Saturday, 4 April 2015

Tips for driving a car in Taiwan

1.Why rent a car?

The island of Taiwan can be divided into 2 parts.
The Western mountainous region which is full of many spectacular places to visit, most of which are impossible to reach without your own means of transportation.
The Eastern part of the island is densely populated and is covered with not-always-beautiful residential and industrial areas. Among them there are hidden treasures and a car is essencial to find them.

On the internet you will find a lot of biased information of how difficult is to drive your rented cars in Taiwan and Japan. Believe me - this is not true.

Having your own car lets you explore things off the beaten tourist track, meet real people and find the pearls of architecture or spots of nature you will never believe they exist. Renting a car will save you money and a lot of time. For the amateur photographers the car it is essential to arrive at the places you want to photograph at the right time or shot landscapes during the "golden hour".

2. Tips

Driving at night at the central Taiwan residential area.

1. Rent a car at the airport.

We rented our car at one of the international companies at the airport. In comparison to other countries, renting a car in Taiwan is not very expensive. All the service and paper work is super efficient (now I understand why Apple have chose a Taiwanese company to produce iPhones).

2. Documents.

You will need an photo ID, a driving licence of you country of residence and International Driving Permit.

3. How is driving in Taiwan?

The first thing that will strike you while driving in Taiwan is a huge number of scooters all around you. We used to call then "the mosquitoes" since they are everywhere around you and they are a little annoying.
Stay calm, drive normally and it will all be fine.
When you leave the residential area, there will be few of them on the street.

4. Roads.

The roads are good, with signs in local language and most of them with English translations. Some main highways have a toll. In 2013, the toll system was converted to a distance-based one. Tolls are no longer collected at toll booths but they are collected automatically. The system is easy and efficient. All the rented cars are equipped with a front window chip and your car simply gets automatically scanned when passing a toll road. At the end of tour trip and when returning the car, you pay the bill.
We drove all around an island during 10 days and at the end we paid around 30 Euros.

5. Driving in Taipei.

Not recommended and unnecessary. The capital of Taiwan has a highly efficient metro system. We simply left our rented car for free at the  hotel´s parking lot.

6. Gasoline:

The gasoline is extremely cheap in comparison to our European standard prices. 1 litre costs around 70 Euro cents (2015). There are always people to help you at the pump stations.

7. In Taiwan it rains a lot.
So with a car even during the rain you can see, visit and enjoy your holidays.

8. You drive on right side like in the continental Europe and US.
9. When driving around the island start with the Eastern part, go south and then come back to Taipei along the Western coast. As you sit  on the right side of the road, it is much easier to stop by the road and enjoy the views  driving along the beautiful Western coast from South to North. Not to mention that you will have the sun behind you!
10. Rent a mobile Wi-Fi.
Easy to rent at the airport. Cheap. 10 days of unlimited WIFI was 20 Euros.
11. GPS.
Bring your own GPS. With an unlimited portable WIFI you can use Google maps. I use a big screen GPS installed on my tablet (see a photo above).
I hope you find my tips helpful.
Driving along the Western coast of the Taiwan Island.