I’m a Brit living in Shanghai, and I’m hoping to make my first visit to Taiwan…but preferably without spending a wad of cash on return tickets from the Mainland or Hong Kong. I’ve done a bit of research and I know that foreigners can access Kinmen island from Xiamen and vice-versa, but once you’re on Kinmen, would it be possible for me subsequently to fly (or sail, even) to Taiwan from Kinmen?
Unless it turns out that Kinmen is actually an island of isolated inbred cannibals, I presume that there must be some sort of regular connection between Kinmen and Taiwan? And as a British passport holder, it seems that I don’t need a visa to enter Taiwan…so what’s the catch? It all seems too simple that i could just pop over to Kinmen and then book a flight. Has anyone tried this before?
Also, if this is indeed possible, is it feasible that I could do the same thing on the way back, flying from Taiwan to Kinmen, and then reentering China (I have a multi-entry Chinese visa)?
Cheers, any help on this would be greatly appreciated,
Phonecalls to both the Xiamen and Jinmen side conclude that ferry travel between the two is definately possible for foreigners. But since you can’t get a visa for China in Taiwan (as a foreigner), it’s not suitable for visa runs. Basically, unless you already have a Chinese (multiple-entry) visa, it’s a pointless operation as you’d need to get one in Hong Kong or elsewhere first, from where you might as well enter the country directly.
It’s easy and cheap getting to Taiwan from Jinmen. Last time I checked though, it was only possible by plane.
Sorry to hijack, but can anyone give me a link to a site where I can book flights from Taipei to Kinmen and back online?
I’ve googled but have had no luck. I’m coming to Taiwan for a vacation from Korea in January, and while I guess I could have one of the hostel people help me or something, I’d like to get everything taken care of online if possible. Thanks.
[quote=“Smee”]Sorry to hijack, but can anyone give me a link to a site where I can book flights from Taipei to Kinmen (Jinmen) and back online?
I’ve googled but have had no luck. I’m coming to Taiwan for a vacation from Korea in January, and while I guess I could have one of the hostel people help me or something, I’d like to get everything taken care of online if possible. Thanks.[/quote]
Any place where I can book online in English? The two sites with English options don’t allow online booking, and the third is in Chinese, and while I understand a little from studying Korean, not enough to set up an ID or book flights. Since they run several times a day, do you think it is wise to just wait until I get to Taipei on the 22nd and try to find a travel agent who can set up a flight for the 28th? If I can’t book online that is.
Any place where I can book online in English? The two sites with English options don’t allow online booking, and the third is in Chinese, and while I understand a little from studying Korean, not enough to set up an ID or book flights. Since they run several times a day, do you think it is wise to just wait until I get to Taipei on the 22nd and try to find a travel agent who can set up a flight for the 28th? If I can’t book online that is.[/quote]
Ok let me look for you, I found a site where you could book in english. Hang on
edit: well i tried but it seems not possible to book in english online with TRansAsia Airways, or UNI , or Mandarin. I dont read or write Mandarin myself so I couldnt figure out how to do this either. Any chance you can get a mandarin reader to help you book online? Online booking is possible, just you need to know how to operate a mandarin website.
I did find a link to a Taiwan travel agent that seems to offer cheap fares around the world. And they have an email for a person you can contact. Maybe you can use them?
Or at least find out details? whosetravel.com/Contact_Us.htm
I got in touch with the travel agent and they said they don’t do domestic flights, and directed me back to the airlines you mentioned. I’ll keep looking and if nothing turns up I’ll see if I can get something in person in January. Failing that maybe I’ll just stay on the big island.
Ya, cant understand why these airlines dont have an english website for people to make bookings? makes no sense in todays age.
That aside what you can do is physically go to SongShan airport and to the counters of Mandarin , TransAsia and Uni. They have timetables there and you can pantomine your way to Kin Men and back right there and then. Unless you are going during a holiday time, chances are good that you can get on a flight right then and also book your return flight right then and there too.
Having just returned from Kinmen / Jinmen / Quemoy over the 4 days Dragon Boat Festival holiday, here is what my experience was:
Having a German Passport and a Taiwanese ARC, it was no problem for me to get a Chinese Single-Entry visa good for staying 30 days in China from within Taiwan. I just went to a nearby travel agency in Nangang, gave them my passport, 2 passport photos, an ARC copy and a letter of employment from my employer, and 7 days later I got my passport back with the visa. It cost me 2700 NT$, but for some reason for US citizens it would have cost ~9000 NT$. They sent the passport to Hong Kong, and the visa was given there.
For going to Xiamen / Amoy, you just go to the port located to the south-west of the main Kinmen island, buy a single way ticket (~600NT$), and go on the boat. It seems there are no return tickets. Don’t forget to exchange some NT$ to Yuan (PRC Money) in the main port hall, since on the chinese side port in Xiamen there is no way to exchange anything, and the taxis there only take Yuan. Also to buy the return ticket from Xiamen to Kinmen you will need to pay with Yuan (~160 Yuan), so either take enough with you from Kinmen, or exchange / get from an ATM in downtown Xiamen.
After you arrive in Xiamen you have to fill out a yellow entry/exit form, and with that go through immigration/customs. Additionally, on the boat, I had to fill out a questionaire about where I have been the last time, and if I show any signs of flu. I guess that’s a swine flu thing, though, as well as the PRC officials scanning everyone’s temperature.
Outside the taxi drivers will try to rip you off, quoting ~20 Yuan to go to the ecntral street there, while when you insist on using the taxameter it will be ~10 Yuan. For 10 Yuan they will offer to get you to “downtown”, which is a pretty boring area nearby, where you probably don’t want to go.
It seems you can not take your car/scooter on this boat by the way. There seem to be more than just this one ship that you can take, at least on Xiamen side ther were several ports where you can get boats to Kinmen -
Just FYI (or for your Taiwanese friends): If you happen to be a Taiwanese citizen (from anywhere, not just Kinmen), all you need to go to Xiamen is your Taiwanese Passport. The procedure is a bit more complicated, though. You will need to get a special PRC passport for Taiwanese at the Xiamen port, before you can exit customs. For this you have to provide a passport photo (can also be made there, costs ~30 Yuan, and takes only a few minutes), that you ahve to glue to a special form that you also get there. With this you will get a light green “passport”, saying something like “Resident of Taiwan going back and forth to China passport”. It costs 150 Yuan, and they don’t take credit cards or NT$. So make sure you bring enough Yuan with you…
The way back is easy for Taiwanese, they can just pass the taiwanese immigration/customs. For me it additionally involved filling out an immigration form, but that’s it.
I just got my China visa from Maria at Interlink. US passport, 1 year 60 days multiple entry. 8500NT. Didn’t need to give her anything but two photos and my passport. The whole process took two weeks since they had to send my passport to LA.
I’m spending July and August in Sichuan and Yunnan and it is cheaper (and way more interesting!) to fly from Songshan to Jinmen(2000NT), ferry to xiamen(600NT) then train to Chengdu(4000ish) than it is to fly Taipei to Chengdu(12000NT+).
The Jinmen/Xiamen loop looks like a great visa run from Taiwan if you’ve already got your Chinese Visa. Even if you don’t already have a Chinese visa, getting a 6 month or one year multiple one from a local travel agent will pay for itself if you need to do frequent visa runs.
I had to make the Taipei to Hongkong and back without leaving the airport a few times last year, each time costing me about 8000 for the ticket and 8-10 hours for the door to door trip. not fun.
Sounds like this new option will cost about half the HK ticket and take much less time.
The “reason” the China visa is more costly for US passport holders is that there is no longer a single-entry visa option. US passport holders can only get a year-long, multiple entry visa and are charged accordingly.
I don’t believe this is true, the L 30 day single entry visa was still available for me when I applied last month. Furthermore, I got the F 6-month double-entry visa. The X 1-year multiple entry visa should actually be the most difficult for US citizens to obtain, as they require a health examination.
The prices for visas (regardless of L, F, or X) have always been expensive for US citizens. It’s because US visas are expensive for PRC (and Taiwanese) citizens, so other countries will return the favor for Americans seeking visas.
Sorry to bump an old thread, but I just wanted to add a few tips that haven’t been mentioned yet.
The little three links (小三通) is very much alive for foreigners as I just took it this week. Still in Xiamen now, but just an FYI for others, from Jinmen there are two ferry destinations you can choose in Xiamen, Wutong (五通) and Dongdu (東渡). They alternate for every 30 minutes, so the time between each destination is actually one hour. Dongdu is much closer to the center of Xiamen (near Hubin Road and Zhongshan Road), whereas Wutong is on the other side of the island, east of the airport. Look up the locations on Google Maps in advance. If you are taking a domestic transfer, Wutong is the best option. If you are staying in Xiamen near the tourist center, take Dongdu.
Don’t make the same mistake and take the earlier ferry out of impatience. Just wait the one hour for the ferry you need. The cross-island taxi trip costs up to 60RMB, and that was while I caught my cab driver in the middle taking me on a ridiculous circuitous route across the island. I’m glad I had kept my China Mobile prepaid SIM card with the 5RMB data plan so I could use my phone’s GPS, or else I would have been paying a lot more.
For booking airline tickets from Taiwan to Jinmen, the websites for Uni Air, Mandarin Airlines, TransAsia, and Far Eastern (the four domestic carriers that fly to Jinmen) are all easy to use. With a tiny bit of Chinese and the help of Perapera-kun or another popup Chinese dictionary for your browser, you can easily book tickets. My roundtrip tickets were 3200NT on Mandarin, which is a great deal. If this is too difficult, you can arrive at Songshan airport (or Gaoxiong or wherever you are flying from) and place your name on a list for a standby ticket. There is almost always space unless you are leaving on a Sunday evening (I’m guessing – my flight was half empty going to Jinmen, but the Sunday evening flights back were sold out online) and they will give you a ticket 20 minutes prior to departure.
When you arrive at Jinmen airport, you can easily negotiate a 300NT fare with the taxi drivers to Shuitou (水頭) where the ferry port is. With a meter it’s around 315NT. Without traffic it only takes 15 minutes for a decently far drive. If you take the bus, all the lines go to Jincheng, where you can transfer to Shuitou, but some of the bus lines have shorter routes/fewer stops. I believe line 1 has the fewest stops, but check Google Maps in advance.
At the ferry stop in Xiamen, fill out the immigration arrival card, and you’re good to go. From Taipei to Xiamen, door-to-door, was around 5 hours total. Not bad at all considering how cheap xiaosantong is.
Thanks for the tips, burritofan. We’re looking at possibly doing this trip in the fall to go visit friends, and it’s good to read your experiences. We’ve always wanted to try to ferry to Jinmen.
As far as visas…well, maybe visas for US citizens have always been more expensive, but the prices are ridiculous now. We used to get 6-month F visas for well under US$100 each…it’s more like US$300 apiece now. For a family of four to visit China, that’s crazy talk.
[quote=“AmoyMama”]Thanks for the tips, burritofan. We’re looking at possibly doing this trip in the fall to go visit friends, and it’s good to read your experiences. We’ve always wanted to try to ferry to Jinmen.
As far as visas…well, maybe visas for US citizens have always been more expensive, but the prices are ridiculous now. We used to get 6-month F visas for well under US$100 each…it’s more like US$300 apiece now. For a family of four to visit China, that’s crazy talk.[/quote]
I’m glad it’s been useful for you! I think I paid US$200 for my 6 month double-entry F visa, and that includes the US$30 fee for my travel agency as well as an expedited 2 day rush order in Los Angeles. I do believe when I had my original F visa around 2005 it was around US$100, so indeed prices have risen.
I’m back in Taipei from Xiamen, and I just wanted to add a few more paragraphs about my return trip:
There are actually different ferries that travel between Xiamen and Jinmen. The one I took back from Dongdu to Jinmen was supposedly an express ferry according to the ticket sales agent. She said the one I had just missed that left at 9:30 a.m. was a slow ferry, but she didn’t elaborate how many more minutes that ferry would take. Be forewarned if you have a flight to catch to call ahead and ask about ferry travel times, or plan an extra cushion in your schedule.
It looks like all Jinmen taxi drivers will offer NT$300 if you ask for the price. No need to negotiate.
The plane trip from Jinmen to Taipei is simply beautiful, I’m guessing because the ERJ-190 flies at a lower altitude than larger planes like the 737. Take a window seat, you will be able to see Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taizhong, Matsu, and Kinmen/Lieyu all from the sky.