Travelling to Taiwan under Covid Restrictions

Preparations

VISA

Currently, (18.06.2022), entering Taiwan is only allowed for residents, students, family of residents or workers. Workers need a special type of visa, a Special Entry Permit For Covid-19 Outbreak. Applying for the visa is done via a website of the Taiwanese government A number of documents are required for the visa, please follow the official Taiwanese website here. Once you obtained your visa, you may pack your things and head for the airport.

Things I packed

My way of dealing with uncertainty is: gear. Jokes aside, here are a bunch of things
I packed to make my travels and my stay as hassle-free and comfortable as possible.


I brought 12 Brewer's Cup Colombia coffee bags, 24 clif bars, and my favorite tea. While this might seem a bit odd, I can't stress enough how great it is to have the same tee (Friesischer Morgen by Bremer Teemanufaktur) I drink every morning at home with me, even more so during quarantine. The same goes for the coffee.

I recently stumbled across these mesh bags from FolderSys (no affiliation, I swear), I use them to pack all loose things, including the spare parts for our sensor boxes, tools, documents and meds. They are lightweight, durable, see-through and make packing a breeze.



Looking for a suitable duffle bag that does not exceed cabin luggage size restriction, I came across this duffle by Bach:



This thing is amazing. It's made of Cordura, is super lightweight, spacious, easy to pack and easy to carry.

I also brought an assortment of cables to power various devices, my laptop, my phone (duuh) and clothes for 7 days.

In addition to the usual toiletries, I packed several meds:

  • paracetamol
  • medical charcoal
  • oropax
  • lomotil (the big guns)


More importantly: here is a list of things that I forgot to bring:

  • jumping rope
  • medical thermometer
Both jumping rope and thermometer are vital for quarantine! Also, if you're not used to eating with chopsticks, bring cutlery!


Things to have on your phone

  • copy of your passport
  • copy of your visa
  • copy of your quarantine hotel booking confirmation
  • copy of your negative PCR test result
  • Line messenger
  • WeChat messenger
  • WhatsApp messenger
  • Uber eats


Travelling

Departure

Before flying, a reservation in an official quarantine hotel is needed. Currently, the
quarantine upon arrival is 3 days, excluding the day of travels. Quarantine hotels can be found online. All quarantine hotels have an official ID.

Once the quarantine hotel has been booked, one needs to register in the quarantine system for entry (aircraft version). Here, you'll need to specify the quarantine hotel using the quarantine hotel's ID. Once the registration has been finalized, take a screenshot of the final page (important!)

Finally, you'll need a RT-PCR test, no older than 48 h with respect to your departure time.

With these documents at hand, you can drop off your luggage and check-in. Checking in has to be done at the airport because the documents mentioned above need to be reviewed by the airline.

Flight

zz ZZ zz

Arrival at the Airport

Upon disembarking, the first thing one needs is to switch off airplane mode on one's phone, as the Taiwanese government sends a link to complete the registration in the quarantine system for entry. Don't worry, if the text does not arrive, there are a a lot of people available to help you sort out the bureaucracy. In our case, every ten meters or so, there was at least one person to guide us through the arrival process.

The process is segmented into booths. The first booths are for buying SIM-cards. I bought two SIM cards from Chunghwa with unlimited data for 90 days for 65 EUR each. Chunghwa is supposed to also have good coverage in rural areas, so I'm hoping this includes near shore marine operations.

It is amazing how well-organized the overall process is. It took maybe 2 minutes to buy the SIM-cards and the SIM-card worked right away, without even having to reboot my phone.

Once you've obtained the SIM-card, open the link you received from the government on your phone and enter your Taiwanese number. Again, take a screenshot of the website. Don't worry about the steps, though, every passenger is guided through it by helpful personnel.

At the next booth, you receive two rapid-tests, a test vial for a PCR-test and an accompanying document for the PCR test vial. You are supposed to take a rapid test on day two of your quarantine and on day two after your quarantine. If you didn't bring a thermometer, ask at the booth. If you're lucky, they'll give you one.

Next stop: immigration. Getting into the country was super easy, the border control agent even talked German to me after receiving my passport. They take a photo of you and record the prints from your two forefingers.

Afterwards, collect your luggage and proceed to the arrival hall where a final PCR test will be conducted. In our case, the line in the arrival hall for the PCR test was quite long, and it took us nearly two hours to get out of the arrival hall.

At the exit of the arrival hall, you'll be guided to a quarantine taxi. Government personnel take a last look at your paperwork, give your quarantine hotel's address to the driver, and off you go. The taxi seems to have a fixed price of 1080 TND, about 33 EUR. You can pay with credit card.

Arrival at the quarantine hotel

Upon arrival at the quarantine hotel, we were sprayed in disinfectant and asked to send a copy of our passports to the hotel via line messenger. To connect to the hotel via line messenger, the clerk presented us with a QR code. This is somewhat vital, as in our case all communication with the hotel is (I'm still in quarantine) via line messenger.

Quarantine Hotel

Twice a day, you are required to measure your temperature and report it to the hotel. Additionally, on day two, I did the first rapid test and also reported it to the hotel. It is vital to keep your phone online as long as your quarantine lasts, as the government will use it to a) track your location and b) ask you about your health status via text message. In my case, my Taiwanese phone number got mixed up when I entered it into the registration form, so the government failed to locate me. Eventually, my hotel phone rang and a disgruntled government person asked what I had done to my phone. So, make sure that the number you enter into the form after you bought your SIM-card is correct!

Room

The room I've got is quite good! I stayed at much worse places in Europe. I pushed the bed to the side to have a bit more space for moving around a bit. The room has a fridge, climate control, a bath tub (!) and a decent bed with a mattress.

Food

The food is authentic Taiwanese as far as I can tell. I say this without any judgement. So far, I personally liked it a lot. But I eat everything (i mean it) as long as it's tasty. If I identified it correctly, one dish included cooked and pickled pork heart. So, I'm pretty far from my usual diet and apart from tasting it, I've ignored most of the meat so far. So, make up your mind beforehand, I'm sure the hotel will cater to your preferred diet if you ask nicely. Apart from that, plenty of food is also available via uber eats, including decent pizza (so I've been told).

Internet

To be honest, I've never even bothered with hotel Wi-Fi as the mobile internet connection is superior to 99% of German landline internet connections I experienced so far (I'm not even mentioning mobile internet in Germany #neuland) and I just use my phone as an access point.

Stay tuned for more!