Travelling to Taiwan, Taipei to be exact is not like any destination you have been to before. Congratulations for being fearless and adventurous enough to try it out.
Let me guess, you have no idea what to pack, bring or expect, and you reading this post hoping that will you get some insight into how things roll about in the city and how the local people actually are. Let me tell you now that I do not have a fairytale stories to tell about this city but I have some practical advise that will help you piece your travel puzzle experience together when you arrive at Taoyuan International airport.
If you haven’t read my other posts about What To Do While in Taipei, where to Get Your Hair Hook up (applies to folks of color), the Taipei Public Transportation (PT) system, Useful PT APPs, dating and a few places to hang out with the friends that you will make, now you can.
What you do while in Taipei, I have come to find out, is influenced by how long you are staying and the reasons why you are here. The longer you will be staying, you will have time to plan and experience Taiwan. If you are here for 6months or less, then you may just want to have list of things to see and do that you may never have a chance to do again.
A few things you must know or bring:
The weather is an important part of daily life in Taipei, especially during the summer.
– Clothing: lightweight material clothing is ideal and anything comfortable.
– Shoes: usually people wear ballerina style flats, sneakers, office shoes, rain boots. It also rains quite a bit so do not invest in any shoes you may have to figure out how to care for while you try to adjust.
Low high heels are a normal sight (I normally just carry a pair of flats if I have to wear high heels coz I prefer mine higher that 4inches.)
– Invest in a great backpack, tote and an umbrella.
– Address: If you will have to use a taxi/cab from the airport (meaning you have not pre-arranged your transportation with a hotel, company, friends etc) then have the address of the place you are going too in Mandarin and English.
You can also take the MRT straight from Taoyuan international airport (see the useful APPs
Beauty&Makeup: Ladies, although Taiwan has a wide makeup market with loads of products bring your hair and makeup products in abundance if possible until you figure out what works for you in Taiwan.
Even though Brands are the same, Asia is a completely different market opposed to others, so your brand’s presence in Taipei may mean nothing.
Taipei is big on food, the city is littered with lots of different eateries offering a wide demographic in cuisine; so chances of you starving to death are very slim.
Howver, Keep an open mind with regard to local food, he locals will be eager for you to try variety of them. And forget any prior knowledge of fusion asian food you may have liked in your home country,LOL.
Do not, I repeat, do not let the smell or look of anything put your off at least trying.
The only way to knowing more about local food and what you like comes down to you trying it with your mouth and not your eyes. If you find it really bad, the local WATSON’s willhave over the counter medication or something to stop your stomach pain.
TIP: I recommend trying redbeans pizza/pie, Tainan noodles, braised pork rice, beef noodle soup, clam and ginger soup, beef wrapped pancake and “onion” pancake The small, hole in the wall type of local restaurants have the best local foods. And I’m not talking about a night market food stand.
Braised pork rice
Beef Wrapped Pancake
clam and ginger soup
Fried pork chop rice
A very popular dish in Taiwan, Xiao Long Bao.
In general, Taiwan is known to have friendly people. Hence why people always say, “Taiwanese people are so friendly”. I would say, they know how to be hospitable to foreigners.
Most people here are very helpful and are alsways eager to be of help if they notice that you are sticking out. There may be a few nasty people but every city has its bolts and nuts.
They (locals) tend to stare A LOT, so please try not to take it personal. The locals also this nasty habit of “talking” about you and making it very obvious; let this go but if you know a bit of mandarin, I would suggest you shock them and say something.
You will see flip flops everywhere; do not panic- this is an island and its most convenient.
CULTURE SHOCK :
Taiwan being so different from where you are from; there is a chance that you will experience culture shock. The only advice I would offer is to try to keep a positive perspective even if this makes you feel a bit foolish.
The food, behaviorial patterns of locals, sense of rationale from locals, public habits, taboos etc may all blow your mind.
What’s common sense to you, may not be common sense to anyone else.
After you have done all the exciting touristy things, you may want to look into activities that will make your stay memorable.
BARS and NIGHTLIGHT: If bar hopping is your thing, then you will have no shortage fo where to go in this city.
OUTDOORS: Taiwan is big on the outdoors. There are plenty groups that have interesting excurscions. That is if you do not mind hiking, mountain climibing or river trekking in a group.
You must see Toroko gorge in Hualien, go hot air ballon riding in Taichung and see a magic waterfall somewhere in the forests of Taipei- you may meet a secluded aboriginal tribe or two on your quest.
I recommend taking a trip to Sanchich or Keelung; the look food is tasty and the scenery is worth the trip.
Goodluck with your stay in Taiwan, I sincerely wish you a beautiful stay.
Drop me a comment anytime and let me know how things turned out for you.