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Taiwan is an amazing country with lots to see and do. It is an underrated country, so there isn’t as much information about Taiwan on the internet as other popular Asian countries like Thailand.
This post will provide you with 10 incredibly practical and helpful Taiwan travel tips. It includes transportation tips, dining tips, and general Taiwan travel tips. It will hopefully help you when you’re in Taiwan.
You always want to try to blend in as a tourists, and these Taiwan travel tips will help you look like a local. Well, maybe not a local, but at least not an ignorant tourist. Nobody wants to be that person who is clearly a tourist and hasn’t done any research before visiting the country.
Lucky for you, you won’t be that person if you follow these 10 Taiwan travel tips!
1. Be Careful Where You Sit on Public Transportation
Finding a seat and sitting down sounds like one of the easiest parts of figuring out the transportation system in a new country, but that isn’t the case in Taiwan.
There are dedicated seats on the metro and buses for elderly people, pregnant people, and people living with disabilities. The seats are marked either with a coloured fabric over the top of the seat on the bus or by a different (normally dark) coloured seat on the metro.
The dedicated seats are normally near the front of the bus or near the doors on the metro.
You do not want to sit in those seats even if there aren’t people who need to use them nearby. People in Taiwan take these seats seriously, and you’ll get dirty looks from the locals if you sit in them.
Even if all the other seats are taken, it is best to stand rather than sit in these spots!
This is one of the best Taiwan travel tips I can give you! It’ll help you blend in, and you won’t look like a jerk if you’re taking a seat that is reserved for someone who needs it more than you do.
2. Bring Your Own Drink to Restaurants
This is one of the most unique Taiwan travel tips on the list and was not something I’ve ever encountered while travelling before. As a North American, it is considered quite rude to bring your own drink into a restaurant, so it was a bit difficult to get used to bringing my own drink to dinner in Taiwan.
There is, however, a very logical reason for this behaviour. Bubble tea is an immensely popular drink in Taiwan, and you can purchase it at a walk-up window on the street. No matter where in Taiwan you are, you won’t be more than a few hundred meters from a bubble tea window.
Restaurants are used to people bringing in their own outside drink, and they don’t mind one bit. Some smaller, local restaurants don’t sell drinks, but most do.
You can purchase a drink where you’re dining in most cases, but you may as well bring your own drink that was probably much more affordable than buying a drink at the restaurants.
3. Visa is the Most Widely Accepted Credit Card
This was another surprising thing I learnt while in Taiwan. Visa is the most widely accepted and preferred credit card in Taiwan. Master Card and American Express are accepted but by fewer vendors.
Most major retailers and hotels will accept any major credit card you have, but that may not be the case if you’re trying to pay by credit card at a local restaurant or store.
It is definitely something to be aware of and prepare for if at all possible. It is awful to be stuck in a situation where you’re trying to purchase something, your credit card isn’t accepted, and you don’t have enough cash to pay for whatever you’re purchasing.
I only used my credit card to purchase rail tickets when I was in Taiwan. I used my Master Card and had no issue. But I heard a number of stories from travellers about running into trouble because they didn’t have a Visa.
4. Cash is King
This tip fits in nicely with my last tip.
You want to carry cash with you while travelling in Taiwan. There are a number of places that only accept cash. This includes night markets, and you will undoubtably be visiting at least one night market in Taiwan.
You’ll also be making a number of small purchases (mostly bubble tea if you’re anything like me) that you’ll want to pay cash for. You don’t want to be paying credit card conversion fees on small purchases!
I personally like to take out cash before I leave on a trip, so I don’t have to worry about paying an ATM fee in whatever country I’m visiting.
You can also exchange money when you get to Taiwan. You’ll want to avoid exchanging money at the airport though. Most airport currency exchange kiosks charge a higher percentage than kiosks anywhere else. It is a bit of a scam so try to avoid it at all costs!
5. Cities are Walkable but Spread Out
I love walking and tend to walk wherever I need to go when I’m travelling. I’m talking walking over an hour to get from one destination to another, but I know I’m not the norm in that regard.
It is definitely possible to walk to most tourist attractions in Taiwan, but it isn’t always the best use of your time. The tourist sights in cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung are really spread out, and take public transportation is your most time efficient option.
If you’re not in Taiwan for a long time, you’ll want to take public transit to make the most out of your time. If, however, you’re like me and have a few weeks in Taiwan and love walking, feel free to hit the pavement and walk until you can’t walk anymore!
6. English is Widely Spoken
I know this isn’t technically a travel tip, but it is a good thing to know.
You don’t have to worry about not being able to communicate while in Taiwan. Many of the locals, especially the younger generation, speak English.
Metro stations, buses, trains, and metro cars all have English signs, so you’ll be able to figure out where you are and where you need to go.
Many restaurants have English versions of their menus. You just need to ask, and they’ll be able to help you out.
Taiwanese people are incredibly friendly! They’re more than happy to help you out if you’re lost or need help with something. Locals will likely come up to you while you’re in Taiwan and want to talk to you about where your’e from and how you’re liking Taiwan.
Language barrier is not something to worry about at all.
Of course there are a number of people who don’t speak English, but they’ll always do their best to help you and find someone who does.
7. Get a Transportation Card
You’ll be using public transportation quite a bit in Taiwan, so you’ll want to pick up either an EasyMoney card or iCash 2.0 card.
You can purchase both cards at any convenience store, at the airport MRT station in Taipei, or at metro stations in Taipei and Kaohsiung. You’re able to load and re-load your card at these places as well.
You pre-load the transportation card with money and then simply tap the card when getting on and off transportation. This allows you to easily use public transportation and save time. It is a hassle to purchase single-journey tickets whenever you want to use public transportation.
There is a small fee to purchase a transportation card, but it is well worth it. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Paying with cash on the bus is especially annoying. You need exact cash, and you’re given a little card saying you paid that you have to give back to the driver when you get off the bus.
My iCash 2.0 card wasn’t working properly one day, and I had to use cash on the bus. It was a bit annoying, and a transportation card works much better.
You can’t use your transportation card when travelling between cities. You have to purchase either a train, bus, or plane ticket.
Here are a number of travel guides to help you plan your transportation between cities:
- Taipei to Hualien
- Taipei to Kaohsiung
- Taipei to Tainan
- Taipei to Taichung
- Taoyuan Airport to Taipei
- Kaohsiung to Kenting National Park
- Kaohsiung to Hualien
8. Pay When You Order and No Tipping
One of my favourite parts about dining out in Taiwan is that you pay for your meal when you order not at the end of the meal.
This completely eliminates the awkward time at the end of your meal when you’re trying to get your server’s attention to bring you the bill. It is my least favourite part of dining out, and I love that it isn’t an issue in Taiwan.
You order your food, pay for it, eat, and then walk out. It is the perfect system in my mind. If you want to order more after you paid, simply tell your server. You’ll need to pay for the new items you ordered, but it isn’t an issue at all to add to your order mid-meal.
Tipping isn’t common practice in Taiwan, so you don’t need to add anything on top of the base price for your meal. People are paid a living wage and don’t rely on tips, and it can often be seen as rude if you do tip.
I know it can be difficult to get used to not tipping if you’re from North America, but it does save you some money! You don’t have to worry about shelling out an additional 15% to 20% anytime you eat out!
9. No Talking on Public Transportation
This is another one of those Taiwan travel tips that will help you blend in and look like a local when using public transportation in Taiwan.
It is also one of my favourite things about Taiwan transportation. I hate when people have casual conversations on public transportation, and I don’t need to worry about that in Taiwan!
It is considered quite rude to talk while on public transportation in Taiwan. This includes having a conversation with someone you’re with or talking on the phone.
You don’t want to be the obnoxious traveller who is carrying on a loud conversation annoying everybody else on the train or bus. Reserve your conversations for when you’re off the train, and everybody around you will very much appreciate it.
10. Eat Like a Local
Taiwanese food in incredible and some of the most delicious food in Asia.
Food, for the most part, is really affordable and inexpensive in Taiwan. There are certainly places where food is expensive, but it is really easy to not break the bank while eating out in Taiwan.
To eat the best food at the best price, eat where the locals eat!
This includes at night markets, street vendors, food courts in department stores, and mom-and-pop restaurants. You’ll know you’re in a good place when there are more locals than tourists!
It can be difficult to find a local place to eat. You can ask your hotel for recommendations, and they should be able to help you out. My preference is to wander into a local neighbourhood and then use Google Maps to find a restaurant nearby. I then read the restaurant reviews until I find a place that suits my fancy.
I’ve found some of my favourite restaurants in Taiwan using this technique. I’ve found it to be a great way to try a local place and know I’m getting good food. If the locals give it a good review, I feel confident giving it a try.
BONUS: Great Public Wifi System
Taiwan is on another level when it comes to accessing public wifi!
The Taiwanese government has implemented a wifi program that is available pretty much everywhere in the country.
It is called iTaiwan.
You simply create an account, and you’re able to access public wifi basically everywhere.
I did have a few issues accessing it when I was in Taiwan. You’re asked to input your passport information if you’re no Taiwanese, and it would never connect for me.
I think that my experience is pretty uncommon, and iTaiwan works for most people!
I have heard people say you need to register for an iTaiwan account at a tourist centre in Taiwan or online before you arrive in Taiwan, so that may be where I ran into issues.
Here is a link to the iTaiwan website for you to check out if you want to learn about the program before you land in Taiwan.
If you choose to use iTaiwan, it is essential that you use a virtual private network (VPN) to protect your devices and your data!
Using public wifi leaves you at high risk of having your data stolen (and possibly sold), and VPN cloaks your location, so you’re completely safe and protected from prying eyes.
I’ve used a number of VPNs in my time and was never really satisfied until I started using Nord VPN.
Nord VPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices with one account, works all over the world (including behind China’s fire wall), and allows you to access streaming services from around the world.
I adore Nord VPN and don’t plan on switching to a new VPN provider in the future!
There you have it! 10 really practical Taiwan travel tips that will help you navigate and explore Taiwan.
These tips are designed to help you integrate into Taiwan and explore the country like a local as much as possible. You’ll use transportation, eat, and shop like a local! These Taiwan travel tips will make travelling in Taiwan so much easier!
You’ll be able to relax and enjoy what the country has to offer rather than stressing about transportation, food, and money if you implement these travel tips.
All these tips are things I wish I knew before I went to Taiwan. I hope they help you while you’re in Taiwan, and you don’t make some of the mistakes I did.