Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Taiwan. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.
ENTERING TAIWAN: US citizens will need a passport valid for at least six months from date of departure and a visa. Taiwan has no formal diplomatic relations with the U.S., but visa services such as CIBT can take care of your needs quickly and efficiently.
MAP AND COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can view maps of Taiwan in the University of Texas series here. You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Taiwan here.
HEALTH: Inoculations against typhoid and polio are recommended. Some doctors also suggest inoculation against Japanese B-encephalitis and tetanus, and strongly recommend gammoglobulin against hepatitis. You should consult your physician for formal recommendations. You can review the latest CDC advisories here.
Biting insects are not numerous but can occur locally. Mosquitoes can be locally common, especially on the plains around Fuyuen and Taidong and on Lanyu Island.
CLIMATE: At least in Taipei and the lowland coastal areas that we’ll visit, it is likely to be warm, with temperatures ranging from 70 to 88°F during the days and cooler, perhaps down to 65°F, at night. It will be slightly hotter and definitely more humid on Lanyu, an island that we visit for two days and one night. In the mountains it will be noticeably cooler, with temperatures possibly dropping as low as 45°F at night. Several of our early mornings here might also be chilly. Rain is rather scarce throughout the tour, but is still a distinct possibility, most likely near Chinjing or in the east coast mountains near Taidong.
ALTITUDE: The highest accommodation that we will stay in is at Chingjing, at 1,720 metres (5,640 feet). On one or two days, we will venture up the Wuling Pass on Hehuan Shan Mountain in the spectacular Taroko National Park. This is the highest road pass in East Asia, at 3,275 metres (10,740 feet) the pass, and the highest elevation that we’ll visit. We won’t be doing anything even faintly rigorous at this altitude; expect to stay almost exclusively on the road and to walk slowly.
PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: There is a reasonable amount of traveling, but the days are not unduly long or overly tiring. Nevertheless, a modest degree of fitness is recommended. Nearly all the forest trails that we’ll use are fairly flat—most are in fact rather wide, unpaved old logging roads, none particularly steep. Due to the early morning bird activity in many of the areas, we’ll want to be out in the field early each day; this is particularly important in our quest to see both of Taiwan’s endemic pheasants. On several days we’ll leave our hotel about 4:30 in order to be in a good area shortly after dawn. We anticipate that a more typical departure time will be about 5:00. Unlike sit-down lunches and dinners, Chinese/Taiwanese breakfasts are not particularly appealing to most western palates, and on most days we’ll have picnic-style breakfasts of more western items in the field, normally including cereals and milk, yoghurt, fresh fruit, bread and jam, juice, tea, and coffee. These breakfasts will usually be eaten close to the vehicle out in the field.
We try to make as many of our birding excursions as possible optional, so that if you find the pace tiring it is occasionally possible to take some time off and relax. However, please note that on this tour we are frequently moving, and spend more than one night at only two hotels, one at Chingjing and the other near the Wulu forest. Essentially, we aim to provide dawn-to-dusk birding for those who want it and as many opportunities as possible to opt out for those who wish to pursue other interests or simply relax.
ACCOMMODATION: The hotels in Taipei, Taidong, and Kaohsiung are of a good international standard with private bathrooms, proper restaurants, and other facilities that you would normally expect such as gift shops in the lobby, business centers, and in-room facilities for making international phone calls, etc. The hotel in Taidong also has a gym and an outdoor swimming pool.
All the remaining hotels are simple but clean, and have private bathrooms with a western toilet and shower, though the supply of hot water is sometimes limited.
FOOD: Everyday food in Taiwan is mostly very similar to that of mainland China and is what most westerners would regard as “Chinese food.” The cuisine is well-known and widely appreciated. Beer, soft drinks, and green tea will be served with the food. Taiwanese breakfast are mostly unrecognizable, and we’ll often take box breakfasts with western food into the field with us.
DRESS: Will be informal throughout the tour. Laundry services are available only at our hotel in Taidong. Some people feel that it is more convenient to hand-wash their own clothes.
SMOKING: Smoking is not allowed in the vehicle, or at meal times or when the group is gathered together for the checklist. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, the stricter policy will prevail.
GENERAL INFORMATION AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information and Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Taiwan will be sent to each registrant on receipt of their booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary.
Updated: June 2013