All regions and cities in Taiwan are connected by comprehensive and affordable bus and rail services. Transport in Taiwanese cities is excellent, and Taipei, where most foreigners live, even boasts a metro system. The public transport system is reliable, affordable and easily accessible, so expats should have no problem getting around in Taiwan.
Public transport in Taiwan
With an EasyCard, expats can pay for bus services in most cities, as well as railway, MRT and some ferry and cable car tickets. They can also pay for YouBike rentals, parking and convenience store purchases. Some taxis also accept payment via the EasyCard, further enhancing its usefulness.
There are buses that travel almost every main street in Taiwan. They're clean, safe and run often. Taking the bus in Taiwan is a practical and safe way to get around town inexpensively. They're also a popular means for travellers who want to get to smaller or more rural destinations. When paying in cash, some buses may require an exact fare. Contactless payment methods may also be available.
There are a variety of buses to choose from, and among the most popular are Kuo-Kuang Hao and Ubus. Bus companies usually have offices near train stations in most Taiwanese cities. Visit Kuo-Kuang Bus or Ubus for their routes and schedules.
Passengers can take the train easily from city to city. The trains in Taiwanese urban centres run frequently and are cheap. The announcements are in both Mandarin and English, as are all the signs.
The express train, Tze-Chiang, is the most comfortable and fastest way to travel around Taiwan. It is also the most expensive. Tickets should be booked in advance, especially when planning to travel over a weekend or public holiday.
For long-distance travelling, Taiwan has a high-speed rail system. In a little over two hours, expats can travel the whole length of the island. The train is modern but can be pricey.
Train stations in the larger cities in Taiwan usually have tourist information counters with English-speaking staff. Most cashiers at ticket booths will understand foreigners when they speak slowly, and buying train tickets should therefore be relatively straightforward.
Cycling in Taiwan
Taiwan has a well-developed cycling infrastructure with a bike network spanning more than 3,000 miles (5,000 km) and much of it on dedicated paths. The island has a variety of routes, from flat coastal paths to challenging mountain climbs, and many bike rental shops are available. Taiwan has a strong cycling culture, and the world's largest bicycle company, Giant, calls Taiwan home.
YouBike is a public bicycle-sharing service operated by Taipei City that allows anyone to rent a bicycle from kiosks throughout Taiwan's major cities. Users can rent a bicycle using a smart card or a mobile app, and in the more crowded cities, cycling can be the fastest and most affordable means of getting around.
It's important to note that while Taiwan has a strong cycling culture, cycling in the cities can be challenging due to traffic. Always adhere to the road rules and use bike lanes where available for safety.
- Visit YouBike for information on the public bicycle-sharing service.
Taxis in Taiwan
There are taxi services in most cities in Taiwan. Taxis are metered and fares are cheap. Fares differ between cities, but no matter where in Taiwan an expat is located, the cost of taking a cab is much more affordable than in Western countries.
Taxi drivers often don't speak English, and expats should therefore have their destination written down in Mandarin. Bear in mind that not all taxi drivers use meters, especially in rural areas or during late-night hours. In such cases, it's advisable to negotiate the fare before starting the journey.
All the taxi companies in Taiwan have apps. Expats can use the app to hail a taxi or call the designated taxi company number. Uber is also available in Taiwan but only in certain cities, namely Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu. Apart from Uber, Taiwan also offers local ride-hailing apps such as Taiwan Taxi which are commonly used by residents.
- Visit the Uber website for their services in Taiwan.
- Check out Taiwan Taxi for local ride-hailing services.
Driving in Taiwan
Driving in Taiwan is on the right-hand side of the road and can be difficult due to the chaotic nature of the local driving culture. In Taipei, traffic laws are enforced, making driving there safe and easy. That said, outside of Taipei, this is generally not the norm. Scooters also tend to weave in and out of traffic, which can result in accidents.
An International Driving Permit can be used in Taiwan, and for those who plan on living in the destination, it is valid for 30 days, after which new arrivals must obtain an extension or a Taiwanese driving licence. Taiwan has reciprocal licence agreements with certain countries. Members of these countries can obtain a Taiwanese licence without taking a driving test, but they must first ensure that their original licence is translated into English or Chinese. Otherwise, expats not from these countries will need first to secure and hold a learner's permit for at least three months and pass the Taiwanese theoretical and practical driving test, which can be taken in English.
- To understand the requirements of an International Driving Permit in Taiwan, check the American Automobile Association (AAA)'s IDPF guide.
- To understand Taiwan's traffic regulations, refer to the Highway Act.
Air travel in Taiwan
There are four international airports in Taiwan. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is for the northern part of the island, and Kaohsiung International Airport caters to the southern part of the island.
While Taichung International Airport and Songshan Airport also fly internationally, they only fly to specific destinations in Asia. There are also many local airports where one can book a flight to anywhere in Taiwan, including the islands in the Strait of Taiwan.