Renting a car in Yilan and driving down to Toroko


I am an experienced driver (in US), but have never driven in Taiwan. I am planning to do so first time on east coast with the assumption that it would be far more easier to drive than in Taipei.

I have a California Driver License. And a car rental company has said that all they need is my passport and my California license. I don’t have International Driver License.

I have read mixed opinions online about whether I am legal to drive in Taiwan or not. I am within my 30 days of entering in Taiwan.


  1. Has anyone else driven a car with that paperwork here in Taiwan, and been stopped by police. Will that pass the muster?

  2. Are their any tips/gotchas specific to driving from Yilan down south and back?

  3. Is there any good resource for understanding the road signs? My Chinese is Beginner+.

Thanks much

go to nearest AAA or California AAA and get international drivers license. cheap. like $15-20. one year

All road signs for towns, exits, etc. in Engish next to Chinese

Hard to get lost going south along the coast. Only one main coastal road.

Have fun. The scenery is da bomb.


Thanks! I am already in Taiwan, and want to do this soon. So, getting an IDL is not an option now. Are you saying that California DL is not sufficient within first 30 days of being here?

others may know, as some states in the U.S. have reciprocal agreements with Taiwan on drivers licenses, where you don’t need a Taiwan license.
If a rental car agency is willing to rent you a car, then you are likely okay.
Get all the proper add-on insurance (stolen, collision, etc.), just like Hertz or Avis would offer you in the US


i got an IDL last year, i was pretty happy to be able to do things by the law. but then i found out it doesn’t matter anyway, some people will rent to you and others won’t, they don’t really care about the permit. the most important law seems to be don’t get in trouble.


Don’t know why start in yilan instead of Taipei. Can be public transport headache to/from Yilan at times. Similar headache, driving a car through the tunnel requires a minimum amount of passengers during certain hours

Go all the way to Taitung along the coast. Incredibly beautiful. Some agencies also have one way rentals. Relax on train

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Taiwanese road sign
My only advise would be drive save at those winding roads and don’t fall into the gorge.

Have a nice trip!

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I sometimes take a train to Hualien, Taitung, or Kaohsiung, rent a car, and then drop it off one way rental at one of the others. Can drive north from Hualien to see cliff areas, then back towards South.

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Just please be careful driving the mountain road to Hualien…lots of crazy drivers trying to pass you on the curves.

Actually, I hate driving that stretch from Hualien to Yilan so try to not go on Friday or Sunday and hit the road early. Scenery is great…drivers (small cars, buses, trucks) are terrible.


While driving in eastern Taiwan is much more relaxed and safe than in Taipei and other cities along the west coast, there are a few things you should always be prepared for:

Scooters coming out of nowhere, especially turning right in front of you without looking.

In the countryside there are always dogs lying on the streets, lots of them.

Rockfall, there is always a chance, especially during heavy rain and during an earthquake, or a combination of those two. Taroko Gorge is notorious for falling rocks. Always be alert.

Gravel trucks, loads of them in eastern Taiwan, cause lot of gravel is sourced from the riverbeds there. Always look in your back mirror and let them pass once you have the chance.

People overtaking on winding roads. Be prepared for people from the opposite direction coming over into your lane.

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The reciprocal agreement is that you can use the US license to apply for a Taiwanese license (rather than take the written test if your state has no reciprocal agreement with Taiwan). But you still need a Taiwanese/international license to drive in Taiwan.


Listen to Hannes above…many things to note in Hualien area.
Do not be surprised if must stop for up to 45 minutes (traffic allowed to flow 15 minutes per hour) for more major work clearing or patching up the mountainside due to rock slides.

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