travelling in taiwan - motorcycle / scooter / moped
Scooters with an engine size of 50cc require a license to drive, and should be insured and registered in the owner's name. Until recently - 2003 - it wasn't even possible to get a scooter above 150cc in Taiwan. Many of the scooters within cities are only 50cc and incapable of going faster than 80 km/h. The more powerful versions known as zhongxing (heavy format) scooters are now quite common and can be rented for short-term use, or found for sale used at English In Taiwan if you're going to need it for a while. They are not allowed on freeways even if they are capable of going faster than 100 km/h unless used for certain police purposes, but that just means you have to take the scenic route.
If you're just learning to drive a scooter on the streets of Taiwan, it would be a good idea to practice a bit on a back road or alley until you have a feel for the scooter - attempting to do so in the busier cities could easily be fatal. Certainly, things can get pretty hairy on Taiwanese roads and Taipei in particular has narrower more congested roads than many other cities. However if you know what you're doing, it's the perfect way to get around in a city.
It should be possible to rent a scooter by the day or week, depending on the city in which you're staying. In Taipei, as of 2006, the only place legally renting scooters and motorbikes to foreigners is the Bikefarm, which is run by a very friendly and helpful English guy called Jeremy. In Taichung, Foreigner Assistance Services In Taiwan F.A.S.T offers a rental service for foreign visitors. Otherwise, scooters are generally easy to rent in most major cities, with many such places being conveniently located near railway or bus stations. Most usually require some form of identification even if, in some cases, it consists of your expired Blockbuster video card! The average price you may expect is 400NT$ for 24hours, this include one or two helmets.
Another option is to rent a motorcycle. Many foreigners swear by their 125cc Wild Wolf motorcycles, and a trip around the island on a motorcycle can be a great way to see the island up close.