Taiwan- The Heart of Asia is the slogan issued by Taiwan Tourism Bureau to market Taiwan. My last visit to Taiwan was 3 years back to Yilan. Taiwan is a popular Asia destination for all kinds of age. You can have food, shopping, sceneries, mountains and night markets to explore.
So during my recent trip to Taipei, Taiwan, I came across interesting stuffs to share with you guys.
1. Line App
Line is very popular in Taiwan. Taiwanese use “Line” app rather than “Whatsapp” for their simple messaging. One of the reasons is that the design is fun and simple. There are cute stickers to send to friends and also ‘gift’ friends by purchasing stickers on Line Store. And they can register and make a business Line account to send their customers news and updates of their shop. So, download it for easier communication while you are there because my Taiwanese friends and I did the same thing.
2. EasyCard for Public Transports
Similar to Ezlink Card in Singapore, Taipei called it Easycard or 悠遊卡 (Yōuyóu kǎ) which allows us to ride Taipei MRT or public bus. You can also use the card for payment at convenience stores and supermarket. Read here on where you can purchase an Easycard. You can save your transport fares by using public transports. Most of the places are easily accessible via public transports.
3. Wifi Services
After trying out the rental wifi router, i think the best option is to get a local simcard for the wifi services. Although Taipei has free WIFI everywhere, I would prefer to have my own wifi services due to security issues.
There are 5 main telecom operators in Taiwan:
1. Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信)
2. Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大)
3. FarEasTone (遠傳電信)
4. Taiwan Star Telecom (台灣之星)
5. Asia Pacific Telecom (亞太電信)
You can get your local simcard from the respective booths after you clear the customs. Fret not! They have few options of data plan to choose from and the coverage is pretty good as compared to wifi router. This is #truestory after my recent trip to Taiwan.My wifi router failed me most of the time.
4. “YouBike” – Bike-Share Program
As I explore Taipei city, I noticed there are quite a number of YouBike users. Taipei Bike Sharing System is a large network of bicycle rental kiosks in Taipei City. Thus, this explains the countless amount of bicycle parking stations located around the city. It is mostly located within walking distance of MRT stations and tourist destination. Visitors like us can conveniently rent the bicycle to explore the city. You can read the official website on how to rent a YouBike.
5. Beware of the Minimum Spending in Taiwan Cafes
Apart from their local delights, their café scene is booming as well. The café culture here is strong and each café has their unique styles and concepts. Youngsters nowadays are into cafehopping and photo-taking at instagram-worthy places. However, the cafes here have a minimum spending per person and it is not cheap. The minimum spending is priced from TWD170 ~S$8 onwards, which is equivalent to a drink price. Desserts are not counted at all. Everyone needs to order a cup of drink to sit down and chill in the café. Some cafes also restrict the time length to max. 2 hours.
In the end, we decided to take-away a cup of latte which is apparently TWD40 ~S$1.90 cheaper. Wifi in cafes are free if you are wondering.
6. How Public Bus system works
Not buses are bilingual (Chinese and English). For those who do not read Chinese, don’t worry. If I can survive, so can you. I used google map app to secure my direction. The bus systems here operate by different private agencies. Thus, this explains the translation and romanisation is not consistent. So, make sure you compare it to ensure your direction.
The fares are calculated using a fare zone system and there are three distinct dare zones. If the bus is showing a 上 (pronounced shàng, “on”) character, pay NT$15 by cash or EasyCard upon boarding the bus. If the bus is showing a 下 (pronounced xìa, “off”) character, pay NT$15 by cash or EasyCard upon alighting the bus. If you are on the bus when the 上 (first zone) switches into a 下 and enters the third zone, pay a second time when alighting because you have crossed into another fare zone. You do not need to pay again if still in the second fare zone. The fare zones are indicated by small triangles on the route maps. The safest method is to swipe an EasyCard. If you do not have to pay fare again, the machine will simply reject the swipe. You can read more on the official website.
This is based on my experience while I was in Taipei trying to hop onto the bus and being stopped by the bus driver for not tapping the card. That’s how I know about the system. Lesson learnt!
7. Uber Is Back
Do you know that Uber is banned in Taiwan sometime back? It is back again in Taiwan with new agreement with regulators in the month of April 2017. Uber only be able to operate again in Taipei by using licensed commercial drivers, rather than private drivers. However, riding Uber is not as cheap as we thought. Sometimes it can be more expensive than hailing a cab.
Furthermore there aren’t many Uber cars shown in the app as well. Make your own comparison and judgement before you decide which to grab. And Grab is not available in Taiwan.
8. Visit Travel Taiwan (TTB Singapore)
Another must-do thing before you head to Taiwan is to pop by Taiwan Visitors’ Association Singapore. There are freebies including free tickets/ discount coupons for attraction places and even MTR cards as well. In order to receive the freebies, you need to provide air ticket confirmation and one night hotel confirmation in Taiwan. The freebies are available for one time collection per trip.
If you want to know what free gifts are available currently, give them a call at their office no. +65 62236546 . You can check out their official Facebook for latest updates.
9. Money Exchange
One thing to take note is that change your money before you travel. Their money exchangers in Taiwan is not everywhere around the city. You will have hard time finding them. Alternatively, change them in the airport. Also, try not to withdraw money from Plus/ Cirrus-compatible ATMs because the processing fee is quite high. Lastly, they don’t really accept SGD so it is better to play safe to get everything done before you off to Taiwan.
Hope it is useful for those who are planning for your next visit.
Read about my Yilan travelogue here.