Taiwanese tradition is an intriguing tangle of conventional Chinese language customs and Japanese sensibilities, permeated with island-wide free 4G and an insatiable industrial drive.

The epitome of all issues Taiwan is its capital Taipei, a metropolis so protected that you simply’d be sensible to fret extra in regards to the climate than your pockets. When you might go away your laptop computer unattended in a restaurant and anticipate it to be there whenever you return, the identical will not be stated of your umbrella.

Learn on for a crash course in additional of the capital’s quirks (instance: sporting flip-flops in a rainstorm actually is the wisest selection). Right here’s all you’ll want to know earlier than your journey to Taipei.

Be taught some very fundamental Mandarin

Fortunately for non-native audio system, the communication fashion of the Taiwanese may be very simple. The phrase “please” is a rarity when shopping for issues, swapped as a substitute for a well mannered bow and a thank-you after receiving your order.

When you can handle a easy “hi there” (pīnyīn: nǐ hǎo) and “thanks” (xièxie), alongside together with your order of bubble tea (yī bēi nǎi chá), you may even obtain a praise in your impeccable Chinese language from kindly distributors.

Typically, Taiwanese locals will likely be more than pleased to observe their high-school English abilities with you. Nonetheless, making the hassle to converse in Mandarin is an effective way to degree the taking part in area.

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Pack flip-flops for the plum rain

When it rains in Taipei, it pours. And in summer season it rains so much. Every year, town is blessed with 98in (2500mm) of rainfall, seeing the best precipitation within the hottest months from June to September – also called monsoon or “plum rain” season.

To save lots of your greatest sneakers from saturation, put on flip-flops on wet days (avoiding tiled surfaces) and embody a raincoat and umbrella in your packing record. The rain often received’t flip up till late afternoon, so it’s additionally a good suggestion to start out your day fairly early (between 6am and 8am), when the climate is cooler and the sky brighter.

Pedestrians with umbrellas cross a busy street in heavy rain, Taipei, Taiwan
With Taipei’s frequent summer season downpours, an umbrella is a must-pack merchandise © Makistock / Shutterstock

Bear in mind to present and obtain with two fingers

This primarily applies to monetary transactions, however it may well additionally lengthen to reward giving and even passing your passport over at immigration. Giving and receiving with two fingers is an indication of respect, even when it means placing your buying down to take action.

Comply with a Taipei foodie earlier than you arrive

Past the Michelin-acclaimed Din Tai Fung and the marginally too touristy Shilin Night Market, Taipei has a mouthwatering meals scene. Uncover what’s new, well-liked and off the overwhelmed observe by way of town’s community of native bloggers (we love Hungry in Taipei and Taipei Foodie) and on social media.

One good shortcut for locating good native spots is to look on Instagram for the world you need (eg Ximen; 西門) adopted by the phrase “stunning meals” (美食). This can current all of the just lately hashtagged gems to your drooling perusal.

Scorching-step it to a 7-Eleven for an EasyCard and a tea egg

The mom of all comfort shops in Taiwan, 7-Eleven sells all of the acquainted snacks, meals and drinks you get within the West – with such added Asian lunch additions as onigiri and tea-stained eggs.

However greater than that, 7-Eleven can also be the place to go for getting (and topping up) your MRT EasyCard, printing paperwork, sending packages and withdrawing money. The swankiest places even have loos, free wi-fi and tables with charging docks.

A phrase of warning: comfort shops can rapidly turn out to be a snug selection, however it will price you when it comes to probably the most genuine meals and native interactions. So go to sparingly.

Don’t go away a tip

As in Japanese tradition, tipping isn’t customary in Taiwan – in some circumstances, it may even be thought-about an insult. As Taiwan westernizes, it has turn out to be barely extra widespread to tip, notably in worldwide motels and bars. Usually, although, it’s not anticipated.

A smiling woman buys guava fruit at a street market, Taiwan
You may encounter a number of stares from the Taiwanese, however much more shy smiles © Satoshi-Okay / Getty Photos

Strive to not get defensive

Is Taipei tourist-friendly? Sure. However the Taiwanese might be shy.

The approachability of Taiwanese folks lies on the coronary heart of the island’s attraction. Locals are usually curious when recognizing a foreigner, so chances are you’ll expertise a number of stares. Nonetheless, you’ll be able to anticipate a shy smile beneath. When you catch somebody staring quietly, strive smiling or hanging up a dialog; chances are you’ll make a brand new buddy.

Respect Mom Nature

A few of the strongest tropical cyclones on the earth move over Taipei within the late summer season, ripping store indicators from buildings and making mailboxes all wonky. Maintain a watch out for any alerts from the Central Weather Bureau, going exterior just for necessities when a hurricane is incoming.

Earthquakes are additionally extraordinarily widespread in Taipei (although the epicenter tends to lie additional south). Whenever you really feel the bottom shake and your cellphone shriek in alarm, don’t panic. A “Presidential Alert” is distributed as a warning, recommending folks go exterior whereas the Earth does its factor.

Purchase bottled water

Most locals drink bottled water within the steamy warmth. A sustainable various is to refill your bottle at water stations throughout town, utilizing the Feng Cha App to assist find them (奉茶行動).

Ingesting tradition can also be consuming tradition

Low cost and cheerful with an unabashed quantity of booze, a re chao (熱炒) is the equal of a Japanese izakaya (or English pub). Re chao (which means “quick fry”) serve up glorious wok-fried dishes at round 100NTD apiece, alongside Taiwan Beer and limitless rice. Browse the tanks of dwell fish, lobster and different shellfish to see what’s recent.

Not like at bars within the West, Taiwan’s ingesting tradition is concentrated across the dinner desk, which means re chao eating places usually get extra raucous than the bars. These in search of the bar and membership scene can strive the rooftop institutions in Xinyi district after dinner.

A woman in sunglasses and a yellow scarf looks at her smartphone on the MRT Metro, Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei’s intensive public transport community, the MRT is spotless and silent. Assist to maintain it that approach © elwynn / Shutterstock

What is taken into account impolite? Discourtesy to others on public transport

Taipei’s metro service (MRT) is all glossy traces and clear plastic seats, polished to a excessive shine. With the intention to hold it that approach, gum, food and drinks (together with even water) is banned on public transport.

Since undue noise can also be frowned upon on the MRT, not often will you hear a dialog going above a low murmur. Chorus from loud conversations except you need to obtain some laborious stares.

One other fake pas on the MRT is to sit down within the dark-blue precedence seats. These seats are reserved for these in want, together with the aged, pregnant and other people with disabilities – a norm refreshingly maintained by native straphangers.

Greet Taiwanese with head dips, not handshakes

Do Taiwanese shake fingers? The brief reply is not any.

A helpful customized in a post-Covid world, bowing is the popular greeting in Taiwan, with handshaking reserved for enterprise conferences. Whereas locals deal with bowing extra casually than in both Korea or Japan, a well mannered head dip in gratitude for a recent bubble tea received’t ever go amiss.

Adorable little girl enjoying xiaolongbao dumploings at night market, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
You’ll need to deal with your chopsticks with care as you tuck into your meal in Taipei © Ippei Naoi / Getty Photos

Dealing with chopsticks is a delicate artwork

As if dealing with chopsticks wasn’t laborious sufficient, Taiwan has an extended rulebook of how not to deal with them. Primarily: by no means stick your chopstick upright right into a bowl of rice (as it’s stated to resemble an incense sacrifice) and by no means level at something however your meals with them.

Different fake pas embody crossing your chopsticks and utilizing your individual set for shared dishes. Being a forgiving bunch, Taiwanese are prone to overlook any slip-ups and maybe give you a fork as a substitute.

Taiwan and China really feel worlds aside

Democratic, LGBTQ-friendly Taiwan appears like a really completely different vacation spot from China, and locals might cringe at any point out of the “motherland.”

Many younger Taiwanese are fiercely pro-independence, whereas older generations are likely to have a softer angle in direction of China, rooted in financial necessity. Due to this divergence, folks don’t often discuss politics in well mannered dialog.

In addition to its historical past with China, the nationwide tradition has been formed by each Japanese colonialists and Indigenous populations, the latter having settled the island as much as 14,000 years previous to the arrival of Chinese language Han. Be taught extra in regards to the island’s aboriginal tradition on the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in Shilin.


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