A week of cycling to explore Taiwan's roads and discover breathtaking landscapes! + How to visit the Taroko Gorges independently
Backpacking Taiwan: all our tips and places to visit in Taiwan
We spent 3 weeks in Taiwan, on the one hand discovering Taipei but also during a week cycling and camping along the east coast: just MAGICAL. We give you here our best travel tips for the things to see and do to visit Formosa (the old name of Taiwan).
The Map of our blog posts in Taiwan
Below is a map of Taiwan to help you plan your travel itinerary. You will find our items placed on the map. To prepare our trips we generally like to use interactive maps. We use either Maps.me (free mobile application) or Google's myMaps (also free). This allows us to easily add reference points as we read: things to see, addresses, advice... in short, we put everything on and once there we move forward according to the desires by returning to the menu for small doses of additional inspiration.
Coming to Taiwan: Visa and flights
Visa for Taiwan
There is no visa required to enter Taiwan if you are a French, Swiss, Belgian, American or Canadian. All you need is a valid passport and you automatically obtain a residence permit for up to 90 days upon arrival in the country.
However, you may be asked for a return or continuation ticket that proves that you will leave the island (it is usually required).
The best time to go to Taiwan is between the end of September and mid-November. The months of March-April are also not bad even if in March it can clearly still be a little cold.
Cheap Flights to TaiwanTo come to Taiwan there are direct flights from Paris from about 590€. Flights with stopovers (often in China or Hong Kong) are often cheaper and available from 300€. Of course, flights are most expensive during the high season.
To book the best is to compare the prices on Skyscanner by selecting several combinations of departure cities and dates.
- from Switzerland or Belgium there will automatically be at least one stopover. The fares are quite similar, even if we notice that it is often from Paris that we get the best prices.
- Flights to Taipei are significantly cheaper than other airports. So even if you plan to go to Kaohsiung or Taichung for example, it may be much cheaper to take a flight to Taipei and then directly continue the journey by train.
When to go to Taiwan?
Weather in Taiwan and Taipei
Taiwan has a subtropical climate.... What does that mean? So let's start with the good news: it means that the island is very green! ;) Do you see what I'm getting at? When you say green, you mean water... and therefore rain. In Taiwan it rains quite often... and a lot!
The rainiest months are statistically from July to October (it is also the typhoon season). The rest of the year is quite stable, even if a shower is clearly not to be ruled out. After, nothing to worry, because the temperatures are relatively mild. It is between 10 degrees in winter and 35 degrees in summer.
Taipei: Discover the vibrant capital of Taiwan
Taipei is an exciting city! A little confusing at first sight... too big, too noisy, too grey? Maybe a little... at least for us who prefer nature. But strangely enough, we quite liked Taipei. The small traditional streets next to the business districts where life seems to be moving at 2000 miles per hour. After that, we don't hide the fact that our favorite moment was when we left the city to take a look at Elephant Mountain and enjoy a magnificent sunset over the city (and the 101 tower).
To find our good tips and addresses of things to do in Taipei, we invite you to read our article about the capital of Taiwan.
If you come from Taiwan, Taipei will most certainly be part of your itinerary and that's good!
But really, if you come here, don't limit yourself only to this huge city! Of the island's nearly 23 million inhabitants, nearly half live in Taipei.... Another large part lives on the cities of the west coast; Tainan, Koahsiung or Taichung...
The whole east coast is much more natural and preserved! Besides, just look at a map and compare the road networks on each side of the island to see where you will be most in nature. ;)
If you are wondering whether Taiwan is better visited through an agency, well the answer is no! There are several travel agencies offering package tour, but on our end we decided to organize everything by ourselves and this all was perfectly fine. It's quite easy to get by public transport, to rent a bike and so on.
But if you want to book an organised tour anyway, we recommend you to take a look at Evaneos. Evaneos offers 100% tailor-made itineraries. Whether in a group, as an individual with a guide or in 100% freedom mode with only accommodation and transport, there is something for everyone (and price). They work exclusively with local agencies that they select for their seriousness and guarantee the same prices as those practiced by the local agency directly.
Check local agencies on Evaneos
Taiwan: Money and Travel Budget
The Taiwan Currency
In Taiwan the currency is called the New Taiwan Dollar, this is shortened by TWD. To give you an idea, 1€ is equivalent to about 35 TWD (the rate has generally fluctuated between 34 and 36 over the last 5 years).
For payments, cards are generally well accepted in restaurants and hotels, but it is still important to provide cash for small shops and food stands, which are rarely equipped with a terminal. There are many distributors and during our visit we did not have the slightest problem to withdraw, international cards are well accepted. To limit bank charges, we advise you to make sure you do not have any charges with your bank, or to subscribe to an online bank like N26 or anything similar.
Travel budget in Taiwan
Taiwan is clearly not the cheapest destination in Asia, but it remains clearly reasonable!
For backpackers the budget is between 28€ to 40€ per day.The budget will depend greatly on your choice of accommodation, but also on the means of transport used and the number of regions visited. Many travelers choose to rent a car in order to be more flexible. For a car rental in Taiwan it is easy to count with 40€ per day of rental. The platform to compare the prices we usually use is Rentalcars.
For our part, we decided to use only public transport and... our legs! We have chosen to follow the east coast of Taiwan with rental bikes. After negortiations, we paid 17€ per day (for 2 bicycles, 7 days rental).
Our article about our 7 days bike trip on the east coast
For our part, we've spent 29€ per day on average. But our example is probably not the best for this country... In Taipei we were staying with a Swiss friend who moved there and during our bike trip we did a lot of wild camping. In short, in terms of accommodation we spent little (we only paid for 3 nights out of the 3 weeks). But on the other hand, we spent much more in restaurants and by going out. We were staying at our friends' place and so we didn't skimp on the good restaurants, the nice bars and we regularly invited our host for drinks and some meals. Overall, I think that planning 30€ a day and per person is a good benchmark.
Practical information for a trip to Taiwan
Time zone: Taiwan is in the UTC +8 zone in summer and UTC +7 in winter. This means that when it is noon in Paris it is 6pm in Taipei in summer and 5pm in winter.
Official language: In Taiwan the official language is Mandarin (standard or Taiwanese). We are clearly not skilled enough to make the difference, but our Taiwanese friend told us that it was the same language, but simply with different expressions and intonations. For us the situation is the same as in China: we didn't understand much ;)
But unlike China, in Taiwan people speak English relatively well (young people speak it perfectly and older people a little less, but still correct).
Sockets: The sockets are those with the 2 flat pins. You will therefore need a universal adapter. The current is 110 Volts (and not 220 as in Europe)
Internet: Taiwan is VERY connected. Wifi is available everywhere in the guesthouses and cafés. The mobile network is also excellent in large cities (a little more random in the mountains, but overall still with good coverage).
Health: The health system is quite well known in Taiwan. Hospitals and care are of good quality, especially in Taipei. Of course, it is strongly recommended to have international travel insurance for travel outside Europe. You don't have insurance? Have a look at our travel insurance comparison. The insurances presented are those we recommend for a round the world trip, but they can also be taken for shorter stays at advantageous rates.
Useful Ressources to prepare your trip to Taiwan
- Skyscanner: lthe reference to find and book a flight
- Hotelscombined: The best site to compare hotel prices
- In terms of travel guides, the offer is quite limited. If you want paper guidebook then Taipei in a few days by Lonely planet and Taiwan by lonely are safe references.
- The official tourism board website
- Official website for trains : You will see it but the pricing system is based on km and train speed. The faster a train is, the more expensive the journey. Example: A Taipei <--> Hualien journey costs about 6€ for an "ordinary" train and 13€ for an express train (distance of about 200km).
To find your accomodation you can compare prices on the map below:
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Taiwan: all our blog posts
Things to do in Taipei: our top picks
4 days in Taipei is short, almost too short to see everything there is to do, but here is a brief overview of the Taiwanese capital.