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.