Flying from San Francisco to Taipei offers an easy, direct, and affordable way to visit the capital of Taiwan, and whenever the need arises, plenty of potential flights should be available. In total, there will be about 70 daily departures. Passengers can choose to fly direct, or opt for services with a change, which can sometimes be the most cost effective options.
The direct flight time to Taipei is around 13 hours 26 minutes, and airlines covering the 6,400 mile route include China Airlines, United Airlines, and EVA Air. All fly from San Francisco International to Taoyuan International Airport, and there should be four departures every day.
The other option is to include a stopover. In that case, flights could take anything from 16 hours 50 minutes, to 35 hours, so choosing the right journey can make a lot of difference. The quickest indirect flights tend to include stops in Tokyo, Seoul, or Hong Kong, and services could be provided by Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, ANA, and Asiana Airlines.
BART trains offer a convenient way to reach SFO, taking 30 minutes to travel from downtown San Francisco to SFO International Station. Rideshare apps are a common alternative to conventional taxis and rail transfers, while driving is also a possibility. The airport has over 5,200 parking spaces, with long-term outdoor and garage options, as well as valet services on request.
After taking Flights from San Francisco (SFO) - Taipei (TPE), passengers can take high-speed rail links to Taipei City, which take 39 minutes to reach the city center. Buses take 55 minutes, but run 24 hours a day. However, car rental is a popular option, and both terminals host rental outlets, including global brands like Avis.
Those heading to Taiwan for less than 90 days will not need to arrange a visa. Instead, they can just use their US passport to enter the country, as long as they have a return journey booked. When renting a car in Taipei, customers will need to be over the age of 20, and must have held their driver's license for at least one year. They will also need an International Drivers Permit (IDP) Taiwanese drivers use the right-hand side of the road, which should help arrivals from the US, but "young driver fees" may apply for those under 25 years of age.
The island of Taiwan is 15 hours ahead of San Francisco, so it's worth double-checking cellphone clocks and wrist-watches before arrival. The weather also tends to be more tropical, with average summer temperatures of almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and mild winters. The hottest season will be between June and August, while winter technically stretches from December to March. There's also a typhoon season from June to October, when tropical storms are unlikely, but can't be ruled out.
Before visiting Taipei, it's worth changing some dollars into New Taiwan Dollars (TWD). As of September 2019, 1 USD was worth 31 TWD, but electronic payment systems are common, so those with mobile wallets will be able to pay with their devices.
Etiquette is very important in Taipei. Pay attention to yellow lines in Metro stations, as these show where to queue, and never use the blue chairs reserved for elderly and disabled Metro users. It's also bad manners to raise your voice too loudly on the Metro, which can catch out some travelers.
English is very widely spoken in Taipei (the island has actually thought about making it an official second language). So visitors should be able to get by without needing to learn Mandarin.
Climb to the tip of Taipei 101
For a short while, this soaring spire was the world's tallest building. It's still pretty tall, and dominates the city skyline. Ascending to the observation deck by the super-fast elevator is a thrill in itself, but the views at the top are amazing. It's a great way to start a Taipei exploration.
Feast at night markets
Taiwanese cuisine is hot right now in San Francisco, and Taipei's night markets are the place to find the island's most delicious dishes. Head to Raohe or Shilin for stinky tofu, decadent pork pepper buns, richly flavored pork rib soups, Xiaolongbao dumplings, and much more.
The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
Taipei's premier public monument commemorates the founder of the country, who created an alternative to Mao's China in the 1950s. Nowadays, he is remembered at this vast complex of dazzling white gates, statues, and endless stairways. The changing of the guard ceremony is a highlight, occurring every hour from 10:00 a.m until 4:00 p.m.