Taiwan has long offered free half-day tour packages to travelers with long layovers transiting in the nation, but the service remains little-known to overseas visitors.
The service, launched in 2004, is available to passengers with seven to 24-hour layovers at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport before their connecting flight.
Travelers must have a valid Taiwanese visa or be traveling on a passport from countries given visa-free entry into Taiwan to be eligible for the tours, the Tourism Bureau said.
Despite having been available for 11 years, the tour service, which includes free transportation and a tour guide, is not widely used.
“There’s plenty of room for usage to increase,” a Tourism Bureau official in charge of the tours said on Monday.
Bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu (劉喜臨) said that Taiwan is a transit stop for many people traveling from the west coast of the US to Southeast Asia, and the bureau hopes the tours will leave travelers with a good impression of Taiwan.
Once the MRT line connecting Taoyuan airport and Taipei starts service before the end of the year, travelers wanting a shorter outing will have even more convenient access to attractions in Taipei, Liu said.
“In the future, it will not be difficult for tourists to take an MRT ride to visit the National Palace Museum and taste local delicacies,” he said.
Two tours are available. A tour from 8am to 1pm covers Sansia (三峽) and Yingge (鶯歌) districts in New Taipei City, and a tour from 1:30pm to 6:30pm takes visitors to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and Taipei 101.
Sansia, southwest of Taipei, is best known for the Zushi Temple, built in honor of Song Dynasty loyalist Chen Chao-ying (陳昭應). The temple is prized for its refined and colorful reliefs and sculptures.
After visiting the temple, morning tour participants head to Yingge, the nation’s ceramics hub, and the Yingge Ceramics Museum, which chronicles the 200-year evolution of ceramics and folk culture in the nation, the bureau said.
Details of the service are available on the bureau’s Web site: eng.taiwan.net.tw/tour/index.htm.
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