When you wish upon a STARLUX: Taiwan Trip Planning

A 48-hour hop to Taiwan, just to check out STARLUX Airlines. Is this Asia's next Emirates?

Taiwan reopened to visitors on 13 October 2022, ending mandatory quarantine and restoring visa-free access for Singaporeans and other selected nationalities. Pre-departure testing has also been removed, and while there’s some form of on/post-arrival testing, it’s entirely self-administered.

Taiwan reopened for tourism on 13 October 2022

While I may not be as crazy about Taiwan as some, I am crazy about the opportunity to review new airlines. Especially if the airline in question is STARLUX- the luxury upstart that’s champing at the bit to take on the big boys.

🇹🇼 When You Wish Upon a STARLUX

Travel to Taiwan: Pre-Departure Checklist

🇹🇼 Summary: Travel to Taiwan
  • No pre-departure COVID-19 test required
  • Vaccination not required
  • Receive four complimentary ART kits on arrival, test on Day 0, 2, 4, 6. Not necessary to report results, children under 2 exempt from testing
  • No mandatory travel insurance requirement
  • Visa-waiver scheme fully restored for Singaporeans and other nationals

Travelling to Taiwan is refreshingly straightforward.

There’s no need to take a pre-departure test or be vaccinated, and there’s no mandatory travel insurance requirement. Singaporeans are eligible for visa-free entry of up to 30 days, with nationals of other countries enjoying up to 90 days.

On arrival, you’ll receive a free pack of four ART kits for your seven day health monitoring period. Self-administered ARTs are to be done on:

  • Day 0 (i.e. arrival day)
  • Day 2
  • Day 4
  • Day 6

There is no need to report your test results; the entire system is honour-based.

Masks are still required both indoors and outdoors in Taiwan, but there’s no government-mandated mask requirement on airplanes (individual carriers reserve the right to enforce them, however).


✈ When You Wish Upon a STARLUX: Flights
: 1445

Arrive: 1920
Cabin: Economy
Cost: S$268
Cabin: Business
Cost: S$828

As the name of the report suggests, the purpose of this trip is to check out STARLUX, an airline with a fascinating origins story. 

In 2016, Chang Yung-fa, the founder of Evergreen Group and EVA Airways, passed away at 88. This sparked a succession battle, which Chang Kuo-wei, his youngest son from his second wife, won- at least for a while. He was eventually ousted from EVA at a board meeting called by fellow family members, and decided to launch an airline of his own: STARLUX.

STARLUX’s inaugural flight ceremony…just in time for COVID

Some have called this the aviation world’s own Hamlet story, but Chang Kuo-wei denies that revenge is on his mind. All he wants, he says, is for STARLUX to be the “Emirates of Asia”, a boutique airline targeting the high-end market.

Boutique it may be, but the ambitions are big. STARLUX already has a fleet of 14 aircraft, with 3 A321neos, 4 A330neos and 17 A350-900s still to come (the first of which arrived a few days ago, and will have a First Class cabin).

Instead of buying second-hand planes like so many cash-strapped startups, STARLUX is getting them factory-fresh from Airbus. The seats are designed by BMW Designworks, with cabin-wide personal inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity. Business Class offers full-flat beds across the entire fleet, menus created by Michelin-starred Longtail and a cocktail programme overseen by mixologist Huang Yixiang (behind Taiwanese watering hole Bar TCRC and restaurant Bar Home) .

STARLUX A330-900 Business Class
STARLUX A330-900 Business Class

Economy Class packs some nice surprises too, like 4K resolution monitors (on the A330neo, and presumably the A350s) and Bluetooth connectivity for personal headset use. 

STARLUX A330-900 Economy Class
STARLUX A330-900 Economy Class

STARLUX isn’t part of any major alliance (yet), so I couldn’t redeem miles for this trip. Fortunately, I spotted that buying two separate one-way tickets would allow me to fly Economy out and Business back for S$1,096. It’s is still a lot of money to pay for a review, but hey, the people demand it. 

The unfortunate thing about STARLUX is their schedule isn’t great for tourists from Singapore. You arrive in Taiwan late at night, and the return flight to Singapore is in the morning, thereby requiring two additional nights of accommodation. 

Singapore Airlines has the more favourable schedule, letting you reach Taiwan at 12.55 p.m and depart at 5.35 p.m.


🏨 When You Wish Upon a STARLUX: Hotels
Night Hotel Per Night Cost (Nett)
1 Kimpton  24,650 IHG points
2 Grand Hyatt Taipei Free night cert

I recently managed to snag IHG Diamond thanks to that incredible status challenge offer, and since it remains unclear if/when IHG will claw it back, I figured I should make hay while I still can.

I opted for the Kimpton Da An Hotel, since I’ve never stayed at a Kimpton before. This property opened in March 2019 as Asia’s first Kimpton property, a 129-room hotel built around the “urban sanctuary” model. 

Kimpton Da An Hotel
Kimpton Da An Hotel

A one-night stay cost 24,650 IHG points (IHG practices dynamic pricing now), and as a Diamond member, I’ll enjoy complimentary breakfast and a shot at an upgrade. 

For the second night, I saw an opportunity to burn a Hyatt free night certificate, earned from the Brand Explorer promotion. This maxes out at a Category 4 property, which is what the Grand Hyatt Taipei happens to be.

The Grand Hyatt Taipei is Taiwan’s largest hotel with 850 rooms, and popular with heads of states and celebrities. Some will focus on the ghost stories associated with this hotel, I prefer to think about the two gyms, outdoor heated pool, full spa facilities and nine dining concepts. 

Grand Hyatt Taipei
Grand Hyatt Taipei


🍸 When You Wish Upon a STARLUX: Lounges
Airport Lounge
SIN SATS Premier T1
TPE Plaza Premium Lounge

Some time last year, I matched my KrisFlyer Elite Gold to STARLUX COSMILE Explorer, the second highest tier in the programme. This provides complimentary lounge access even when flying in Economy, which I’m doing out of Singapore.

STARLUX uses the SATS Premier Lounge in T1, which I’m not really keen to review. What I am keen to review, however, is the STARLUX Galactic Lounge in Taipei.

STARLUX Galactic Lounge Taipei | Photo: TPG
STARLUX Galactic Lounge Taipei | Photo: OMAAT
STARLUX Galactic Lounge Taipei | Photo: OMAAT

Unfortunately, the lounge is closed due to COVID-19, and only reopens on 7 November- I’ll miss it by a few days. 

Something for next time.


I’m only going to be in Taiwan for 48 hours, but that’s more than enough time to review both STARLUX cabins, check out a couple of hotels, and get my Din Tai Fung fix (I don’t care what anyone says, it’s different in Taiwan). 

Let’s see if STARLUX warrants the hype!

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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isnt DTF from hK?


No its from TW


Agree the schedule is absolutely terrible for a person traveling out of Singapore! To be fair, their target market are the Taiwanese and not Singaporeans. Stay with SQ.


recent SIN-TPE-SIN for mid-11.2022 in Business Class: 4200 with SQ, 2400 with JX. I’d love to stay with SQ, but that delta is huge.

: )

🤩 huge difference indeed. With that money saved, wondering if 1800 is worth two days of your time. Opportunity cost.


EDIT: it is actually 4900 SGD with SQ against 2800 with JX. As for opportunity cost, I don’t mind SQ timings, but my considerations are as follows for a weekday flight where I need to be in Taipei for the full day of Day 2 including dinner. SQ Itinerary Day 1: mid-day flight (11:00 to 16:00), but possiblity of dinner in Taipei. Day 2: work in Taipei. Day 3: all morning in Taipei, incl. lunch + afternoon/evening flight. JX Itinerary Day 1: all morning in Singapore + afternoon flight with dinner. Day 2: work in Taipei. Day 3: early morning… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Matrix.RX1
Daniel Liu

Hi Aaron, you should have stayed for this weekend! they are revealing their A350 cabin product at the ITF starting today.

Grand Hyatt Taipei

Taipei Grand Hyatt is the most “haunted hotel” in Asia…


Dubai is among the top 5 busiest airports in the world. To me, that means Emirates ain’t no boutique airline.

Either way, I hope Starlux can do better than to emulate the dictator chic sausage factory that is Emirates

Salmon Lee

So did Kimpton honour the IHG One Rewards Diamond status?


Hey, with Taiwan’s 0+7 policy, and you’re doing a 48hour stay… I assume that during the +7, they allow people to fly out?


Thanks Aaron.. also, do update if they have resumed the lane for APEC card holders. Cheers!


I’m curious about this too and whether Taiwan allows 1 cardholder to bring a family of 5 across.