Taiwan will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first country where I traveled completely solo. It has a variety of different foods, friendly people and bubble tea. As soon as you step out the airport you can smell the food that’s served in Taiwan. If you want good eats, hang out in Taipei, otherwise head south for some nature. There are excellent hikes to be had as well as beaches for surfing.
Currency: New Taiwan Dollar (NT$) (Click here for current conversion rates)
Language: Standard Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien
Visa: Not for stays under 90 days. (Click here for the most up-to-date Visa requirements)
Wifi friendly: Yes, many cafes and even restaurants have wifi.
SIM cards: The most widely used contractors are Chungwha, Taiwan mobile, and Fareastone. While I never felt the need to use a SIM card myself, (Taiwan is very easy to navigate and a lot of people speak English) the most recommended one was Chungwha.
Unique tip/ Experience: The best way to eat stinky tofu is with the sauces provided. If you try to eat the stinky tofu by itself, you might have a tough time getting it down.
Hostels: Prices throughout Taiwan start around $10 for a dormitory bed, but the hostels are tidy and clean and always maintain a friendly environment.
Hotels: Just like the hostels, many hotels are clean and reasonably priced starting at around $30.
Food & Drink
Taiwan is well known for its food and contains many different options. A fun way to try Taiwanese food is by heading to the night markets where you will find stalls selling a variety of street foods. Some of the things that can be found are chicken feet, stinky tofu, and even a bowl of noodles.
Gua bao– a generous slice of pork topped with coriander and pickled mustard leaves then sandwiched between a circular flat steamed bread and topped with grated peanuts.
xiao long bao– pockets of pork, chicken, or shrimp with scalding soup inside and dipped in Chinese vinegar and ginger.
Pineapple cake– mini pies filled with candied pinapple. Can be an excellent souvenir to take home!
bubble milk tea– a tea-based drink mixed with milk and tapioca balls that was invented in Tainan and Taichung
How to get there
The main international airports are Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei and Kaohsiung International Airport in Kaohsiung. The cheapest way to get to downtown Taipei is by bus and there are several different ones that will drop you off at the Taipei main station. Then there is the High Speed Rail (HSR) which you must take a 5 minute shuttle in order to reach and the ticket is NT$175.
Taipei has a subway which is efficient, clean and easy to use. Tokens are used for one way travel at NT$50, and a one day pass is NT$180. There is also the option of a refillable card which can be used for multiple trips and small payments at convenient stores called Easycard. It is a touch-and-go card that is tapped at every entrance and exit of the subway stations.
The cheapest and easiest way is to use the train which travels along the coast to get you to different cities. The trains are clean and comfortable and prices vary depending on how fast you want to go and at what time. Train tickets tend to sell out, especially going to Taipei so make sure you buy your tickets early.
Phrases to know
Thank you= xie xie pronounced like shi-eh shi-eh
Hello= Ni hao pronounced like nee how