At the airport, purchase and register for the following services:
1. Travel maps. These are freely available at the tourist information counter.
2. Youth card. Register for a free Youth card at the tourist information center if you are younger than 30. It gives discounts to some attractions and in some shop. Even if you don’t use it, it’s still a good souvenir.
3. Taiwan sim card. There is a row of telcos opposite the tourist information counter. Unlimited internet plan for 7 days cost NT$450. Prices varies among them, so ask around for one that suits your needs.
From Taoyuan airport to Taipei.
From Taoyuan airport to Taipei there are two choices, namely taxi and bus. In Taiwan, there was no subway linking the airport to the rest of Taipei. This made it less tourist-friendly than other cities like Hongkong, Shanghai, Beijing and Seoul. Taxi cost a bomb going to downtown Taipei and prices start at NT$1000. The airport limousine buses were located at B1 of Taoyuan airport. There were numerous bus companies there, and some provide inter-provincial buses. To get to downtown Taipei, I suggest using Freego or Citiair. Prices range from 90 to NT$140. A very important point to note was that these buses terminate somewhere near Taipei Main Station. To get to places like Ximen, you will have to transfer to public buses or take the subway. I took Citiair Bus (大有巴士) which drop me at Taipei Main Station. Bus journey was about an hour. Thereafter, I was given a bus coupon to switch onto any of Citiair buses that go to Ximen at a nearby bus stop. On the bus coupon was printed the service numbers that go to Ximen, 262, 212 and 257. This should be easy, you would think. However, it only gets MORE confusing. Apparently, in Taiwan, the same bus number can be run by more than one bus company! Yes. For example, they have company A running route #262, and company B also running route #262. What this meant was that the bus coupon issued by CitiAir Bus was NOT recognised by other company’s buses! Being tourists, looking out for the buses was already a chore, more so when you have to look out for the bus company logo too! Mind you, the bus stop also spanned almost the breadth of a football field with different bus numbers stopping at different bays. In the end, I just boarded every bus that go to Ximen and showed them the coupon. I was turned down twice, and succeeded the third time. I must say this was really not a very good start to my Taiwan trip. On retrospect, I should have just transferred to the subway. Or maybe I should just pay the NT$15 to board non-CitiAir buses and save time. Not only did Taiwan not have a subway connecting to their international airport, their airport limousine buses also did a fairly bad job.
From Taipei to Taoyuan airport
The easiest way is to take a taxi. However, do note that taxi drivers will demand a flat rate of at least NT$1000. Its amazing that a country like Taiwan still follow third-world taxi ethnics. An alternative way will be to go to Kuo Kuang Bus Terminal. Take the subway to Taipei Main Station and go to Exit M5. You should see Caesar Park Hotel across the road on your left hand side. Walk all the way straight following the road. Cross one road and enter the building to reach Kuo Kuang Bus Terminal (国光). Bus to Taoyuan airport depart at 10 minutes interval. I couldn’t remember the ticket cost, but its around NT$120. Bus journey was about an hour. Again, I am amazed that such limousine airport buses do not have pickup points scattered all over tourist hot-spots, like those in Hongkong, Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul. Because it was really a hassle for me, I decided to get pictures from Google Map to aid whoever that might stumble here. This is the address to search for in Google Maps: “Kuo-kuang Motor Transport, Section 1, Zhōngxiào West Road, Zhongzheng District, Taiwan”.
Easy Card 悠游卡
Easy Card can be bought at most subway control stations. It cost NT$500, and comes with NT$400 of stored value. Unused value together with the NT$100 deposit can be refunded. However, if the period of usage is shorter than 3 months, there is an administrative fee of NT$20. The cards have a lifespan of 10years, so you can keep it as a memento, or for future use.