Welcome to Taipei
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan. I have really complicated feelings about introducing this city because it is my second hometown. I lived in Taipei for about ten years, and I really enjoyed the city. Luckily, with travelers’ experience and opinions, I am able to organize some valuable information. Taipei is very different from where I grew up, but its individuality made me feel homesick while living in other places.
Taiwan is a tobacco leaf shaped island in the Pacific Ocean about 160 kilometers from the mainland China. Taiwan is also neighbors with Korea, Japan and the Philippines. In fact, its exceptional location plays a natural gateway for travelers to and within Asia so most visitors fly to Taiwan for layovers. I had a few friends who took the ferry from Okinawa, Japan to Keelung, Taiwan, and then they rode the train or the bus to Taipei. If you buy a ticket flying to Taipei, Taiwan, you actually will land in Taoyuan. You will need to take a bus, cab or hotel shuttle to downtown Taipei. My personal preference is taking the bus! More importantly, don’t forget to apply for a visa when you plan to visit Taiwan!
Taiwan: Touch Your Heart
This Web site offers information in various languages and different aspects about traveling in Taiwan.
There are many commercial banks in Taipei, and they have service for currency exchanges. The same service can be found in most of the hotels as well. However, an experienced traveler who just visited Taiwan in the summer of 2004 said that he had a difficult time converting his US Dollars into New Taiwan Dollars. The reason was that the tellers at the bank were picky about the presentation of the paper money; they won’t take the paper currencies that look “inappropriate.” Therefore, I recommend using traveler checks to avoid the complicated scanning process.
The transactions made in the stores you can usually pay with credit cards or traveler’s checks, but most of the vendors only accept cash, as well as cabs. Bus tickets can be purchased using credit cards or traveler’s checks at the ticket booths or ticketing machines, but if you are on the bus and do not have a ticket, you will need to pay cash. Please remember that the bus drivers do not have cash with them because of the company policies. If you need to break a large bill on the bus, the passengers are your only hope. The cab drivers only take cash, but they usually have enough cash for change.