Renting a car in Taiwan is one of the best ways to explore as much of the country as possible. From the natural beauty of Alishan and Taroko Gorge to the relaxed beach vibes of Kenting to the quirky and colourful Taichung, renting a car in Taiwan allowed us to see it all! We highly recommend renting a car in Taiwan to have the freedom to explore at your own pace and discover everything it has to offer. We found driving safe and easy and we highly recommend renting a car in Taiwan. Here are our tips for renting a car in Taiwan to help you on your journey!
Tips for Renting a Car in Taiwan
Navigating Taiwan by rental car is relatively easy and we highly recommend renting a car if you are comfortable driving. The roads are high-quality, driving standards are generally good and fuel is extremely cheap (compared to the UK and Ireland anyway!).
We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in over 40 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. We reserved our car through RentalCars.com and opted to rent through Avis. Book your car now with RentalCars.com, where you will find the best rental car prices.
1 | Why Rent a Car in Taiwan
Although public transport is efficient and readily available on the west coast of Taiwan with its High-Speed Rail service, places like Alishan and Taroko Gorge are more difficult to reach. A rental car allows much more flexible and easier access to these popular tourist spots. We loved the freedom of having a rental car to explore Taiwan. It allowed us to travel at our own pace, visit off the beaten track sights and waterfalls and generally make the most of our time in the country.
2 | Booking a rental car
We booked our car through RentalCars.com and rented with Avis having found a great price. A standard car was fine for navigating Taiwan and we opted for a regular sedan.
Renting a car in Taiwan tip: Taipei is extremely well serviced by public transport and its subway is easy to navigate. If you are starting your Taiwan itinerary in Taipei, we recommend only picking up a car after you’ve explored Taipei rather than reserving at the airport on arrival. We picked up our rental car on our last morning in Taipei and left the city immediately for Taichung. Renting a car in the city, rather than at the airport, is usually cheaper as well!
Make sure to book your rental car well in advance for the best price and to ensure availability. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car as they have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – click here to book now!
3 | Renting Eligibility
Most rental companies require drivers to be at least 21.
4 | Manual or Automatic
Most cars in Taiwan are automatic which means driving is very easy.
5 | International Driving Permit (IDP)
You will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) to rent a car in Taiwan. This is mandatory and you will need to get one from your home country where your licence is issued. You will be asked for it when you pick up the rental car so don’t forget it!
6 | Drive on the Right Hand Side
Driving is on the right-hand side of the road in Taiwan, similar to the USA and most of Europe. We grew up with left-hand side driving but find it easy to switch over when travelling.
7 | Sim Card
As with most countries, having mobile data during a trip is invaluable for real-time navigation and research. There are lots of options on arrival at Taipei’s Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) and we highly recommend purchasing a sim when you arrive in Taiwan. We reserved a Chunghwa Telecom 4g sim through Klook who offer a slightly discounted rate on the airport price – click here for prices!
Renting a car in Taiwan tip: the Chunghwa desk only opens at 8am so make sure your flight times will work if you reserve in advance.
Taiwan Driving Etiquette
We drove around the entire country (we’ve detailed our route in our Taiwan itinerary) and found driving in Taiwan is very manageable.
8 | Driving Style
Most of the drivers are courteous and easy going.
- City Driving: Taiwan cities generally had lots of traffic and lots of mopeds. It was often hectic and aggressive at peak times so it is best to avoid.
- Rural Driving: as with most countries, driving is more relaxed outside of the major cities and the speed limits are relatively low. However, do beware of oncoming traffic which is overtaking on the opposite side of the road.
9 | Road quality
Most of the Taiwan roads are in very good condition. We did encounter some delays in Taroko Gorge due to rock falls but that is to be expected given the surroundings.
10 | Car Parking in Taiwan
Every hotel we stayed in had dedicated parking available. There is ample parking at the major tourist attractions and the car parks felt quite safe. The usual rule applies though: don’t leave anything in your car that you can’t afford to lose!
11 | Road signs
Most major road signs are in English and the big landmarks are signposted.
12 | Drive times
Taiwan is relatively small so our drives were all reasonable distances. We found that drive times were often slightly longer in reality than the phone apps predicted.
Popular Drives in Taiwan
Taroko Gorge and Alishan are among the most popular self-drives in Taiwan.
13 | Driving to Taroko Gorge
We drove from Taitung to Taroko Gorge to Taipei. It’s a beautiful drive but it can be tiring. Upon entering the Taroko National Park the roads are winding and narrow. There are often rock falls in the park so you might experience delays due to road works. Make sure to leave plenty of time if you somewhere to be.
Renting a car in Taiwan tip: we spent a few hours waiting in road work queues during our time in the park! It’s totally worth it to see the beauty of the gorge.
14 | Driving to Alishan
We drove from Taichung and Sun Moon Lake to Alishan and on to Kaohsiung. The drive to Alishan is beautiful: it is scenic and the roads are good. As you approach the Alishan National Scenic Area tour buses can cause a traffic jam on the winding roads but there are opportunities to pass.
Cars are not permitted to drive through the Alishan National Scenic Area. There’s a large car park close to the entrance where vehicles are left. It’s within walking distance to the train station and the hotels in the park run regular shuttles to and from the car park. We left our car in the car park overnight without issue but, as always, don’t leave any valuables in the car.
Renting a car in Taiwan tip: the car park at Alishan fills up relatively early in the day so aim to arrive prior the hotel check in rush. There are other places to park but you might end up having to walk with your luggage for some distance to catch the bus.
15 | Fuel
Fuel is cheap (compared to the UK and Ireland where we regularly fill up). The attendants will fill up for you and credit cards were accepted everywhere we filled up. There can be lengthy gaps between stations outside of the major cities so it’s safer to fill up before your tank gets too empty.
16 | Navigation
We used Google Maps to navigate through Taiwan and had no issues. Apart from when we tried to get too close to the Shifen Old Street, see below. Lesson learned!
17 | Tolls
Some of the Taiwan motorways are tolled. It’s easiest to get a toll badge when renting the car and then pay the rental company by credit card. We received a detailed invoice outline our tolls after returning the car.
18 | Speed cameras
Speed cameras make regular appearances in Taiwan. The actual cameras are a mix of fixed and roadside checkpoints.