|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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.