So! You made it, you are here in Taiwan! You are probably very tired following your long flight(s) and all you want to do is get to your hotel and sleep. But before you do follow these easy steps, they will make your journey smoother.
- Find the nearest convenience store
- Buy either an Easy Card or an iPass
- Buy a Taiwanese tea
- Get a SIM card for your phone
Find the nearest convenience store
This should be your first port of call. Look for the 7-Eleven or Family Mart sign. There will be one in the airport. These are absolute treasure troves! If you are continuing your journey by train to other parts of Taiwan then now would be a great time to buy some snacks for the journey! Take some time to have a look at the sheer variety of products available. They have carefully evaluated what people want and have done their best to provide.
What’s more? The prices here at the airport are no different from those anywhere else! For an Englishman this was a big shock, visit any travel terminal be it a train station or airport in the UK and the prices are much higher than on the high street.
Buy a Taiwanese tea
You have probably heard the phrase, “For all the tea in China!” well, you will have a large selection to choose from. If you are still in the convenience store then go over to the coolers and you will see hundreds of bottles of tea. Black tea, milk tea, green tea, high mountain oolong tea and many more. These are cold, iced teas but if you prefer hot there is a counter where you can order hot beverages.
Buy either an Easy Card or an iPass
These cards are indispensable if you are planning to use public transportation. You can also use them to buy things in some stores.
What is the difference between an EasyCard and an iPass? EasyCards tend to be used more in the Taipei/north whereas iPass is better for the south and east of the country. I have both varieties and find them very useful.
This is how they work:
- Choose a card you like. They cost 100 TWD
- Decide how much money to add. The cards come empty so you will need to add some funds. I would probably put 500 TWD on there but it’s up to you. It will cost you 160 TWD to get to Taipei Main station and then after that the average cost of a single journey on the M.R.T will be 20-30 TWD depending on the distance you travel.
- Ask the clerk to put your desired amount on the card. Don’t worry about the language barrier, I’m sure the clerk will help you.
- You can check your remaining funds by popping into a convenience store.
Get a SIM card for your phone
There is no doubt that we are reliant upon our mobile phones. Whilst sometimes it is good to leave them at home, to walk in the fresh air and feel free, now is not the time, your experience of Taiwan and this website will be better if you have access to the internet.
Check with your provider to see what the cost of roaming is and you will probably be in shock, so I recommend that you get yourself a Taiwanese SIM card.
There are three major cell phone companies in Taiwan, Taiwan Mobile, FarEastone and Chunghwa. I personally use Taiwan Mobile and I have a data only pre-paid plan. All these companies have stores located throughout the country.
I would urge you to check out the options to find a plan that suits your needs.
There are stores located in the arrivals hall at the airport and this is your easiest option. You should only need one form of ID, your passport will do fine (once you leave the airport and venture into the city it is more difficult as you may be asked for more forms of ID and the staff may not speak English). They will probably offer you unlimited plans but be a bit savvy and ask to see the options available.
The cost of the SIM card is around 300 TWD which is around $10 USD and should include that amount of preloaded credit. After that if you wish to top up your credit then visit the appropriate store. Some may recommend that you top up in a convenience store. I personally didn’t have much success when I tried that. Despite a super helpful assistant all I managed to do was lose 20 minutes of my time.
Travel Tip! I can really recommend that you use Skype for making international phone calls, don’t use your cell phone plan. All you need to do is find a good wifi connection. It will save you a lot of money.
The next thing you need to do is get to your final destination. There are all the usual options available – M.R.T, Taxi, Bus etc.
I would recommend taking the M.R.T if you are going into Taipei or if you are continuing your journey south via High Speed Rail. It is both quick and convenient.
For more information on transportation links click here.