Local Time and Date in Taiwan

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About Taiwan

Background | Demographics | Facts for Travelers | Money | Cost of Living


In 1895, military defeat forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan. Taiwan reverted to Chinese control after World War II. Following the Communist victory on the mainland in 1949, 2 million Nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a government using the 1946 constitution drawn up for all of China. Over the next five decades, the ruling authorities gradually democratized and incorporated the native population within the governing structure. In 2000, Taiwan underwent its first peaceful transfer of power from the Nationalist to the Democratic Progressive Party. Throughout this period, the island prospered and became one of East Asia's economic "Tigers." The dominant political issues continue to be the relationship between Taiwan and China - specifically the question of eventual unification - as well as domestic political and economic reform. (The CIA World Factbook)

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National Capital: Taipei or Taibei

Population: 22,749,838 (July 2004 est.)

Languages Spoken: Mandarin Chinese (official), Taiwanese (Min), Hakka dialects

Government Structure: Multiparty democratic regime headed by popularly-elected president and unicameral legislature

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Facts for Travelers

Visas: Citizens from some European countries, Australasia and the United States can stay in Taiwan for up to 30 days without a visa. All others must apply for a visa. It is recommended that you apply for your visa before departing on your trip. Many countries do not recognize Taiwan as an official country; therefore, you will need to apply for a visa through one of Taiwan's pseudo-embassies.

When to go: Try to avoid major public holidays, especially Chinese New Year (usually early February), when transport will be full, shops and restaurants closed, and hotels unusually expensive. Airfares increase in summer and the heat can shorten tempers. While October is climatically pleasant, it is also holiday-ridden - try November instead. The seventh lunar month (usually late August/early September) is Ghost Festival, which means there will be no Chinese travellers on the road and temples will be at their most active. (Lonely Planet)

Events: You'll need to get hold of a lunar calendar if you want to have any hope of attending Taiwan's big events - very few of them occur on the same date every year. If fireworks and crowds crank your engine, visit Yenshui, Luerhmen or Beigang for the Lantern Festival, on the 15th day of the first lunar moon. Kuanyin's Birthday, on the 19th day of the second moon, is a good time to see temple festivities in full swing. During the Ghost Festival, during the seventh lunar month, ghosts from hell walk the earth. No one travels, swims, gets married or moves house, but everyone visits Taoist temples. National Day (10 October) is celebrated with gusto, fireworks and a light show in Taipei. Chinese New Year (first day of the first lunar month) should probably be avoided. (Lonely Planet)

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Currency: New Taiwanese Dollar (NT)

Exchange Rate (per $1USD): $31.342NT (April 2, 2005)

In Taiwan, costs for the traveller are on a par with a good number of European countries, reflecting the rise in the standard of living on the island. However, Taiwan is still cheaper than Japan (which isn't saying much). If you stay in youth hostels, live on noodles and travel by bus, you could get by on US$15 to US$20 a day. If you want a bathroom of your own, a few souvenirs, a couple of taxi trips and a decent feed or two a day, budget US$35 to US$50 a day. Staying in Taipei will cost you more than heading out to the country.

Travellers' cheques and cash can be changed at international airports and large banks, but you'll have trouble with travellers' cheques in rural areas. Stick to US dollars for cash and cheques if you can - other currencies will cause you problems. When changing cheques, shop around, as commission costs can vary widely. For the most part, only larger banks such as the International Bank of China (CBC) and Bank of Taiwan can change money. There are no legal private money changers in Taiwan, but if you're stuck some jewellery shops will change cash. Major international credit cards can be used at big hotels and flash restaurants or to get cash advances at your card's offices.

Tipping is not the done thing in Taiwan. The only people who really expect you to shell out are hotel bellhops and airport porters, who will expect about US$1 a bag. Big hotels and restaurants will stick 10 per cent service charge and 5 per cent value added tax on your bill. Taiwan is not a developing country, so don't expect to haggle yourself a bargain - you may be able to get a slight discount (around 10 per cent) in street markets and small shops. (Lonely Planet)

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Cost of Living

The cost of living in Taiwan is lower than that of the United States and Japan. Below are some examples of typical items and their prices found in Taiwan:

* Budget: NT$50-120 or $1.61-$3.87
* Mid-range: NT$120-500 or $3.87-$16.13
* High: NT$500-1000 or $16.13-$32.26
* Deluxe: NT$1000+ or $32.26+

* Budget: NT$250-1600 or $8.07-$51.61
* Mid-range: NT$1600-4000 or $51.61-$129.03
* High: NT$4000-8000 or $129.03-$258.07
* Deluxe: NT$8000+ or $258.07+

Apartment rent (depends on area): NT$6665-NT$11656 or $215-$376

"Big Mac" with fries and Coke: NT$100 or $3.23

Cup of coffee: NT$40 or $1.29

Street vendor or buffet: NT$50 and up or $1.61 and up

Movie: NT$200-NT$250 or $6.45-$8.06

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