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I'm planning to arrive in Taiwan on Feb 19th, 2015. I just discovered it coincides with the Chinese New Year. Will this be a tough or frustrating time to travel? I was planning to stay about one week, and I've read that in Mainland China the New Year celebrations last about a week, and that many businesses are closed.

I'm able to change my plans if need be, so good or no good? Travelling in Taiwan at this time?

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Taiwan will have the same week long holiday as the mainland, officially starting on the 18th. The biggest days are the first two: the 18th is new year's eve and the 19th is the first day of the new year. Things will be very busy. People come home from afar to be with their families during the holiday, so the population density goes up significantly.

Whether it will be frustrating depends on you, but difficult is a real possibility. Here are some important things to know:

  • Shops, hotels and restaurants will be open - the cities don't shut down; this is peak travel season - but prices and hours may fluctuate significantly from the norm. For example, a small family run shop might close for the entire holiday, while a fancy banquet restaurant extends hours late into the night to attract partiers. There may be special events or sales, or management might raise prices. Anything that's open will be packed.
  • Offices, banks, factories and the like will be closed. If the purpose of your trip is business, this is the wrong time to go.
  • Leisure or tourist centric locations will generally be open (new year's eve and day likely excepted), but will be very busy, because a lot of people are off work and go out to celebrate with their families.
  • Transportation services will remain open, but will be quite busy. Taiwan schedules extra trains during the holiday to ameliorate the high loads, but expect to feel like a sardine. Ticket prices are marked up a lot on account of high demand. Don't be surprised if they're sold out, even if you're trying to book a week or more in advance.
  • If you don't have a hotel booked already, it will be nigh impossible to get one at this point, and very expensive if you do.
  • There's a relative lull in travelling during the middle of the holiday. Relative to the start and end, that is; it's still much busier than the rest of the year.

However, this is a wonderful time to experience the local culture. It simply does not get more festive than the lunar new year celebration. You will not be hurting for excellent things to see, do and eat.

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    One thing to note that I found out last year is that pretty much nothing happens in Taipei and it will even be quieter there than the rest of the year, since most local people travel to their hometown for the holiday. It was easy to get a hostel and get around but nothing special to see. When you get out of Taipei I hear it would be the opposite. – hippietrail Feb 17 '15 at 0:35
  • Thank you. That's exactly the overview I was looking for. – Steve McLeod Feb 17 '15 at 5:27
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I have one piece of advice for you. If it's a time where huge numbers of people are out such as midnight on New Years's Eve, taxi drivers might not want go anywhere near the crowds. I'm talking about something like trying to get a taxi driver in New York to take you to the ball drop location when there are 1 million people out.

I never met a rude taxi driver there but at times like this they often leave their doors locked so you can't just jump in their cab. When you flag them down they will first ask where you are going. If it's a high crowd area they will not take you. They won't even let you in the car and they will drive off.

One such place is in Taipei anywhere around Taipei 101/Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall area. If your hotel is anywhere around there I'd recommend staying within walking distance during these times.

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