I dared myself to pay Taipei a quick visit in 2012 – as in it should be just over a long weekend. I later reckoned that this is not really cost-efficient due to high airport tax and terminal fee rates. Boooo (although the 550 pesos terminal fee can now be paid through credit card. Yay, points!)! I was eyeing to visit Taipei because I fell in love with Din Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Bao which I first tried in Sydney in 2011. There was even a day when I just want to take the two-hour flight to Taipei and have a dinner at Din Tai Fung in Xinyi, the first DTF restaurant ever, and then go home. LOL.
Manila – Taipei route is being served by four airlines: Philippine Airlines, China Airlines, EVA Air and Cebu Pacific Air, the latter being the cheapest option however, it messes your itinerary as it is a red-eye flight (A red-eye flight is any flight departing late at night and arriving early the next morning).
Being eligible of visa-free entry to Taiwan (thanks to my ever-reliable US visa), it makes my quick visit more feasible. Effective March 15, 2011, Philippine passport holders may apply on-line for an Authorization Certificate for visa-free entry to Taiwan for up to thirty (30) days. Those eligible for visa-free entry are passport-holders with valid visas or permanent resident cards of the United States, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, European Union (Schengen), Australia and New Zealand, provided that they have never worked in Taiwan as blue-collar workers before.
Approval is processed on-line. I applied at this National Immigration Agency site, provided some basic identity information, and viola, the authorisation certificate is ready. The approved certificate is valid for 30 days and is good for multiple re-entries within 30 days. The 30 days of stay is counted from the next day after arrival. I made some mistake on the on-line application, and I just re-applied by filling out another application again. On-line applications are limited to those who have formal passports. Those who hold temporary passports, emergency passports, informal passports, or non-passport travel documents are not allowed to use on-line applications. Lastly, on-line applications are only for those who hold valid visas. Those who hold work permits or related documents are not eligible.
I presented the print out to our immigration officers at NAIA and Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. Look at how hazy the font style is when I tried to print my certificate – I thought there’s something wrong with Chrome! The NAIA immigration officer questioned this and asked for an original copy. Umm, that’s the original copy, ma’am! I googled this and found out that it is perfectly normal. If that’s so, why is the officer a bit surprised with my document? Am I the first person she came across who used this certificate? 😀
5J 310 flight landed in Taipei around 12:45 am, and the last bus from the airport to the city leaves 1:10 am. I made it to the last bus and I’ll leave it to you to imagine the Amazing Race-ish sprint from the arrival hall to the immigration counter to the bus terminal. 😀