Taiwan might not come to mind immediately when you think about a vacation. Yet, this wonderful Asian country has an abundance of treats in store. One of Taiwan's most essential aspects? Its people. Taiwanese are kind and helpful people, likely to offer assistance to disoriented tourists. Taiwan is the first real Chinese democracy and has a diverse population made up of Chinese, Japanese, Westerners and indigenous people.
Food in Taiwan is not just affordable, but delicious. This lively nation offers extraordinary temples, night markets, traditions, and fun aboriginal festivals. Nature certainly will amaze you too: tall mountains, offshore islands, hot-spring resorts and eight national parks to explore and enjoy.
Breaking down Taiwan's history
Taiwan was originally populated by people from Malay and Polynesian descent. Throughout its history, Taiwan has been under the control of several different countries or empires because of its resources.
Han Chinese crossed to the Taiwan Strait in the 15th century. Following the Chinese, the Spanish invaded the country in 1626 and worked together with the Ketagalan plain tribe. Toward the end of the Qing Dynasty, gold fever drew people to Taiwan after railroad workers found some in the Keelung River. Many explorers came to the island and headed to Formosa in hopes of becoming rich. The Dutch arrived in 1624 hoping to find gold, they established a colony and fought the Spanish. Both, the Spanish and Dutch, were pushed out and the Manchus came to mine sulfur.
Toward the end of the 18th century, during the Sino-French, the Chinese defeated the French. In 1885, Taiwan became China's 22nd province. In 1894 the first Sino-Japanese war broke out and Japan's victory led them to occupy Taiwan until 1945. Following Japan's defeat in WWII, the People's Republic of China (PRC), led by the Chinese Nationalist Party, re-established control over the island.
Led by Mao Zedong, the PRC prepared to liberate Taiwan by military force. But when the Korean War broke out in 1950, the US sent the Seventh Fleet to patrol Taiwan and prevent Communist China from invading. The Kuomintang was the governing policy in Taiwan and ruled the country as a single-party state for 40 years.
A strong, democratic Taiwan
Under Lee Teng-Hui, there were democratic reforms that culminated in the first presidential election in 1996. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian was elected president, becoming the first non-KMT president of Taiwan. Today the island, with a 23 million people, is a strong nation. An example is their universal health-care system, ranked best in the world.
Taiwan offers free WiFi to everyone. Visitors can log onto Taiwan and stay connected. It is one of the very few countries to offer WiFi on such a great scale. Another interesting fact about the country is its animated news report. The country has nearly 400 animators working for the Next Media Animation and they are able to turn any news story into a cartoon as fast as 90 minutes.
We cannot talk enough about the food. Taiwan is actually one of the world's leading countries in offering meat-free dishes. More than 6000 restaurants serve vegetarian dishes. The country also has mock meat made of soy protein or wheat gluten that is so good, that it can food any meat lover.
With all of this information, are you still doubting about visiting Taiwan? Go, pack your bags and head to your nearest airport. If you still need inspiration, you can check out other countries. However, we're certain that Taiwan will not let you down.
Taiwan Basic Information
Taiwan New Dollar
- Time Zone:
When to Go
Before visiting Taiwan you should consider the importance of the weather in this country. Taiwan has humid, rainy summers and generally short winters. The north often presents cooler temperatures. The northeast monsoon lasts about six months, from October to late March while the south and center remain mostly dry. However, in May the southwest monsoon hits the southern region up until the end of September. Taiwan also faces typhoons in the east coast and in the central mountain range. There’s, even more rain, known as “plum rain” season with two months between summer and spring that impact the entire island.
Shoulder Season: September, October, and April through June. Visitors can find good prices midweek, prices peak again on Saturday. This is an ideal time to visit the outer islands. Chinese tour groups head to Taiwan from March to May. The typhoon season might affect flights and other means of transport.
High Season: July and August. Accommodation prices increase greatly in the top tourist areas in the country. Typhoon season starts in June and may last until October. During this time travel might be affected.
Low Season: November through March. This season has fewer crowds and possible discounts. It is high season for hot-spring hotels.
*Chinese New Year is a busy period.
Taiwan is a good destination for:
Taiwan Entry Requirements
Travel to Taiwan does not present too many obstacles. Upon arrival, visitors have their fingerprints electronically scanned. It is also expected to provide an address where you will be staying.
Travelers from many European countries as well as Canada, the US, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan are granted a visa-free entry for a stay of up to 90 days.
If the purpose of the travel to Taiwan is to pursue a job, education or visit family, you will have to apply at an overseas mission of the Republic of China for a visitor visa that will give you between 60 and 90 days. If you need to stay longer, then you will have to have an Alien Resident Certificate.
Taiwan Country Atractions
- Taroko Gorge: a beautiful and popular hiking destination, the park has unique origins. It is made up of metamorphic rocks and its name comes from the Truku language and stands for “magnificent and splendid”. The park is protected since 1982 after the country realized the damaged caused to all their natural resources.
- Taipei 101: resembling a bamboo stalk, the tower rises above the capital. Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world until 2011. You can purchase your ticket on the 5th floor at the Taipei shopping mall. The elevator works on controlled pressure and takes visitors from the ground floor to the 89th within 40 seconds. Incredible views await at the top.
- Blue Tears: each year, throughout the summer an algae called dinoflagellates overruns the waters in the coast of Matsu. They’re nature’s fluorescent lights that can be most appreciated on a dark and hot night. Summertime is your best shot at catching a glimpse.
- Lungsham Temple: a Buddhist temple in Wanhua District, Taipei. The most well-known temple in all of Taiwan was built in 1738. It covers 10,000 sq meters and it will take you a few hours to see it all.
- Minquan Old Street: Located in Sansia, the street was restored to look as it did a hundred years ago. The street comes to life every weekend with all the little shops offering teas, vintage toys, and souvenirs while street performers surprise their audience.
- Bao’an Temple: A Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Award recipient, the temple features intricate decor that is spellbinding.
We’d like to share some wisdom with you to ensure that your travel is stress-free. Traveling to Taiwan can be a memorable experience, especially if you are equipped with the right advice.
- Check bus schedules and fares. If you land in the capital of Taiwan, Taipei, bear in mind that the city is nearly a 45-minute drive away. Taxis are available but you might need a bigger budget to travel with one.
- There are other mains of transportation besides taxis and buses. Don’t rely on your phone and invest in a proper map. It will help you situate yourself in the city.
- Exchange money before your journey, and make sure you have enough to get you by in case of an emergency. Currency exchange bureaus can’t be found in every corner.
- Beware that not everyone will be able to communicate with you in English. However, Taiwanese are very kind and helpful. Fortunately, they’re accustomed to seeing lost tourists, so don’t be afraid to approach them.
- If you get lost call 0800-024-111, it is a toll-free 24 hotline that has English speakers that can assist you with whatever issue you may have.
- Signs might be confusing. Make sure you double check where you are heading. An address in English might be very different from the name in Chinese.
- Purchase the EasyCard on arrival. This is a local travel card that will make moving around the city ten times easier.
- Take an umbrella with you. Though Taiwan has warm temperatures, rain can’t be avoided.
- Tipping in Taiwan is not common and people might feel insulted if you do tip them.
- Yes, it is extremely safe to travel to and in Taiwan. The country also enjoys many 24-hour shops and restaurants.
- Eat local. Food is cheap and tasty. Western food, on the other hand, will cost you.