Travel Southeast Asia, Taiwan: What You Need To Know Before You Come
January 4, 2020
We’re Johan and Bianca
We have been living and traveling in Taiwan with a combination of 15 years. Together we, along with our dog Thula, bring you the beauty of a life of travel, personally curated by us.
One night in the rain, a vanbuild, and a few plane rides across the world later, we decided to make life more interesting and take a chance on doing what we love.
Why We Love Taiwan
Taiwan is the best place to live and travel in South East Asia. For outdoor enthusiasts it’s a country where you will never run out of things to do. Which is why we love traveling around Taiwan.
Hike, cycle, climb mountains, scuba dive in the ocean, swim in waterfalls. Especially on Taiwan’s East Coast, Taiwan is one of the most beautiful countries we have been. Its central location in South East Asia also makes it a great home base for those who want to pursue a life of travel.
Before you come to travel Southeast Asia, Taiwan, here are a few things you need to know.
Asian Values Today
Taiwanese have created Asia’s most vibrant democracy, and liberal society with a free press, gender equality and respect for human rights. There is also a heightened awareness of animal rights here.
If you want to catch a glimpse of the people’s passion for protest, check out Taipei Main Station on most weekends, or just follow the local news.
The landscape is ever changing here, but there is still a hold on traditional values. Attributes of this can be seen all around the island and throughout everyday life.
Taiwan’s Food Scene
Taiwan offers many unique cuisines. You can find Chinese food, as well as the best Japanese outside Tokyo, and local specialities from Hakka stirfry and Taipei beef noodles to aboriginal- style barbecued wild boar. Night markets around the island serve endless feasts of snacks including stinky tofu, steamed dumplings, oyster omelettes, shrimp rolls and shaved ice. And, when you’re thirsty you can look forward to fresh local juices, or the infamous bubble milk teas.
When you have been living in Taiwan as long as we have, it’s also nice to taste some western flavors once 5 5 25 5573 in a while. Even though we love to cook, we usually go to Pizza Rock if we are craving some terrazzo pizza. What we like most about Pizza Rock isn’t just the food, or that you can find it all throughout Taiwan, but also the story behind the pizza restaurant.
Pizza in Taiwan? Yes. Try it..
Religion and Spirituality in Taiwan
Taiwan has a large mixture of practiced spirituality and religion. There is the Chinese tradition of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and deities who are worshiped. For example, the Fong Pow Festival in Yanshui, people worship deities in some interesting ways (though a foreigners eyes). Catholicism has even made its way here over the centuries.
Travel Taiwan Currency
New Taiwanese dollar (NT$)
Traditional Mandarin and Taiwanese are the main languages spoken. Taiwanese is spoken more in the South of Taiwan and outside of large cities. Taiwanese, unlike mandarin, uses the romanised alphabet. Note that mainland China uses simplified Chinese while Taiwan has held onto traditional.
English is also taught in public schools ad is widely spoken especially in the North.
Taiwan is a cash based culture. While ATMS and banks are widely available, we recommend you always have paper cash on you. If you are to go to night markets, coffee shops, or out of the big cities this is a must. Credit cards are accepted in most mid top-range hotels (but few B&Bs) and better restaurants. Visas are generally not required for stays of up to 90 days.
You can get a SIM card at the airport very easily. Taiwan is know to have cheap phone services. Johan and I both have unlimited data for around $25 USD a month.
Cheap mobile-phone rentals are also available at the airport. We suggest Myphone as they are located all around Taiwan.
We travel and sleep in our van Delica, but there are plenty of hotels, BNBs, motels (many love motels too), that are all over Taiwan’s cities. Here are some of our favorites.
If you’re feeling adventurous enough, we think the best way is to camp out. Rent a tent and camping gear with our friends at Taipei tents.
Opening Hours in Taiwan
Banks: 9am-3:30 Monday through Frida
Night Markets: 6pm-midnight
Bars and clubs: 9pm-3am (this depends on the bar and city though)
Resturants: 11am-2pm then 4pm-9pm (especially local restaurants will have an afternoon break.)
Travel Taiwan: Arriving in Taiwan
Taoyuan International Airport:
Buses run every 15 minutes to the city (NT$115- 150) from 4.30am to 12.20am.
A taxi (40 to 60 minutes) to the city costs NT$1200 to NT$1400
Kaohsiung International Airport:
MRT trains leave every six minutes from 6am to midnight (NT$35).
A taxi costs NT$350 to downtown. Getting Around Transport is reasonably priced and covers most of the country. In mountain areas and outer islands your own transport, like a scooter, is best. Trains service the north and both coasts; High Speed Rail down the west serves the main cities. There is a new station built between Kaohsiung and Kenting, making it easier to get to Kenting National Park by public transit. You can even rent a scooter from this location, and take that beautiful (and windy) drive down the coast.
Delicious food, interesting places to go, and personal stories from people around Taiwan. Read more about Traveling Taiwan and our adventures on our blog. And, if you’re in or on you way to Taiwan, feel free to contact us! We may be on a beach, or camping by a waterfall, but we’d love to help you in your travels.
Lose your map, put on a good pair of boots, and get lost in our stories.