Taiwan’s main international gateway is Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, located near the city of Taoyuan, about 50km southwest of the capital Taipei. The only other major international airport is at Kaohsiung, serving the country’s second-largest city.
Although there are several nonstop flights to Taipei from North America and Europe, most trips will require a change of plane somewhere else in Asia – Hong Kong is the closest and most convenient place, with dozens of regional carriers flying into Taipei and Kaohsiung on a daily basis. Numerous nonstop flights also operate between Taiwan and mainland Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
There has long been a dearth of direct air connections between the UK and Taiwan, and the same is true when flying from Ireland or continental Europe. Almost all travellers coming from Europe will need to make at least one stop, with the closest and most convenient being Hong Kong, followed by Bangkok.
At the time of writing, the only airline with nonstop flights from London to Taipei was China Airlines, which flies three days a week (14hr) for about £800–900 return in peak season; they also fly to Taipei nonstop from Vienna and Frankfurt. EVA Air flies to Taipei from London via Bangkok for about the same price. From Ireland you’ll save a heap of cash by taking a budget airline to London and connecting with one of the flights mentioned above.
There are several daily flights to Taiwan from North American cities on both the east and west coasts. From the US, direct flights leave from Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and San Francisco, with the average return fare around US$900–1200, depending on the time of year. Most nonstop flights from Canada operate out of Vancouver, but EVA Air also flies from Toronto three times a week from Can$1400.
Almost all flights between Australia and Taiwan have a stopover somewhere else in Asia, with Hong Kong the best-connected. Some of the cheapest fares to Hong Kong from Sydney are with Cathay Pacific, while the only nonstop flight between Sydney and Taipei (9hr) is with China Airlines (5 weekly), for about Aus$1400 return. China Airlines also flies nonstop from Brisbane three times a week for about the same price. EVA Air flies to Taipei direct from Brisbane only, twice a week.
Flights from New Zealand are more limited, with carriers such as Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines flying from Auckland to Taipei via Hong Kong for around NZ$2000.
With the “three links” now open to foreigners, direct air and sea travel between Taiwan and China offers some intriguing travel opportunities. Flights between Taipei and Beijing (3hr 30min) are served by several carriers, with tickets for around US$400 return or less, but you can also reach Shanghai (just 1hr 30min), Guangzhou (2hr) and numerous other Chinese cities nonstop. The primary sea routes are Fuzhou to Matsu and Xiamen to Kinmen respectively. If travelling to China from Taiwan, arrange a Chinese visa in Hong Kong or in your own country in advance – it’s a lot of hassle to get one in Taiwan, as there are no Chinese consulates.