I know that Taiwan isn’t on everyone’s bucket list, but I’m here to tell you why it should be. After living in Taiwan for 10 years, and recently spending another 10 weeks there, I’ve fallen in love with this beautiful country all over again. And you will too, if you give it a chance!
Happy reading! x
10. Food, drinks and snacks
Although food for me was difficult in Taiwan, because most of the time I have to follow a vegan diet due to intolerances, etc, the food is actually AMAZING.
Whatever you fancy trying, you can! Whether it’s pigs’ blood rice cakes or roasted duck, the best waffles ever, bubble milk tea, beef noodles, sushi, curry, matcha cakes, soya bean drinks, snacks and puddings, freshly squeezed juices, candied fruits, stinky tofu! It’s all there for you in the cafes, restaurants and night markets and it would be a big mistake to not try as much as possible whilst you’re there.
I only wish I could!
9. Health care
In Taiwan, they take their health very seriously. At 6am you will see groups of people running, jogging, walking, dancing, cycling, doing yoga, and many other forms of exercise. Usually in the local parks, which there are many of – even in the cities! There are health clinics every 10 paces which you can walk into and wait to see a doctor for pretty much anything. Colds, flus, eye infection, tooth ache, back ache… whatever it is you can get it sorted pretty easily.
If you don’t speak Chinese, you might want to go with a friend in case there isn’t an English speaking doctor. In the big cities, you’ll probably, almost definitely, be fine. But in the smaller cities it’s really hit and miss! The dentists are the same -they’re everywhere! and compared to England they’re a little cheaper (£20-50 per visit including treatment), and peanuts if you have the resident’s health card (about £5 per visit including treatment)
8. Taiwan’s amazing culture
Wow. If you’ve been following my blog or Instagram, you’ll have seen some of the wonderful places I’ve been to, but if you haven’t… let me tell you what I love about it.
Taiwan has such a rich history and culture: (A very brief overview) starting with over 4,000 years of indigenous tribes inhabiting the island, then in the early 1600s Dutch settlers arrived, followed by the Spanish, Mainland Chinese and then the Japanese, which has left a variety of traditions, cultures and architecture throughout the island. Many Japanese buildings still stand and some have become government protected sites for cultural and educational purposes.
Religion plays a strong part in many people’s daily lives, and although Buddhism and Daoism make up the largest number of followers, there are people who are Mormon, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic and many, many other religions.
You will find a temple on every road, whether it is large or little there is always somewhere to pray. Personally, I love visiting the temples in Taiwan. I enjoy learning about their history and the architecture. Some people think I’m odd for being so interested, but I know plenty of people share my enthusiasm! One day I visited 12 temples in 5 hours and I loved it. I felt so empowered and positive because of how amazing the buildings were and the kindness of the people I met.
Taiwanese people have the most fantastic culture, way of life, but if I keep talking it will become an essay, so let’s keep moving…
7. The scenery
It doesn’t matter where you’re visiting, or living, in Taiwan, you are never too far from somewhere beautiful. Whether it’s the mountains, the beach or the city… The island is small enough that you can travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung by High Speed Rail in 4 hours, and 8 hours by normal (slow) train, more or less.
In Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Kaohsiung you are surrounded by mountains, accessible by train, taxi, bus or bike. You can take your pick of transportation methods and if you know how to ride a scooter, your time in Taiwan is going to be so much easier!
There are beaches less than an hour from all the major cities, some nicer than others, and there are also islands that you can fly or take a boat to if you have time for a day or weekend trip. To name a few: Green Island, Orchid Island, Penghu Island or Matsu Island…
The cities are packed. They’re vibrant, weird, fascinating, noisy, exciting! Taipei, Taichung and Kaohsiung are the big ones on most people’s travel itineraries but Hsinchu, Tainan and Hualien are also must-see places.
The mountains – wow! Taiwan attracts a large number of adventurers every year for hiking, cycling, sailing and more… It is said that there are over 250 mountains in Taiwan, but here’s a list of the top 100 (a list not compiled by myself, as I’m absolutely not a hiker) For more hiking adventures for all levels, head on over to Taiwan Off the Beaten Track and have a read through this fantastic blog.
Taiwan has something to offer everyone from hikers, bikers, singers, yogis and general wanderers, so it’s worth reading up on each city first to see if it’s what you’re looking for.
IT IS AWESOME! Taiwan’s nightlife ranges from nightclubs to hidden bars down unknown alleys, which unlike the UK are not at all weird or dodgy. There are night markets that stay open til 11, 12pm and some in the bigger cities are open until 1 or 2am selling food, drinks, beauty products, clothes, shoes and pretty much anything you could ever want in your life. No, I’m not exaggerating.
Shihlin night market is one of the most famous ones in Taipei, and Fengjia is the largest in Taichung, but honestly it depends on what city you’re in and where you feel like going because Taiwan has hundreds of night markets.
Taipei is your best option for nightclubs, but I’m not longer an expert in that department.
Restaurants in the bigger cities stay open until 12 or 1am and many bars stay open until 3 or 4am. In the smaller cities things tend to close up around 9, 10 or 11pm.
Cafes tend to open from 7am to 10pm if they’re Starbucks, 7am to 8pm for Louisa Coffee and independent coffee shops, usually 8/9/10am to 7/8/9pm depending on the cities.
5. The weather
In general, the weather in Taiwan is pretty good. The further south you go, the warmer it is all year round, but often worse hit by typhoons. The east is more effected by earthquakes, especially in and around Hualien.
The average temperature, year-round, is 22oC in Taiwan. During the winter it may reach around 12oC and in the summer, up to 38oC with 98% humidity! So pick your month of travel carefully!
4. Taiwanese people are amazing!
I honestly, genuinely, believe that Taiwanese people are the friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life. People say hello to you on the street, in the shops, on the train, anywhere! (Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a non-local they will also stare, take photos and point at you quite often.) They take an interest in your life, where you’re from and what you’re doing in Taiwan.
They’ll invite you to their homes. If you’re lost, most people will help you get to where you need to go by going with you until you are where you need to be. They’ll lend you a phone, give you directions even if you don’t speak Chinese (okay, this isn’t that helpful…)
I love Taiwanese people for their generosity and hospitality.
is easy, cheap and convenient in Taiwan, especially in the bigger cities.
During my time in Hsinchu I found it a little frustrating that there weren’t many taxis or the buses didn’t always turn up, there weren’t many uBike stations or trains were too crowded. BUT, in Taipei and Taichung, and I’m assuming in the other bigger cities, transportation is beyond easy.
Wherever you need to go, you’ll get there quickly and cheaply. Taxi drivers are usually wonderful, although sometimes they’ll try and take you longer routes if you’re a foreigner (you get this in all capital cities though, right?).
Buses go to all corners of the island there are hundreds of rental bike stations across the main cities, which is a really fun and easy way to sight-see!
Even if you’re just on holiday, I’d recommend getting an EasyCard, local people call them Yo-Yo-Ka, as you can top them up with a minimum of NT$100 and a maximum of NT$5000 (which you probably wouldn’t use). You can use them for everything. Buses, taxis, 7-11, normal shops, McDonalds and pretty much anywhere else. Usually you can buy the card from train stations or a 7-11 for NT$100. The better the design, the more expensive the card.
They come in key chains or normal credit-card style cards with designs of Disney characters, Hello Kitty, Curious George and many, many other cartoons!
I’m not talking politics here at all. In Taiwan places are open late, transport takes you everywhere, people are wonderful and the streets are safe. You are free to walk to 7-11 at 1am, you’re free to do yoga in the park at 5am with the local people, you’re free to shop at 10pm or 6am at the market. You’re free to take any bus to any city because it costs you less than £10, maybe even £5. You’re free to take the trains to the bigger cities, wander around the streets, through the temples, the markets, the mountains, the riverbanks. You’re free.
You’re not free if your mind is closed.
If you cannot, or will not, adapt to the Taiwanese way of life, you’re trapped in your own mind and you will struggle with the differences. If you’re open minded, you’ll be amazed. There is so much you can do, see and learn in Taiwan and the people are willing to help you as well. It’s unlike any other country I’ve ever been to and I fall more in love with it every time I visit.
1. Last but not least, COFFEE!
Taiwan is absolutely one of the best places for coffee.
Every single cafe, coffee shop, place with a chair seems to have the best coffee machine, decent beans, experienced baristas… it’s not like England. They take their coffee very seriously in Taiwan and their latte art is some of the best among baristas worldwide.
This could easily turn into an essay on Coffee in Taiwan, so I’ll stop before it does. I just wanted to express how much I love Taiwan for their amazing, rapidly-expanding coffee scene that never fails to amaze me.