Before listing all the different air and sea connections to Taipei, let me emphasize that this information is based on the situation before Covid-19. Taiwan was one of the first countries to close their borders to travelers due to the pandemic and most connections layed out in this chapter are not in operation at the time of writing this guide. While Taiwan has announced that borders will be re-opened to foreigners by the end of 2020, which connections will be resumed remains uncertain. It is safe to say that there will be fewer and less connections, at least for a while.
To visit Taipei from abroad, there are basically 2 options; airplane and ferry.
The only operated ferry connections are between Taiwan and mainland China, so for most people flying to Taiwan will be easiest.
Accessing Taipei by Air
Taipei has two airports: Songshan Airport (TSA) and Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).
Flights to Songshan Airport (TSA)
Songshan Airport (TSA) is in the northern part of the city itself and thus very easy to reach by public transportation. However, this airport is rather small and only serves domestic flights as well as flights to China, South Korea and Japan. Also, flights tend to be more expensive, than from TPE. The airport is served by the brown MRT (Mass Rapid Transit), also known as Neihu line as well as several city bus lines. By car or taxi, you can reach most of the inner city within 15-20 minutes.
Flights to Taoyuen International Airport (TPE)
Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is located about 40 km to the west of Taipei and has two terminals, with a third one under construction.
There are direct flights to and from TPE to eight European cities including London and Frankfurt, nine North American destinations including Los Angeles and New York, as well as flights to Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, India and most of (South) East Asia. Many low cost carriers (LCC) depart from TPE to various Asian destinations in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, etc. However, there are no domestic flights departing from TPE.
From the Airport to Taipei City
TPE is also connected by the purple MRT line which takes between 38-45 minutes to Taipei Main Station.
There are also frequent bus departures to several parts of Taipei, as well as the nearest Taiwan HSR (High Speed Rail) Taoyuan station which is around 8 km away.
Taxis are available 24 hours a day and will typically cost NTD 1,100-1,500 to the city center of Taipei (approx. 1 hour).
Uber is also available at TPE airport.
Airlines Flying to Taipei
Most air connections to and from Taiwan are operated by the two domestic carriers, China Airlines (IATA code: CI; not to be confused with Chinese carrier Air China) and EVA Air (IATA code: BR). China Airlines used to be famous for being one of the most dangerous airlines in the world. However, their safety-record improved greatly after the company overhauled their flight procedures and pilot recruitment, resulting in no fatal incidents for the last 18 years.
Many major international airlines such as United Airlines, KLM, Emirates and Singapore Airlines also have direct flights to Taipei.
Flights to Taipei with Stop-Over
Due to the limited number of direct flights to Taipei originating outside of Asia, many people book a flight with stop over somewhere in Asia. If you do so, I do recommend not to choose any city in mainland China for the following reason: Taiwan is considered to be part of China by the Chinese government thus, flights to Taipei will depart from the domestic airport terminals. This makes transfers very troublesome since you will not only have to move from one to have to pass Chinese immigration (which has notoriously long lines). If you choose this route nevertheless, make sure to be eligible for the Chinese transit visa before booking.
More convenient stopovers are for example Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo or Osaka. Keep in mind that if you book separate flights, one being on an LCC, those tend to depart and arrive at separate terminals. Thus, you might have to change terminals and thus calculate more time for your transfer.
Accessing Taipei by Ferry
Unfortunately, ferry services connecting Taiwan and Japan (Okinawa) ceased operations some years ago.
However, there are a few ferry connections between mainland China and Taiwan.
Ferry From Xiamen to Taipei
From Xiamen, you can take an overnight ferry to Keelung, which is close to Taipei (around 30-40 by car or train). Another ferry sails from Xiamen to the port of Taichung. However, this option is far less convenient if you are heading to Taipei.
Ferry From Pingtan to Taipei
It is possible to take a hydrofoil from Pingtan to Taipei (Keelung), which only takes 3 hours.
Ferry From Fuzhou to Taipei
From Fuzhou you can take a ferry (approx 2 hours) to the nearby Taiwanese island called Nangan. This island is part of the Matsu archipelago which is, in fact, much closer to China than Taiwan. The connecting domestic ferry (7-8 hours) to Keelung near Taipei, leaves the next day, so this route requires a stay of at least one night on Nangan. Alternatively, you can take a domestic flight from the island to Taipei.
Note that when returning from Keelung, the ferry stops at Dongyin island first, which adds a few hours to the journey to Nangan.
Now that you know how to come to Taiwan plan your trip by checking the best traveling season, first!