Sub-tropical Taiwan is hot and humid in the south and cooler in the northern inland mountains. Rain showers strike frequently. September and October are the driest months of the year. A damp, chilly winter starts in November. The winter doesn’t last long but can bring snow to the mountain’s peaks. Coastal temperatures can reach 32 C in the summer, which is also the typhoon season.
When to fly to Taiwan
Taiwan has a wonderful tradition of festivals and holidays. Festivals are ruled by the lunar calendar and include the Chinese New Year Festival, Lantern Festival (around 15th day of the first moon) when brightly coloured lanterns adorn temples or are carried by children to lantern competitions (Taipei has the most famous competition); the Dragon Boat Festival (in fifth lunar month) when teams compete with each in the dragon-boat races (the festival repels evil spirits and disease); and the Ghost Festival, Taiwan’s Hallowe’en, when the dead are honoured with gifts of food.If you're planning a trip during a festival, make sure you book Taiwan flights and hotel accommodations in advance as places tend to book up fast.
Official holidays are on the Western calendar. Such holidays include Founding Day of the Republic of China; Tomb-Sweeping Day; 228 Memorial Day; Armed Forces Day; Taiwan's Retrocession Day; and Double Tenth National Day.
Getting around Taiwan
Airlines that offer domestic Taiwan flights include Mandarin Airlines, Transasia Airways, Far Eastern Air Transport and Uni Air.
In Taipei, there is a good, and expanding, metro system. There are eight lines and 69 stations including two main transfer stations, Taipei Main Station and Zhongxiao Fuxing Station. Train services – all air-conditioned – from the capital around Taiwan are excellent. Bus services are also comprehensive, punctual and comfortable.
Taxies are plentiful and cheap, but many drivers do not speak English so make sure your destination is written in Chinese characters.
All the major rental-car companies are represented at Taiwan’s airports.
The following chart gives approximate journey times fromTaipei
(in hours and minutes) to other major cities and towns in Taiwan.
Taiwan insider information
- Taipei: the National Palace Museum is a treasure chest of ancient (some dating from the second millennia BC), priceless works of art. This museum and the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City in Beijing are part of the same original museum that was split up by the Chinese Civil War in the 1920s. The collection wandered for several years in search of a home evading first the Japanese army and later the Communists and opened in 1965. The collection is so vast that the museum can only display a small part of it at any one time. World-famous artifacts include the Jade Cabbage, a piece of jade carved into the shape of a Napa cabbage and a carved Olive-stone Boat.
- The museum is close to Yangmingshan National Park, Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, Martyrs' Shrine and Shilin Night Market. A world-famous attraction is Taipei 101, which soars 508 metres into the air. It is one-and-a-half times the height of the Eiffel Tower.
- Puli, in the center of Taiwan, is the base from which to explore the central mountains and Sun Moon Lake. The lake is one of Taiwan’s most famous attractions, a beautiful blue lake surrounded by green mountains. The eastern part of the lake is round, the sun, and the western part is shaped like a crescent, the moon. In the centre of the lake is an island, sacred to the native Shao people. There are seven hiking trails around the lake. The Hanbi Trail and Dachuhu Lake Trail are most highly recommended.
- Coastal erosion has carved natural sandstone formations at Yehliu in northeast Taiwan. The "queen's head" is the most famous.
- There are six national parks (Yangmingshan, Kinmen, Kenting, Yushan - home of Mount Jade, nearly 4km, it is the highest mountain in Taiwan and northeast Asia, Taroko and Shei-Pa) and 13 national scenic areas (includes Sun Moon Lake; Yehliu – famous for its rock formations; Liyutan, in the East Rift Valley; Alishan, one of the five tallest mountains). There are almost 19,000 species of wildlife, some rare or endangered. These include the blue magpie, Mikado pheasant and Formosan black bear.