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Handshaking is common. Casual wear is widely acceptable. Ancient festivals and customs are celebrated enthusiastically and traditional holidays are important. Entertainment is usually offered in restaurants, not at home. Visitors are not expected to entertain. Chinese culture in the form of drama, opera and art is very strong. Despite rapid industrialization and development, the way of life is very much Chinese, steeped in tradition and old values.
Getting There by Air
The national airline is China Airlines (CI) (website: www.china-airlines.com).
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is 40km (25 miles) south of the city (journey time - 30 minutes). To/from the airport: Buses depart for both Sung Shan (domestic) airport and the main railway station. Taxis and buses are available to the city center. Facilities: Duty-free shop, post office, car hire, bank/bureau de change, bar/restaurant and tourist information.
Kaohsiung International (KHH) (website: www.kia.gov.tw) is 9km (4 miles) from the town center. To/from the airport: A regular bus service is available (journey time - 30 minutes). There is a taxi service to the town. Facilities: Duty-free shop, car hire, bank/bureau de change, post office and bar/ restaurant.
Getting There by Water
Main ports: Keelung and Kaohsiung (website: www.khb.gov.tw).
Ferries run regularly between Keelung and Kaohsiung ports (Taiwan) and Okinawa (Japan). There are also sea links between Kaosiung and Macau.
The following items may be imported by persons over 20 years of age without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 454g of tobacco; 1 bottle (not more than 1l) of alcoholic beverage; reasonable quantities of perfume; other goods for personal use up to the value of NT$20,000 (NT$10,000 for passengers under 20 years of age).
Narcotics, arms, ammunition, gambling articles, non-canned meat products, fresh fruit and toy pistols. Publications promoting communism are prohibited, as are items originating in Albania, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China (PR), Cuba, Korea (Dem Rep), Laos, Romania, Vietnam and members of the CIS. All baggage must be itemised and declared in writing.
Getting Around By Air
Far Eastern Air Transport (website: www.fat.com.tw), Mandarin Airlines (website: www.mandarin-airlines.com), Transasia Airways (website: www.tna.com.tw) and Uni Air (website: www.uniair.com.tw) are amongst the domestic airlines that run services to local destinations from Sung Shan Airport, Taipei.
Getting Around by Water
There are currently connections between Keelung and Okinawa. Services are also available between Taiwan and the islets.
Getting Around by Rail
Services are provided to destinations all over the island by the Taiwan Railway Administration (website: www.railway.gov.tw). The main tourist routes are Taipei-Taichung-Chiayi-Tainan-Kaohsiung (a top-class service), Taipei-Taichung-Sun Moon Lake (with the last leg of the journey by bus), Chiayi-Alishan (with spectacular mountain scenery) and Taipei-New Hualian-Taitung (scenic coastal route). Air-conditioned electric trains run at least hourly from Taipei to Kaohsiung; some trains have restaurant cars. Children under three travel free; children aged three to 13 pay half fare. Train tickets can be purchased at many major hotels in Taipei, as well as at the main railway station.
Getting Around by Road
Traffic drives on the right. There is an adequate road system joining all major cities. A highway links Taipei and Kaohsiung. Some main streets have English signs. Congestion can be a problem, and mudslides may block mountain roads. Bus: There are both local and long-distance bus and coach services. Long-distant buses are provided by Guo-Guang Bus Corporation, Union Bus, Dragon Bus, Free Go Bus Corporation and Aloha Bus. Reserve tickets 14 days in advance of travel date. Travelers should not take illegal highway buses provided by unlicensed companies. Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung are the main transferring stops. Taxi: These are plentiful and inexpensive (metered). Rates are charged at TWD70 for the first 1.5km and TWD5 for every 300m after that. A 20 per cent surcharge is charged 2300-0600. An extra TWD10 is needed for a taxi ordered over the phone and for luggage put in the trunk. The destination may have to be written in Chinese for the driver. It is not customary to tip taxi drivers. Car hire: This is available in major towns. Most rental fees do not include insurance. Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and the front seat passenger. Travelers are recommended to hire a car with a driver. Documentation: An International Driving Permit is required.
Getting Around Towns and Cities
A number of private bus companies provide extensive services in Taipei. The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, a monorail train, serves Taipei and its suburbs. Open 0600-0000, there are currently five lines in operation with stations situated by all major tourist attractions. Ticket prices range from TWD20 to TWD65 and a day pass costs TWD150. Metered taxis are available in Taipei; tipping is not expected, but it is starting to come into practice.