Taiwan, ‘‘Ilha Formosa’’ or ‘‘the beautiful island’’, so named by the Portuguese traders who spotted it from their ship in 1544, is a relatively small, rich and diverse sub-tropical island just off the south coast of China.
Taiwan has a colorful history marked by Dutch, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese influences that have fueled the culture, creativity and industriousness of the island and its people.
The capital of Taiwan, Taipei
Taipei is the political, financial, and cultural lifeline of the island. At 272 square kilometers in size, the city proper is home to 2.68 million people, and boasting an enchanting natural landscape and rich cultural offerings. It is a modern metropolis with world-class shopping malls, dozens of great museums, a wide variety of excellent restaurants, and history, all connected seamlessly by one of the best public transportation systems in the world.
Mandarin is the official language. English is spoken quite extensively.
Most credit cards are widely accepted throughout the island. ATM machines are wide spread.
The New Taiwan Dollar (NT$) is the currency used today in Taiwan. The exchange rate is around US$1 to NT$30. Like most countries, they come in the forms of bills and coins. Foreign currency exchanges are easy to access. Exchange service is available at the airport. banks, hotels and large department stores. For up to date exchange rates, travelers please visit the currency website.
The local power supply is AC 110 Volt / 60 Hz with type A outlets, the same as the USA and Japan. The outlets also accept the same flat two-parallel pin plug as is used in the USA and Japan. Even though most hotels provide outlets for 220 volt appliances, travelers with electrical appliances that run on a different current from 110 volts will need to bring a converter.
Tipping & Tax
Tipping is not customary in most places, but is welcomed if guests wish to show their appreciation for satisfactory service. A 10% service charge and a 5% value-added tax may be included in room rates or meals. Most taxes are already included in prices of products or services.
Telephone & Wi-Fi
Public telephones are easy to find in Taipei. Free public Wi-Fi service is available across Taipei city both indoors and outdoors. The SSID of Wi-Fi access is TPE-Free. Visitors who wish to use the service can set up an account with valid passport or entry permit at twelve Tourist Information Center at Taipei included Taipei Main Station and Songshan Airport.
In addition to the free Wi-Fi access, payable Wi-Fi accesses are also available in most of 7-11 convenience stores across Taiwan, and in coffee shops and restaurants like Starbucks or McDonald’s. Prepaid access cards can be purchased over the counter at the stores, and the costs vary.