Taiwan – Taipei Essentials

Taipei, Taiwan, April 2016. As this visit draws to a close here are some basic essentials to help visitors survive in the metropolis of concrete and tarmac: that is Taipei City.

  1. Money: Have some cash that can be changed at the airport. Taipei International Airport’s ATMs are not linked to an international ATM network so overseas cards may not be accepted.
  2. Climate: Prepare for wet weather. It rains most of the time in Taipei although from April to July the weather improves.When its not raining there is a persistent mist and haze across the city so don’t expect great panoramic views.
  3. Easy Card: They’r free after a redeemable T$100 is handed over to a machine in any Metro station. Then load it with value from the same machine – T$300 is a good start. Swipe the card across a reader on buses and in Metros, and the good news is there is a discount over normal cash price fare.
  4. Get out: Taipei City on the whole is uninteresting once the handful of attractions are done with.The good news is that the surrounding hills and view points are easily accessible by MRT and bus – just 30-40 minutes away in most cases. This is a good resource for information.
  5. Mosquitoes: There are some big ones round in Taipei so take appropriate measures.
  6. Food: There is plenty on offer but not necessarily that appetizing. Vendors speak little English and wont be able to name that item in most cases. Visitors may well end up eating internal organs and even external organs of various animals.Good news is there are plenty of American food chains to save the day. Cheapest eats is common foods in local cafes.
  7. Coffee: Starbucks is expensive but local chains and independents are actually pretty cheap compared to Europe. I found Dante and Mr. Browns to be very good.Cheapest coffee is from 7-11 or Family Mart convenience stores and its pretty good.
  8. Sleep: Visitors rolling into town and hoping to grab a walk-in room will find it a long hard slog to find something cheap.. Taipei isn’t packed out with accommodation at close quarters, and rooms are expensive. Dorm rooms though are dotted around the Ximending district.. Best to make a reservation via Airbnb. booking.com or Hostelworld.
  9. Etiquette: Be nice and smile plenty. Taiwanese won’t appreciate Western arrogance. Smiling will go a long way.

9 essentials to surviving 10 days in Taipei – please pass it on, re-blog if it will help others 🙂

Next stop Hualien. Google Map.


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