Last Updated on March 10, 2020 by queenie mak
Taiwan is one of the best countries for solo female travellers in Asia. With a low crime rate, friendliest people on earth, it is no wonder Taiwan is one of the most welcoming countries in the world!
The little island in the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of China has everything you want in a perfect vacation. Taiwan is known for its gourmet cuisine, stunning natural landscape, exciting nightlife, and abundance of culture.
I compiled everything I know about Taiwan and put together the best Taiwan travel tips. I hope these tips can convince you to take your first solo trip to Taiwan!
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Why you should take a solo trip to Taiwan
When first think of Taiwan, I automatically think of food! No matter where you are in the country, you will always find delicious treats. Best of all, the food is very cheap, and you can find food at any time of the day!
And indulge in a unique culture while you are there. Taiwan has a long history of different cultures, where each one plays a significant role in shaping the country. From the Dutch who inhabited in the Tainan area in the 17th century, to the Japanese who ruled the country for 50 years during the 19th century and the influences from many Chinese descendants from China. You can see all the various cultures in their architecture, urban planning and everyday lives.
And if you venture outside the cities, you will find fantastic scenery that you will not see anywhere else. There are hiking trails of different levels, stunning waterfalls, and many bike routes, including the best one along the east coast lining the Pacific Ocean.
Most of all, I love Taiwan’s efficient transportation system and the ease of navigating around the country. These are all great reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
My Taiwan travel tips
If you are going to Taiwan for the first time, you might be wondering what Taiwan is like, where to go, etc. I can tell you honestly that travelling alone in Taiwan is not difficult at all.
I was in my early 20’s when I first visited Taiwan. But I didn’t explore the country until recently. I researched a lot before my trip and during my trip and documented everything I know here.
Why Taiwan is Great for a Solo Female Traveller
As a solo traveller myself, my biggest concern about travelling solo is budget and safety.
Taiwan is a very affordable country. You can get excellent accommodation and food at very affordable prices. Typically, affordable prices mean a hostel dorm bed or even a single room in a hotel.
As for food, eating at local restaurants and night markets are both inexpensive options.
And if you have a bit of a budget, there are plenty of places where you can splurge as well.
One of the safest countries in the world
Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world. Taking transportation and walking through the city is not a problem at all for a solo female traveller. Taiwanese people tend to keep to themselves and are very polite. They are super friendly and would offer help if you need help. Violent crime is not prevalent, and the crime rate is generally low throughout the country.
However, I would always advise practicing safety precautions wherever you go. It is about being a smart traveller.
Taiwan’s official currency is the New Taiwan Dollar (NT). You don’t need to exchange money before you leave home.
You should always cash with you when you are in Taiwan. Most places take cash as payment. Credit cards are accepted but only for major department stores, high-end restaurants, some hostels and hotels.
When you arrive in Taiwan, find an automated teller machine (ATM) and withdraw cash locally as the exchange rate will be more favourable.
You can withdraw cash from almost any ATMs across Taiwan. I’ve had the best luck with withdrawing money from the ATMs either in Family Mart or 7-Eleven.
The standard voltage is 100V. The power socket is type A & B. It is the same as the plugs in North America.
But if you are not sure what plugs you need, click here to find out. You may need to bring a universal travel adapter for your travel so you can make sure all your electronic equipment can be charged. Check Amazon for the latest price for a universal travel adapter.
Data & Wifi
Having a data connection is very important to travellers, especially if you are working as a digital nomad. It is a must-have if you are using your smartphone to navigate around a new city, staying connected with friends and family back home, etc.
Here are some ways you can stay connected while in Taiwan.
Purchase a Taiwan tourist SIM card
If you are flying into Taipei Taoyuan Airport, you can find multiple places selling prepaid SIM cards. They have various types so purchase one that matches your travel needs.
I bought a SIM card from Chunghwa Telecom for 30 days for NT$1,000. You get 30 days of 4G unlimited data, and it includes NT$430 credit for voice. Not super cheap but the connection is quite good and is very reliable. There are other prepaid SIM cards.
If you decide later you want to buy a SIM card, you can always visit any Chunghwa Telecom stores in Taiwan and purchase it on the spot.
When your current SIM card expires, you cannot top up your card. You will have to buy a new SIM card.
For more information about Taiwan SIM Card, check out my detailed post here.
Other free wifi spots in Taiwan
The iTaiwan network provides free wifi across major tourist locations, transportation hubs, and other public areas. Locals can sign up by using a local telephone number. Tourists can register at any Travel Service Centres which are located at airports, train stations, and MRT stations. All you have to do is bring your passport, provide an email address and you will receive an account number to gain access to free wifi.
Besides the free hotspots, all the hostels and hotels will have free wifi. They are very reliable and fast.
The official language in Taiwan is Mandarin. The majority of Taiwanese citizens read, write and speak Mandarin.
When it comes to the written language, it is based on the traditional system of Chinese characters.
English is not particularly prevalent in Taiwan. Taipei has signs in both English and Chinese, whereas smaller cities may not have English signs at all. Generally speaking, most street signs, restaurant menus and any written words are all in Chinese.
Regarding verbal communication, Taiwanese people do not speak English. In bigger cities like Taipei, and especially in the hospitality sector, you will find more locals speaking English.
But don’t let that prevent you from visiting one of the world’s friendliest countries. Taiwanese people are the most helpful and most hospitable people on earth!
Download Google Translate app
Before you leave home, download Google Translate app on your smartphone to translate your English into Chinese (Traditional).
The app will show the phonetic words under the translated Chinese phrase. You can either attempt to pronounce the words or show it to the person you are trying to communicate with.
Another feature of Google Translate is translating a written text. First, open your Google Translate app, then take a photo of the written text. It will automatically translate the text into English. This feature is especially useful when you are in a restaurant or a retail store. The app works best when the text is typed and not handwritten.
I’ve used Google Translate to order food, buy train tickets, etc.
Learn a few basic Mandarin phrases
I am of Chinese descent, but I do not speak Mandarin. However, I can read traditional Chinese writing which helped a bit during my time in Taiwan.
But I cannot speak Mandarin at all. I travelled the entire country for more than four months, and I only know three phrases: “hello,” “thank you” and “I want this” (and I point). Ha!
It is a good idea to learn a few Chinese phrases before going to Taiwan. Locals will appreciate your effort in trying to say a few words and they may even teach you a few more.
However, you can go by with some basic phrases like:
“hello” is 你好 (Nǐ hǎo)
“thank you” is 謝謝 (Xièxiè)
“I want this” is 我要這個 (Wǒ yào zhège)
“how much is it” is 多少錢 (Duōshǎo qián)
As a tourist, you will need to travel with a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months or more.
Click here to check if you require a visa for entering Taiwan. Most nationalities are allowed to stay up to 90-day visa-free period. Some nationalities are permitted to a 30-days visa-free period.
Also, you must have proof that you will not stay longer than intended, i.e. you must have an itinerary or reservation for an outbound ticket leaving Taiwan within 90 days.
How to travel around Taiwan
It is quite easy to move around Taiwan even without knowing the language. Between the options of trains, metro, and scooters, there will be one that suits your itinerary and travel style.
Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR)
Taiwan High Speed Rail is super-efficient when it comes to travelling along on the west coast of Taiwan. HSR connects all the major cities between Taipei to Kaohsiung. And at the speed of 300km/hour, you can travel from Taipei to Kaohsiung in 90 minutes, and it costs NT$1,490.
HSR is the fastest way to travel within Taiwan. However, it is not the cheapest option, but it doesn’t break the budget either.
You can buy HSR tickets at many different locations, but the most straight forward way (and preventing further language barrier) is by purchasing at the train station or ordering online.
Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA)
Another option to travel around Taiwan is by train. The efficient Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) circles around the country in a big loop. The train system efficiently links all the major cities, making train travel the best way to travel around Taiwan.
There are many types of trains. It all has to do with the speed and cost. The local train is the cheapest but also the slowest.
You can purchase single tickets or passes either online or at the train station. Check the schedule and cost ahead of time by clicking here.
My travel tips: research online first then buy your ticket at the train station
Typically I check online first to see the schedule and cost before buying a train ticket. Then I would purchase it in person at the train station. I usually show a screenshot of the train I want to be on and the destination. And it works every time even if there is a language barrier.
Or you can ask someone at your hotel to write all the information required in Chinese, so you can easily purchase the ticket in person.
Mass Rapid Transit (MRT)
My travel tips: buy an EasyCard or iPass
You can use either card for metro, buses, TRA and you can even make purchases at retailers that accept the smartcard as payment.
You can buy either card at any MRT station or any convenience stores. The card is NT$100, and you can recharge any amount. Some subway, bus and TRA fares are discounted if you use EasyCard or iPass.
For some cities like Kenting and Hualien, it might make sense to rent a scooter to zoom around the city.
In Kenting, it is the most efficient way to travel in the area. There are scooter rentals in Hengchun and Kenting.
And in Hualien, you can make trips out of the city centre to see Taroko National Park and other areas. There are plenty of shops renting out scooters, especially around the train station.
However, scooter rental requires a proper license for anyone who wants to rent one. Otherwise, you can rent an electric scooter to scoot around.
If you like a more straightforward way to getting around in a city, you can use Uber to take you from point A to B. Uber is a ride-hailing company where you can get around the city and order food. It is like a cab, but you can order one via your smartphone.
My travel tips: Set up the Uber app with local phone number
Download the Uber app and set up the app. And if you are setting it up in Taiwan, you will need a local phone number.
Navigating around a city
Google Maps is my primary choice for navigating around a new town. I like to pin all the attractions, restaurants and other places I want to visit while my smartphone is connected to data. And whenever I am out in the city, I can follow my saved pins on the map and find all the places I want to visit.
By using the pins in Google Maps, I can plan my trip efficiently. Check out more details on how I plan my travels by using Google Maps and saved pins.
Maps.Me is another great option for navigating when you do not have data on your smartphone. Download the app and download the map of your destination.
If you want to see Taiwan with a tour, check out some of these tour ideas:
Accommodation culture in Taiwan
I noticed Taiwan is a bit different from other parts of the world when it comes to accommodation culture, specifically when it comes to staying at a hostel.
Here are some travel tips on Taiwanese accommodations:
- Overall, accommodation is quite cheap compared to other countries around the world.
- In most cities, the majority of the inexpensive accommodations are near the main train station.
- Whether you stay in your room or a dorm bed, it costs a bit more to stay during a weekend than a weekday.
- If possible, book ahead for weekend stays because you want to secure the most competitive rate. Also, the vacancy rate is lower during the weekends as many Taiwanese people travel around the country, especially during national holidays.
- A lot of Taiwanese travel around the country and they stay in hostels. So you may find Taiwanese solo travellers, older travellers, and entire families.
- And Taiwanese people are really polite and like to keep to themselves.
Hotels, guest houses & hostels
Agoda is one of the best sites for booking hotels, guesthouses, and hostels in Asia. I’ve never had any issues with my bookings, and I’ve been using the website for several years now.
Moreover, Agoda has the most competitive prices that I have seen anywhere else. They have the best price guarantee. And if you provide feedback after your stay, Agoda will reward you Agoda dollars for your next booking.
The website has a huge database of accommodations available in Taiwan and for all types of budget.
Airbnb is an excellent option, especially if you are slow travelling over a long period. And even if you want a change of pace from your typical accommodation, you can live in one of the Airbnb apartment where you can live in a full-function apartment for a little while.
There are many great options to choose from all over Taiwan. Whenever I am tired of staying in hostels and want to stay in a place by myself and do laundry, etc., I always choose an Airbnb apartment to “normalize” my life again.
And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
Taiwanese food culture
Tipping in Taiwan
Tipping in Taiwan is not expected. Unless you are at a high-end restaurant, then that might be the only scenario where tipping is required.
Otherwise, Taiwanese food culture includes small restaurants, mom and pop shops, and food stalls at night markets. All of these establishments are casual, and tipping is not required.
The food culture in Taiwan is incredible! Taiwanese is known for their delicious cuisine, and you can find almost anything at any hour of the day.
And there are a lot of budget options in Taiwan. For very little money, you can enjoy good food at night markets and local restaurants.
However, a lot of restaurants will only have signs and menus in Chinese. The restaurants in touristy areas may have an English menu.
For all the food places I mentioned in my solo travel guides, I included the English name of the restaurant even though the restaurant does not even have an English name. But for the sake of clarity (and for you to know what the restaurant is about), I included an English description of the restaurant and the Chinese name as well.
So at least you can match the Chinese character when you are looking for it. Or you can show the Chinese name to a local, and they can help direct you to the right place.
Tip: ordering food without an English menu
A lot of good local restaurants do not have English menus. Boo!
But do not feel intimidated by it! There are many ways you can still sample delicious local food and not speak or read the language.
One way is to go on online and find photos of the food you want to try. Have the picture ready for the restaurant you are going to and show it to them. This is how I ordered food most of the time. Ha!
Another way of ordering food kind of only works if you can read Chinese. Some restaurants will have their menu on the wall. It is difficult to point to the menu, especially when you are not close and be precise about your selection. So, take a photo of the menu on the wall. Then when it comes time to order, show the photo on your phone and point to the item you want to order. I did almost all the time while I was in Taiwan. I am lucky I can still read most of the Chinese characters, and it certainly helped a lot in my food experience in Taiwan.
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Before going to Taiwan, my friends and relatives all warned me about the language barrier. They told me everything is written in Chinese – and most of the signs and menus are in Chinese. And because I don't speak Mandarin, it will be harder for me to communicate. But I had the best time in Taiwan even when I didn't speak the language. Basically, I got by with three phrases in two months. I knew how to say "hello", "thank you" and "I want this" (and then I point and smile) 😂 Wondering what Taiwan is like? I compiled all the best travel tips for Taiwan. Check out my latest blog. Link is in bio
For more travel planning resources, check out my Amazon picks:
Where to go in Taiwan
Wondering which city you should visit in Taiwan? Check out my solo traveller’s guides to the best cities to visit in Taiwan.
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last update: January 2, 2020