All you need to know about car rentals in Taiwan
- Why self-drive in Taiwan?
- Average car rental prices
- 7 things you should know about driving in Taiwan
- The ultimate Taiwan road trip
Why self-drive in Taiwan?
If you’re visiting a city hub in Taiwan (like Taipei), it would make sense to use the well-connected public transportation systems to avoid wasting precious vacation time being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, if you wanted to head out from the cities to explore Taiwan’s rural countryside and natural sights, public transportation options become limited.
One way to venture out of the city is to get a private car with a driver. You can sit back, relax, and simply wait to arrive at your next destination. However, car rental in Taiwan with drivers don’t come cheap. A full day charter is usually 8 hours and can start from $228 for a group of 4. You may also be limited in terms of your itinerary as many drivers do day tours, rather than week-long excursions around Taiwan.
If you’re not ready to splurge out for that sort of luxury, self-driving could be the answer. You get to see the same sights and travel the same routes for a more affordable price. Driving in Taiwan gives you the opportunity to explore any part of the island you want – at your own pace. You can make stopovers in traditional aboriginal villages to experience a different way of life. Spend a day hiking through forest trails in one of the many national parks, and fill your lungs with clean fresh air. A road trip holiday around Taiwan will allow you to reclaim some time for yourself and travel on your terms.
Average car rental prices
If you’re keen on planning a self-drive holiday in Taiwan, here are some car rental prices to help you out with your trip budget planning. The average compact car rental price in Taipei is $78 per day, and $80 for an economy car. The table below shows some average Taipei car rental prices you can use as benchmarks in your planning (please note that actual prices may vary).
|Car rental provider||Most popular car type||Average price per day|
Apart from car rental costs, remember to include additional fees such as fuel, toll charges, and insurance. The average cost of petrol in Taiwan is $1.17 per litre, and $1.01 per litre for diesel. Toll charges are approximately $0.05 per kilometer.
Many car rental companies will provide insurance in their rates. However, do read the terms and conditions carefully as you may still be liable to pay an excess (unless you pay an additional fee for full cover). You should also check the insurance covers additional drivers if there will be multiple drivers.
You can also consider getting car rental insurance from a third-party to ensure you are fully covered when you arrive in Taiwan, and save yourself some haggling at the car rental company counter. Rentalcovers.com offers full protection with $0 deductible excess from $14.50 per day.
7 things you should know about driving in Taiwan
Before booking your car rental, here are a few things you should know about driving in Taiwan.
- You’ll be driving on the right side of the road. Following the American system, traffic flows on the right side of the road in Taiwan. This may take a bit of getting used to coming from Singapore, but it should not be too much of a challenge.
- Watch your speed. Taiwan’s roads are known for their speed cameras so always ensure you are driving within the limit. The average speed limits in Taiwan are 40kph for urban roads, 80kph for rural roads, and 100-110kph for motorways.
- You’ll need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). Singaporeans are required to present an IDP for car rentals in Taiwan. You can apply for an IDP at AA Singapore for just $20. The processing time for an IDP is approximately 7 working days, so do plan ahead to ensure you get yours on time.
- Driving age. The driving age in Taiwan is 18 years old. However, you need to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car in Taiwan.
- Mobile phone usage while driving. Driving and using your mobile phone without a hands-free kit is illegal in Taiwan and subject to penalties.
- Road signs. Most (not all) road signs in Taiwan are in both Chinese and English.
- Freeway tolls. Taiwan has electronic tolls along their freeways. Tolls are collected electronically so you’ll pay for them when you return your rental car.
The ultimate Taiwan road trip
This road trip will take you on a journey around the whole island to experience Taiwan’s best. Making a round trip from Taoyuan to Taoyuan, you’ll get to experience both the East and West coasts of Taiwan. Simply fly into Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, pick up your rental car at the airport, and begin your epic adventure!
Su’ao (2-4 days)
Head to Su’ao once you’ve picked up your car rental in Taoyuan. It’s worth spending a few days in Su’ao to visit local sights like Neipi beach, Tofu Cape, and Baimi Clogs Village, as well as taking day trips around the area.
Take half a day to admire the jagged sea cliffs at Fenniaolin Fishing Harbor, see Nanfangao Nantian Temple where locals pray to the Sea Goddess of Mazu, and fill up on fresh-off-the-boat seafood for lunch at the Nanfangao Fishing Port. You can spend the rest of the day wandering around Luodong Forestry Culture Garden before getting a taste of local street food at the Luodong Night Market.
Less than 40-minutes’ drive away from Su’ao, Toucheng is another great day trip option from Su’ao. Learn about Yilan county’s history, culture, and natural resources at the Lanyang Museum, a unique cultural and architectural landmark. Walk along the grey stone columns and red brick archways of Toucheng Old Street, which was once a flourishing economic centre during the Qing dynasty. You can also get a half-day boat tour from Wushi harbor to Guishan island to catch glimpses of whales, dolphins, and turtles.
If the heat is getting to you, enjoy refreshing dips at the Su’ao Cold Springs. Nature lovers can also embark on one of the many trekking trails in and around Mingchi Forest National Park, Taipingshan National Park, or Cuiefong Lake.
Hualien (2-4 days)
Break up your 2.5-hour drive from Su’ao to Hualien with a quick stop at the impressive Qingshui cliffs. Green flora cling onto grey and white rock cliffs towering above bright turquoise waters, creating a stunning panorama on this coastal drive.
Once in Hualien, soak up some history at the Pine Gardens. Set in high grounds up on the Meilun Mountains, this was originally a Japanese military command post. As it overlooks the Hualien harbour and the Pacific Ocean, it was a great vantage point for spotting ships and aircraft coming into Hualien. Today, you can take a stroll in the grounds and visit the historic buildings set in this dense pinewood garden.
Other local attractions include Nanbin Park and Qixingtan beach, which are great for relaxing day outs by the beach. You also can’t miss Dongdamen Night Market, the largest night market in the county. Dongdamen is famed for three main market lanes selling typical Taiwanese food, Aboriginal food, as well as foods from all other provinces in mainland China. With that much variety, you’d have to visit more than once just to get a taste of everything!
The biggest attraction around here has to be Taroko Gorge. Less than an hour’s drive away from Hualien, Taroko Gorge sits within the Taroko National Park and has been dubbed “The Grand Canyon of Taiwan”. Here, adrenaline junkies can try different river tracing trails (an activity similar to canyoning). There is also a range of scenic, hiking, and mountaineering trails for hikers of all levels. For beginners, the Shakadang Trail (also known as the “Mysterious Valley Trail”) is an easy route that meanders along a clear creek and takes you through a Truku tribal village. Do note that different trails may be closed at various times so do check on the Taroko Gorge National Park’s official page for trail closures and warnings.
Dulan (1-2 days)
After your adventures in Hualien, head south to Dulan. This 3-hour drive continues to lead you along Taiwan’s beautiful Eastern coast and promises spectacular scenery. Make a stop at Shitiping to stretch your legs, and take in the unique landscape of sea trenches, cliffs, uplifted coral reefs, and natural pools. Further along the route, visit the Baxian Caves, a dozen naturally-formed sea caves home to Taiwan’s earliest prehistoric relics.
Dulan is still considered to be an off-the-beaten-path destination with laid-back vibes and a creative spirit. It is home to a community of creatives, who often gather at the Sintung Sugar Factory Culture Park for concerts and art shows. Also known for its black sandy beaches and decent waves, you could try a spot of surfing at Dulan Beach. Get a glimpse of the aboriginal way of life by visiting the Amis tribal village in the Dulan Mountains.
If you want to walk in the footsteps of the aboriginal tribes, head to the Alangyi Old Trail. An ancient aboriginal trade route used for hundreds of years, it is now a historic and protected trail rewarding trekkers with spectacular views. You may even find some small waterfalls along the trail to cool you off! Novice and expert hikers can embark on the Dulan Mountain Trail, a 6-hour journey that takes you to its misty peak.
There are mainly backpacker hostels in Dulan so if you’re looking for a more comfortable hotel, consider booking accommodation in Taitung City.
Kaohsiung (1-2 days)
The drive from Dulan/Taitung to Kaohsiung is between 3.5 to 4 hours. Visit the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial Center, the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. Learn about Hakka culture at the Meinong Hakka Village, where you’ll get a chance to taste traditional Hakka cuisine and admire beautiful handicrafts like oil paper umbrellas. You also can’t miss a trip to Lotus Lake, where Spring and Autumn pavilions stand next to Dragon and Tiger pagodas.
From Kaohsiung, you can also take a day trip out to the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area. Taiwan’s largest inner bay is home to a rich ecosystem of sea-life and wetland flora and fauna. You can even hunt for mudskippers and fiddler crabs and experience “the good ol’ kampong days”. There are also around 100 temples in the area. The impressive Donglong temple in Donggang has the longest history and is worth visiting. Be sure to get your fill of seafood in Donggang. This township is particularly known for their bluefin tuna, cherry shrimp, and fat roe.
Alishan (2-3 days)
Move from the bustling city of Kaohsiung to the serene mountain township of Alishan. If waking up to crisp mountain air and a breathtaking sunrise sounds like your kind of thing, you may want to spend a few more days here. Walk through Alishan’s ancient forests with trees over 2000 years old. There are many hiking trails around that promise amazing panoramas. If you don’t fancy walking, take the Alishan Forest Railway to get breathtaking mountain views in comfort. Alishan is also known for its oolong tea plantations, so make sure you plan a visit.
For an unforgettable experience, wake up before dawn and hike your way up to Zhushan to watch the sunrise over a sea of clouds. The walk takes approximately an hour on the Sunrise Viewing Trail from Chaoping Station (not far from Alishan station). You can also get a 30-minute train ride up to Zhushan from Alishan station.
Taichung (1-2 days)
Next, set up base in Taichung. Take a day trip out to Sun Moon Lake, one of Taiwan’s most popular scenic attractions. About 1.5 hours’ drive from Taichung, you can hop on a boat, bus, or bike to visit the different attractions around the lake. If you have a bit more time, opt to stay a night in one of the small villages around the lake to experience the nightscape and sunrise.
Other places of interest around Taichung include the Dajia Zhelan Temple, Xitou Monster Village, Da Keng Scenic Area, Baxianshan, and Guguan Hot Springs.
Taoyuan (0-1 day)
This epic road trip ends in Taoyuan. You can fly straight back to Singapore or choose to unwind a little and explore the city before heading home.
|Duration||9 – 18 days|
|Fly into||Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei)|
|Depart from||Taoyuan International Airport (Taipei)|
|Where to rent a car||Taoyuan International Airport|
|Google Maps for this route||The ultimate Taiwan road trip|
Ready for your great Taiwan road trip adventure?
Originally published on 23 July 2019. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.