Cheng Ching Lake (aka Cheng Cing Lake or Ching Qing Lake) in Kaohsiung is one of the most beautiful parks in Taiwan. Much of the lake is full of traditional Chinese gardens and architecture. Because of its size, it cannot be properly appreciated by only going there for one afternoon; there are simply too many things to see and do there.
People often don’t realize that Kaohisung has a lot to offer to tourists. Many of the places down south aren’t represented as well as sites in Taipei, which is why we want to help everyone realize what a great place it is. I used to live in Kaohsiung and exercise at Cheng Ching Lake daily, and boy do I miss it! There are many lucky elderly Kaohsiung residents that visit the lake daily for free, and I envy them.
How to Get There:
From the Weiwuying MRT station, you can take the 70A bus straight to the main entrance.
100 NT per person, 50 NT for students, 60/100 NT for cars (there is a discount for cars on weekdays), and 30 NT for scooters. If your ARC or National ID has a Kaohsiung address, you can enter the park for free!
Hours: 4 AM - 9 PM (no entry after 6 PM)
The Kinmen land mine museum lies on the island of little Kinmen (Lieyu), and uses space from the disused bunkers of "Tiehan Fort and “Yongshi Fort." The exhibition provides a full explanation of the history of landmines not only in Taiwan but in the entire world. It also provides a real life, and rather frightening, experience for its visitors.
The Land Mine museum was finished in 2014, using tunnel space in the old "Tiehan Fort" (鐵漢堡) and “Yongshi Fort" (勇士堡). These two forts were fitted with anti-aircraft cannons, artillery storage, and tank storage. They both survived bombing raids from the mainland.
The exhibit takes you through underground tunnels that connect these two forts.
After the Chinese Civil War, there were many land mines left over in and around Kinmen. Most all of these land mines have been carefully removed. However land mines still cause casualties to innocent people worldwide; this museum goes on to explore these problems as well as land mine cleanup efforts throughout the world.
How to get there:
From Kinmen, take the ferry from Shuitou Harbor to little Kinmen. You can drive your scooter onto the ferry, or take a taxi once you get to the other side. The fort is on the northeast corner of the island.
Hours: 8:00 - 5:00 very day
Map: Please see below:
Fo Guang Shan (aka Buddah Light Mountain, Buddah's Light Mountain, or Buddha Memorial Center) is a Buddhist sect based in Dashu District of Kaohsiung. The headquarters in Dashu feature the largest Buddhist monastery in the country along with a 8 pagodas, a large pyramid, huge sitting buddha statue, and Buddha museum. The massive complex can fill a tourists itinerary for more than a day, and is TripAdvisor's top ten tourist landmarks in Taiwan.
The Fo Guang Shan religion was established by Hsing Yun in 1967, begning with the development of the monastery in Dashu. The religion is focused on Humanistic Buddhism, with an emphasis on technology.
Fo Guang Shan has since grown to be one of the largest charitable organizations in Taiwan. Currently it has established medical programs, several colleges, one university, and has presence in 173 countries.
The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum started construction in 2008 and was completed in 2011.
One of the most precious artifacts in the museum is the tooth of Sakyamuni Buddha. The grounds feature eight pagodas, hundreds of statues, 4 different museums, an auditorium, Jade and Golden Buddha Statues, and 48 underground palaces (time capsules).
How to get there:
From Kaohsiung, take provincial highway 29 north to Dashu, and it will be right in front of the National Highway 3 bridge. You can also travel there via public buses.
9 AM to 8 PM
Please see below:
The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen is the oldest and one of the best preserved buildings from the Qing dynasty in Taiwan. The complex is completely renovated into a museum, and is full of exhibits, showing visitors exactly what life was like during the Qing dynasty, as well as providing historical background to Kinmen and the surrounding area.
The building itself was built in the 1600s during the Ming Dynasty for the scholar Xuxie (許獬) as a library. During the reign of the Kangxi Emporer starting in1662 (during the Qing Dynasty), the building was transformed into the military headquarters for Kinmen. After the ROC lost the Chinese Civil War, they used the building for government purposes until it was made into the police headquarters in 1958. In 1991 the building was made into a historical monument. In 1995 it was abandoned by the police, and by 2004 renovations had stared on the building. In 2012 the renovations were completed, and the Kinmen Military Headquarters during the Qing Dynasty reopened as a museum.
Hours: 9 AM to 10 PM every day.
How to Get There: The building is in the center of Kincheng near Kincheng Old Street, on Wujiang Street No. 53 (浯江街53號).
Map: Please see below:
Xiaoliuqiu (aka Little Liuqiu or Lamay Island) is a small island paradise off the southwestern coast of Taiwan. The island is known for its clear water, amazing coral reefs, white sand beaches, and quiet laid back atmosphere. Only a short half hour boat ride from the Taiwan mainland, the island is easily accessible. In addition, the island is small enough that you can round the entire island by scooter in a matter of minutes.
In 1622, a Dutch ship crashed on the island, two years before the Dutch began to rule Taiwan, and all but one of the crew members were killed by the aboriginal tribe living on the island at the time.
In retaliation, the Dutch sent a force to massacre the natives on the island. 300 men, women, and children were suffocated alive in a large cave, and the rest of the people were put into slavery by the Dutch. This was known as the Lamey Island Massacre. Later Chinese people began inhabiting the island in 1645.
Later the island fell into Qing, Japanese, and ROC rule.
Currently the island is a township of Pingtung County with a population of over 10,000 people. Most of the people on the island rely on fishing and tourism for a living.
The island also has one of the largest concentrations of temples in Taiwan.
Xiaoliuqiu started to become a major tourist destination after 2004, reaching over 400,000 tourists per year.
How to get there:
The only way to get there is via ferry from Donggang's Dongliu Ferry Terminal. The ferry ride takes about 30 minutes. There is a ferry leaving from Donggang roughly every hour from 7 AM to 5 PM.
Ferry ride: 410 NT per round trip
Scooter rental: about 300 NT per day. There is a gas station on the back side of the island.
Snorkeling: about 300 NT per hour
Scuba diving: around 2500 NT for 2-3 hours
When to go:
Anytime! Xiaoliuqiu is a tropical island that has warm water and temperatures (above 25 degrees Celsius) year round.
Map: Please see below:
The photo sample above was taken from the National Development Council website.
On February 8th, 2018, Taiwan rolled out the Act for the Recruitment of Foreign Professionals, which included the employment gold card four-in-one visa to entice foreign special professionals to come and seek work opportunities in Taiwan. Details and common questions about this new type of visa/work permit can be answered below.
Please note that this blog not a comprehensive guide but only gives basic information about the gold card based on the information on the National Development Council website.
Q: What is the Taiwan employment gold card?
A: The employment gold card is a four-in-one visa, work permit, alien resident certificate, and re-entry permit. It also provides other benefits to foreigners as mentioned below.
Q: What benefits does Taiwan's employment gold card have?
A: The benefits associated with the employment gold card or special professional work permit are as follows:
Q: Who can apply for and obtain Taiwan’s employment gold card?
A: Foreigners that are specialists in their field. This includes Taiwan dual citizens and citizens of Macau and Hong Kong.
Q: What are the requirements for the employment gold card?
A: The full requirements for foreign special professionals can be found here.
The exact requirements vary by industry. However, the requirements generally require that an applicant show that they are a special professional or senior professional that has made special contributions to their field of work or received national recognition in one of the following 8 accepted professional industries:
1. Science and technology
5. Culture and Arts
8. Architectural Design
Q: Does the exemption from tax on overseas income (alternative minimum tax, or AMT) for the Taiwan gold card only last for the first three years?
A: Yes, this tax benefit only lasts three years, the same as the tax benefit for 50% of income above 3 million.
Q: How is the three years calculated for tax benefits for AMT and 50% of income above 3 million?
A: The three years start from the first tax year in which the foreign professional becomes a tax resident (stays for 183 days or more in a calendar year). However, if the foreign professional does not meet the qualifications for tax resident, they can defer this tax benefit to the following year, but no longer that five years after the work permit or gold card was first issued.
Q: How is the 50% of income above 3 million NT calculated if I am filing jointly with my spouse?
A: In this case the 50% of taxable income above 3 million NT only applies to your income. You cannot use this tax benefit for your spouse unless he/she also has a gold card.
Q: If I apply for a gold card but I am not a tax resident, when will the three years expire?
A: As explained above, you can defer the 3 year tax benefits to future years, but no longer that five years after the work permit or gold card was first issued.
Q: If I meet the 160,000 NT per month salary requirement, can I get a gold card?
A: Not necessarily. You also need to prove that you are a special professional in your field. In general this means proving your past work experience and awards to the government.
Q: Can I still get a Taiwan employment gold card without meeting the 160,000 NT salary per month requirement?
A: You can bypass the 160,000 NT per month requirement if you meet other requirements proving you are a special professional in your field.
Q: How will my dependents get visas?
A: As long as you have first been approved for your gold card or special professional visa, your dependents will be able to receive their dependent visas. If they enter Taiwan using the visa free program, they will need to come on the same flight as you, otherwise they will have to leave Taiwan and receive their dependent visas at the Taiwan office overseas, or receive them before they leave if you are coming on different flights.
Q: If I switch from a normal ARC to an employment gold card, will my dependent's visas be affected?
A: No, there will be no changes to your dependent's visas.
Q: How many year of experience do I need for the employment gold card?
A: Typically at least 5.
Q: How long does it take for the government to approve a gold card application?
A: After the application is submitted, it will take about 1 month to receive an approval or rejection. Please also note that there is a government fee associated with each application.
Q: What is the difference between an employment gold card and a work permit for a foreign special professional applied by a Taiwan company?
A: They are basically the same, both have the same tax benefits, but the differences are as follows:
Zhaishan Tunnels (aka Jhaishan Tunnels) are winding military tunnels running underground in Kinmen connecting to the ocean. During the Chinese Civil War, they were used to protect ships from bombing raids. The tunnels are open for tours, and besides having great acoustics the tunnels are also strikingly beautiful.
The tunnels were completed in 1966, but due to budget constraints the tunnels had to close in 1986. I assume this is because the tunnels required constant dredging. The tunnels were made into a national heritage park and opened for tourists in 1998. The tunnels are over 350 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 3.5 meters high.
Hours: Every day 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
How to get there:
Take Zhuhai West Road Sec. 3 out of Kincheng south to Guguang lake. Follow the brown signs to the tunnels; there is a large parking lot and park in front of the entrance.
Map: Please see below:
Hehuan Mountain (aka Hehuanshan or Mt. Hehuan) may be the most popular place to see snow in Taiwan, partly due to the fact that it has the highest public road in the country (located at Wuling (武嶺). Most people in Taiwan live at or near sea level in a tropical/subtropical environment that never has snow. However, it does snow in Taiwan at many places with higher elevations, such as Yangmingshan, Jade Mountain, Alishan, Snow Mountain, etc. If temperatures get low enough between December and February, snow is possible to fall wherever the elevation is high enough in Taiwan. However places like Hehuanshan are special because you can drive a vehicle right to the top.
Hehuanshan lies at the edge of Taroko National Park on the border of Nantou and Hualien Counties. The road from Nantou to Taroko Gorge passes through the saddle on Hehuanshan between the the East Peak and Main Peak, and is the highest accessible public road in Taiwan (also known as Wuling 武嶺).
Near this place, the Wushe incident and Taroko War took place (see below for more details).
During the Martial Law period in Taiwan, a ski lift ran on the mountain, but has since been abandoned due to lack of consistent snowfall.
The Taiwan military also has its winter training grounds near the mountain.
Recently Hehuanshan has been a popular place for hiking and taking photos, and has been an Instagram hot spot.
Hours: 24/7 unless otherwise closed by the department of transportation
When to Go:
It snows on Hehuanshan usually December to February.
You can check the current weather for Hehuanshan here and live video feed of the mountain and ground conditions here.
How to Get There: Take provincial highway 14 from Puli, and keep going after your reach Qingjing Farm.
Alos you can take Provincial Highway 8 from Taroko Gorge National Park.
Stop when you reach the very top of the road, the Wuling parking lot.
Traffic Control: Buses and large truck are not allowed. Sometimes chains are required (no one has chains in Taiwan).
Map: Please see below:
Tax season is here. In Taiwan, taxes must be filed from before May 31st. As a foreigner, you might be wondering how to file a tax return and what the regulations are. Luckily Taiwan has made it easy by creating an online tax filing system that you can complete from your computer, although you do still have to physically send some forms to the tax office. Let us answer some common questions about tax filing that might come up:
Forward: The following is Q+A for tax year 2018 only, based on information provided on Taiwan's Ministry of Finance website.
Q: When should I file Taxes?
A: Between May 1st to May 31st after the tax year (tax year is same as calendar year). Tax payments are due by June 13th.
If you are leaving the country and do not plan to return to Taiwan, you must file an early tax return within 10 days before you leave. We recommend going to the tax office in person for an early filing.
Q: What makes me eligible for paying Taiwan taxes (or what makes me a tax resident)?
A: You become a Taiwan tax resident if you stay in Taiwan longer than 183 days, or you have household registration（戶籍） in Taiwan and visit for at least one day. The address in your ARC is not household registration, it's a registration process from the local administrative office (戶政事務所）.
If you stay less than 90 days in Taiwan, you do not have to file taxes, and VAT or sales taxes are reimbursable.
If you worked in Taiwan and stayed over 90 days, you need to pay taxes on your Taiwan based salary even if your income came from overseas.
If you stayed in Taiwan between 90-183 days, then you need to pay a fixed rate of 18% income tax （your company may have deducted this from your salary already).
If you have Taiwanese dual citizenship and Taiwanese house registration, then you need to pay taxes if you have stayed in Taiwan for over 31 days. Days are cumulative in a tax year, and it doesn't matter what you came for during these days.
How do I count the days I stayed in Taiwan?
Please note that the day you come to Taiwan doesn't count, but the day you leave does. It's a good idea to keep track of the number of days you have been in Taiwan via the stamps on your passport.
Q: What is the income tax rate?/ How much is Taiwan tax?
A: The income tax rate for non-residents who earn at least 1.5 the minimum wage per month (34,650 NT as of 2019) is 18% (you can get a tax refund if you pay 18% taxes and then become a tax resident). This tax rate is usually applicable for most white collar foreigners.
For non-residents who earn less than 1.5 the minimum wage per month (34,650 NT as of 2019), the income tax rate is 6%. This tax rate is usually applicable for most blue collar foreigners from Southeast Asia.
The 2018 tax rate for residents (staying over 183 days in Taiwan) is as follows (source: Taiwan Ministry of Finance):
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.