Taiwan Country Info – The compact Taiwan Guide

country info FAQ

What is Taiwan and where is Taiwan located

Taiwan is strictly speaking an island in the Western Pacific Ocean off the coast of mainland China.  The democratic state on the island of Taiwan is officially called the Republic of China. This is not to be confused with the much larger communist People’s Republic of China on the Asian mainland. In German usage, however, it is usually referred to China as a communist state and Taiwan as a democratic state on the island of the same name.  

Here it becomes however again a little more complicated, because the People’s Republic of China claims Taiwan for itself. Therefore, the state of Taiwan, which has its own democratically elected government, is at the same time part of the province of Taiwan, which in turn legally belongs to the People’s Republic of China.

Because of China’s “One China” policy, international states are not permitted to maintain their own diplomatic relations with the state of Taiwan. Accordingly, Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations (UN) or the World Health Organization (WHO). There, the otherwise largely sovereign Taiwan is namely represented by the People’s Republic of China.

Which language is spoken in Taiwan or what is the national language of Taiwan?

High-level Chinese has been the only official language in Taiwan since 1945. Prior to that, it had been Japanese. In contrast, the older population speaks Taiwanese, and some languages of the Southeast Asian islands still occur, but are rarely encountered in everyday life.

Somewhat inconvenient for tourists is that most Taiwanese hardly speak English. Even menus are rarely found in English. Therefore, the translation app quickly becomes a good friend in Taiwan.

How much time difference does Taiwan have and what time is it now in Taiwan?

Taiwan has no time change between summer and winter time. 

Taiwan is in the time zone UTC +8. Germany is in the time zone UTC +1 in winter in the time zone UTC +2 in summer. 

The time difference from Germany to Taiwan is therefore +6 hours according to German summer time and +7 hours according to German winter time. 

When it is 12:00 according to German summer time that is, it is already 18:00 in the evening in Taiwan. 

When it is 12:00 according to German winter time , it is even already 19:00 in the evening in Taiwan. 

What is the capital of Taiwan?

The capital of Taiwan is Taipei (or Beijing, depending on the definition).

What is the currency of Taiwan?

The currency of Taiwan is called (New) Taiwan Dollar (NT$, TWD) 

What do you call the people of Taiwan?

The inhabitants of Taiwan are called Taiwanese 

The Flag of Taiwan

Flag of Taiwan

Security in Taiwan:

How safe is Taiwan?

Taiwan is arguably one of the safest countries to travel. Taiwanese people are usually very polite and very correct. Unlocked bicycles and flower pots in front of every house are common in many neighborhoods.

The app Geosure rates Taiwan accordingly with scores of 34-35 (0 safe – 100 dead) almost everywhere.

Only in some neighborhoods of Taipei are scores of up to 43.  This puts Taiwan pretty much on par with Germany in terms of safety.

Accordingly, the Travel and Safety Information of the German Foreign Office (as of 04/2020) for Taiwan also reads extremely unspectacular. We recommend nevertheless a short look, just in case something has changed. It really doesn’t take to long. 😉

Besides letting common sense prevail, you should keep a little bit of an eye on nature.

  • Earthquakes: Taiwan is located in a seismically active zone, so earthquakes occur regularly. Although the land and architecture are designed accordingly. Nevertheless, note the general tips on the correct behavior in earthquakes.
  • Tropical storms: Especially from May to November, there are occasionally violent tropical storms. This is especially dangerous in the mountains, where landslides can occur. Therefore, keep an eye on the weather forecast especially before hiking and cycling tours.

Other legal notes: There is a death penalty in Taiwan, which also applies to major drug offenses, for example.

Flights and travel to Taiwan

Taiwan have several international airports. The main international airport is Taiwan Taoyuan Airport (TPE) near Taipei. In the city center of Taipei, however, there is another airport, the Songshan Airport (TSA) at which also international flights take off and land. This can lead to some confusion. Other international airports include Kaohsiung Airport (KHH) and Taichung Airport (RMQ)

Entry is possible with a German passport for a tourist stay up to 90 days without a visa. You can find more info here

Taiwan entry requirements

Climate & Weather in Taiwan

Taiwan lies right on the border between tropical and subtropical climate zones. However, since many regions in Taiwan are very high, you will also often find the much cooler temperate climate. From May to October – especially between July and September- there are often strong typhoons in Taiwan.

Taiwan, like Germany, is located in the northern hemisphere. Summer and winter accordingly take place in the same months as in Europe.

The winters in Taiwan are mild. Temperatures rarely drop below 5°C throughout the island (except in the mountains). Especially in the south of the island, it is very mild even in winter, with temperatures reaching 19°C.

In summer it is for it in all flat locations in Taiwan very hot and often also humid with temperatures of 35°C and more.  Again, the south is warmer than the north.

In the north around Taipei, rain is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year with about 9-14 rainy days per month.

In the south, however, the winter months tend to be dry with less than five rainy days per month. In the summer months, however, the number rises to as many as fifteen.  

Sights in Taiwan

Taiwan is not a typical tourist country – wrongly, we think, because there is a lot to see. However, typical tourist spots have to be searched for a bit.

Some ideas but by no means all there is to see, below.  

cities

  • Taipei: Capital with thriving culture and the Taipei 101 skyscraper
  • Kaosiung
  • Taichung
  • Tainan: former capital, temples, colonial era
  • Hualien
  • Keeling
  • Taitung
  • Chiayi
  • Hsinchu

nature

  • Hot springs:e.g. in Taipei, Taitung, Yilan, Guanziling, Nantou
  • Alishan: mountains, forests, tea
  • Lü Dao: volcanic island, hot springs, snorkeling

nation parks

  • Kenting National Park: tropical national park with reefs and rainforest
  • Yangmingshan National Park: birds, butterflies, cherry blossoms, azaleas and hot springs
  • Taroko National Park: river and deep gorges, mountains and temples
  • Shei-Pa National Park: mountains
  • Kinmen National Park: islands with many birds

culture

  • National Palace Museum: world’s largest collection of Chinese artworks
  • National History Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • National Art Museum
  • National Museum of Prehistoric Culture of Taiwan
  • Native Culture: e.g.. E.g., Wulai village

We especially recommend looking at the nature of Taiwan, because it is very pretty. In cities, don’t miss the numerous night markets!

Transportation in Taiwan

Rental cars in Taiwan

The infrastructure in Taiwan is excellent and the roads are at least German standards – often better.

There is right-hand traffic.  Apart from having to be a little more considerate of pedestrians, scooters and cyclists than in Germany, road traffic in Taiwan is absolutely unproblematic.

The international driver’s license applies in conjunction with the associated German driver’s license. However, the blood alcohol limit is 0.15

Trains in Taiwan

Train service in Taiwan is well developed. The train stations are very large and mostly very modern. There was at least one information desk at every station we visited. The staff there usually speaks very good English.

The easiest way to book train tickets is on the Internet at the website of the Taiwan Railway Administration, MOTC. There is a little confusing at first is that you have to pick out the train number of the train in which you want to book seats before booking. However, this can also be done straightforwardly on the website.

Then it is recommended to download the App, because there you can store the Tickets as online tickets. However, they are not automatically deposited, but must first be claimed via the booking number “claim”. At best, each fellow traveler needs the app separately, otherwise there may be complications (and congestion) when scanning the QR code. The QR code of the ticket is scanned namely in each case at the entrances and exits of the tracks.

Once you have figured out how it works, train travel in Taiwan is then also really easy and also very pleasant. The trains are modern, comfortable, air-conditioned and on time. The prices move in a moderate range, from about 30-40€ for ca.  4h ride

Taxi in Taiwan

In Taiwan, cabs or mobility apps tend to exist depending on the region. In Taipei, for example, UBER works very well. In Tainan, on the other hand, UBER did not work at all during our stay. Only cabs with taximeters were available. Price-wise, the two options are very close, so it makes little difference what you ultimately choose.

The cab drivers know their way around very well. However, one advantage of the apps is that the the address there is in Chinese for the driver. The drivers often do not speak a word of English. For the user, on the other hand, it can be awkward to find the address in the system to which one wants to go. Even with conventional cabs, it is important to have the destination address in Chinese. Maps and addresses in English usually don’t help drivers.

Buses and public transport in Taiwan

Taipei has a terrific public transportation system, with metro and buses. Tainan, on the other hand, has virtually no public transportation. The other cities we visited were somewhere in between. When there is a well-developed public transportation system, it works well.

Particularly recommended if you are planning a longer stay is the ‘EasyCard’, a magnetic card that is loaded with credit and is then valid as a ticket on most local transport in Taiwan. In addition, the EasyCard can also be used to make cashless payments at some stores, such as 7-Eleven. You can get it in almost every metro stop in Taipei. It is not personalized, so you don’t need an ID for it either.

Hotels in Taiwan

Taiwan offers excellent Airbnb accommodations with very nice and helpful hosts. The quality of the accommodations we had was absolutely above average compared to other countries. The hotels also often have very upscale amenities. The prices are a little higher for this, but this also varies greatly between regions. We paid on average 51€ per night for good central accommodations with good facilities and always found the prices for the individual accommodations very reasonable.

It is recommended to take accommodations with refrigerator and microwavele to reduce the cost of food somewhat.

Food in Taiwan

Eating in Taiwan is not cheap. You have to dig deeper into your pocket in restaurants and supermarkets here. Cheaper are street stalls and especially small local restaurants where locals eat. Many Taiwanese do not even have a fully equipped kitchen at home.  

Typical Taiwanese cuisine consists of meat and soups. Fish is also consumed a lot. We had the impression that food in Taiwan is handled very hygienically and you can eat accordingly at any street food and snack without problems. Also, the food is very appetizingly prepared and is often prepared right before the customer’s eyes.

One small problem, however, is the menus. These are often only available in Chinese.

The most authentic Taiwanese cuisine is experienced in the numerous small soup kitchens and snack shops. Many of them are even surprisingly digitally equipped with ordering monitors.

Also, street markets and night markets are excellent culinary destinations.

In addition to regional cuisine, one can also find numerous fancy restaurants and International cuisine. However, the prices in these restaurants are upscale. 20€ per person you should calculate at least. For this, in addition to the ordered food are often still small things “on house” included.

The common fast-food chains also have numerous outlets in Taiwan.

What you should definitely try in Taiwan is bubble tea, which was also invented in Taiwan. The classic bubble tea consists of milk, tea and tapioca pearls steeped in syrup and does not use any chemical flavors. In addition, however, hundreds of other variations can be found with fruit, iced tea or coffee and different bubbles, and these also vary greatly between tea stores. Here’s a recipe to make at home.

In addition, there are also many beautiful and quality cafes.

Who does not want to leave the house just, has also the possibility with numerous delivery services food to bring. The only challenge here, however, is getting the address right.

For those who want to keep their budget low or are not very experimental, the supermarket chains 7/11 and Familymarkt, which can be found on every corner, offer a wide selection of very high-quality food for the microwave, which can also be made hot right in the stores.

For vegetarians, Taiwan is not a very easy destination, as almost everywhere contains meat. However, many eateries now offer explicit vegetarian food (others, on the other hand, do not have a single vegetarian dish on the menu). Also on many packages vegetarian food is marked as such, if you can interpret the Chinese label. In principle, look for a leaf. With a little searching, you can also find numerous pure-vegetarian restaurants. For this I recommend the app Happy Cow.

Conclusion: is it worth a trip to Taiwan

Taiwan is absolutely underrated. While the country has few famous attractions, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. Beautiful cities, a great nature and an exciting culture and history, make Taiwan an excellent travel destination. Dir good infrastructure with the railroad and partly also in the local traffic make it besides an easy travel country.

Language, however, is more often a major hurdle in everyday life.

Taiwan is not for tourists looking for the classic beach and all-inclusive vacation. A Taiwan trip does require a bit of exposure to the country itself

The price level is not the cheapest, accordingly it is not a classic backpacker country.

But it is a country where you quickly realize that Germany could still learn something from . Digitalization is being implemented here in a very exciting way. It is very clean. And it’s a country full of history and different influences and just democratic China.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top