Thursday, December 8, 2022
Taiwan travel guide - Travel S helper

Taiwan (ROC)

travel guide

Taiwan, formally the Republic of China (ROC), is an East Asian country. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is to the west, Japan is to the northeast, and the Philippines are to the south. Taiwan is the most populated non-UN country and has the world’s biggest economy outside of the UN.

China’s known history starts with an ancient civilisation that thrived in the rich Yellow River basin in the North China Plain, as one of the cradles of civilization. China’s political structure has been built on hereditary monarchs known as dynasties for millennia. The state has grown, split, and rebuilt many times since 221 bc, when the Qin Dynasty initially conquered various kingdoms to create a Chinese empire.

Before Han Chinese started coming to Taiwan in the 17th century, the island was mostly populated by Taiwanese aborigines. European colonies and the Kingdom of Tungning were founded soon before the island was conquered by the Qing dynasty, China’s final kingdom. After the Qing was defeated in battle, Taiwan was subsequently surrendered to Japan in 1895. While Taiwan was under Japanese control, the Republic of China (ROC) was founded on the mainland after the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912. Following Japan’s surrender to the Allies in 1945, the ROC assumed control of Taiwan. During the Chinese Civil War, however, the ROC lost control of the mainland to the Communists. The Communist Party of China seized complete control of the Chinese mainland in 1949, establishing the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The ROC administration retreated to Taiwan and continued to claim to be China’s legitimate government. Since then, the ROC’s effective authority has been confined to Taiwan and its surrounding islands, with the main island accounting for 99 percent of its de facto territory.

The ROC continued to represent China at the United Nations until 1971, when the PRC took China’s seat through Resolution 2758, thus removing the ROC from the UN. As most nations shifted their “China” recognition to the PRC, international recognition of the ROC progressively diminished. Today, the ROC has formal diplomatic ties with 21 UN member nations and the Holy See. Numerous other nations, on the other hand, retain unofficial relations via representative offices through organizations that serve as de facto embassies and consulates. Diplomats all around the globe avoid using the Republic of China’s official name, instead referring to the ROC as Chinese Taipei, Taiwan, China, or simply “Taiwan.” Taiwan transitioned from a military dictatorship with a one-party system of government controlled by the Kuomintang to a multi-party democracy with universal suffrage in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Taiwan has a steady industrial economy as a consequence of fast economic development and industrialisation, nicknamed the Taiwan Miracle. Taiwan is a member of the World Trade Organization and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. As the world’s 21st biggest economy, its high-tech sector is critical to the global economy. Taiwan is highly rated in terms of press freedom, health care, public education, economic freedom, and human development.

Taiwan’s complicated history after 1945 has produced a variety of practical problems for its people. The precise nature of Taiwanese national identity, Taiwan’s uncertain international political position, and the challenging Cross-Strait ties are among the most important of these. These topics spark discussion among political parties and candidates in Taiwan. Though the ROC abandoned invasion of PRC-controlled areas as a national objective in 1992, there is still debate over whether the constitution still claims sovereignty over all of the ROC’s pre-1949 territory, including Outer Mongolia and the whole current PRC. In practice, determining whether the ROC identifies more as “Taiwan” or “China,” and the precise nature of its identity relative to the PRC (whether international or internal), lies on the most recently elected political alliance. Meanwhile, the PRC maintains its One China policy, under which it is the only legal government of “China” and Taiwan is a province of China. As a consequence, most nations do not recognize the ROC as a sovereign state, and it has not been a member of the United Nations since 1971. The People’s Republic of China has vowed to use military action in response to any official declaration of national independence by Taiwan or any determination by PRC authorities that peaceful Chinese unification is no longer feasible.

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Taiwan - Info Card

Population

23,894,394

Currency

New Taiwan dollar (NT$) (TWD)

Time zone

UTC+8 (National Standard Time)

Area

36,197 km2 (13,976 sq mi)

Calling code

+886

Official language

Standard Chinese

Taiwan | Introduction

Taiwan has many beautiful scenic areas, and Taipei is a cultural hub for entertainment and recreational activities. The island is also a hotspot for Chinese pop culture, with a thriving entertainment sector. Taiwanese food is also well-regarded. The Japanese love taking short excursions to visit and enjoy the hospitality of their neighbors. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese visitors to the nation. Taiwan is home to some of the world’s most well-known multinational businesses, including Acer, MSI, Asus, HTC, and Giant Bicycles, whose technologies are among the most sophisticated in the world.

People

Taiwan was previously inhabited by indigenous tribes that spoke Austronesian languages similar to Malay, Tagalog, and Indonesian. Today, the surviving tribes account for just around 2% of the population, while the remaining 98 percent are ethnically Han Chinese. The ethnically Han Chinese are further divided into Taiwanese, who account for approximately 84 percent of the population and whose culture is derived from people who migrated during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and mainlanders, who account for approximately 14 percent of the population and whose families fled to Taiwan from the mainland following China’s communist takeover in 1949. The majority of Taiwanese are Hoklo (Minnan) speakers, accounting for about 70% of the population, with the other 14% mostly speaking Hakka. There is also a sizable Japanese population, many of whom work in the entertainment sector.

Taiwanese (who make up 84 percent of Taiwan’s population and are culturally Chinese) are mostly the offspring of recent immigrants from the mainland who intermarried with indigenous people. As a consequence, Taiwanese genetic composition differs significantly from that of mainlanders. In recent years, Vietnamese, Indonesian, and Filipino migrant laborers have coexisted peacefully with other Asian minorities and Mainland Chinese immigration. The 14 million post-1949 immigrants come from all provinces and include numerous non-Han inhabitants.

Culture

Because the majority of Taiwanese are ethnic Chinese whose ancestors moved to Taiwan from that area, Taiwanese culture is mainly based on traditional Chinese culture, especially that of Fujian province. However, as a result of recent historical events, Taiwanese culture has diverged from that of mainland China. Due to 50 years of Japanese occupation, there are significant Japanese influences in contemporary Taiwanese society, which can be observed in its food as well as pop culture. Furthermore, the Japanese brought baseball and hot-spring swimming to Taiwan, which are still popular hobbies among Taiwanese today. Because Taiwan was spared the excesses of the cultural revolution that destroyed mainland China, the Taiwanese have preserved many aspects of traditional Chinese culture that have been lost in mainland China.

Geography

The Republic of China’s present jurisdiction covers 36,193 km2 (13,974 sq mi), making it the world’s 137th-largest country/dependency, smaller than Switzerland but bigger than Belgium.

Taiwan is located about 180 kilometers (110 miles) off the southeastern coast of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait, and has an area of 35,883 km2 (13,855 sq mi). To the north is the East China Sea, to the east is the Philippine Sea, to the south is the Bashi Channel of the Luzon Strait, and to the southwest is the South China Sea. All of them are Pacific Ocean arms. Taiwan’s main island has the form of a sweet potato or tobacco leaf when seen from the south to the north, and as a result, Taiwanese (particularly Min Nan speakers) frequently refer to themselves as “children of the Sweet Potato.”

The island is distinguished by the contrast between the eastern two-thirds, which are mostly made up of rugged mountains that run in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island, and the flat to gently rolling Chianan Plains in the west, which also house the majority of Taiwan’s population. Taiwan’s highest peak is Yu Shan (Jade Mountain), which stands at 3,952 meters (12,966 feet); Taiwan is the world’s fourth-highest island.

The Penghu Islands, located 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) west of the main island, have an area of 126.9 km2 (49.0 sq mi). The Republic of China also controls the Kinmen, Wuchiu, and Matsu Islands off the coast of Fujian, which have a total size of 180.5 km2 (69.7 sq mi), and the Pratas Islands and Taiping Island in the South China Sea, which have a total area of 2.9 km2 (1.1 sq mi) with no permanent residents.

Climate

Lowland During the summer, Taiwan has a marine tropical climate, with hot, humid weather (over 30°C, 86°F) from June through September. In the winter, the weather is affected by the neighboring continent, and temperatures in the northern regions may drop to as low as 8°C at night. The ideal time to come is from October to December, but even then, typhoons may ruin the pleasure. Spring is also pleasant, but it rains more than in fall. Because it faces the Pacific Ocean, the east coast takes the brunt of the damage during typhoon season.

When you go into the hilly regions, though, you will find more moderate weather. Rapid weather change may harm unprepared tourists, so get guidance on appropriate preparation before visiting such regions. In reality, snow falls on Taiwan’s highest mountains every year, and even on summits like Alishan on occasion.

Language

While Mandarin Chinese is the official language and is spoken well by almost all younger Taiwanese, English-speakers are generally available when help is required, albeit the quality of English sometimes makes discussions difficult and time-consuming.

Taiwanese (Minnan), Mandarin, Hakka, and other Asian languages, as well as numerous native Austronesian languages, are spoken on the island. The lingua franca is Mandarin, although Taiwanese is spoken as the main language by about 70% of the people. In the north, where there is a large concentration of so-called “mainlanders” (those whose families fled to Taiwan from mainland China during the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s), most people speak Mandarin as their primary language (though Taiwanese is widely spoken), but in the south, Taiwanese is far more common. Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka are all tonal languages, making them difficult to learn for most foreigners. The main Chinese dialect on the Matsu islands is Mindong or Eastern Min (also known as Hokchiu or Foochowese), which is also spoken in the Fuzhou region and along the northern Fujian coast.

Although standard Mandarin in Taiwan is virtually similar to standard Mandarin in mainland China (with the exception of technical and translated words created after 1949), most people speak a distinctively accented variant known as Taiwanese Mandarin. Taiwanese Mandarin, for example, does not distinguish between the “S” and “Sh” sounds in Mandarin. Everyone who was educated after 1945 is usually proficient in Mandarin, but it is not often the first language of choice. Mandarin is very popular among young people. Some of the elder generation are not proficient in Mandarin since they were educated in Japanese or do not speak it at all. Taiwanese people are often extremely welcoming of outsiders and respond with interest and appreciation when they attempt the native language. Most Taiwanese people communicate in a code-switched mix of Mandarin and Taiwanese. Within Taipei City, Mandarin is spoken more often than Taiwanese, and less frequently outside of it. Taiwan retains the usage of traditional Chinese characters, which are also used in Hong Kong and Macau, rather than the simplified ones used on the mainland.

Taiwanese is a variation of Minnan, which is close to the dialect spoken in Xiamen across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwanese Minnan, unlike Xiamen Minnan, contains several Japanese loan words as a consequence of 50 years of Japanese colonialism. Taiwanese Minnan and Xiamen Minnan are both mixes of the Zhangzhou and Quanzhou accents, thus Taiwanese Minnan sounds quite similar to Xiamen Minnan.

With the exception of the Matsu islands, where announcements will be given in Mandarin and the Mindong dialect, all public announcements in the transportation system will be delivered in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka.

Younger individuals, particularly in Taipei, typically speak a basic conversational level of English. With the focus on English language education nowadays, and English being a compulsory subject in Taiwanese schools, children often comprehend more English than their parents. Attempts to speak Mandarin or Taiwanese, on the other hand, will be greeted with beaming grins and encouragement.

Because to the large number of Japanese visitors, many individuals, particularly in Taipei, are fluent in Japanese. In addition to English, Mandarin, and other local languages, staff at tourist sites such as Taipei 101, museums, hotels, prominent restaurants, and airport stores speak Japanese. In reality, if you are a tourist of East Asian origin who does not understand Chinese, a worker may attempt to communicate with you in Japanese first before attempting to communicate in English. Furthermore, having lived during the fifty-year era of Japanese control, some elderly individuals still understand and speak Japanese.

Internet & Communications in Taiwan

Getting online

There are plenty of Internet cafés, but you may have to look around before you locate one. Instead, Internet cafes in Taiwan should be referred to as game cafés. These are often located on the first or second floors of a building and are outfitted with very comfy seats and big screens. Although individuals do browse the Internet, the majority of them go there mainly to enjoy a pleasant online gaming experience. Each hour of Internet access/game play is inexpensive, costing about $20. Some devices at internet cafés accept coins. Try your local library for free internet access in major cities. Furthermore, a wireless internet accessing network spanning all of Taipei City is accessible (payable at handy shops in Taipei City), and Kaohsiung City is presently under development; it already operates in certain large MRT stations and at some specific locations. You’ll need to create an account. There is also a shared wifi network accessible at all McDonald’s locations. The login page is partially in English.

If you wish to connect your smartphone to the internet, you may get a prepaid 3G data sim card from Chunghwa Telecom for TWD250 for three days or TWD450 for seven days. To apply, just go into any official Chunghwa Telecom office counter. They will need your passport as well as identity papers from your country of origin. (Identification card or driver’s license)

Telephone

For international calls from Taiwan, the usual prefix is 002, but some other firms may use other prefixes at cheaper prices. For additional information, contact your telecom provider. International dialing is required for calls to mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau. Calls to Taiwan are dialed using the country code +886. Most payphones accept telephone cards, which may be purchased at any convenience shop.

Lines beginning with 0800 are commercial toll-free numbers, similar to 1-800 numbers in the United States.

With the exception of certain isolated mountainous regions, mobile phone service in Taiwan is usually good. Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone, and Vibo are among the main operators. Taiwan has both GSM 900/1800 and 3G (UMTS/W-CDMA 2100) networks, and roaming may be allowed for users of such mobile phones, depending on operator agreements.

Economy

Taiwan’s fast industrialisation and development in the second part of the twentieth century has been dubbed the “Taiwan Miracle.” Taiwan, along with Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore, is one of the “Four Asian Tigers.”

Prior to and during World War II, Japanese control brought about improvements in the public and private sectors, most notably in the field of public infrastructure, which allowed fast communications and improved transportation across most of the island. The Japanese also enhanced public education and made it mandatory for all Taiwanese citizens.

As a consequence of the war with Japan, hyperinflation was in full swing in mainland China and Taiwan by 1945. To distance Taiwan from it, the Nationalist administration established a separate currency zone for the island and initiated a price stability program. Inflation has been substantially reduced as a result of these measures.

When the KMT administration fled to Taiwan, it took with them millions of taels (1.2 ozt) of gold and the mainland Chinese foreign currency reserve, which, according to the KMT, stabilized prices and lowered hyperinflation. Perhaps more significantly, the KMT took with it intellectual and economic elites from Mainland China as part of their retreat to Taiwan. Many legislation and land reforms were passed by the KMT administration that had never been successfully implemented on mainland China. The government also adopted an import-substitution strategy, aiming to manufacture imported products locally.

With the start of the Korean War in 1950, the United States initiated an assistance program that resulted in completely stabilized prices by 1952. American economic assistance and initiatives such as the Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction aided economic development by transforming the agricultural sector into the foundation for future prosperity. Agricultural output grew at a pace of 4% per year on average between 1952 and 1959, outpacing population growth of 3.6 percent.

Taiwan had a (nominal) per-capita GNP of $170 in 1962, putting its economy on par with that of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the early 1960s, its GDP per capita was $1,353 in purchasing power parity (PPP) (in 1990 prices). By 2011, per-capita GNP had grown to $37,000 when adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), leading to a Human Development Index (HDI) comparable to that of other affluent nations. According to the UN’s new “Inequality-adjusted HDI” calculation method, Taiwan’s HDI in 2012 is 0.890 (23rd, extremely high).

Chiang Ching-kuo launched the Ten Major Construction Projects in 1974, laying the groundwork for Taiwan’s present export-driven economy. Since the 1990s, a number of Taiwanese technology companies have extended their global reach. Personal computer makers Acer Inc. and Asus, mobile phone maker HTC, and electronics manufacturing behemoth Foxconn, which manufactures goods for Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft, are all based in Taiwan. Computex Taipei is a significant computer trade show that has been held since 1981.

Taiwan now has a dynamic, capitalist, export-driven economy, with the state’s role in investment and international commerce steadily diminishing. Some major government-owned banks and industrial companies are being privatized in line with this trend. Over the last three decades, real GDP growth has averaged about 8%. Exports have been the main driver of industrialisation. The trade surplus is significant, and the country’s foreign reserves are the fifth biggest in the world. The New Taiwan dollar is the currency of the Republic of China.

Taiwan’s economic relations with the People’s Republic of China have been extremely fruitful since the early 1990s. Taiwanese firms have spent more than US$150 billion in the PRC as of 2008, and about 10% of the Taiwanese labor population works in the PRC, typically to operate their own businesses. Although the Taiwanese economy benefits from this scenario, others argue that the island has grown more reliant on the Mainland Chinese economy. According to a white paper published in 2008 by the Department of Industrial Technology, “Taiwan should strive to preserve stable relations with China while continuing to safeguard national security and preventing undue ‘Sinicization’ of the Taiwanese economy.” Others believe that Taiwan’s strong economic connections with Mainland China would make any military involvement by the PLA against Taiwan prohibitively expensive, and therefore unlikely.

According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Finance, overall commerce in 2010 hit an all-time high of $526.04 billion. For the year, both exports and imports hit record highs, reaching US$274.64 billion and US$251.4 billion, respectively.

Agriculture accounted for just 2% of GDP in 2001, down from 35% in 1952. Traditional labor-intensive sectors are being pushed overseas, with more capital- and technology-intensive businesses taking their place. Taiwan’s high-tech industrial parks have sprung up in every area. The ROC has emerged as a significant foreign investor in the People’s Republic of China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam. It is believed that about 50,000 Taiwanese companies, as well as 1,000,000 entrepreneurs and their dependents, have established themselves in the PRC.

Because of its conservative financial strategy and entrepreneurial capabilities, Taiwan fared well during the 1997 Asian financial crisis in comparison to many of its neighbors. Unlike its neighbors, South Korea and Japan, the Taiwanese economy is dominated by small and medium-sized companies rather than big corporate conglomerates. However, the global economic slump, coupled with a lack of policy coordination by the new government and rising bad loans in the banking sector, drove Taiwan into recession in 2001, the first year of negative growth since 1947. Because of the transfer of numerous industrial and labor-intensive sectors to the PRC, unemployment has reached levels not seen since the oil crises of the 1970s. During the 2004 presidential election, this became a significant topic. In the years 2002–2006, growth averaged more than 4%, while the unemployment rate dropped below 4%.

Under a politically neutral moniker, the ROC often joins international organizations (particularly those that also include the People’s Republic of China). Since 2002, the ROC has been a member of governmental trade groups such as the World Trade Organization as the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu (Chinese Taipei).

Entry Requirements For Taiwan

As part of immigration entrance processes, all foreigners (except those on official business and some permanent residents) aged 14 and above are electronically fingerprinted and photographed. If these steps are not followed, entry will be denied.

Visa & Passport for Taiwan

Foreign citizens from the 41 countries listed below may enter Taiwan visa-free as visitors as long as their passports are valid for at least 6 months at the time of entry.

For up to 90 days: Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Liechtenstein, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United States, and Vatican City.

Malaysia and Singapore are available for up to 30 days.

If nationals of the aforementioned countries show an emergency or temporary passport, they must apply for a landing visa on arrival by submitting a passport picture and paying a cost of NT$2,400.

Citizens of Japan must only show a passport valid for at least three months (rather than six months) while entering the country. Citizens of the United States may enter Taiwan with a passport that is less than 6 months old on the day of arrival if they provide a passport picture and pay a charge of US$184 or NT$5,600.

Citizens of Canada and the United Kingdom may remain for an additional 90 days (for a total stay of up to 180 days) at no cost.

Residents of Hong Kong and Macau with valid passports need apply for an entrance permit, which may be done on arrival or prior to departure if they were born in their respective territories or had previously visited Taiwan after 1983.

Since 2008, residents of Mainland China (Chinese passport holders) have been allowed to visit Taiwan for tourist purposes provided they join an authorized guided tour. Since 2011, residents of 13 Mainland Chinese cities have been able to travel to Taiwan on their own.

Citizens of India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam with a valid entrance visa or permanent residence card from a Schengen nation, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, or the United States may apply online for a 30-day Visa on Arrival.

Taiwan does not have official embassies in the majority of the world’s nations (due to mainland China’s ‘One China’ policy, which prohibits formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan). Instead, Taiwan maintains a “Taipei Representative Office” or something similar in most major countries, which serve as de facto embassies and consulates capable of issuing Taiwanese visas.

How To Travel To Taiwan

Get In - By plane

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei is the country’s primary international gateway, with Kaohsiung a distant second and very limited international flights to Taichung and Hualien.

  • Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (, previously Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport) (IATA: TPE) is the country’s primary international airport. It is located 40 kilometers southwest of Taipei and has excellent connectivity to major Asian destinations as well as North America. There are direct buses from the airport to Taipei, Taichung, and other neighboring cities. Alternatively, the U-Bus company operates shuttles to HSR Taoyuan station for high-speed train connections to Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, and Kaohsiung; and Jhongli Transit Station, for mainline TRA (Taiwan Railways Administration ) train and southbound bus connections to Tainan, Hsinchu, and others.
  • Songshan Airport (IATA: TSA) in downtown Taipei mostly handles local flights, with limited daily charter flights to mainland China, Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, and Seoul’s Gimpo Airport.
  • The domestic and international airports in Kaohsiung (IATA: KHH) are situated in the same facility. International flights are limited to other Asian cities, and charter flights to mainland China are available.
  • Taichung Airport (IATA: RMQ) offers local flights as well as international flights to Hong Kong and Vietnam, as well as cross-strait charter flights to mainland China.
  • Hualien Airport (IATA: HUN) handles local flights as well as foreign charter flights to Japan, South Korea, and Macau. It is also one of the airports authorized to handle direct cross-strait flights.

Furthermore, airports at Makung, Taitung, and Kinmen have been authorized for cross-strait flights to mainland China, but only Makung presently has regular flights to the mainland.

Regular cross-Strait flights between Taiwan and mainland China began in 2008, after a nearly 60-year hiatus, and travel times on certain popular routes have been substantially shortened since aircraft no longer had to pass via Hong Kong airspace.

EVA Air and China Airlines are the two most important Taiwanese airlines.

Get In - By boat

All regular passenger ferry services between Taiwan and Japan were discontinued in 2008. Star Cruises provides limited cruise services to Hong Kong and several Japanese islands from Keelung and Kaohsiung.

There are two daily boats from Fuzhou, China, to Matsu. From Fuzhou railway station, take bus 69 to Wuyilu, then bus 73 to the finish station Mawei port . The ferry from China costs RMB350 and TWD1300 from Taiwan. The journey takes two hours. There are two daily boats from Matsu to Keelung, Taiwan. TWD1050 provides a bed since the journey takes 10 hours. Reservations may be booked by calling +886 2 2424 6868.

At Mawei harbor in Fuzhou, you may purchase an all-inclusive ticket all the way to Taipei, which covers the Fuzhou-Matsu boat mentioned above as well as a domestic flight from Matsu to Taipei (or Taichung). The fee (RMB780) covers Matsu transportation between the port and the airport, as well as a voucher for lunch at the airport while you wait for your connection. The boat departs Fuzhou at 9:30 a.m. Arrive to Mawei at 08:00 to purchase tickets.

There are also numerous ferry routes connecting the mainland cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou and the island of Kinmen. There is now a weekly boat from Xiamen’s Dongdu Harbor to Keelung, which departs on Thursdays at 18:00 and costs less than RMB500, as well as one to Taichung, which departs on Tuesdays. For further information, call 0592-2393128 or 0592-6011758 from China. You may also find news here.

Every Thursday at 18:00, the Cosco Star departs Xiamen and arrives at Keelung, Taiwan, at 08:30 the following morning. Every Monday evening, the ship departs Xiamen for the south end of Taiwan (Kaohsiung) and then for central Taiwan (Taichung) the following day. Every Sunday at 19:00, the ship departs Keelung for the mainland, landing in Xiamen the following morning at 09:00. Every Wednesday at 21:00, the ship departs Taichung for an overnight voyage to Xiamen. Prices begin at NT$3500.

How To Travel Around Taiwan

Get Around - By plane

Taiwan is rather small, with a modern and efficient train network, so flying across the main island is more of a luxury than a necessity. Having said that, flying is still the most feasible method to access Taiwan’s remote islands.

Mandarin Airlines, a subsidiary of China Airlines, UNI Air, which is owned by EVA, and TransAsia Airways are Taiwan’s major domestic airlines. Flights are frequent, and booking ahead of time is generally unnecessary. Taipei and Kaohsiung offer frequent flights and connections to most other domestic airports; nevertheless, flying from one domestic airport to another may be impossible. Because of the popularity of the high-speed rail, flights on once-popular west coast sections have been severely reduced.

Domestic flight tickets are reasonably priced, and local aircraft are of high quality. Song Shan Airport is Taipei’s domestic airport, located on the city’s northwestern outskirts and readily accessible by taxi. Taitung, Hualien, Makung (Penghu / Pescadores), Kinmen, Hengchun, Nangan, and Beigan are among the domestic destinations. Travelers visiting Kenting may take advantage of the direct and frequent bus service from Kaohsiung airport, which connects with flights from Taipei.

If you wish to explore Taiwan’s smaller islands, the aircraft is still the best choice. It is the only feasible way to go to Kinmen and the quickest way to get to Penghu and Matsu. The aircraft from Taitung saves many hours over the boat, which is renowned among Taiwanese for its difficult trip to Green Island and Orchid Island.

Get Around - By train

The railway system in Taiwan is good, having stations in all major cities. Train stations are often situated in the heart of most cities and towns, and they serve as a handy hub for most modes of transportation. Furthermore, the rail system enables you to avoid the roads, which may become very congested during weekends and national holidays.

Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR, goti) is the new railway backbone, a bullet train based on Japanese Shinkansen technology that traverses the 345 km (215 mi) West Coast line from Taipei to Zuoying (Kaohsiung) in 90 minutes. Other stops along the line include Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Taichung, Chiayi, and Tainan, although keep in mind that many THSR stations are located very far from the cities they serve (for example, a cab from downtown Tainan costs up to NT$400, but there is a free shuttle bus). The metro connects Taipei, Banciao, and Kaohsiung (Zuoying) stations. Taichung Station is located adjacent to a train station, making it easy to travel to the city center. Branch railway lines link Hsinchu and Tainan stations to the city center. Other stations are only accessible by bus. A one-way ticket from Taipei to Kaohsiung costs NT$1,630 in economy or NT$2,140 in business class, but economy seats are more comfortable and offer more legroom, so there’s no need to spend more. All signs and announcements are also in English, making navigating a breeze. Bookings may be made online or by phone up to two weeks in advance at +886-2-6626-8000 (English spoken), with payment due only when the tickets are picked up. Credit card payments are accepted.

Bookings are simple to make through the internet, and you can pay online or pay and pick up your tickets at almost every FamilyMart and 7-Eleven. You may also skip long-distance ticket lines at major stations by purchasing your tickets from automated ticket machines. The English instructions on the automated machines are difficult to find, but they are there, typically in the upper left corner of the screen. Wheelchair-accessible stations and platforms are available, and all trains feature a wheelchair-accessible car (wider doors, ample space, accessible bathroom). It’s worth noting that the official English guide for online bookings differentiates between “senior or disabled tickets” and “handicap-friendly seats”; although the former may be purchased online (“valid passenger ID” needed), the latter must be booked by contacting the ticketing office. Early Bird tickets go on sale 28 days before the event, with a discount of up to 35% off.

The Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) operates mainline trains, which are usually efficient and dependable. When traveling by train on weekends, it is best to book your tickets well in advance, particularly if you are going a considerable distance. There are also slower (but more frequent) commuter trains without reserved seats. Train schedules and online reservations (up to two weeks in advance) are accessible on the TRA website 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is important to note that booking online simply creates a reservation; there is no Internet payment option. To get your reserved tickets, you must pay for them at your local railway station or post office. TRA tickets are now now available at handy shops (you can reserve first and take tickets in convenient stores). The procedure for purchasing tickets is similar to that of high-speed rail. Children under 115 cm (45 in) tall go in free, while taller kids shorter than 150 cm (59 in) and under 12 years old get in half the price. If you purchase return tickets, you will get a modest discount based on your trip distance. Vending machines are also available at the bigger stations.

It’s a good idea to be familiar with the “easycard”, which can be purchased at any Taipei MRT station and most convenience shops. It was sold for 200NTD with a deposit of 100NTD. Easycard is accepted in the Taipei MRT, buses across Taiwan, convenience stores, and certain restaurants and businesses. You may load money onto the card at MRT stations, TRA stations, and convenience shops. You may also use it to board a TRA train. The price is determined using the price of a local train plus a 10% reduction. You may, however, ride the Tzu-Chiang restricted express, although without a reserved seat. Northern Taiwan (Fulong, Rueifang, Keelung, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Pinghsi line, and Neiwan line) and southern Taiwan (Fulong, Rueifang, Keelung, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Pinghsi line, and Neiwan line) (Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Shalun line). It CANNOT be used from northern Taiwan to southern Taiwan.

Service

Apart from the THSR, the quickest train is the Tzu-Chiang (limited express) and the slowest is the Pingkuai (Ordinary/Express). There is frequently nothing to choose between fares and destination times for neighboring train classes, but the difference between the quickest and slowest may be very significant.

  • Tze-Chiang (自強 ziqiang): The quickest (and most expensive). Seating is assigned. Non-reserved (standing) tickets are also available for purchase at full price. For Hualien, there are Taroko and Puyuma, which exclusively offer reserved tickets.
  • Chu-Kuang (莒光 juguang): Second quickest. Seating is assigned. It is as sluggish as a local train in western Taiwan, yet it is still a quick and handy train in eastern Taiwan.
  • local train (區間 qujian) : Commuter train that travels short to medium distances and stops at all stations. There is no allocated seating. There are just a few local-fast trains that do not stop at every station.
  • Express / Ordinary (普通 putong): All stations have stops, there is no air conditioning, and it is the cheapest option. There is no allocated seating. Some Express trains (the light blue ones on the West Trunk Line) are air-conditioned, but others (the dark blue ones) are not.

Local commuter trains are available for transit to neighboring cities. These appear on a regular basis (about once every ten to fifteen minutes). Furthermore, “standing tickets” may be bought on trains with allocated seating that do not have any vacant seats. Standing tickets cost 80% of the original ticket price and may be helpful for last-minute passengers. The disadvantage, of course, is that you will be forced to stand for the whole of your journey.

Also, attempt to obtain your target station printed in Chinese and play “mix and match” with the system map while searching for the corresponding Chinese letters written on the station. Unfortunately for foreigners, announcements are only given in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka, thus English would be ineffective aboard the train. As a result, be attentive and on the lookout for your target station at all times, or you risk missing it. It is beneficial for you to ask a passenger to notify you when you will arrive.

Passes

Taiwan, like Japan and South Korea, provides international visitors with rail passes that allow them unrestricted train travel within a certain time frame.

THSR Pass

Taiwan High Speed Rail also sells a separate THSR Pass that can only be used on high-speed rail trains. A standard 3-day ticket costs $2,400, while a flexible 3-day pass costs $3,200. A normal 3-day pass must be used in three consecutive days, while a flexible 3-day ticket may be used during any seven-day period. The 5-day joint passes provide unlimited trips on high-speed rail for two days during a five-day period, as well as unlimited rides on TRA lines within the same five-day period. These are $2,800 for a regular ticket that does not enable you to travel Tzu-Chiang trains and $3,600 for an express pass that permits you to ride on all TRA lines. The THSR permits may only be used by foreigners in Taiwan on tourist visas (or visa exemptions) and must be bought in advance from travel agencies outside of Taiwan.

Get Around - By bus

Intercity buses are known as keyun , as contrast to county and city buses, which are known as gongche . Private buses are often more comfortable (often including broad, plush seats, footrests, and individual television displays) than government-owned buses. Nonetheless, even government-owned buses are pleasant, timely, and have clean restrooms on board. Long-distance buses may be an appealing choice for individuals seeking to save money on journeys lasting more than two hours. The cost is usually cheaper than that of the train, and the speed and comfort are generally on par with or better than that of the train.

The Taiwan tourist shuttle links with many of the main railway stations and provides direct connections to many of the tourist attractions that may be difficult for foreigners to find by public transport.

Bus service is widely available in large cities. Route maps, on the other hand, are nearly completely in Chinese, despite the fact that the destinations displayed on the front of buses are in English. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask the receptionist to recommend some routes and circle your location on the map. Show this to the bus driver, and he or she will hopefully remember to let you know when it’s time to get off. Local bus service is frequently unavailable in smaller cities, but out-of-town buses may occasionally make stops in the suburbs. Taxi ranks are available at all airports and bus terminals.

A bus driver may sometimes stop a bus away from the curb at a bus stop. It is sometimes caused by a car illegally parked near a bus stop. (According to Taiwanese traffic rules and regulations, cars are not permitted to stop or park within 10 meters (33 feet) of a bus stop.) A bus driver, on the other hand, may stop a bus away from the curb simply because he or she does not want to wait for passing traffic when exiting a bus stop. Since a result, be very cautious while boarding or disembarking from a bus that has stopped away from a curb, as numerous motorbikes, motor scooters, and bicycles will undoubtedly be tempted to overtake on the right side of the stopped bus where passengers board and disembark! (Because traffic in Taiwan drives on the right side of the road, buses have doors on the right side.)

In Taiwan, you must hail the bus you want as soon as you see it approaching, just like you would a taxi. Both ends of the route are posted on the front of the vehicle in Chinese and occasionally English, so be sure the bus you get on is traveling in the correct direction. In Taipei, you sometimes pay to get on the bus and sometimes to get off (whether with cash or the ubiquitous Easy Card). As you board the bus, you will see an illuminated sign opposite you. If the first character is pay as you go in, the second character is pay as you go out (or just watch the other people).

Taipei to Taichung: about NT 170 NT 230 Taipei to Tainan: about NT 220 NT 360 Taipei to Kaohsiung: about NT 399 NT 480

Get Around - By metro

The MRT, Taipei’s good, very extensive underground system, makes getting about the city a breeze, while Kaohsiung’s metro finally debuted in March 2008. Prepaid travel cards, such as the EasyCard () in Taipei, are offered at metro stations for bus and metro travel. It’s known as in Kaohsiung. They are scanned by proximity sensors, so you don’t have to take the card out of your pocket or bag. The MRT is extremely clean since no one eats, drinks, or smokes inside the stations or underground trains. For individuals who are worried about security late at night, there is also a separate waiting room that is monitored by security cameras. Stations and trains are wheelchair accessible, however keep in mind that when there are several exits from a single station, only one of them is typically equipped with a lift.

Get Around - By taxi

Taxis are widely available in major Taiwanese cities. You won’t have to search for a cab since one will come to you. The usual yellow cabs search the streets for prospective passengers, such as lost foreigners. It is possible, although usually unneeded, to call a cab. Simply put your palm in front of you, parallel to the ground, to hail one. They will, however, often stop for you even if you are just waiting to cross the street or for a bus. Taxis are always accessible in less highly frequented locations farther away from transportation hubs by contacting taxi dispatch centers.

In general, drivers are unable to speak in English or read Westernized addresses (except for special Taoyuan airport taxis). Take a business card from the hotel and have the hotel employees or a Taiwanese friend write down your destination in Chinese. Show the driver the Chinese lettering of your destination.

Taxis are clearly metered (with a starting point price of NT$70), and taxi drivers are legally prohibited from accepting gratuities. In one taxi, a maximum of four passengers may travel for the price of one. Taxis in Taiwan are less costly than those in Europe or the United States.

Although taxi drivers in Taiwan are more trustworthy than in many other nations, not all are. An indirect journey may cost you half as much. A taxi driver charging night-time charges during the day will cost you 30% extra (make sure he presses the large button on the left on his meter before 11PM). Avoid the more aggressive drivers who gather around railway station entrances. Also, if you’re going to Wenshan or Wulai, hold your ground and insist on paying the meter price. Some drivers prefer to tack on surcharges or utilize night-time rates if you’re going to locations like Wenshan (). Such efforts to defraud are illegal.

Buses are a lot more cost-effective alternative from Taoyuan Airport (TPE), but if you want a straight route, Taoyuan airport drivers are the finest option. They are quite comfy and will get you to your destination as quickly as possible. All TPE cab drivers are connected via radio, so they may be forewarned if police are present. When there are traffic bottlenecks and no cops around, the motorist may choose to travel in the emergency lane. Taxis from TPE to Tao Yuan, portions of Taipei County, and certain other locations are ‘authorized’ to charge an extra 50% of the meter fee.

Inside, the badge and taxi driver identity are shown, while the license number is written on the exterior. You must also be cautious that the driver switches on his meter; otherwise, he may rip you off; in such a situation, you are not required to pay; nevertheless, you must ensure that you can locate a police officer to resolve the issue. It is advisable not to be concerned if there are reports of people entering phony cabs and being assaulted by the driver. Passengers assaulting drivers may be a greater concern for drivers!

If you contact a taxi dispatch center, you will be issued a taxi number that will allow you to identify the car when it comes. Generally, dispatch is very quick and efficient since taxis are continuously monitoring dispatch calls from the headquarters via radio while on the road. This is also the most secure method to hail a cab, particularly for women.

Taxis are also a versatile, though somewhat costly, mode of transportation to neighboring cities. They have an advantage over electric trains in that they operate till late at night. Drivers are obliged to give a receipt if requested, although they may be reluctant to do so.

Taxis, like everywhere else in Asia, are wary about exchanging big amounts. To prevent the bother of arguing with the driver for change, have some lower denomination notes on hand.

Taxi drivers are notorious for their strong political beliefs. Many favor the pan-green coalition and Taiwanese independence, and spend their days listening to Taiwanese political talk radio. Drivers have a bad reputation since they are ex-offenders. Be cautious about expressing your views on sensitive political issues (including, but not necessarily limited to, cross-strait relations); also, be cautious about describing your destination in a way that could be perceived politically (for example, the President’s Office or Chiang-Kai-Shek Memorial Hall). Keep an eye out for drivers that discriminate against other cultures, such as those who tape “No Korean passengers” to their vehicles. This is sometimes inevitable since certain drivers incite such debate. Furthermore, if you see what seems to be blood pouring from the driver’s lips or him spitting blood into the pavement, don’t worry, it’s just him eating betel nut (see box). However, keep in mind that betel nuts are a stimulant.

Taxi drivers are usually courteous to tourists, and some of them take advantage of the chance to practice their poor English abilities. They will most likely ask you about yourself and will listen patiently to your efforts in Mandarin. If you have young children with you, don’t be shocked if they are given sweets as you depart.

Women are often cautioned not to ride in cabs alone late at night. Although there have been instances in which women have been assaulted, this is not a high danger. To be secure, ladies may have the hotel or restaurant call a taxi for them (ensuring a licensed driver), have a partner write down the driver’s license number (clearly visible on the dashboard), or have a mobile phone nearby. Do not get in if the driver does not have a valid driver’s license with his or her photo prominently displayed in the taxi.

Get Around - By scooter or motorcycle

Scooters with engines larger than 50cc need a driver’s license and must be insured and registered in the owner’s name. Foreign nationals staying for fewer than 30 days do not have an easy time obtaining a scooter license. Until 2003, it was impossible to get a scooter with a displacement more than 150cc. Many scooters in cities have just 50cc and cannot go faster than 80 km/h (50 mph). The more powerful variants, known as zhongxing scooters, are now very popular and may be leased for short-term usage or purchased used at English-language stores. If you’re going to need it for a long, you can get it in Taiwan. They are not permitted on highways, even if they are capable of exceeding 100 km/h (62 mph), unless employed for certain police reasons, which means you must take the scenic route.

If you’re just starting out on the streets of Taiwan, it’s a good idea to practice on a back road or alley until you’ve gotten a feel for the scooter – trying to do so in the larger cities may be deadly. Things can certainly get dicey on Taiwanese roadways, and Taipei, in particular, has smaller and more crowded roads than many other cities. However, if you know what you’re doing, it’s an excellent method to move about a city.

Depending on where you’re staying, you should be able to hire a scooter by the day, week, or month. Bikefarm, which is operated by a very nice and helpful English gentleman named Jeremy, is one Taipei motorbike and scooter rental business that offers English language service. Foreigner Assistance Services in Taiwan F.A.S.T. provides a rental service for foreign tourists in Taichung. Aside from that, scooters are usually simple to rent in most large cities, with many of these locations conveniently situated near train or bus terminals. Most demand some kind of identification, even if it is your expired Blockbuster video card in certain instances! The typical fee for 24 hours is $400, which includes one or two helmets.

Renting a motorbike is another option. Many tourists swear by their 125cc Wild Wolf bikes, and riding about the island on one is a wonderful way to explore the island up close.

It should be noted that since 2007, scooters and motorcycles with engines larger than 550cc have been permitted to go on expressways with a red license plate. They must, however, be treated like vehicles and cannot be parked in scooter parking spots.

Get Around - By car

Driving in Taiwan requires an international driving license, which may be used for up to 30 days before you need to apply for a local permit. Additional limitations may be imposed by certain towns, so verify with the rental shop before of time. VIP Rentals in Taipei is delighted to hire vehicles to foreigners and will even transport the vehicle to a specified location. A deposit is often needed, and the final day of rental is not pro-rated, but is computed per hour at a separate (higher) cost.

Taiwan has an excellent numbered highway system. The majority of traffic signs use international symbols, although several display just Chinese names of locations and streets. Despite this, almost all official directing signs will be written in both Chinese and English. However, since Romanization is not regulated, English names may differ across road signs, which can be confusing. The roads are in good condition, with toll booths every 30 kilometers (19 mi). Currently, a vehicle motorist pays $40 each time he or she passes through a toll booth on a highway. Prepaid tickets are available at most convenience shops and at “cash” toll booths, allowing for quicker passage and avoiding the need to figure out precise change while driving.

While driving is the easiest method to travel about the countryside, in bigger cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung, traffic jams are an issue, as is finding a decent parking spot, particularly during rush hour, and traffic tends to become hectic, so you may be better off using public transportation instead.

Get Around - By thumb

While Taiwanese people do not often hitchhike, foreigners who have done so report that it is a simple process. However, in rural areas, people may not recognize the thumb in the air symbol, so you may have to try other methods. For example, flagging down a car may work on a country lane with little or no public transportation, but doing so on a major road may cause confusion, with the driver assuming you are in trouble. As a result, a sign, particularly one in Chinese, would be very useful. The East coast near Hualien and Taitung has a reputation for being particularly excellent for catching rides. Taiwanese people are extremely polite and helpful, so starting up a conversation with someone at a transportation café or highway service station may just get you on your way. However, to prevent subsequent misunderstanding, make sure the driver understands that you wish to freeride.

Get Around - By bicycle

While Taiwan is well-known for being a significant participant in the bicycle industry (through firms like as Giant and Merida), bicycles were formerly regarded an unwelcome reminder of less affluent times. This, thankfully, has altered in recent years. Bicycling is regaining popularity as a mode of transportation and leisure, and accompanying infrastructure is gradually being built. Several bike routes have been constructed, and recreational riding has grown in popularity among residents, particularly on weekends. You should be warned, though, that local drivers have a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous. As a result, while riding outside of authorized bike lanes and trails, you should use great care.

In recent years, the government has promoted biking as a form of healthy leisure. Several dedicated bike routes have been constructed across Taiwan (especially along riverside parks). Long-distance rides, like as those across the Central Mountain Range and along the coast surrounding the main island, have also grown in popularity. Bicycles may be transported as is for long distance journeys utilizing regular freight service from the Taiwan Railway Administration between major stations. A pricing list may be seen here (Chinese language only). Non-folding bicycles may also be carried on the Taipei and Kaohsiung rapid transit systems during off-peak hours if loaded at specified stations (usually 10AM-4PM on weekdays, check with your local station personnel to confirm).

Giant Bicycles Corporation has a wide network of bicycle retail shops where you may rent a bike for as low as NT $100 per day if you reserve it one week in advance [web]. Public shared bicycles may also be rented via automated kiosks in Taipei’s Hsinyi District and Kaohsiung. Rental costs in Taipei may be paid using the fast transport EasyCard system, although a credit card deposit is required.

Furthermore, many municipal police stations provide basic support services to bicycles, such as air pumps and rest stops.

Destinations in Taiwan

Regions in Taiwan

  • Northern Taiwan(Hsinchu, Hsinchu County, Keelung, New Taipei, Taipei, Taoyuan, Yangmingshan National Park)
    The island’s capital city, major airport, and technological center.
  • Central Taiwan(Changhua County, Miaoli County, Nantou County, Sun Moon Lakeand Taichung)
    Beautiful mountains and lakes, as well as important national parks
  • Eastern Taiwan (Yilan County, Hualien, Hualien County, Taitung County, Taroko Gorge, Taitung)
    The central highlands separate Hualien and Taitung from the rest of the island; this is an area of outstanding natural beauty.
  • Southern Taiwan (Chiayi County, Kaohsiung, Pingtung County, Tainan and Yunlin County)
    Taiwan’s tropics, with beaches and palm palms, and the country’s second biggest city
  • Outlying Islands (Kinmen and Matsu, just off the coast of mainland China’s FujianProvince, Penghu in the straits, Green Island and Orchid Island, east of Taiwan)
    Small islands that are popular weekend getaways for residents.

Cities in Taiwan

  • Taipei (臺北 or 台北) is the capital of Taiwan and the country’s commercial and cultural hub. Taipei is home to Taipei 101, the world’s second highest building.
  • Hsinchu (新竹) is a hi-tech industrial hub and one of the world’s top producers of hi-tech components. Many high-tech businesses are located at Hsinchu Science Park.
  • Hualien (花蓮) is situated near Taroko Gorge and is regarded as one of Taiwan’s most attractive cities.
  • Jiufen (九份) – Jiufen Is a former gold mining town on China’s northeast coast that is now a famous tourist attraction.
  • Kaohsiung (高雄) is the island’s second-largest city. It boasts one of the busiest seaports in the world (the Port of Kaohsiung) and the island’s second-largest airport, Kaohsiung International Airport (IATA: KHH).
  • Keelung (基隆) is a northern transshipment hub, approximately a thirty-minute drive or a twenty-minute bicycle ride from downtown Taipei.
  • New Taipei (新北) is Taiwan’s most populated city. The region encompasses a significant portion of Taiwan’s northern coastline and surrounds the Taipei Basin.
  • Puli (埔里) is situated in the island’s geographic middle and provides as an excellent base for visiting the central highlands and Sun Moon Lake.
  • Tainan (臺南 or 台南) is Taiwan’s oldest city and served as the country’s capital during the imperial period. It is well-known for its historic structures.

Other destinations in Taiwan

People often see Taiwan as a tiny, congested island dominated by electronic manufacturers, and if you stay in Taipei or along the west coast, you may get that idea. However, the island also has towering mountain ranges, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous national parks, several of which include hot springs.

  • Alishan (阿里山) – foggy woods of gigantic cypresses and breathtaking sunrises in the island’s middle, accessible by a beautiful narrow-gauge railway.
  • Kenting National Park (墾丁國家公園) – Situated near the island’s farthest southern point, this park is renowned for its beaches and rich greenery.
  • Shei-pa National Park (雪霸國家公園) – a park encompassing mountains and rivers in Hsinchu County with excellent hiking routes
  • Sun Moon Lake (日月潭) – This lake, located at 762 m (2,500 ft) in the high mountains of Nantou County, is renowned for its beautiful dazzling blue water and scenic mountain background.
  • Taipingshan (太平山) – is a historic logging region that is also one of Taiwan’s most beautiful places. Yilan County is the location.
  • Taroko Gorge (太魯閣峽谷 Tàilǔgé)- is an amazing gorge situated off the east coast of Japan.
  • Yangmingshan National Park (陽明山國家公園) – Is a mountain range overlooking Taipei.
  • Yushan (Jade Mountain/玉山) – at 3,952 m (12,966 ft) is the tallest mountain in not just Taiwan, but the whole eastern two-thirds of East Asia, standing at 3,952 m (12,966 ft).
  • Lalashan (拉拉山) – In the native Atayal language, “Lala” means “beautiful.” Mt. Lala is one of Taiwan’s natural protected zones. There are divine trees that are 500-2800 years old, as well as the No. 5 divine tree, which is said to be even older than Confucius. Lalashan is well renowned for its peach trees, and peach season (July – August) is the most beautiful time to visit Taoyuan County’s Mt. Lala.

Accommodation & Hotels in Taiwan

Taiwan never sleeps, as shown by the abundance of 24-hour shops.

Hostels are available in Taipei and most other major cities for those on a tight budget. Some hostels are classified as under table, which means they do not have a legal license. Camping is also offered in a number of locations.

Motels are common on the outskirts of large cities. Despite the name, they have nothing to do with the inexpensive utilitarian hotels that bear the term elsewhere; in Taiwan, motels are meant for romantic rendezvous and may be very lavish in décor and amenities. Many have large bathtubs with massage jets, separate massage showers, marble flooring, and other amenities. Flat-screen televisions and centrally controlled sound systems are standard in the suites. Most provide “rests” of a few hours throughout the day, while check-in times for overnight stays may be as late as 10 PM. Taichung is known as Taiwan’s motel capital.

Taiwanese hotels vary in quality from filthy to opulent. Despite the difficulties of conducting business with both mainland China and Taiwan, major Western hotel brands, such as Sheraton, Westin, and Hyatt, have a presence in Taiwan. There are also many five-star hotels nearby. However, keep in mind that many international hotels are exorbitantly priced, while similar and much cheaper lodging is typically accessible in the same area. The airport hotel at CKS International, for example, costs about three or four times the price of a hotel in Taoyuan, which is a half-hour taxi ride away. Taxi drivers and tourism offices are excellent tools for locating less expensive accommodations.

Many Taiwanese hotels have both Chinese and Western names, which may vary greatly. Find out and bring the Chinese name (in Chinese characters), since locals are unlikely to recognize the English ones. Don’t be afraid to go inside the more expensive hotels, particularly if you’re visiting areas less frequented by westerners (mainly due to a lack of business). The Caesar, Chateau, and Howard Beach Resort in Kenting, for example, situated on one of tropical Taiwan’s best beaches, may be of excellent value if you stay there during the wintertime, as the rooms not yet leased for the night are offered much below their usual price at the last minute.

Because of the ancient Asian practice of sleeping on a wood board, hotel mattresses in Taiwan are typically considerably rougher than in the West. Most hotels have modern mattresses, but only the most expensive Western-style hotels have beds in the true Western manner.

The minsu, which is comparable to Bed & Breakfast lodging seen in the UK, is a distinctively Taiwanese type of housing. Although usually less expensive than hotels, the amenities may frequently be as excellent as those of some higher-end hotels, and many are themed (like fairy tale castle, nature lodge, etc). A minsu usually includes breakfast the following morning, and higher-end ones may also offer the option of a home-cooked style supper. The disadvantage is that most minsu are situated in residential neighborhoods or in the countryside, making transportation less practical than at centrally placed hotels, and wi-fi access may be hit or miss. Furthermore, most minsu advertise in Chinese exclusively, but a start-up Singaporean business is trying to make information and bookings for Taiwanese minsu accessible in English to non-Chinese speakers through a website.

Things To See in Taiwan

Taiwan has never been a popular tourist destination for Westerners, perhaps owing to its political uncertainty and lack of worldwide influence. Nonetheless, visitors from Japan and Hong Kong have been flocking to Taiwan for a long time, and a growing number of mainland Chinese are joining them. Many cultural sites may be found on the island, including a good variety right in the capital. Taipei is a vibrant and contemporary city with old but busy streets and world-famous monuments such as Taipai 101. The National Palace Museum, Zhongshan Hall, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, and the magnificently renovated Bao’an Temple are all located here. Bao’an is simply one of many impressive temple complexes worth seeing. Try the Zushi Temple in Sanxia or the Mazu Temple in Makung for more. The enormous Longshan Temple in Lukang, as well as the Confucian Temples in Changhua and Tainan, are other excellent options. Tainan is also known for its Ten Drum Cultural Village and treehouses. If you want to learn more about Taiwan’s history and culture, there are museums to visit almost wherever you travel.

Taiwan continues to be a significant hub of Chinese pop culture. Furthermore, this state is home to busy cities with contemporary, high-tech infrastructure, and excellent transit infrastructure makes it simple to move about. For those who are tired of the rush and bustle of cities, Taiwan’s rural regions feature some extremely stunning landscapes and endearing village heritage.

Nature

Some people conceive of Taiwan as a filthy, heavily crowded industrial island full with hard disk manufacturers, and if you just visit the highly populated West Coast, you may get that impression. Those who take the time to visit Taiwan’s less densely populated East Coast, on the other hand, will soon discover that the country is home to some breathtaking scenery. The Taroko Gorge in Hualien is particularly spectacular, and a side drive to the rocky beaches at Shihtiping’ is a noteworthy diversion. Beautiful natural sites around Nantou include Hehuan Mountain and Sun Moon Lake, while the massive and old trees of Lalashan provide for excellent treks near Taoyuan. In reality, since much of Taiwan is covered in mountains with beautiful vistas, hiking possibilities are plentiful.

Things to do in Taiwan

  • Spring Scream (春天吶喊) – Every year, Kenting hosts a three-day outdoor rock event. It will be held on April 1-4, 2011. All-day, all-venue tickets are $1,400; single-day, single-venue tickets are $650. For three days, Kenting’s whole region is besieged by young people who have come to party, and Taiwanese TV extensively focuses on the newest bikini styles observed on the site. However, due to the festival’s reputation for being riddled with illicit substances, expect a heavy police presence.
  • Buddha’s Birthday (佛祖誕辰) – Buddhist monasteries have colorful but modest rituals that usually consist of washing a statue of the Buddha and a vegetarian feast. It is customary to give gifts to the monks and nuns at this time, although it is not required. The eighth day of the fourth month according to the Lunar Calendar.
  • Dragon Boat Festival (龍舟賽) – A holiday commemorating the death of the Chinese patriotic poet Qu Yuan (born 340 BC), who killed himself in a river in sorrow over the looted state of Chu by a neighboring nation as a consequence of treachery by his own people. The event, which takes place on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month (19 June 2008), is celebrated with races of colorful dragon boats at different places throughout the island.
  • Cherry Blossom Season (櫻花季) – Every spring, in Yangmingshan.
  • Hot Springs (溫泉) – Taiwan’s position between an oceanic trench and a volcanic system makes it an excellent hot springs holiday destination. Throughout the country, there are numerous hot springs locations, including Beitou, Wulai, and Yangmingshan. The Japanese brought the practice of bathing in hot springs during the colonial era, and it has remained strongly ingrained in local culture to this day. It should be noted that etiquette usually demands customers to wash naked.

Food & Drinks in Taiwan

Food & Drinks in Taiwan

Taiwanese cuisine is highly valued by other East Asians and ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia, and for many of them, eating is the main (and often only) reason for visiting Taiwan.

Taiwanese cuisine is mostly drawn from mainland Chinese cuisines. Because the majority of Taiwanese trace their lineage to Fujian, it is not surprising that most of Taiwanese food is derived from Fujian cuisine. Because many renowned chefs from the mainland fled to Taiwan following the communist triumph in 1949, it is also possible to find Szechuan food, Hunan food, Dongbei food, Cantonese food, and virtually every other Chinese cuisine on the island. However, owing to 50 years of Japanese colonial control, Taiwanese cuisine has absorbed major indigenous influences as well as significant Japanese influences, giving it a distinct flavor that differentiates it from its mainland Chinese equivalents. Taiwanese people are likewise madly in love with eggs and seafood. Fruits are another well-known component of Taiwanese cuisine. Local fruit stores and stations sell a broad variety of fruits. The subtropical environment promotes the growth of a variety of fruits.

Taiwan also offers a plethora of regional specialities. Among those discovered on the island are:

  • Beef noodles (牛肉麵 niúròu miàn), Noodle soup with pieces of meltingly soft cooked beef and a splash of pickles (niru miàn).
  • Oyster omelet (蚵仔煎 ó āh jiān – this is the Taiwanese term since the Chinese word only exists in letters and not in aural Mandarin), prepared with eggs, oysters, and the leaves of a native chrysanthemum, topped with sweet red sauce.
  • Aiyu jelly (愛玉 àiyù), produced from the seeds of a local fig and traditionally served over ice – sweet, cold, and pleasant on a hot day.
  • Taiwan Sausage (香腸 xiāngcháng), Taiwan Sausage ( xingcháng), typically prepared from pork, is a modified form of Cantonese laap cheong that has been emulsified and has a considerably sweeter flavor. Unlike laap cheong, which is nearly always eaten with rice, Taiwanese xiangchang is often eaten alone with some garlic.
  • Taiwanese Orange (柳丁 liŭdīng) is a citrus fruit that is identical to regular oranges except that the peel and flesh are more yellowish, comparable to lemon. In contrast to lemon, it is typically very sweet.
  • Taiwanese Porridge (粥 zhōu in Mandarin, 糜 beh in Taiwanese) is a sweet potato-based rice porridge. It is typically served with a variety of other meals.

Because of the Taiwanese love for cuisine and influences from many other nations, most cities and towns in Taiwan are renowned for unique dishes. Ilan is well-known for its mochi, a sticky rice snack typically flavored with sesame, peanuts, or other flavorings. Yonghe, a Taipei suburb, is well-known for its freshly produced soy milk and morning dishes. Taichung is well-known for its sun cakes (tàiyáng bng), a kind of sweet filled pastry, and the finest location to get some is probably Taiyang Tang along Freedom Road, where the delicacy is said to have been created. Square cookies, also known as cubic pastry, are crunchy multilayer pastries cut into squares and generously strewn with sesame seeds in Chiayi. Tainan is especially well-known among Taiwanese for its availability of excellent cuisine and should be visited by all gourmands. The coffin bread is probably the most renowned dish. Almost every city has its own renowned specialities; many Taiwanese visitors would go to other towns on the island just to sample the native cuisine before returning home.

Taiwan also offers some of the best pastry products in the world. Most specialize on sweet Chinese pastries or Western pastries that have been adapted to local tastes, but search for We Care bakeries that also offer Western alternatives such whole wheat loaves, sour breads, and ciabatta.

Vegetarians are better provided for in terms of diversity and variation in restaurants than in most other nations.

Places to eat

If you’re on a tight budget, the cheapest cuisine may be found at back alley noodle businesses and night market booths, where a full bowl of noodles costs about NT$35-70.

Taiwanese people like snacking, and many eateries promote xiaochi, literally “little nibbles,” the Taiwanese counterpart of Cantonese dim sum. There are also fast food restaurants like as McDonalds (a basic Big Mac Meal costs NT$115), KFC, and MOS Burger. There are also a significant number of convenience shops (such as 7-Eleven) that offer items such as tea eggs, sandwiches, bento boxes and beverages.

Night markets are also a great opportunity to sample some delectable Taiwanese cuisine at reasonable rates. The Shilin Night Market in Taipei and the Liouho Night Market () in Kaohsiung, for example, both have their own unique delicacies that should not be missed.

Etiquette

Taiwanese cuisine, like Chinese cuisine abroad, is usually eaten with chopsticks and served on big platters placed in the middle of the table. Typically, a serving spoon or pair of chopsticks (gongkuai) is provided with the meals, and guests do not use their own chopsticks to move food to their plates.

In Taiwan, the same traditional Chinese taboos about eating with chopsticks apply. Do not, for example, put your chopsticks straight up or into your bowl of rice. This is similar to burning incense in a temple and has implications of wishing death on people around you. Place your chopsticks on the supplied porcelain chopstick rest (at nicer places) or rest them over the top of your dish. Also, do not spear your food or move bowls and platters with your chopsticks.

Although there are small variations in etiquette between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese, most of traditional Chinese table manners apply to Taiwan as well.

Dietary restrictions

In respect to the Buddha’s teachings of nonviolence and compassion, all Mahayana Buddhists, who constitute the majority of followers in Taiwan, strive to be pure vegetarians. As a result, vegetarian restaurants (called su-shi tsan-ting in Mandarin and typically identifiable with the sign) abound all across the island, ranging from inexpensive buffet style to gourmet and organic. Buffet-style restaurants (known as, which means “Serve Yourself Restaurant”) are common in almost every neighborhood in large cities, and unlike ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffets (which charge a set price, usually ranging from $250-350 including dessert and coffee/tea), the cost is estimated by the weight of the food on your plate. Rice (typically brown or white) is paid individually, but soup or cold tea is free and may be refilled as many times as you like. A good-sized, healthy dinner will cost you between $90-$120.

Don’t worry if you can’t locate a vegetarian restaurant. Taiwanese people are extremely adaptable, and most eateries would gladly make you anything to your specifications. The following Mandarin phrases may be useful: (Wo chi su) – I am a vegetarian; (Wo bu chi rou) – I do not consume meat. However, since Mandarin is a tonal language, you may need to speak both, as well as develop your acting abilities, to be understood. Best wishes! NB: Do not press the issue if a restaurant rejects your order. The explanation will not be a refusal to fulfill your request, but rather because the fundamental components of their meals may contain chicken broth or pig fat.

Taiwanese vegetarianism is more than just vegetarianism; there is a sense of “plainness” about it. It usually eliminates ingredients like onion, ginger, and garlic. These things are considered “un-plain” by Buddhists and Taoists because they may generate bodily excitation, which may interfere with the meditation practice. When serving meals to a devout vegetarian, keep in mind that they will not consume anything containing onion, ginger, or garlic.

Although vegetarian restaurants in Taiwan do not strive to vegan ideals, nearly all non-dessert meals in Chinese style veggie restaurants are vegan because Taiwanese do not have a dairy-eating heritage. However, be certain that your meal does not include eggs.

Drinks in Taiwan

Because Taiwan is a subtropical island with a tropical south, it can’t harm to drink a lot, particularly during the summer. Drink vending machines may be found almost everywhere and are stocked with a variety of juices, tea and coffee beverages, soy milk, and mineral water.

Alcohol

The legal drinking age in Taiwan is 18 years old. Minors who are found drinking risk penalties ranging from $100,000 to $500,000. Traditional Taiwanese alcoholic beverages are very potent. The most well-known alcoholic beverage is kaoliang. It is a distilled grain liquor that is very powerful, typically 140 percent or more, and is often drank directly.

Taiwan also produces a kind of Shaoxing, rice wine, which many believe to be among the finest in the world.

Taiwanese folks love iced beer. A large range of foreign beers are available, but Taiwan Beer, manufactured by a former government monopoly, remains the standard. It is made using fragrant penglai rice and barley, which gives it a unique taste. The beer is served chilled and is often regarded as an excellent accompaniment to Taiwanese and Japanese cuisine, particularly seafood dishes like as sushi and sashimi. Taiwan Beer has received many international accolades, including the International Monde Selection in 1977 and the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2002.

In Taiwan, beer on tap is rare, and most establishments offer beer in bottles. Ask for the Taiwan Draft Beer, which comes in a simple green bottle, for an unique and uncommon treat. Because it has a 2-week expiry date, it can only be obtained at breweries (there are a few dispersed throughout Taiwan) or at certain shops and restaurants in the area.

Tea and coffee

High Mountain Oolong (, Gao-shan wulong) – a fragrant, light tea – and Tie Guan-yin – a dark, rich brew – are Taiwan’s speciality teas. This tea, served in the traditional manner with a very little teapot and tiny cups, is an experience not to be missed. This method of drinking tea is known as lao ren cha – ‘old people’s tea,’ and it gets its name from the fact that only the elderly have historically had the luxury of leisure to relax and enjoy tea in this manner. When visiting a traditional tea shop, read the fine print: in addition to the tea, you may be charged a cover (, meaning “tea-water fee”) for the complex procedure of making it as well as any snacks provided on the side.

Lei cha (; léi chá) is a delicious and nutritious Hakka Chinese tea-based beverage made from crushed tea leaves and grain. Some shops specialize in this item and enable customers to grind their own lei cha.

Chinese teas in Taiwan, like Chinese teas worldwide, are usually drank straight, with no milk or sugar added. Taiwan, on the other hand, is the origin of pearl milk tea, which is made with sugar and milk.

Pearl milk tea (zhnzh nichá), also known as “bubble tea” or “boba tea,” is a milky tea with chewy tapioca balls added and sipped via an over-sized straw. It was invented in Taiwan in the early 1980s and became a major Asia-wide fad in the 1990s. It isn’t as popular as it once was but can still be found at almost any coffee/tea store. Look for a store that sells it fresh.

Cafe culture has taken hold in Taiwan, and in addition to a plethora of privately owned cafes, all major chains, such as Starbucks, have a plethora of branches across major towns and cities.

Soft drinks

Taiwan is a fantastic destination for fruit drinks. Small fruit-juice bars produce them fresh on-the-spot and are masters at making fruit-juice drinks (non-alcoholic, of course). Mu-gwa niou-nai is iced papaya milk, and zong-he (mixed) is typically a sweet and sour mixture. If you don’t want ice (which is quite safe in Taiwan, even at roadside sellers), say chu bing and no sugar – wu tang.

Soy milk, often known as doujiang, is a delicious delicacy. Try it both hot and cold. A typical Taiwanese morning meal is savory soy milk. Because vinegar is used to curdle the milk, it is something of an acquired taste. Soy milk, both sweet and salty, is often requested with you-tiao, or deep-fried dough crullers.

Pseudo-health beverages abound in Taiwanese supermarkets and convenience shops. Asparagus juice and lavender milk tea, for example, should be avoided.

Money & Shopping in Taiwan

Taiwan’s currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (or simply NTD, but sometimes known as TWD), with one unit known locally as NT, yuan (or more officially ) when written in Chinese or colloquially in Mandarin as the kuai. In Taiwanese, one unit is referred informally as the kho. This guide’s $ costs are all in New Taiwan Dollars.

Taiwanese currency is freely convertible, and there are no limitations on bringing or moving money into or out of the country. International currency conversion is available, but you will receive a far better rate if you wait until you get at the airport to exchange money within the 24 hour window. Most banks in Taipei and Kaohsiung will convert money or provide cash advances on credit or debit cards. If you bring American money, please bring newer bills since banks and exchange facilities (such as those found in department shops) will only take newer notes (bills from 1996 and 2003 are not accepted at most places, due to a high proportion of forgeries bearing these years). Torn or damaged banknotes will most likely not be replaced, and old-style small-bust bills, including the $2 bill, are not accepted, regardless of when they were produced. Taiwan National Bank will accept older bank notes as well as wrinkled or damaged bank notes for exchange. Department shops will not accept invoices dated before 1997. Remember to bring your passport!

There’s no need to worry if you neglected to bring any money but have your credit or debit card with you. Taiwan’s banking system is light years ahead of most other nations, with the ability to withdraw cash from anywhere in the globe via the Plus or Cirrus systems from any of the numerous 24-hour ATMs. Certain banks’ ATMs will even display your available balance in your local currency or NT$. ATM cash withdrawals are subject to a $20,000 per transaction restriction (HSBC Global Access clients may withdraw up to $30,000 from HSBC ATMs). Visa debit cards are not widely accepted, although they may be used at ATMs operated by Chinatrust banks (but not those in 7-Elevens). It should be noted that ATMs at post offices will not take cards without an EMV chip.

If you want to remain in Taiwan for an extended period of time, you need establish a Taiwanese bank account. While several of the big international banks, such as Citibank and HSBC, have branches in Taiwan, they often demand significant deposits in order to establish an account, so you may want to choose one of the major local banks, such as the Bank of Taiwan. To establish an account, you must present your passport and Alien Residence Card to the bank. This implies that although individuals on long-term visas, such as student and work visas, are permitted to establish an account, tourists on short-term trips are not usually permitted to do so. Visitors who want to open a Taiwanese bank account may get a piece of paper with an ID number from the local Immigration Agency office as a replacement for the ARC, although not all banks accept it. Larger banks often have English-speaking personnel on hand to help foreigners.

Most hotels and department shops accept credit cards, most notably Visa, MasterCard, and JCB. Cards such as Diners Club, Discover, and American Express are seldom accepted. Most restaurants and small businesses do not take credit cards, therefore cash is the preferred method of payment. Because street crime is uncommon in Taiwan, it is normal for individuals to carry significant sums of cash about them.

Prices in Taiwan

Taiwan is very costly by Asian standards, although it is still considerably less expensive than Japan. A bare-bones budget of NT$1000 will get you by for a day, but you’ll definitely want to double that for comfort. A lunch at a street stall may cost NT$50 or less, a dinner at a Western fast food restaurant may cost NT$150, and the most upscale restaurants may cost more than NT$1000. Hotel rooms at a fancy hotel may cost NT$5000 or more on the top end of the range. The cost of living decreases substantially when one travels away from major cities. Taxis are reasonably priced and often have a fixed charge for popular locations, so inquire ahead of time and negotiate if you disagree.

Tipping in Taiwan

Tipping is not often done in Taiwan. Bellhops at high-end hotels and airport porters are exceptions and should be compensated with 50 new Taiwan dollars each bag. Tipping to express gratitude for excellent service is also popular. Full-service restaurants generally charge a 10 percent service fee, which is considered adequate. Tipping is also not required in taxis, and drivers will typically give you your change down to the last dollar.

Shopping in Taiwan

Night markets are a mainstay of Taiwanese entertainment, shopping, and dining, as they are in many Asian nations. Night markets are open-air marketplaces that are often located on a street or alleyway, with merchants selling a variety of goods on both sides. There are many discounts to be obtained, and haggling is anticipated anywhere prices are not posted. Every night and at the same location, there will be a night market in the major cities. They are only open certain nights of the week in smaller cities and may migrate to other streets depending on the day of the week.

Every city has at least one night market, and bigger cities, like as Taipei, may have a dozen or more. Because night markets are busy, keep an eye out for your wallet! Shops offering the same goods tend to cluster in the same area of town. If you want to purchase anything, ask someone to take you to one store, and chances are there will be other businesses offering comparable items nearby.

For those who dislike the idea of bargaining and fraudulent products, Taipei has a plethora of shopping malls where prices are generally set and items are real. Otherwise, retail avenues in bigger cities like as Kaohsiung and Taichung may readily provide you with everything you need. And, of course, there is the fashionable Ximending () in Taipei, where you can find pretty much everything connected with youngsters for set rates.

In night markets and tiny shops, bargaining is acceptable and expected. Computer chain stores and department stores often have set pricing, but if you buy frequently, you may be able to receive a “registered member discount.” In any case, it’s always worth a shot!

When negotiating in tiny shops, keep in mind that the agreed-upon prices are usually cash pricing. If you wish to pay with a credit card, the vendor will usually add up to 8% to the price as a “card charge,” etc. The charge is made up of the credit company’s commission as well as the local sales tax/VAT. Even if you pay cash, you are unlikely to get an official receipt since the vendor would be required to declare and pay their taxes in full. If you ask for a receipt or “fa piao” (), you will receive one, but you may have to pay an extra 3-5 percent.

Festivals & Holidays in Taiwan

Traditional Chinese holidays are observed in Taiwan due to the country’s Han Chinese population. Among the most prominent examples are:

  • Chinese New Year (春節). This is Taiwan’s most significant event, and many stores and restaurants shut for the first three days, making it an inconvenient time to visit. However, the days before the celebration, as well as the fourth to fifteenth days, are perfect for taking in the mood and listening to Chinese New Year music.
  • Tomb Sweeping Day (Ching Ming Festival, 清明節). Many Taiwanese would pay their respects at their ancestors’ graves at this time.
  • Dragon Boat Festival (端午節). This event commemorates Qu Yuan, a patriotic official from the state of Chu during China’s Warring States era who committed suicide by leaping into a river after Chu was captured by Qin. To keep the fish from devouring his body, people tossed rice dumplings into the river and rowed dragon boats with drums pounded on them to frighten the fish away. Since then, dragon boat racing has taken place on this day, as well as the consumption of rice dumplings.
  • Hungry Ghost Festival (Ghost Month, 中元節). This festival lasts for the whole seventh month of the Chinese calendar. During this time, it is thought that the gates of hell open, allowing hungry spirits to freely wander our planet. Many Taiwanese will give food and burn joss paper to pacify the spirits and avoid disaster. To placate these wandering spirits, traditional Chinese acts such as Chinese opera and puppet plays are performed.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival, 中秋節). According to legend, on this day, a lady named Chang E took some heavenly tablets in order to prevent her power-hungry husband from becoming eternal. Fearing for her husband’s death, she fled to the moon, and it is said that the moon shines brightest on this day. This is when numerous lanterns are placed for decoration in different parks and businesses, which is a lovely picture. Mooncakes are also eaten on this day, so now is a good opportunity to sample some.

Traditions & Customs in Taiwan

Taiwan and other East Asian countries share many cultural taboos/guidelines:

  • When handing out or receiving business cards, always use two hands and a modest bend of the head. Receiving a business card with just one hand is very impolite.
  • Some Taiwanese are superstitious about anything related to death, and unfortunate things should never be discussed. One thing to keep in mind is that the number 4 (pronounced’si’) sounds like the Mandarin word for death.
  • People’s names should not be written in red. This, too, has a morbid meaning. This is not an issue when writing someone’s English name, but avoid writing Chinese names in red.
  • At night, do not whistle or ring a bell. This is a “greeting to spirits.”
  • Do not point to graveyards or cemeteries. This is disrespectful to the victims’ deaths.
  • Taiwanese are not puritans, and they love a drink, particularly the locally produced Taiwan Beer and Kaoliang. However, Taiwan does not have a strong drinking culture, and it is uncommon to see anybody intoxicated on the streets. While excessive alcohol consumption is not a social taboo in and of itself (and some individuals do it at weddings), it is regarded a sign of lack of self-confidence and immaturity, and it will not earn you any respect among Taiwanese friends.
  • Before entering a home, you are required to remove your shoes. Visitors should wear slippers, which are available at the entry door. It is probable that the same procedure will apply to restrooms and balconies, where you will be required to remove your slippers and replace them with a pair of plastic sandals (though it is less shocking not to use the sandals by then).
  • As you get acquainted with Taiwanese people, you are quite likely to receive little gifts of all kinds. This will include beverages, food, and little things… These are a highly easy method for Taiwanese individuals to lubricate social connections, and are particularly popular amongst friends in their twenties. You should respond to such gifts with something comparable, but it does not have to be quick or tailored to the individual (i.e. keep it simple). As a teacher, you are not required to provide anything in return (for example, in a classroom setting) as long as the relationship remains formal. However, be wary of excessively giving parents who would go so far as to give gifts for thousands of NT$ and then want you to take particular care of their kid (understand that their expectations will be considered as fair in Taiwanese culture).
  • Tipping is not required in hotels, restaurants, or taxis, but bellhops may demand 50 TWD or so for carrying your baggage.
  • “Saving face” is a significant value in Taiwanese society, just as it is in mainland Chinese culture. In general, you should avoid pointing out other people’s errors to avoid creating significant humiliation, and if you really must, call the person to one side and do it privately, and attempt to do it in a polished way.
  • If you need to use a temple’s restroom, bow to any statues of deities you encounter along the route, whether you believe in them or not. While most people will not object if you use the temple’s restroom, they do want you to respect their place of worship. If you want to give gifts (such as basic fruits) to the deities’ sculptures at the temple, it is customary to wash the fruits and your hands before doing so. Furthermore, while entering and exiting a temple, remember to avoid standing directly on the elevated threshold: always attempt to walk over it.

Politics in Taiwan

Taiwanese society is divided by loyalty to the two main political blocs known colloquially as the “Pan-Blue Coalition” and the “Pan-Green Coalition,” but there are significant numbers of individuals who are either moderate or don’t care. To simplify a highly complicated issue, pan-blue supporters tend to prefer (re)unification or preserving the status quo with China, while pan-green supporters favor creating an officially separate Republic of Taiwan, among other distinctions.

Although there are some connections, it is very risky to make assumptions about a certain person’s political views based on what you believe you know about their history. Furthermore, this short overview of Taiwanese politics obscures a great deal of complexities.

It is unwise to discuss anything (good or bad) about the present administration, significant personalities in Taiwanese history, Taiwan’s foreign affairs, or relations with mainland China unless you know your audience well. Some political leaders, such as Sun Yat-sen (who is also popular in the PRC and with the Chinese government) and Chiang Ching-kuo, are widely regarded favorably, while others (particularly Chiang Kai-shek, Lee Teng-hui, and Chen Shui-bian) elicit strong emotions.

If you suggest that Taiwan is a part of China, some Taiwanese will be upset. Others will be upset if you suggest that Taiwan is not a part of China. Referring to the People’s Republic of China as “mainland China” (zhngguó dàlù) rather than just China would not upset anybody since the phrase is widely used to exclude Hong Kong and Macau, making it less subjective. Most Taiwanese will be offended if they hear the Republic of China referred to as “Taiwan Province.” In certain commercial settings, the phrase “Greater China” may be employed. However, keep in mind that there are so many nuances and intricacies here that if you start talking about them, you’ve already stepped into a minefield.

However, referring to the island simply as “Taiwan” is acceptable since it is the term used by the people, regardless of political affiliation. Titles like “Republic of China” are exclusively used for formal purposes.

Homosexuality in Taiwan

Taiwan is usually regarded as a safe place for gay and lesbian tourists. Although the Taiwanese government does not recognize same-sex marriages, there are no laws prohibiting homosexuality in Taiwan, and unprovoked violence against homosexuals and lesbians is virtually unheard of. Taiwan is also the first East Asian country to pass anti-discrimination legislation based on sexual orientation in education and employment. Taiwan Pride is an annual LGBT pride celebration.

Acceptance among Taiwanese people is modest, and homosexuality is still regarded a societal taboo, especially among the elder generation. Some people may probably look and murmur if you openly show your sexual preference in public. Nonetheless, views are shifting, and homosexuality is becoming more acceptable among the younger generation.

Japanese occupation

Taiwanese attitudes regarding the Japanese occupation (1895-1945) are more favorable than in most other Asian nations. Although there was significant resistance and killings of both Chinese and Aboriginal people were carried out during the occupation, some elderly individuals who lived through the period of Japanese control sometimes have a certain amount of nostalgia for that time. Nonetheless, many Taiwanese are grateful to the Japanese for modernizing Taiwan, and most native Taiwanese prefer Japanese rule to the following Kuomintang government under Chiang Kai-shek.

Younger Taiwanese continue to aspire to contemporary Japanese pop culture, and Japan continues to have a strong impact on the Taiwanese entertainment sector.

Culture Of Taiwan

Taiwanese culture is a hybrid mix of many sources, including aspects of traditional Chinese culture, owing to the historical and ancestral origins of the majority of its present inhabitants, Japanese culture, traditional Confucianist beliefs, and increasingly Western ideals.

Following their relocation to Taiwan, the Kuomintang enforced an official version of traditional Chinese culture on the island. The government began supporting Chinese calligraphy, traditional Chinese painting, folk art, and Chinese opera via a program.

The position of Taiwanese culture is being contested. It is debatable whether Taiwanese culture is a regional variant of Chinese culture or a separate culture in its own right. Politics continues to play a role in the creation and development of a Taiwanese cultural identity, reflecting the ongoing debate regarding Taiwan’s political position, particularly in the previous prevailing frame of a Taiwanese and Chinese duality. Taiwanese multiculturalism has recently been proposed as a relatively apolitical alternative view, allowing for the inclusion of mainlanders and other minority groups in the ongoing re-definition of Taiwanese culture as collectively held systems of meaning and customary patterns of thought and behavior shared by the people of Taiwan. Identity politics, along with almost a century of political isolation from mainland China, has resulted in unique traditions in a variety of fields, including food and music.

The National Palace Museum, which contains over 650,000 items of Chinese bronze, jade, calligraphy, painting, and porcelain and is regarded one of the world’s largest collections of Chinese art and artifacts, is one of Taiwan’s most popular attractions. The KMT relocated this collection from Beijing’s Forbidden City in 1933, and a portion of it was ultimately transferred to Taiwan during the Chinese Civil War. The collection, which is believed to represent one-tenth of China’s cultural treasures, is so large that only a fraction of it is on exhibit at any one moment. The PRC claimed the collection had been stolen and demanded its restoration, but the ROC has long maintained its possession of the collection as a necessary measure to safeguard the items from destruction, particularly during the Cultural Revolution. Relations between China and Taiwan have lately improved; Beijing Palace Museum Curator Zheng Xinmiao said that items in both Chinese and Taiwanese museums are “China’s cultural legacy equally held by people across the Taiwan Strait.”

Taiwan’s classical music tradition is thriving, with performers such as violinist Cho-Liang Lin, pianist Ching-Yun Hu, and Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society Artist Director Wu Han. Karaoke, which is based on current Japanese culture, is very popular in Taiwan, where it is referred to as KTV. KTV establishments operate in a hotel-like manner, renting out tiny rooms and ballrooms based on the number of visitors in a group. Many KTV venues collaborate with restaurants and buffets to provide all-encompassing extravagant evening events for families, friends, and businesspeople. Tour buses in Taiwan feature many TVs, however they are mostly used for singing Karaoke rather than viewing movies. A KTV’s entertainment equivalent is an MTV, which may be found considerably less often outside of the city. Movies available on DVD may be chosen and played in a private theater area. However, MTV, more than KTV, is gaining a reputation as a place where young couples may be alone and intimate.

Taiwan has a high number of 24-hour convenience shops that, in addition to the normal services, collect parking fees, energy bills, traffic infraction penalties, and credit card payments on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies. They also provide package mailing services.

Taiwanese culture has impacted other civilizations as well. In Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Europe, and North America, bubble tea and milk tea are accessible. Taiwanese television programs are widely watched in Singapore, Malaysia, and other Asian nations. Taiwanese films have received many international prizes at film festivals worldwide. Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee has directed highly praised films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Eat Drink Man Woman, Sense and Sensibility, Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, and Lust, Caution. Tsai Ming-Liang, Edward Yang, and Hou Hsiao-hsien are three more well-known Taiwanese filmmakers.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Taiwan

WARNING!
Taiwan prosecutes drug crimes harshly. Those convicted of trafficking, producing, importing, or exporting more than 15 g of heroin, 30 g of morphine, 30 g of cocaine, 500 g of cannabis, 200 g of cannabis resin, or 1.2 kg of opium face the death sentence, and just possession of these amounts is enough to condemn you.
Unauthorized ingestion may result in up to ten years in prison, a large fine, or both. You can be charged for unauthorized consumption if traces of illegal drugs are found in your system, even if you can prove that they were consumed outside the country, and you can be charged for trafficking if drugs are found in bags in your possession or in your room, even if they aren’t yours and regardless of whether you’re aware of them – so be aware of your surroundings.

Stay Safe in Taiwan

Crime

Taiwan is very secure for visitors, even ladies at night. This is not to imply that there is no crime, and you should always be cautious. Pickpockets are a well-known issue in busy places such as night markets or festivals. However, it is fair to state that Taiwan’s streets are usually quite safe, with violent crime and muggings being very uncommon.

It is also uncommon to see drunks on the street at any time of day or night.

Women should be careful while riding cabs alone late at night, just as they do everywhere else in the globe. Although they are usually safe, it is a good idea to arrange for a friend to contact you when you get home and to be observed doing so by the taxi driver. It also helps if a buddy notices you getting picked up since taxi license numbers are visible. As an added precaution, instead of giving taxi drivers your specific location, give them just the street name and area.

Most police agencies have a Foreign Affairs Police section manned by English-speaking personnel. When reporting a serious crime, call the Foreign Affairs section as well as police in the local station. Police stations are identified by a red light above the entrance and a sign that plainly states “Police” in English.

Foreign victims of serious crimes in Taiwan should also contact their government’s representative office in Taipei.

Also, in Taiwan, dial 110 for police and 119 for fire or medical assistance. Most public phone booths will enable you to make a free call to 110 or 119.

Emergency phone numbers

  • Police: 110
  • Fire/Ambulance: 119

Both the police and the fire/ambulance services are available in English.

Natural hazards

Typhoons are common in Taiwan throughout the summer and early autumn, particularly on the East Coast. During the summer, there is also a lot of monsoon rain. Hikers and mountaineers should check weather forecasts before venturing into the mountains. Falling rocks () caused by earth softening are a major hazard following heavy rainfall in the mountains, and there have been reports of people being killed or injured by these.

Taiwan is also situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which means earthquakes are frequent. Most earthquakes are hardly felt, but people in higher-rise structures may feel it more strongly. While local building codes are extremely strict, general precautions should be taken during an earthquake, such as opening the door to prevent it from becoming jammed, taking cover, and checking for gas leaks afterwards.

Poisonous snakes found in Taiwan’s wild areas include the bamboo viper, Russel’s viper, banded krait, coral snake, Chinese cobra, Taiwan habu, and the so-called “hundred pacer” . Making a lot of noise when hiking, wearing long pants, and avoiding overgrown paths are all precautions against snake bites. Most snakes are afraid of people, so making a noise will give them time to flee. Walking softly implies you may surprise them around a corner as you emerge, resulting in an attack. The Russel’s viper, one of Taiwan’s most deadly snakes, is an exception; it usually chooses to defend itself against threats.

Traffic

Local drivers have earned a well-deserved reputation for seeming reckless and even unethical. It is possible (even common) to get a driving license in Taiwan without ever having driven on the roads, which may be one of the reasons (along with congested roads) why polite or defensive driving is not the norm. The underlying principles seem to be that the right of way belongs to the bigger vehicle, i.e. trucks have the right of way over cars, automobiles have the right of way over motorcycles, motorcyclists have the right of way over pedestrians, and so on. Despite the chaotic look of traffic, it is instinctive to give the right-of-way to a much bigger car barreling at you. Slow and steady motions are preferable than fast and abrupt ones. Local drivers often cut in front of moving traffic into areas that seem too tiny, attempt to change lanes despite the fact that their destination is already filled, and so on. Be warned that during heavy traffic (which is almost always), two-lane roads will suddenly become three-lane, an orange light will be read as’speed up,’ and the slightest gap in incoming traffic will result in everyone waiting attempting to turn across it. Drivers regularly approach a crossroads while their exit is barred, and as a result, they are typically remain there long after the lights change, obstructing traffic in other directions. Many motorcycle riders have a proclivity to zoom through any area, no matter how small. Also, keep in mind that motorbikes often pass into places that are usually thought to be pedestrian-only, such as night markets.

If you’re driving a vehicle or a motorbike, the apparent rule is that if someone turns in front of you, you should be the one to adjust. To prevent accidents, drivers must be always on the lookout for other cars that may pose a danger and be ready to change speed or direction to accommodate. In many places, particularly in central and southern Taiwan, vehicles are not expected to give the right of way or to obey traffic signals. Sounding the horn is the most common method for a Taiwanese motorist to signal that they do not plan to accommodate a vehicle attempting to infringe on their lane, etc., and does not always imply anger or criticism, as it does in other countries. One advantage of Taiwan’s chaotic traffic is that drivers have remarkable awareness of their vehicle’s spatial extents and navigate effectively, so that even if it constantly seems that someone is going to drive directly into you, it is very uncommon that they do so.

Crossing the street should be done with extreme caution, even if it means looking both ways on a one-way street. When crossing at a pedestrian crossing at a T-junction or crossroads, keep in mind that even if the tiny green guy lights up and you begin crossing, vehicles will still attempt to turn right, green feeder signal or not. Even if traffic is light and the green light is in your favor, bikers are highly recommended to check the other lane.

Stay Healthy in Taiwan

Pollution

With the greatest scooter-to-person ratio in the world and a high west coast urban density, air pollution may be severe. The USA limit for fine particles (PM2.5) over 24 hours should be less than 35g/m3. When traveling with the elderly or children, it is a good idea to use a mask that can filter tiny particles.

Water

With the exception of Kaohsiung, tap water in Taiwan is generally safe to drink after boiling. Any water or ice supplied in restaurants has already been treated. Water fountains in Taiwan are always equipped with filters, and they can be found in almost every lodge or hotel, as well as major museums and Taipei MRT stations. These fountains also let you to refill and reuse your bottles.

Most residents in Kaohsiung do not drink tap water, even after filtering or boiling it, since it contains tiny levels of arsenic, which is harmful to their health. It’s questionable if the trace quantities are harmful, particularly if you’re just traveling through, but the residents get drinkable water from pumps that look like gasoline pumps and are scattered around the residential neighborhoods. Most hotels will offer two bottles of mineral water in each room for visitors to use as drinking water. If that isn’t enough, there are numerous 24-hour convenience shops nearby where you can buy more bottled water.

In most other parts of Taiwan, it is not recommended to consume tap water. In reality, most hotels, especially international tourist hotels, have warnings about this. Although some Taiwanese do this, the vast majority prefer to sip boiling water. Prior to boiling, water is frequently filtered in certain areas of the nation (Yunlin County, etc.) to remove silt and minerals from the ground water.

Another reason to consume previously boiled or bottled water in Taiwan is because the country is seismically active. Because of the high frequency of earthquakes, the water distribution system (pipes) is readily broken, enabling pollutants to infiltrate the water before it reaches the tap.

Healthcare

Minor illnesses may be treated with medications accessible at pharmacy shops. Common medicines that need a prescription in the West (such as asthma inhalers and birth control pills) may also be inexpensively accessible from drug shops without a prescription.

Taiwan has both Chinese and Western physicians, both of whom are regarded seriously. However, as a foreigner, the presumption is that you will be sent to a Western doctor. Taiwan’s hospital quality is outstanding, on level with, if not better than, that seen in the West. Taiwan’s healthcare system is often regarded as among the finest in the world. Legal residents with a National Health Card have access to a highly accessible and efficient national health care that includes treatment and medication utilizing both Western and traditional Chinese medicine. This service, however, is not accessible to short-term travelers on tourist visas, and it does not cover severe medical costs. Nonetheless, hospital visits and medication in Taiwan are much less costly than in the West. In the case of mild illnesses and difficulties (flu, broken bones, stitches, etc.). Most Taiwanese physicians can converse in at least basic English, and many of the best ones received their medical degrees in the United States and speak English well. The nurses, on the other hand, may prove to be more difficult.

Hiking

When trekking in the mountains, keep an eye out for mosquito bites. Mosquitoes thrive in humid, hot conditions, especially during the summer. Most mosquito bites cause merely skin irritation and itching, however in certain parts of Taiwan, dengue fever or Japanese encephalitis may be contracted (though they are both rare in Taiwan). Mosquito/insect repellent spray is available in convenience shops (such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart) as well as local pharmacies. If you are bitten by a mosquito, use a little quantity of ointment to relieve the itch.

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