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Thread: Driving in Taiwan

  1. #1

    Default Driving in Taiwan

    Being a road trip kinda guy, was thinking of driving down from Taipei to Hualien
    Have wheels will travel?
    Dauntingly, I can't read Chinese characters but I think my wife can...
    Reviews on the internet seem less favorable, although most I've seen are dated awhile back and talk about the city, whose madness I am choosing not to partake
    Anyone did this before?
    -------------------------------
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  2. #2
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Public transport is so good and the network is wide. I don't see any reason you need to drive. There's is no place that bus/train and occasionally cabs cannot reach. Even taking the HSR from Taipei to Kaoshiung cost only NT$1450. Get rental bicycles for selected areas can make the trip more interesting.

    NT$1000 Yiuyiu Card covers mrt and public buses in the entire Taipei County for my 8 days stay and still get a NT$150 refund at the end. In taipei city there are not many carparks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zichar View Post
    Being a road trip kinda guy, was thinking of driving down from Taipei to Hualien
    Have wheels will travel?
    Dauntingly, I can't read Chinese characters but I think my wife can...
    Reviews on the internet seem less favorable, although most I've seen are dated awhile back and talk about the city, whose madness I am choosing not to partake
    Anyone did this before?
    Last edited by shierwin; 23rd March 2012 at 11:22 PM. Reason: Add

  3. #3

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Erm, tbh. I find sg road sometimes a bit confusing already. Taiwan? Much worst IMO. Went there and didn't know where to go.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Drive because I can? And the freedom that comes with it? Fast or slow, take detours and stops whenever I want to
    Explore side roads, or just go till I can't go no more
    Or to head out at night whenever I want to, the beach or to see the stars; a set of wheels have always been my preferred mode of transport
    From my imaginings, the east coast looks like the California State Route 1, no?
    An unbeatable feeling to drive free with the windows rolled down, the wind bringing in the taste of salt and sea

    I know the city's insane, as stated in my post, was aiming to get out asap!
    Could have sworn the HSR doesn't go to Hualien ... and I'm not aiming to go to Kaoshiung, not sure how you got to that conclusion
    *shrug* I wish I'd taken those scooter lessons
    Oh, my wife can't ride a bicycle
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  5. #5
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by Zichar View Post
    Could have sworn the HSR doesn't go to Hualien ... and I'm not aiming to go to Kaoshiung, not sure how you got to that conclusion
    HSR to Kaoshiung was quoted to indicate the likely cost of using public transport

  6. #6

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Please note that Taiwanese drive on the other side of the road as compared to Singapore. If you have driven in States before (seems like you did), then this is of course not too much of a problem. I do like to point out that the road conditions in TW are different from Singapore, especially with the many scooters and motorbikes on the road. If you are doing Taroko Gorge, it is mountainous terrain and may not be such a good idea for people unfamiliar with the roads. Also, not too sure when you will be doing TW, but do note that during typhoon season (usually in summer) the stretch between Taipei and Hualian and beyond are usually one of the highest hit roads and there have been many times where the roads collasped. You have to be one very experienced and confident driver if you intend to drive there.

    The trains do go to Hualian from Taipei. The only thing is that, if you want to go to Taroko Gorge, you will probably have to hire/book a cab for the day since there are not that many public buses there. Like someone said, TW is definitely a good and cheap place to travel by public transport.

    That said, it is still your choice. Weigh the pros and cons yourself. Since you love your freedom, and if you love to try out the local guesthouse (民宿), driving will be a better idea since most of these guest houses are not easily reached by public buses.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by shierwin View Post
    HSR to Kaoshiung was quoted to indicate the likely cost of using public transport
    Re-read what I wrote, was much too curt in my reply. Sorry!
    -------------------------------
    Endure. In enduring grow strong.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by roamfree View Post
    Please note that Taiwanese drive on the other side of the road as compared to Singapore. If you have driven in States before (seems like you did), then this is of course not too much of a problem. I do like to point out that the road conditions in TW are different from Singapore, especially with the many scooters and motorbikes on the road. If you are doing Taroko Gorge, it is mountainous terrain and may not be such a good idea for people unfamiliar with the roads. Also, not too sure when you will be doing TW, but do note that during typhoon season (usually in summer) the stretch between Taipei and Hualian and beyond are usually one of the highest hit roads and there have been many times where the roads collasped. You have to be one very experienced and confident driver if you intend to drive there.

    The trains do go to Hualian from Taipei. The only thing is that, if you want to go to Taroko Gorge, you will probably have to hire/book a cab for the day since there are not that many public buses there. Like someone said, TW is definitely a good and cheap place to travel by public transport.

    That said, it is still your choice. Weigh the pros and cons yourself. Since you love your freedom, and if you love to try out the local guesthouse (民宿), driving will be a better idea since most of these guest houses are not easily reached by public buses.
    Nice, thanks for the info roamfree. My wife told me about driving on the other side of the road, she saw that on the teevee
    Yes I've driven in the States, before as has she. Adapted pretty well.
    Was looking at May. Also read old advice on the LP Thorntree forum (2005?) telling other posters to look out for mudslides and road closures.
    And stumbled upon an expat forum that tells tales of being chased by local Taiwanese drivers (especially taxis?!) for fender benders, flipping the bird and extreme roadrage. Ugh, not good.

    You're right, the local guesthouses were what attracted me to . They seem to be uniquely located at the end of long winding roads?! lol, most places put down how much in taxi fare to get there from the train station.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Better check out with AA Singapore whether there are any conditions attached for driving in taiwan with a valid SG licence or IDL

  10. #10
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    Default

    From Taipei to Hualien, take the "Zi Qiang" train. It's faster and more frequency.

    Hualien roads are quite tricky I feel. My hualien guide told me there are frequent road closures due to the weather. Better to hire a guide in Hualien. As for Taipei, their MRT is good.

    Email Tiffany at tiffany_935lk@yahoo.com.tw for tours in Hualien and Cingjing farm. She speaks a little English too.
    Last edited by cowmera; 25th March 2012 at 07:16 AM.
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by shierwin View Post
    Better check out with AA Singapore whether there are any conditions attached for driving in taiwan with a valid SG licence or IDL
    Aye that I did, and previously applied through aas to drive in Jpn. Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by cowmera View Post
    From Taipei to Hualien, take the "Zi Qiang" train. It's faster and more frequency.

    Hualien roads are quite tricky I feel. My hualien guide told me there are frequent road closures due to the weather. Better to hire a guide in Hualien. As for Taipei, their MRT is good.

    Email Tiffany at tiffany_935lk@yahoo.com.tw for tours in Hualien and Cingjing farm. She speaks a little English too.
    Got it, thanks. Knowing English sounds good
    -------------------------------
    Endure. In enduring grow strong.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    if you are going there in May, then I think it should be pretty ok. Mudslides and road closures occur usually during typhoon season aka between late July - early October. Since you have driven in States before, you should be pretty well conditioned. Just remember to be careful on the roads as that area is pretty mountainous and the roads curve here and there. Slow down when you are at curves since you will never know what await you at the end of the curve. Some Taiwanese simply love stopping their motorbikes or cars in the middle of nowhere. And of course, a big no no to attempt to read the map while you are driving. Get a GPS. They do have maps which has both Chinese and English names printed on it. You can get those to help you with reading the signs. The roads are quite well signed over there. I think (think ah! not so sure. cannot rem liao) the signs are both in English and Chinese.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    That's good to know, thanks! Am a rather defensive driver, should be okay
    The car however poses problems with parking on narrow roads in the countryside, read that with the scooter, can easily slot in anywhere
    Adding another regret to the pile about not learning how to ride a scooter/motorbike earlier
    Was also a bit apprehensive that the rental agencies will provide a GPS with only Chinese menus and everything, that would be a showstopper!
    Maybe I'll just buy and load maps into my current Garmin
    So many things to consider!
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  14. #14
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Having the GPS maps would certainly help, if language is gonna be an 'obstacle' I think the GPS units are pretty reputable types (Garmin, TomTom, etc). Can certainly be programmed for English language.

    They have tried to romanize the Chinese names on the road signs, but there is no standardization so it can be slightly confusing at times! I'm scratching my head now trying to think of an example, but my mind is drawing a blank. Pardon me.

    That being said, I enjoyed having a set of wheels for a few of the days that I was in Taiwan. Certainly MUCH more freedom to roam wherever you fancy. Costs aren't exorbitant too. About NT2.0K-2.5K/day for a decent sedan (Nissan Livina felt good to me), and about NT30ish for a litre of unleaded. I returned the car before heading to Taipei by train. Not necessary in the big city.
    Exploring! :)

  15. #15
    Senior Member ZerocoolAstra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    oh.... do stop by the Taiwan Visitors Association office at 30 Raffles Place, #10-01, Chevron House

    Can probably pick up some good maps of the area(s) you intend to visit. Kudos to their tourism bureau.
    Exploring! :)

  16. #16

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by Zichar View Post
    Being a road trip kinda guy, was thinking of driving down from Taipei to Hualien
    Have wheels will travel?
    Dauntingly, I can't read Chinese characters but I think my wife can...
    Reviews on the internet seem less favorable, although most I've seen are dated awhile back and talk about the city, whose madness I am choosing not to partake
    Anyone did this before?
    Zichar,

    I went there in November last year. I was glad I did not drive, left that to different drivers in different parts. I have driven in US before, but would not wanna drive in the small roads in those mountainous areas. The signs are in traditional Chinese, so not sure if your wife would be used to that.

    Why I chose not to drive? Well, it was a holiday and I did not wanna be stressed over getting lost, losing precious time or arguing with my wife.

    It was great and I did not regret not driving. Just my two cents. Enjoy your trip!

  17. #17
    Senior Member shierwin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Quote Originally Posted by signoftimes View Post
    Zichar,

    I went there in November last year. I was glad I did not drive, left that to different drivers in different parts. I have driven in US before, but would not wanna drive in the small roads in those mountainous areas. The signs are in traditional Chinese, so not sure if your wife would be used to that.

    Why I chose not to drive? Well, it was a holiday and I did not wanna be stressed over getting lost, losing precious time or arguing with my wife.

    It was great and I did not regret not driving. Just my two cents. Enjoy your trip!
    +1 Was in TW 1st week of this month; getting from point to point using public transport was a breeze. And never being treated so well on the bus/train. Was offered seat in crowded transport 3x in 8 days! Advantage of having greying hair

  18. #18
    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    My friend drove with a Singapore licence in TW. And he says his Garmin was usually 90% right mostly due to lack of updates or little offroads. Anyhow you can mark out the pre-determined points on mapsource and create a waypoint/favourite file and load into Garmin before your trip.

    According to him some of the greatest hazards come from the scooters. I would imagine driving to be more enjoyable once u r out of Taipei city. There is always much enjoyment behind the wheel. I am sure you have some friends who did a one yr stint Starlighting in Taiwan. I know of someone who volunteered two postings!

    I am sure u had pretty much experience in right hand drive in states. I usually need 2 days to fully adapt to the general flow of traffic and the same when I come back to local roads.

    Ryan
    Last edited by giantcanopy; 30th March 2012 at 09:36 AM.

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    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    went there in 2006, had a friend in tao yuen and he drove us through the national park tai ru ge to hua lian. we went to tai shan and stay on the hill top there...u can also go to ru shan for hot spring

    the hill drive is not for the faint hearted, singapore roads r probably 10 stars luxury compare to it. it's a very difficult drive through the winding roads.pls b careful if u choose to drive.
    Stirring up emotions with pics - cyliew

  20. #20

    Default Re: Driving in Taiwan

    Thanks for the replies everyone So many diff opinions!
    I love me a road trip, so I suppose I'm heavily biased towards a holiday to which I can drive
    Getting lost, asking directions, making pitstops and making friends are all part of the adventure
    Not so stressful as long as if you give yourself a lot of time and flexibility with your schedule, it's a holiday after all

    Thanks for the waypoints tip Ryan, reminded me of my own mental note - was on a trip with the wife's sister's bf who did that; pretty nifty and saves a lot of time searching and keying in
    I'm not local though being here for so long, my driving has been localized fbofw
    Not sure if I can call upon the daredevilry that has long been submerged in my will
    The roads here are really pretty damn good compared to many other places, signages and esp lighting (horror for the night photog I'm sure lol can't win 'em all)
    Can't count the number of times I've driven in the dark with a torch shining out the side window looking out for street names and landmarks

    Anyway the train to Hualien then grabbing a rental from there to explore seems to be the best option
    Saw pictures of possibly hundreds of scooters waiting for the lights to switch
    I may not survive getting out of Taipei City...
    -------------------------------
    Endure. In enduring grow strong.

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