Generally, there is little point in looking at getting a hire car in the Taiwanese capital Taipei. The main reason for this is largely obvious enough – Taipei is one of the main Asian powerhouses, a huge city of more than 10 million people, where traffic moves slowly and where public transport is widely available, including one of the world’s most extensive metro systems.
- We don’t think it is worth renting a car in Taipei, even for going into rural areas. Many of the most popular rural areas are well served by local buses.
- A rental car might make some sense if you are in a large group and want the convenience of sticking together.
- Taipei would be a natural point from which to start a round Taiwain road trip. Allow considerably longer to drive down the eastern side, which is much less developed, compared to driving down the western side. A Taipei to Kaohsiung drive might take around 4 to 10 hours down the western and eastern sides respectively, without any stops.
Yet of course there is still a huge amount more to Taiwan outside the capital, but many areas can be explored by using the country’s excellent national rail network, and then taking local buses to places where the trains don’t reach. Given that Taiwan is highly mechanised, you will almost certainly find that any location with a large number of tourists will also have a good standard of public transport going to it, and this also includes any number of national parks and other scenic areas around Taipei itself.
- There is only one major national level motorway, Route 1, running between Taipei and Kaohsiung. The alternative Route 3 is a motorway standard road, but not as direct.
- There is still one means of getting around which has been particularly well developed in Taiwan, and that is by bicycle. Chances are, if you have bought yourself a high performance road, hybrid or mountain bike, then the frame at least will have been made in Taiwan, and in recent years, the Taiwanese government has started to see the benefits of building local cycling trails, and then promoting them for inbound tourism.
If you would prefer to explore the island at your own pace, after all Taiwan was formerly called Formosa, which in Portuguese means beautiful island, and you don’t particularly feel like undertaking a cycling tour (the rugged Taiwanese interior is far from easy-going), then you might still find a hire car would be useful, although we would generally would suggest looking at Taipei car hire deals for part of your trip, rather than all of it. Typical itineraries might involve heading east out of Taipei, and then along the coastline down towards the famous Sansiantai Bridge. You could also head inland to Yushan National Park. The train will take you as far as Taitung, whereas buses ply slowly along the coast, but it’s still going to be easier in a car. Rural Taiwan is very different to the better known urban areas.
Taipei car hire summary – a hire car isn’t really needed here, public transport is excellent, and we suggest looking at some of the cycling trails first.
Is it worth hiring a car in Taipei? If you are going to hire a car, you’ll probably only need one for a short period. Even this is unlikely. Verdict – no.