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I turned up in Taipei knowing absolutely nothing about Taiwan (other than the fact I wanted to visit, of course!). I’m not saying you couldn’t do the same, but it will certainly pay to go a little more prepared than I did. These Taiwan travel tips will help you do just that – without giving too much away, of course!
Arriving in a new country can be overwhelming, especially if it’s unlike anywhere you’ve been before. And while Taiwan is a totally unique place, you really don’t need to worry about anything.
You’d be perfectly fine turning up in Taiwan with zero knowledge – even if you committed a few local faux pas along the way. The Taiwanese are incredibly polite and wouldn’t call you out on it, but it’s still nice to go in with a little local know-how.
These Taiwan travel tips will make sure you don’t make any slip-ups and make the most of your trip. Enjoy!
1 – You might get déjà vu
If you’ve ever been to Japan, that is.
Taipei reminded me of Tokyo in SO many ways. The cute characters, the fun and colourful food, the near-silent streets and the incredibly polite locals all took me straight back.
That’s not to say that Taiwan doesn’t have a character of its own – it very much does! – but I found myself constantly reminiscing about my trip to Japan while there.
If you’ve already visited Japan, Taipei will likely feel comfortably familiar yet still fresh and exciting. It’s a charming mix that makes it easy to quickly feel at home but never lose that new city curiosity.
2 – Save space for souvenirs in your suitcase
I’m not normally a souvenir buyer – it’s pretty hard when you live out of a suitcase, after all! But Taiwan is one place I would try to visit with less than my 20kg allowance.
The Taipei night markets are packed with potential souvenirs, and they’re not as cheesy as elsewhere. Instead, you’ll find affordable fashion, tea-related gifts and fun knick-knacks you’ll actually want to buy!
Even if you’re not a fan of shopping, save a little space just in case. Even if it’s just for a funky bubble tea holder (Google it!).
Don’t forget to buy insurance!
Even though you hope you’ll never need to use it, travelling with insurance will make sure you’re covered if anything goes wrong. I use World Nomads because it’s the most comprehensive cover I’ve found – they even cover the more adventurous activities that other insurers won’t. Find out more about them in this post or get a quote right here:
3 – You’ll want to pack layers
The weather in Taiwan is fairly mild but can change pretty quickly.
Every day we were there, we saw the sun for a while, but also saw grey clouds and even thunderstorms. I think we got lucky because we didn’t get too much rain, but somebody told me it rains so much that the Taiwanese always carry umbrellas!
I lived in jeans, trainers and layers, and that was totally fine in February. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, you might want to pack some lighter options, too. Make sure you still pack rain-appropriate wear and choose a pair of comfy sandals over flip flops.
4 – Don’t be shy
The Taiwanese are incredibly friendly!
Sure, there may be a language barrier most of the time if you don’t speak Mandarin. But don’t let that put you off enjoying a conversation.
In general, it’s best to avoid starting conversations that could make someone uncomfortable. When taking taxis, don’t keep asking questions unless the driver seems comfortable and is actively continuing the conversation.
Don’t be surprised if your taxi driver, hotel receptionist or waiter does strike up a conversation with you, though. Chances are, they’ll also offer you free food, drink or an umbrella to use while you visit.
5 – You’ll need cash
Unlike many nearby countries, Taiwan still relies pretty heavily on cash.
Although you should be able to use your credit and debit cards in most hotels and shops, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work. It’s best to always have some cash handy so you don’t get caught out.
If you’re curious about the best cards and accounts for travel, I shared the ones I use in this post.
Better yet, pick up an EasyCard as soon as you arrive at the airport. Or, book it online and get a great deal on your first journey into the city.
6 – Young people speak the best English
If you’re from an English-speaking country, there’s going to be a language barrier when visiting Taiwan.
Don’t let that put you off – it’s surprisingly easy to communicate and the locals are so helpful and hospitable that you’ll never have a problem getting around.
The younger generations tend to speak the best English because they have to learn in school. But with little chance to practice after graduation, many lose their language skills.
If in doubt, Google Translate is your friend. If there are certain phrases you need to know (for example, if you’re a vegetarian), you can always ask someone at your hotel to write it down for you. And if you want to make sure you’re always prepared, it might be worth packing a visual dictionary.
7 – WiFi is fairly easy to find
The WiFi in Taipei is, generally speaking, fairly fast.
It’s also available almost everywhere you go. Public parks, the MRT (metro system) and other public spots all have free WiFi – you just need to sign up and sign in to use it.
If you ever need WiFi while you’re out and about, you can pop into any restaurant or shop and they will usually give you the password. They’ll probably offer all sorts of useful information and tips along with it!
If you want to make sure you’re always connected, though, it’s worth renting a portable WiFi device for your trip. It’ll give you unlimited, fast WiFi wherever you go – so you’ll never waste time looking for a connection. It’ll definitely come in handy when you need to book an Uber!
Stay connected wherever you go with SkyRoam pocket WiFi. This handy little device will give you unlimited data for your trip to Japan, so you’ll never be without maps, emails and a way to contact home.
8 – It’s illegal to eat and drink in public
I hopped off my flight from Manila to Taipei absolutely parched and legged it to the first vending machine. I bought an intriguing lemon-flavoured drink and headed to the train, sat down and enjoyed that beautiful first sip… and then I saw the sign.
Turns out it’s illegal to eat or drink on public transport in Taiwan. And yes, that includes water.
For someone who’s always guzzling away, the hour-long ride to central Taipei was a pretty anxious ride, but you get used to it quickly.
The fine isn’t quite as hefty as it is in Singapore, but you certainly won’t want to get caught!
9 – Your receipt could pay for your trip
Throwing away a receipt in Taiwan is a move that would shock any local. Not because they love hoarding paper, but because every receipt has a lottery entry on it.
That means every receipt in Taiwanese could turn out to be a golden ticket. Yes, you could pop in to a store for a cold can of coffee and walk out a (Taiwanese dollar) millionaire. Not bad, eh?
If you decide you have no desire to become a millionaire – or couldn’t afford a flight back to claim the prize – don’t throw your receipt away. Give it to a local, who will grateful for the extra entry.
10 – There’s a good chance you won’t want to leave
I’ve heard lots of stories from fellow travellers who booked a trip to Taiwan on a whim, or as a long layover between other destinations.
The one thing they all had in common? They wished they had stayed for longer!
I’d been wanting to visit Taiwan for AGES, but I still only gave myself five days in Taipei. Please, please, please learn from all of our mistakes and give yourself a little longer than you think you’ll need.
You’ll quickly realise that there’s a LOT to do in Taiwan, so you won’t ever have to worry about being bored. In fact, it’s a place that’s surprisingly hard to say goodbye to.
Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later so you can refer back to it when you arrive in Taiwan: