Taipei city at the north side and is named Taipei SungShan (IATA code: TSA). TSA airport is not that often used as the amount of flight over the dense populated area of Taipei city has been limited.
When you book a flight through TPE you have to take in account some extra costs and travel time to reach the city center. There are a three common transportation options at TPE airport: by bus, by high speed rail or by taxi. An MRT line is under construction, but it will not be completed until late 2016.
Here are the options from cheapest to most expensive forms of transportation:

  1. Express airport buses cost between NT$120 and NT$150 depending on the bus company, and there are stops at both terminals. Most Taipei routes are divided into West and East, with each company operating a service every ten to fifteen minutes on each route. The most common bus is the Kuo Kuang 1819 Bus which costs NT$125 each way.
  2. High Speed Rail station from the airport. There is a bus that runs approximately every 15 minutes from the airport to the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station. From there, you can catch one of the HSR trains to Taipei Main Station (where it is easy to take a taxi or MRT to your final destination). The bus is NT$30, takes 25 minutes and can be purchased at the UBUS counters. The train is NT$165 and takes 20 minutes to Taipei Main Station.
  3. Taxi fare between the TPE airport and Taipei will cost at the minimum NT$900 (generally NT$1000-$1200 from the airport)

What to prepare for Taipei

  • Find out which airport you use for your flight to Taipei and then find the correct terminal building. You arrive at either Terminal#1 or Terminal #2 depending your airline company. The terminal # is found here. Both terminals have shopping areas.
  • At the TPE website find the Public Transport Services towards Taipei city.
  • Also determine which terminal building to go in case you need a sim-card or a WIFI hotspot device (read below)

prepare for Taipei

2. Determine Public Transport

Traveling throughout Taipei city can be done by bus, train, metro (MRT) or by bike. Most convenient will be MRT or bike. The U-bike or You-bike company has setup bikes storages almost next to all MRT stations as well as most touristic attractions.
To pay the rental of these bike you can use the MRT EasyCard as well. How convenient.

What to prepare for Taipei

  • Get the map of the MRT stations
  • Register at U-Bike and find the storage locations and store these into your smartphone.
    This way once you are at location you can easy find the nearest bike storage.
  • Find out how to go from TPE to the train station near your hotel and where to change trains
  • Read where and how to get one of the available TapeiPasses (EasyCards) (use it for MRT and Bikes)
  • Sign up for UBER so you can call a taxi easily.

3. Decide on internet use or go for WIFI only

Everyone knows data roaming will cost a lot. Fortunately there are alternatives. The best options are either to go for Wifi only or use a data-sim card with a certain data-plan: e.g. 100MB/day or unlimited; 3G, 4G or LTE. Also count the devices you intend to need WIFI for: e.g. smartphone, tablet, laptop, DSLR-camera, etc. If you bring multiple devices, you can consider to rent (or to bring) a private WIFI hotspot. Note that such private WIFI hotspot can be created easily by using tethering one your phone. In case you still have an older but not broke smartphone laying around in the house, you might consider to use that old phone as your private WIFI hotspot. This way you do not need to reconfigure the smartphone you use every day.

Please also note that the telecom companies abroad might use different transmitting frequencies for their networks as the telco’s are using in your own country. In case you have a 4G/LTE ‘quad band’ smartphone you are fine. However, triple-band phones might not work at all due to frequency mismatch or might not work at certain locations depending the speed 3G, 4G, 4G+ or LTE.

The options you can consider are ordered by costs here:

  1. You intend to use (free) WIFI only (most cheapest)
  2. Get a (disposable) data-sim card for the smartphone you use daily
  3. Get a (disposable) data-sim card for your (older) smartphone and create a private WiFI hotspot using tethering.
  4. Rent a WiFI hotspot device for private use, sometimes called Wifi-egg. This device you have to return.
  5. You intend to use data-roaming (most expensive)

What to prepare for Taipei

  • Decide which of the above options you like to use
  • Option 1: Register for one or more free Wifi accounts here or here
  • Options 2 & 3: Find out if your phone is suitable to be used in Taiwan (quadband & 4G)
  • Options 2 & 3: Find out which data-plan you need and with what provider. Mind that not all providers allow tethering. The sim-cards can be obtained at the provider booth at the airport (so mark them on your airport map). Additional information on providers and dataplans can be found here and here. The Chungwa website is found here. The locations of the Telecom company sales booths can be found here.
  • Option 3: Reconfigure your smartphone before you depart (note the changed settings) and try it out with the devices you take with you.
  • Option 4: Find out which data-plan you need and with what provider. Then make a reservation for the period you need the device so you can pick up this device at the airport or in your hotel. An example of such device and the instruction where to get and how to return can be found here

prepare for Taipei

4. Load the extra apps on your smartphone

Smartphones are quite handy when traveling. If you travel a lot you might have loaded the next apps already, otherwise you can consider to add these apps to your phone. For some apps to work you need to register upfront

What to prepare for Taipei

  • UBER to be able to call a taxi when needed. Load it from your appstore. To use it you need to register first.
  • SKYPE to call home, Find the Skype app in your Appstore, You need to register before you can use it.
  • VOIP-Phone app from sipdiscount.com. You need to register and initially pay a small fee (US$10) for (almost) free calls around the world.
    This app will add a regular telephone number to your smartphone so your loved ones at home can call you at your new (extra) phone number (do not forget to try it out before you leave). By selecting this app you can make calls to virtually all regular phone numbers around the world.
  • Office Lens app lets you take pictures of whiteboards, roadsigns, maps or printed documents, then enhances your photo by cropping, sharpening and straightening it (remove the perspectif), so it looks almost like a scanned image. Find Office Lens for free in your Appstore
  • Camcard to picture the business cards you receive (do not forget to bring your own) and store the data in your online address book.
  • Specific Tourism apps for Taipei like e.g. the Tripadvisor City Guide from your Appstore

5. Places to visit

There is a lot to visit in Taipei. Lucky for you we did some research already. A list of most interesting spots can be found at this website here.

6. Choose your hotel

Decide on the place you want to stay. Probably you do not want to sleep under a bridge, so you choose a guesthouse, airbnb, couchsurfing or hotel. Most lodging places do like you make a reservation upfront. If you like to wander around from one place to another you can search and try the available guesthouses once you are in Taipei.

What to prepare for Taipei

  • In general, you first determine at what Taipei district you like to stay. Choose a location which is situated centrally the places you intend to visit.
  • Sign up with AirBnB or couchsurfing if you have not done yet
  • Determine the available rooms or apartments and put them on your wishlist for later use
  • Choose your hotel or room at short distance of a MRT station for quick access to trains and bikes.
  • Keep an eye on the cancelling policy and fees
  • Make the actual reservations in time.

prepare for Taipei

7. Create your itinerary for Taipei

In my opinion a good itinerary leaves room for changes but covers most or all locations you want to visit too. The itinerary can include MRT stations to go by as well as the restaurant you heard of and now like to visit.
A fair example of a 2-day visit can be found at this website here.

What to prepare for Taipei

  • Mark all locations you intend to visit on a map (e.g. “google earth”)  and keep an eye on the distances between them.
  • Decide on priority (“must see” versus “nice to see”). Of course you can include shopping mall visits and restaurants too.
  • Decide on how long you intend to stay at these location (do not plan by the minute) but plan per hour or part of the day
  • Group these locations together by area and also per day
  • Create for each day a route along the locations

Tourism boards

Taiwan Tourism Bureau – The offical Tourism Bureau website.
Taipei Travel Net – The official travel guide from the Taipei City Government.

Bewaren

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About Author

Travel Photographer, Writer/blogger & Planner for Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan & other Asian countries. Since 2001 he visited a number of Asian countries like Mongolia, China, South Korea, Japan, Tibet and Nepal. There he enjoyed centuries of history and culture, local habits and beautiful locations. By this website www.myAsiaTravelguide.com he shares his experiences about these trips for a number of Asian countries to inspire other travelers.

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