Steeped in traditional Chinese culture, with influences from Japan and the island’s own indigenous tribes, Taiwan is full of surprises and the latest destination for adventurous families wanting entertainment and holiday fun for children. The island has it all: good food, a beautiful coastline, awe inspiring mountains, child friendly cities and lots of sunshine.
Taipei is a capital city of many wonders. Its metropolitan outlook coexists along with historical and traditional culture.
Taiwan lies 165 kilometres off the coast of mainland China, separated by the Taiwan Strait. The island is 36,000 square kilometres, 394 kilometres in length and 144 kilometres at its widest point. The territory of the island includes 15 offshore islands; the largest are the Penghu Archipelago and the island of Matsu and Kinmen in the Taiwan Strait and, off the east coast, Green Island and Lanyu.
Where is it and how do I get there?
Four airlines fly to Taiwan from Australia. There are five China Airlines flights per week from Sydney to Taiwan, and three flights a week from Brisbane to Taiwan. Eva Airlines have three flights per week from Brisbane to Taiwan. Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific offer flights to Taiwan from major Australian cities through Singapore and Hong Kong respectively.
When to go/weather
Most areas of Taiwan enjoy a subtropical climate. Warm and mild all year round, visitors can comfortably tour Taiwan in any season. The temperature rises to above 25 degrees between June and September and drops below 15 degrees between November and March when there is occasional snowfall on the mountains. In summer there are occasional typhoons but these do not have a long-term impact on the island.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of family-friendly accommodation options in Taiwan which include basic hotels to world-class hotels and resorts.
Golden China Hotel - The Golden China Hotel is located in central Taipei, close to the Sungchiang interchange of the Chungshan Freeay. The hotel is close to major business and shopping centres and 30 minutes from from the Taiwan Taoyuan International airport.
Sunworld Dynasty Hotel Taipei – The Sunworld Dynasty Hotel is located conveniently in the financial, commercial and entertainment district of downtown Taipei.
Howard Garden Suites Taipei – The Howard Garden Suites Taipei is located in the heart of the Taipei’s eastern commercial district and just a few minutes from major shopping areas and the Taipei domestic airport.
Food and Drink
Taiwan offers a variety of restaurants to suit any budget. Night markets offer a wide range of choices at cheap prices. More upmarket restaurants can vary from casual to formal and food prices will generally be higher than the food served in roadside stands and small eateries.
Taiwan is a child-friendly country and children are welcome in restaurants. Many upmarket restaurants offer special meals for children, usually consisting of fried chicken or fish. Budget eateries won’t have special menus for children nor will they supply booster seats.
Taiwan is a shopper’s paradise with many large shopping centres and night markets. Cheap clothing, toys, homewares and trinkets can be purchased at the popular night markets.
The recently opened Dream Mall in Kaohsiung is nine storeys high and the sixth largest shopping centre in Asia. It houses a Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel ideal for families with children. Other centres to visit include the Taipei New World Shopping Centre and the TaiMall, in Taipei.
Department stores open daily from 10:30am to 9:30pm while smaller stores open from 9am to 10pm.
Taiwan’s main international airport is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport which is 40 kilometres south-west of central Taipei. Taiwan’s other international airport is Hsiaogang Airport in Kaohsiung.
Transfers from airport
With Taipei's airport on the north-eastern fringe of the city area, getting to town is easy and relatively cheap. Taxis are available at the airport, though the drivers rarely speak English so it can be good idea to have your destination written in Chinese on cards. The MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) system is Taiwan's first urban mass-transit system and is a convenient and inexpensive way to travel. Trains run every four to seven minutes from 06:00 to 24:00.
Getting around for families
Planes - Flights connect all major cities.
Trains - The round island railway system makes travel between major cities easy. The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) system connects Taipei with Kaohsiung in 90 minutes.
Buses - Taiwan has two bus systems, government and private.
Taxis - Long-distance share taxis can be expensive.
What to wear
Taiwan has four seasons. In the summer, pack light and loose clothing, preferably cotton, casual sportswear, and comfortable walking shoes. For winter, pack woollens, sweaters, jackets, pants, socks and wet weather gear for thunderstorms.
Taiwan has a population of 23 million. 98 per cent of Taiwan’s inhabitants are Han Chinese, with the other 2 per cent being indigenous.
Traditional religious beliefs are alive and flourishing in Taiwan. Religion on the island is syncretic, dominated by ancestor worship, Taoism and Buddhism. The religious views of the Taiwanese are quite eclectic and most think little of combining elements from various religions to suit their needs.
Most Taiwanese participate in the age-old folk customs that have dominated Chinese culture for centuries. In most homes there is a shrine, a sacred place to burn incense and place offerings for ancestors.
Languages spoken in Taiwan include Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka and Indigenous languages. Travellers to Taiwan can get by without having to even attempt Taiwanese. Virtually all young and middle-age people speak Mandarin and many older people also know Japanese as a result of the 50-year Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
Although Taiwan’s students are required to study English, few actually learn to speak it. As a result they tend to read and write English much better than they speak it, so many travellers can communicate through writing.
Taiwan is 8 hours ahead of GMT and does not observe daylight savings time. The time in Taiwan is two hours behind Eastern Standard Time (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane).For time zones, click here.
Taiwan’s currency is the New Taiwanese Dollar (NT). Coins come in denominations of NT$1, NT$5, NT$10 and NT$50 while notes are issued in values of NT$50,100, 500 and 1 000. Exchange rates vary from day to day but the NT$ has been valued for some time around NT$26-27 to one Australian Dollar.For up-to-date currency conversion, click here.
Tipping is appreciated but not customary in restaurants or taxis. However if a porter carries your bag in a hotel or airport, a tip of NT50 is considered courteous and often a service charge is added to the bill at top-end hotels and mid-range restaurants.
Electricity is 110 Volts, 60 cycles AC. Australian travellers will need to take plug adaptors for local sockets. Ensure that hair dryers and razors can be switched to 110 Volts.
Travellers are advised not to drink water poured directly from the tap (although it’s fine to brush your teeth with) or fresh juices. Most restaurants serve water that has been boiled, and bottled drinks are widely available (always check the seal is intact at purchase).
Consult your GP before travelling for specialist medical advice regarding travel to Taiwan.
Passport and Visa Requirements
Australian visitors to Taiwan can enter the country without a Visa and stay for 30 days (this period cannot be extended under any circumstances). The Bureau of Consular Affairs requires visitors to have a passport valid for at least six months, a ticket and/or seat reservation for departure from Taiwan and no criminal record.
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