FAQ

Please review our FAQ's

This page is a work in progress and very incomplete.  Please ask if you have a question not addressed here.

General

Money , Banks, credit cards, ATM cards etc

Despite being a technologically savvy nation, the economy in Taiwan is still very much based on cash.  Very few small businesses accept any form of electronic payment.  Debit cards are rarely used and cash advances on foreign credit cards are issued by some banks but not by others. Complicating the situation for our guests is the fact that Taiwanese banks seem to have special restrictions on some foreign banks and some foreign banks seem to have restrictions on Taiwanese banks.  We have had guests who were unable to access their accounts from Taiwan.  With that in mind, we suggest that you bring as much cash in a major international currency for your trip as you feel comfortable carrying.  For the rest, try to bring a couple of options for accessing your funds abroad.  It may also be a good idea to inform your bank and credit card providers that you will be in Taiwan.  If you have any doubts, questions or concerns, please contact us.  


Do your tours include airport pickup?

For multi day tours, we usually include airport pick up and dropoff.  Please read the tour description to find specific details for each tour.

If you booked surf lessons, we will pick you up from your hotel.


What currency is used in Taiwan?

Taiwan uses the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). We recommend you either bring US$/Euros/A$/Pounds to exchange at the bank, or use an international ATM card to withdraw NT dollars. Most businesses in the south and east coasts don’t accept credit cards for payments so be prepared to pay in NT dollars for all your purchases.   If you’ve brought cash or traveler’s checks, the easiest place to exchange them is at the airport on arrival.


What airport should we arrive and depart from?

If possible we recommend you arrive at the Kaohsiung International Airport (Code: KHH) in south Taiwan. This is where we offer pick up from. If you’re unable to arrive at the Kaohsiung airport, you’ll be arriving at the Taoyuan International airport in north Taiwan. You’ll still be able to get to south Taiwan fairly simply by taking the shuttle bus from the airport to the Taoyuan High Speed Rail station. It’s approx. a 30min trip. You’ll be able to purchase a ticket at the station to Kaohsiung (Zuoying station). The ticket is approx. $NT1400 and takes 1.5hrs. Tickets can also be pre-booked at the Taiwan High Speed Rail website. http://www5.thsrc.com.tw/en/. We’ll be able to pick you up at the Zuoying HSR station when you arrive. The HSR only allows luggage that is 220cm(7’2”) or less in length. If you are traveling with a surf board longer than 220cm let us know and we’ll give you other options to getting down south.


What should I expect in terms of weather?

It really depends on where you are and when but generally speaking,

  • July and August are the hottest months.  Be prepared for mid 30s Celsius in the heat of the day.  However, if we are going to go up into the mountains, you might still need a sweater.
  • December to February are the coldest.  At sea level, daytime temperatures in the north can be as low as 10 Celsius. From Tainan southward, 15 Celsius is not unusual.  In Taroko and other mountainous areas, temperatures can approach freezing.
  • June to October is typhoon season.  Even when typhoons don’t impact us directly, they can bring a lot of rain to all parts of Taiwan.
  • For motorcycle tours and sightseeing, late October and March are the best time to be here both weatherwise and in terms of how many tourists are about.

How long have you been in business?

We have been in business since 2007.   Initially, we were “the Surf Shack” and we operated a hostel and surf tours.  The hostel closed down in 2014, when we changed our name and expanded into other types of tours.


Insurance

Do I need special insurance?

We require people on motorcycle tours to have emergency medical insurance.  For other types of tours, although the likelihood of anything serious happening is tiny, we strongly suggest that you get travel insurance that covers cancellations, delays, baggage loss, medical emergencies and medical evacuations.


Do I sign a waiver?

Yes, you will need to sign a waiver specific to whatever type of tour you are on.


Payment

Money , Banks, credit cards, ATM cards etc

Despite being a technologically savvy nation, the economy in Taiwan is still very much based on cash.  Very few small businesses accept any form of electronic payment.  Debit cards are rarely used and cash advances on foreign credit cards are issued by some banks but not by others. Complicating the situation for our guests is the fact that Taiwanese banks seem to have special restrictions on some foreign banks and some foreign banks seem to have restrictions on Taiwanese banks.  We have had guests who were unable to access their accounts from Taiwan.  With that in mind, we suggest that you bring as much cash in a major international currency for your trip as you feel comfortable carrying.  For the rest, try to bring a couple of options for accessing your funds abroad.  It may also be a good idea to inform your bank and credit card providers that you will be in Taiwan.  If you have any doubts, questions or concerns, please contact us.  


Do you accept credit card for tour payment?

Unfortunately we don’t accept credit cards for payment. Deposits can be made to our bank account or through PayPal. The balance can be paid in Taiwan dollars on arrival.


When is full payment due?

Full payment is due after we check you in to your hotel on the first night of your tour with us.


Is a deposit required?

Yes, a deposit is required.  We will discuss the specifics with you during the booking process.


Requirements

Do I need a visa?

As of July 2015, if your passport is from the EU, Canada, the US, Australia or New Zealand (and lots of other countries too), you  will get a visa on arrival or visa free entry.  HOWEVER,  you should confirm this with   your local Taiwanese Representative Office.  If you can’t find one, let us know and we’ll help.


Do I need a passport?

You will need a passport with more than 6 months validity to enter Taiwan.


Surf

Do you rent surfboards or body boards?

Yes, we do. We have a selection of boards for rent. Short boards, fishes, mini mals, fun boards, long boards, beginner soft tops, semi-guns, body boards and a couple of SUPs. Let us know what board dimensions you’re looking for and we’ll get back to you with what we have closest to those dimensions. SUPs are $US50/day. Long boards, mini mals, fun boards are $US35/day. Beginner soft tops, semi-guns, short boards, & fishes are $US25/day. Body boards are $US15/day. We do not supply body board fins, so you’ll have to bring your own.


What kind of waves should I expect and how consistent are they?
South Taiwan has a varied choice of waves which mostly break in the summer months(May-Oct.). Breaks on the south and west coasts of the peninsula need any kind of south swell to work. There are beach breaks, river mouth beach breaks, point breaks, rock reef breaks and coral reef breaks.
Typically the beach breaks on the south east coast are mellow waves that are good for beginners, intermediate surfers and long boarders. The south east coast on the southern peninsula is the most consistent spot in the south of Taiwan. In the winter months there’s usually something to ride everyday if you’re willing to get out on a long board. It’s less consistent in the summer months.
The south and west coasts of the southern peninsula have more powerful waves with some breaking over shallow coral reef and others breaking along long left points.  The west coast of the peninsula only breaks in the summer months and is the least consistent for waves on the southern peninsula. These waves are the more powerful and better shaped waves that need a low pressure, tropical storm or typhoon in the South China Sea.
The east coast(Taitung to Hualien) has mostly cobblestone river mouths, beach and point breaks. All work on any east swell. This area is better than the south in the winter months(Nov.-Mar.) as it often gets early morning offshores. Strong NE winds create the swell. The swell period rarely gets over 12 seconds during these months so there are a lot of peaky beaches and some left hand point breaks that work on bigger swells. The east coast will also get good waves in the summer months if there’s a low pressure, tropical storm or typhoon tracking up the east coast.

What should I bring for a surf tour?
  • Sunscreen is vital and expensive in Taiwan so bring enough with you.  The sun in Taiwan is fierce so make sure you’re protected both in and out of the water
  • Though usually not necessary, reef booties do sometimes come in handy.
  • During the northern winter months, water temps are still warm but outside air temps can drop to under 15 Celsius.  A 2mm shorty is what we wear.  A rashie and boardies will do for most people between May and October but if you get cold easily, a 2 mm top for spring and fall couldn’t hurt.  From July to September, a rashie will do for almost everyone.
  • bring your own warm water or tropical wax, extra leashes and quick fix ding repair just in case

 

 


Health and Safety

Is Taiwan safe?

In our opinion, Taiwan must be one of if not the safest country in the world, both to live in and to visit,  in terms of crime.  Street crime, violent or otherwise, is a rarity and even petty crimes like pick pocketing in night markets  is unusual.  Most people find Taiwan to be a safe, welcoming and friendly place.  As in any other place, you should take basic precautions such as not flashing large amounts of money in public. The biggest threat to anyone living on the island probably comes from nature in the form of typhoons.


Do I need special vaccinations?

This is not a substitute for medical advice.  There are no vaccinations required to enter Taiwan and there are no significant health issues that you would be likely to encounter as a tourist.  A tetanus shot is always a good idea no matter where you’re travelling, , and there is a problem in Taiwan with hepatitis A and B , but things like typhoid, cholera, malaria and so on  are practically non existent.