Updated: Nov 11, 2019
We made it. Taiwan for 10 days, let's do it!
I really enjoyed our time here and would like to share with you some of our first thoughts, adventures, tips and tricks. Hopefully it inspires you to travel here yourself, or helps you plan out your own trip.
Coming to Taiwan from New Zealand we had a stop over at Singapore airport for about 2 hours. Once we arrived it was on the train with our Easy cards to get to Taipei. (You can get these train cards at the airport and most convenience stores. It definitely make your train journeys and the stress of public transport a lot easier!) Just load it up with whatever amount you like and you are ready to go.
Looking out the train window, I couldn’t help but notice the corrugated iron roofs and houses/building that seemed lucky to still be standing. Admittedly this made me a little worried about what we were in for and what our Air BnB might be like. However, what started out as an “oh no!” moment ended up becoming what I loved about this place. By the Time we got more into the city the mix of both the old and new is something that makes this place so special. Many shops from the outside didn’t look like much until you went in, so don't judge places by their exteriors here. What looked not so great on the outside could be really pretty and special on the inside.
Our first Airbnb was it Taipei. It was easy, and cheaper then hotels in the area. Above a little coffee shop in the Zhongzheng district, we finally felt a bit more at ease.
For first timers traveling to Taiwan, here are some hot tips I think might help your journey go a little smoother. Feel free to let me know about any other tips you might have if you have already visited this magical place. Explore and let the cities amaze you!
Bad air days: There can be some “bad air days” so I would suggest a face mask for smoggy days.
You can buy packs of face masks at most convenience stores for cheap. Be mindful of this if you suffer from any health problems. I wouldn't consider it to be a major problem. If anything, most of the time the air just felt a little thick, humid and heavy.
Although we didn’t have much trouble with English it was definitely harder to communicate compared to japan or Korea. The google translate app is always handing if in doubt. It may not be correct 100% of the time, but it has helped me bluff my way through some menus a few times thanks to its image translate features.
Street markets, street markets, street markets! The best food can be found here so make sure you hit at least one. The most popular in Taipei are Shilin, Raohe, Shida and Ningxia Night Markets. They have everything here from penis cakes to stinky tofu so don't be afraid to try something new. Eat as you wander around the streets and enjoy the cheap food until you pop!
Drown yourself in hot pot: There are hundreds of hot pot restaurants in Taiwan. We ate at so many and I honestly don't think there was a bad one. It's super cheap and will fill you up every time. Most are open really late as well so its a great spot for a late night feast before bed.
Beware the Scooters: Scooters are everywhere! Hundreds! So please be careful on the roads as they don’t have the same rules as other vehicles.
Eat! Eat! Eat!
There is honestly such a mix of food here. We had amazing Japanese curry at a one piece themed restaurant. Fluffy pancakes and bao. Hotpot and delicious cakes. It might be a little harder for vegetarians here, but download the happy cow app and I'm sure you wont be disappointed.
All the milk tea:
Tiger milk tea. Best bubble tea I’ve ever had. Don’t miss out!
There is bubble tea everywhere here. Most corners will have at least one bubble tea store. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to their orders so try as many as you like and #stayhydrated.
Right side. Wrong side:
Follow the leader. Walk on the left, stand on the right! This is how it goes for escalators, much like japan be mindful of others and follow suit if you're unsure. Follow the yellow lines when waiting for the train to arrive and if in doubt, check those around you and follow suit.
It’s hot and humid:
I think winters here are still 10 degrees! The air can get thick too so bring clothes to best suit your adventures with this in mind.
Always be polite:
But not too hands on. People are happy to talk but not big on being touched a lot so personal space is a must for new friends/ acquaintances.
Leave the politics behind: Their relationship with China is complex. No need to talk about it unless they really want too.
No English tests please! While some might have their English down. You talking too much, too fast, or trying to start a conversation randomly with them inside a 7/11 might make them feel like they're taking an English test! Respect people’s space and privacy.
Tattoos, piercings ect: These aren’t a problem in Taiwan. Tattoos, piercings, beards ect are less common in Taiwan. however, most people will be respectful and polite so you shouldn’t have any problems, maybe just a few intrigued stares.
Hope this helps! Stay awesome, be happy <3
Alex Heart x