Getting there & away
Most visitors enter through Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, where the immigration procedures pose few hassles. Guards are basically efficient.
Taiwan’s main international airport is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE; www.taoyuanairport.gov.tw/) in Dayuan, 50km (40 minutes) west of central Taipei. It was formerly called Chiang Kai-shek and may still be referred to as CKS Airport. Taiwan’s other international airports are Siaogang Airport (KHH; www.kia.gov.tw) in Kaohsiung and Cing Cyuan Gang Airport (RMQ; www.tca.gov.tw/English/Introduction.htm) in Taichung. TPE handles traffic from around the world, while most of the international traffic into and out of Siaogang Airport and Cing Cyuan Gang Airport comes from Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.
TPE airport has two terminals connected by a small skytrain. Terminal 2 is newer and by far the more attractive of the two. Both terminals have signs in English for every service and facility. There is also a tourist information booth in each. You can contact the booth in Terminal 1 on 03-383 2790, or Terminal 2 on 03-398 3341. Both are open from 7am to 11.30pm and can help with hotel bookings and bus information, as well as with getting a Youth Travel Card.
Other facilities include showers, free wireless internet, a post office, several banks for currency exchange and ATM withdrawals, mobile-phone service desks (for buying prepaid SIM cards, renting phones etc) and Lost & Found (03-398 2538).
Getting to/from TPE is simple. Several bus companies run the route (average fare NT125, 60 minutes) every 15 minutes from the airport to the main train station in Taipei from 4am to midnight. Some buses also go to the domestic airport, Songshan. You can buy bus tickets in the arrival areas of both terminals. Look for the ‘Express Bus’ signs in Terminal 2 and ‘Bus Stop’ (Station) signs in Terminal 1. If you want to get dropped off at a particular hotel let the staff at the ticket counters know, as there are different routes.
Buses also connect with the High-Speed Rail (HSR) station in Taoyuan, which can then whiz you off to Taipei in 25 minutes. From Taipei to Taoyuan station the HSR fare is NT160. From the airport to the station by bus costs NT20. Buses run every 20 minutes. However, because trains were not that frequent at the time of writing, this was not the best way to travel to Taipei except during rush hour when buses were slowed by traffic.
Taxis from the airport to downtown Taipei will cost around NT1200, and NT1000 going the opposite direction.
Note that the domestic terminal is nowhere near the international. If you want to fly within Taiwan you need to go to Songshan Airport in Taipei, about an hour away by bus.
If the names of the airlines listed below sound familiar but not quite right, there’s a reason. Owing to agreements with China, many large international carriers operate flights to Taiwan under different names. For example, All Nippon Airways becomes Air Nippon.
Taiwan has two major international airlines: China Airlines and Eva Air. While Eva Air started operation in 1991 and has had no fatalities to date, the same cannot be said of China Airlines, which is somewhat infamous for its safety record. However, incidents so far this decade have been far fewer than in the ’90s; officials credit this to new training practices (with pilots training at US flight schools) and a new corporate culture.
Palau Trans Pacific Airlines (GP; Taipei 02-3393 5388, TPE airport 03-398 3170; hub Koror, Palau)
If you don’t feel like dragging your luggage between TPE airport and central Taipei, Pinoy Express (Taipei 02-2591 0888, TPE airport 03-Airlines in TaiwanDaily Air Corporation (02-2712 3995; www.dailyair.com.tw) Far Eastern Air Transport (02-2715 1921; www.fat.com.tw) Mandarin Airlines (02-2717 1230; www.mandarin-airlines.com) China Airlines affiliate.TransAsia Airways (02-2972 4599; www.tna.com.tw) UNI Air (07-801 0189; www.uniair.com.tw) Eva Air affiliate.398 3652; 294-2 Chungqing N Rd, Taipei; 6am-11.30pm) can transport it for you. Same-day service is available if the bags arrive before 10pm at the Pinoy Express counter (in the arrival hall of each terminal). To arrange pick-up of luggage from your hotel or residence in Taipei, ring Pinoy Express one day in advance.
One-way rates to/from central Taipei are NT340 for the first bag (up to 20kg) and NT300 for each additional bag. Cash only.