Sunday, September 28, 2014

Taiwan Preparations

Prepare your visa
Philippine citizens need a visa to Taiwan (for visa requirements, read Tourist Visa for Taiwan). Citizens of some 45 countries need not prepare a visa, only a passport that is valid for at least six months and a return or onward ticket.

Prepare your outfit
March to May is spring aka rainy season. Wear waterproof clothes! Bring an umbrella everywhere you go.
June to August is summer. And this is also typhoon season. Wear your skimpiest article of clothing, but bring a raincoat to cover up.
September to October is autumn. Not as hot as summer; skimpy clothing may still apply.
November to February is winter. Not as cold as winter in other countries. Prepare your jackets; thick ones if you're going between December to February (average low of 10°C). This season, in my opinion, is the best time to visit.

Prepare your pocket
Taiwan's unit of currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT$ or TWD). One Taiwan dollar is about 1.50 Philippine pesos (check XE or Oanda for current exchange rate). There are banks for currency exchange at the airport, some are open 24 hours. In the city, you can have your money exchanged in banks (bring your passport, they may require it). Banks in the city are open on weekdays from 9AM to 330PM. Bank of Taipei charges NT$100 per transaction. Bring US dollars issued 2006 onwards; older bills will not be accepted. We asked a bank (I forgot which) if they accept Philippine pesos—no, they don't.

Prepare your watch
Type B
Type A
Taiwan is on the same time zone as the Philippines, at GMT +8 hours.

Prepare your gadgets
Taiwan uses type A and type B plugs (photos from at 110V. If your gadgets have the same type plugs but at 220V, you may still  use these but charging would be oh so slow. Best to use a voltage converter.

Prepare your tongue and brain
Mandarin Chinese is largely spoken in Taiwan. Of the many we asked (or tried to ask) for directions, etc. while we were there, only a few could understand or speak English. I wish I had studied Mandarin Chinese.

Prepare your itinerary
Some museums and tourist spots are closed on Mondays. If shopping is part of your itinerary, you might be interested to know that retail shops and department stores in Taiwan are open from 11AM to 930PM (some are even open up to midnight). 

Prepare to go from one place to another
These are the options to get to other parts of Taiwan: buses, trains, and the Taiwan High Speed Rail. The options when going around Taipei City or Kaoshiung City are buses, taxis, and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) — Metro Taipei and Kaoshiung Metro. Avail of an EasyCard when in Taipei or an iPass when in Kaoshiung. These cards can be used to pay for transportation around the city and are also accepted in some convenience and retail stores, select buses in other cities, select intercity buses, and some train routes (see links to know where EasyCard is accepted and where iPass is accepted). You can add value to the EasyCard and iPass, and when you leave Taiwan, have the remaining value refunded (minus the handling fee of NT$20 for EasyCard; handling fee of NT$20 for iPass will not apply if the card is used at least five times).

Prepare to get connected
If you need a local sim card, there are telecom shops in the airport that have phone rentals or sell sim cards, but these shops are open from 8AM to 9PM only. You can also look for telecom shops (Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone Telecom, etc) in the city—they are everywhere (locate a Chunghwa Telecom store here).

Taiwan Series:
Tourist Visa for Taiwan
Taiwan Preparations (you're here!)

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