In spite of heavy rush-hour traffic, Taipei is an easy destination to get around, providing you follow a few basic rules. By using a mix of MRT (Mass Rapid Transport), taxi, bus, boat and foot, you will see all that the city has to offer and may even find yourself enjoying the journey.
Taipei is set in a cluster of river valleys divided by lush hills, and while older parts of West Taipei have narrow, winding lanes, the new Central and Eastern districts follow a standard grid pattern. Street names are split into compass-points sectors (Zhongshan North and South Road, for example), and longer roads are also divided into sections (Zhongshan North Road, Sec 2). These are crucial to locating an address as street numbers re-set with each new section. Parallel lanes run between the major thoroughfares; these are addressed according to the nearest street number on the road that they lead off (for example, for Lane 205, Zhongxiao East Road, Sec 4, look for 205 Zhongxiao East Road, Sec 4, and the lane will be signed off).
Note: Even though English is increasingly spoken, you should carry a business card or the Chinese characters for your destination -- many of the Chinese names for attractions are entirely different from the English. Free maps and some hotel business cards have lists of top attractions in Chinese. If you're lost you'll find that the Taiwanese are incredibly friendly -- you may be approached with an offer of help before you've even opened your map.
If you'd prefer to have someone else make all the arrangements and help you get the most out of your time, day trips, longer tours and tailor-made journeys are offered by the Taiwan specialists at Grasshopper Adventures (www.grasshopperadvenures.com).
By Taxi -- Taipei's yellow taxis are abundant, and drivers are generally friendly and courteous. Taxis always use the meter, unless you hire one for a day trip (approximately NT$500 per hour; look for the "English" logo, or call friendly, English-speaking John Yao at [tel] 0952/438-553). For regular fares, the fixed rate is NT$70 for the first 1.25km (0.8 miles) and then NT$5 per additional 250m (0.15 miles). Between 11pm and 6am there's a supplementary 20% charge.
By MRT -- Taipei's MRT continues to expand, offering fast, cool, clean transport around the city. The major lines are Danshui (red), Xindian (green), Banciao (blue) and Muzha (brown). Services operate on 3- to 8-minute intervals from 6am to midnight and tokens can be purchased from machines or ticket offices at all stations. Ticket prices from Taipei Main Station cost NT$20 to NT$50. If you're staying longer than a week, it's worth buying an EasyCard, which costs NT$500 (including a NT$100 refundable deposit) and can also be used on buses.
By Bus -- Getting around by city bus has become easier, with most buses now featuring English signage on the front of the bus and inside on the route maps. Fares are NT$15 per sector, and the extensive network covers the entire city. Overall, though, taxis and MRT are easier ways to get around, but useful routes are listed where relevant. English route maps can be picked up from MRT stations and visitor centers.
On Foot -- The summer heat and humidity can make walking between attractions a sticky business, but it's highly recommended as a way to explore some of the older districts, notably Datong, Ximending, Beitou and Danshui.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.