In this article, we share our experience during our driving holiday in Taiwan. If you are planning on doing the same but are new to overseas road trip, then check out our post on what to prepare for an overseas driving trip.
Which side does Taiwan drives on?
Taiwanese drives on the left. If this is your first time driving in a left-hand drive country, then read our post on Left Hand Drive versus Right Hand Drive where we share tips on what to expect and look out for to prepare you for your adventure.
Besides a valid driving licence, it is a must for all drivers to have a valid International driving permit (IDP).
Based on our car rental experience from EasyRent, only the rentee needs to present his/her passport, valid driving licence and international driving permit (IDP). The other drivers need to keep their copies with them while driving. Unlike South Korea, EasyRent does not limit the number of drivers nor require them to be registered.
Read our article on Is Comprehensive Insurance for rented car necessary.
Taiwan has no restriction on GPS. Thus, any GPS is workable. GPS from car rental companies are usually in Mandarin, though entering is in English.
Road Conditions in Taiwan
Main city roads are in good condition. However, there are some differences in road condition between the various states. Location road signs are plentiful, and are written in both Mandarin and English. As for traffic signage, they are only written in Mandarin (繁体字).
Driving on country roads
Taiwan’s country roads are nothing to shout about. But they do break the monotony of driving on a highway. However, always check your GPS on the extra kilometres that it will add on. For mountainous region, best to go with highways wherever possible.
A separate article on driving Taiwan’s winding mountain roads will be written at a later stage. Stay tune!
Driving on Taiwan tolled highways
At regular intervals, you will come across a blue light on the highway. It is scanning the sticker on the windscreen of your rented car for toll purposes. Be careful if you are driving after nightfall. In that pitch dark environment, the blue light does “blind” our eyes temporarily. Tolls are payable to the rental company on the day you return the car.
When in tunnels, turn on your headlights and no changing of lanes. By the way, there is no toilet stations or petrol stations on the highways. After nightfall, Taiwanese drivers tend to drive at breakneck speed and switches lane steeply.
Taiwan has a cobweb of highway interlinking the states. It can gets really confusing. Do take note that with a couple of highways stacking on top of each other, the GPS will “get lost temporarily”.
Parking in Taiwan
Lack of parking spaces is a real headaches for drivers. Off street parking is extremely limited in most cities except for Hualien city and Tainan. Even then, getting one requires plenty of luck. Upon returning to your car, pick up the parking ticket left under your wiper, and pay at any 7-11 stores. According to a 7-11 cashier, as long as the ticket is paid within the day, there will be no late payment charges.
In Kaohsiung, you will come across well demarcated surface parking spaces. It works the same way as off street parking.
Garage parking is the worst choice. Limited in number, they are not only expensive, it is a nightmare maneuvering our car in it. Tight entrances are just icing on the cake. The driveways tends to be so narrow that it can only fit a normal sedan. In some garages, the driveways between floors only has width for one car. Yet, it is a two-way traffic.
Most parking lots are extremely tight. To give you an idea, in some garages, we had to alight the passengers first before parking the car into the lot. Thereafter, the driver, that’s me…the wife, who is a size XS, had to hold my breath to squeeze out of the car.
Taiwanese drivers are skilled lane changer! You won’t invite a nasty honk even if you are a slow driver (this doesn’t apply to the highway though). They will avoid you themselves.
The situation changes when you hesitate and stop your car (even on the extreme right lane). Be ready for some honking musics.
The above give a would-be tourist a basic insight into the driving environment in Taiwan. Generally, driving in Taiwan is not daunting. However, there are some areas that a tourist on a Taiwan road-trip should be aware and look out for. This will be shared in a separate post soon.