Taiwan: The Ultimate Travel Guide
An underrated destination that should be on every globetrotter’s list, Taiwan offers a diverse landscape for travelers: a kingdom with stunning national parks for outdoor adventurers, a wide range of yummy local food to feast on, a liberal and progressive Asian society – Taiwan just became the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage – and a perfectly balanced fusion between modern metropolis’ and age-old traditions. Still not convinced? It’s also one of the safest destinations to visit for solo female travelers.
If you’re thinking of traveling there, then take a look at our guide to help you figure out the best time to visit, how to get around, what to eat, where to visit and how to budget.
When to visit | Must-sees | Getting around | Language | Food | Budgeting tips | Packing tips
Best time to visit Taiwan
You can visit Taiwan all year round, as it’s warm the whole time. But if you’d like to avoid humidity, typhoon season and lots of tourists (sounds hectic in our opinion – however, it’s way cheaper to visit at that time of year), then visit between April – June or September-November.
Top 4 places to visit in Taiwan
- Taipei: The capital city on the northern tip of Taiwan, Taipei fuses modern-day cosmopolitan living with ancient Taiwanese traditions. A real melting pot of culture, with an impressive skyline to boot.
- Kaohsiung: A city located on the southern coast, Kaohsiung is a trendy urban hotspot, with a vibrant café culture, lots of greenery, and a quirky art district.
- Tainan: The oldest city in Taiwan, Tainan holds on strongly to the traditional cultures of the Taiwanese, with lots of interesting temples and museums, and a mighty local food scene.
- Hualien: The the largest county in Taiwan, Hualien is home to the breathtaking Taroko National Park. Stick around and you’ll find a modern metropolis with landscaped parks, ocean views and a wide range of foodie spots.
Getting around Taiwan
Taipei and Kaohsiung both have metro systems (MRT) that can get you from point A to point B quickly and easily. You can even take it to and from the airport too! The metro maps are clearly labelled, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding your way around.
In Taipei, you can either buy single-trip tickets, ranging anywhere from 20NT$ (approx. 64c) to 65NT$ (approx. $2.) or you can also buy the day-passes, which will help you save some money.
If you’re travelling throughout Taiwan, the best is to buy an EasyCard. You can keep topping it up with money and use it throughout the country. EasyCards are accepted on the Maokong Gondola, Taipei buses, Taiwan railway, Taiwan High Speed Rail, and taxis. They cost 100NT$ (approx. $3.22) and you’ll have to top it up as you go. Any value unused at the end of your trip is returned to you, so no worries there.
The High Speed Rail covers the major cities on the west coast, and will help you get between Taipei and Kaohsiung in just 90 minutes. You’ve also got the TRA network across rail, which is cheaper and runs across Taiwan, but it also takes longer. If you’re under 30 years old, you can buy a Taiwan Rail Pass for 5, 7 or 10-day starting from 599NT$ (approx. $19.28).
You can also take the buses as they are available all throughout Taiwan. They tend to be cheaper than trains and have access to rural areas
Other transportation options include scooters, bicycles, boats and planes.
Language spoken in Taiwan
The majority of languages (or at least, the main languages) spoken in Taiwan come from the Chinese language. The language most widely spoken is the country’s official one, Mandarin Chinese. Check out these top five phrases that’ll be the most handy while you’re traveling.
- Nĭ hăo (nee how) – Hello.
- Xièxie (hsieh hsieh) – Thanks
- Bù hǎo yì si (Boo how ee si) – Excuse me
- Bú yòng, xièxie – no, thank you
- Duō-shǎo-qián (pronounced Doo-oh shao chen) – How much?
It’s always a good idea to have Google Translate on your phone, so you can communicate easier with the locals.
If all else fails, you can rest assured that the most widely spoken foreign language in Taiwan, is English.
Best food to eat in Taiwan
We won’t repeat ourselves, as we’ve already written a pretty tasty blog about the 7 foods you need to try in Taiwan’s night markets. But be prepared for the food porn: Xiao Long Bao, dumplings, and beef noodles galore!
Had enough of street food? (Who are you?!) Taiwan also has its fare share of quirky and creative themed eateries.
Travel budget for Taiwan
The cost of a hostel room in Taipei can be as cheap as $10-15 per night, and food can be as inexpensive as anywhere else in Asia, meaning if you need to save money whilst travelling, you won’t struggle.
Here are some tips on saving money in Taiwan…
- Two words: Street. Food. A no-brainer, and something you will definitely want to try again and again – especially since the taste and value by far outdoes a lot of sit-down restaurants.
- Grab food on the go from 7-Eleven/7-11 or Hi-life. Hi-life is a convenience store much like 7/11, and you can pick up cheap and quick food when you’re rushing about, or are trying to save the pennies.
- EasyCard makes it – you guessed it – easy to travel around Taiwan, and can also get you discounts at certain attractions. If you’re a student, register your card, and you’ll get student discounts at retailers and attractions.#
- Much like anywhere you travel in the world, free WiFi is your saviour. Forgo the sim cards or pricey roaming charges, and opt for keeping in touch with friends and family in your hostels or hotels – it’s nice to have a digital detox anyway!
Packing tips for Taiwan
- Check the weather forecast beforehand to see whether you should pack some layers.
- But in any case, pack light, particularly if you’re travelling around You’ll want a few dressier outfits for evenings out in Taipei!
- Pack good walking shoes or sandals
- Use your best judgement when it comes to picking a backpack or a suitcase – public transport is easy for suitcases, but if you’re going to more rural areas, it might be more convenient to use a backpack.
- Pack. Bug. Spray (and sunscreen).
Armed and ready to go with our handy guide to Taiwan? Well haven’t we got good news for you. We’re giving you $75 off all flights to Taiwan!
Read more, search and book tours, day trips and more on our Taiwan Travel page