Traveling to Taiwan
means immersing yourself in a completely different culture than the one you’re used to. You’re most likely already bound to stand out due to your appearance, but the one thing you don’t want to do is stand out due to your lack of familiarity with their etiquette. So, if you’re planning a trip to Taipei, here are a few tips that should help you fit in better and have an easier trip overall, discovering the many things to do in Taipei!
Know Which Side is for Walking
The unwritten rule in Taiwan is that you should always walk on the left side of escalators and stand on the right. Of course, nobody is going to say anything if you break the rule, as Taiwanese are too polite to do that – and they are aware of the fact that you might be a foreigner. However, you still don’t want to be that person who causes a human traffic jam, as there aren’t many worse ways to draw attention to yourself, so it might be a useful thing to keep in mind.
Don’t Expect Much English
If you choose to visit Fengjia Night Market (逢甲夜市) in Taichung – and you definitely should since it’s one of the most popular night markets in Taiwan – keep in mind that not every stall owner will know English. If you see any words in English, it’s safe to try, but if you don’t, you can always hand over your money and hope for the best. Or you can just move on to the next stall. Also, if you are vegan or vegetarian, you might need to put a bit more effort into finding vegetarian food.
Don’t Be Too Loud
Another not so great way to stand out is by talking too loudly. True, Taiwan can be loud due to traffic, festivals, and similar unavoidable activities. However, the locals are generally quiet, even in public spaces. The metro, in particular, is a place where you should be quiet and follow the rules. This counts for all public means of transport, though, as many locals use their commuting time to take a short nap.
Choose the Right Taipei Accommodation
When it comes to accommodation in Taipei, you can’t really go wrong in terms of commuting, since the public transportation system is great, and all areas are well connected. Also, most hotels are close to food options and other important facilities. So, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a good Taipei hotel (台北酒店) that matches all your needs.
Save the Receipts
Not many foreigners know this, but every receipt in Taiwan has a lottery number on it, Therefore, even if you’re not interested in a chance to become a millionaire, rejecting a receipt after a purchase is considered weird at best. You can always give it to some local or put it in one of many donation boxes you can find in convenience stores.
Overly Touchy? Don’t
The Taiwanese are very polite, but their politeness is mostly expressed in words, hand waves, and head nods. They are still getting accustomed to shaking hands with foreigners, so going for a hug or a kiss, or even tapping somebody on the shoulder is a huge no. Also, the locals don’t really like to chat with strangers, so striking up a conversation with your waitress is more likely to make her anxious or feel like you’re testing her English than make you look friendly. In short, respect their personal space.
Going to Taipei and being a part of their culture can be an amazing experience that you’d cherish forever. However, it can also be an uncomfortable experience if you go there completely unprepared and clueless about the cultural differences. So, consider the listed tips, do some research on the local customs, and you shouldn’t stand out in any negative way. Your Taipei itinerary is bound to be easier and much more enjoyable.
Marie Nieves is a lifestyle blogger and regular contributor to followsummer who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. On her travels, she likes to read poetry and prose and to surf the Internet. Her favourite writer is Tracy Chevalier and always carries one of her books in her travel bag. Her free time at home is spent walking her Labrador Retriever, Max. She is an avid lover of photography who loves to talk about her experiences.