Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On-the-spot sales tax (VAT) refunds for tourists

Foreign citizens visiting Taiwan can take advantage of a sales-tax (VAT) refund system if they spend more than NTD3,000 in a single day at any participating shop no more than 30 days before departing from the ROC. 

They’re required, of course, to take the items with them when they leave. Participating businesses (this official English-language list is likely incomplete, as it shows none in the eastern part of the island) includes almost every department store in Taiwan, some computer shops and several opticians. One recent amendment to the system provides that, if the total VAT refund amount is under NT$1,000 (which would be the case if the tourist has spent no more than NT$20,000) he or she may apply directly to the store for an on-the-spot refund. 

Visitors who want to apply for refunds when leaving the country can do so at either terminal in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport; at Kaohsiung, Taichung or Hualien airports; or (if they're departing by cruise ship or ferry) in the passenger terminals at Keelung, Hualien or Taichung harbours. At present there's no refund counter in Kinmen County; the Matsu Islands; or Tainan Airport, which has flights to/from Wuhan and Hong Kong in China, plus - starting late October - to/from Osaka in Japan. 

The photo above is public domain, via Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Synapticism: Fascinating blog posts about Taiwan

Synapticism isn't a blog specifically about Taiwan, but the photographer/DJ/digital nomad behind it (who goes by the name Alexander Synaptic) has spent much of the past two and a half years in Taiwan, and has explored the country in exceptional and fascinating depth. Rather than visit and write about popular tourist attractions like the National Palace Museum or Kenting National Park, he prefers to explore abandoned residential and commercial buildings, disused industrial sites and obscure but intriguing elements of urban life, such as the levees and flood-prevention barriers that surround Taipei.

Like me, he's found that few places are as atmospheric or photogenic as semi-collapsed sanheyuan (traditional three-sided courtyard houses). One of his most recent - and most beautifully illustrated - posts concerns a region not far from my home: The 'moonworld' badlands of Tainan and Kaohsiung.

The photo above is from a blog post about Yumei Hall in Changhua County.