🌎Currency: Taiwan Dollar (NT$) (TWD)
🌎Zone: +8 GMT
🌎Phone Code: +886
🌎Best time to visit: Nov-March
🌎Must eat: Beef Noodles, "Stinky Tofu"
🌎Must drink: "Bubble Tea"
🌎Don't miss: "Elephant Mountain view"
As Taiwan is an island, arriving is only possible by air. From Europe and America it can only be done direct by the local airlines, Eva Air and China Airlines. From Taipei Eva Air flies to a few destinations only in Europe and you will also have a transit stop in Bangkok on most flights. China Airlines only flies direct to Amsterdam, Rome, London and Frankfurt in Europe and also reaches direct from Australia and New Zealand. Other Asian airlines also offer flights to Taipei with a connection flight, sometimes this being cheaper. Also in recent years many Middle East carriers have started flying there including Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar and Turkish Airlines.
Within the country the transportation is very advanced and modern. There are local/regional busses, regional trains and high speed trains reaching every town across the island. Even from the airport it's possible to reach other districts by fast speed rail and bus. Busses are well organised, by numbers for identification, and many of them now offer WiFi on board and USB charging facility.
The best way to travel around the country is by HRS, the High Speed Rail of Taiwan. HRS connects only the western part of the island from North to South from Nangang to Zuoying passing by Taipei. Travelling from North to South of the Island by HRS can take as little as under 2 hours! Tip: To get the cheapest fares for the HRS always book in advance and take advantage of early bird promotions for cheaper prices. Below you can access the booking website and to check prices.
Attention!: In Taiwan it's not allowed to drink, eat and chew gum in the Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) within trains and stations. It's actually considered disrespectful if you drink on-board, even if it's just water! You might get people looking at you strange if you dare to! Try to refrain from it as well on trains around the country and public transportation overall. (except HRS and long distance transportation).
Taiwan has a moderate climate when compared to other Asian countries, but not so tropical as the Philippines, Thailand or Indonesia for example. However summer's can very hot and humid during May to August. Winter's are mild, (December to March) with an average temperature of 22C. Nights however will be fresher so take adequate clothing. Taiwan is also sensitive to tropical storms and typhoons, this happening during the rainy season (July to September) so expect strong winds, heavy rain and often a cloudy but humid sky). The best time to visit is February and March, end of the cooler season. However if you like it a little warmer, October, November and April are also pleasant to do tourism in Taiwan.
Much of Taiwan’s culinary heritage comes from China. Culinary styles come from all over China including Canton, Hunan, Mongolia, Beijing, Shanghai and Szechuan, with Taiwan itself contributing a considerable amount of signature dishes in its own right.The island’s cuisine has a great deal of Japanese influence, while seafood is unsurprisingly a speciality across the nation. It's popular to find street markets and stalls selling all kinds of food to go or to eat in, being a true local experience, dinning with the locals in these markets. Taiwanese eating traditions comes in the form of xiaochi (little eats), which in effect are a Taiwanese version of tapas. Buying various xiaochi dishes to make up a larger meal is a particularly common way of eating at night markets. For visitors, it’s also a great way of sampling a wide range of what’s on offer. Specialities in Taiwan include:
- Beef Noodles; is one the most liked common cuisines in Taiwan. Delicious beef noodles require three essential elements which are noodles, broth and beef. Broth is especially crucial because it is the soul of beef noodles. There are two kinds of beef noodles, braised and clear stewed that come with stewed sirloin and cow tendon. Street vendors and old shops alike endeavour to cook the best beef noodles of the finest taste, and beef noodles have become the pride of Taiwan.
- Soup Dumplings or Xiao Long Bao; They are a famous snack originated from the south of Changjiang. It features a small size style dumpling steamed in a wooden circular bowl, with different fillings (generally pork, chicken, crab-meat, vegetables etc) the taste is juicy and fresh. It's made with a thin wrapper and exquisite shape. The dumplings are made to excellence, in the paper-thin wrappers and nice presentation, chefs spread flour on the rolling pin before rolling the dough. Traditional dumplings have at least 14 folds each, but in some stores that are particularly dainty about soup dumplings like Din Tai Fung Restaurant, here a soup dumpling might have over 18 folds!
TIP: Try this modern favourite, the Hot Star, large Fried Chicken. The first Hot-Star location opened at Shilin Night Market. (Taipei). Today, the restaurant has chains across Taiwan and across the globe. It's famous for the slabs of the juicy fried chicken breast, which comes spicy or normal. It can be eaten anytime of the day and its a popular option for takeaway by locals and visitors! Popular places to find the Hot Star outlets are in Ximen area and Shilin. (night market).
As for drinks: Tea is a major component of Taiwanese culture, with the island producing many acclaimed varieties "oolong" being the most famous. Teahouses are found in great numbers, ranging from the traditional to the contemporary. Many teashops embrace modern innovation, as a result is the global popularity of bubble tea (a cooled tea-based drink containing small tapioca balls and drunk through a straw), which originated here.
Alcohol is easy to come by, although there’s not always a huge variety on offer. The most popular drink is Taiwan Beer, while something stronger is the local firewater, gaoliang jiu, which is made from sorghum.
This is the most typical and renowned drink in Taiwan, and now is available to buy worldwide as it has become so famous. The tapioca pearls at the bottom of the drink are often mistakenly referred to as the "bubbles." However, bubble tea is another term for milk tea. Bubble tea (also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea). It was invented in Tainan and Taichung in the 1980s. It contains many different flavours of tea (which you can choose from), milk, as well as sugar and ice (optional). The toppings are also many, such as chewy tapioca balls (the most typical to have in Bubble tea), also known as pearls, fruit jelly, grass jelly or agar jelly. The two most popular varieties are black pearl milk tea, brown sugar bubble tea and green pearl milk tea. Best drank cold, with some ice during the hot months (May to September).
Many other snacks can be found along all the night markets, old streets and popular night gathering areas which are very common to buy from street vendors who come out with their trolleys or stalls and delight any visitor with cheap snacks prepared on site. You can find dumplings, friend squid, fried octopus balls, juices, sweets, sausages, meat snack, soups and even ice cream!