Backpacking Taiwan

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Taiwan? Here you will find information on working in Taiwan, entry visas, Taiwan hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Taiwan

Gone are the days of huge smog filled cities and factories in Taiwan as much of the industry has moved to China. There is much on offer to travellers in the form actively used ancient temples, tiny rice farming villages and fantastic unspoilt mountain ranges shrouded in a carpet of clouds. Modern and traditional Taiwan coexist side by side, meaning that travellers have quite a good choice of things to do in Taiwan, on one day you could be trekking through foothills or visiting Buddhist monuments and on the next day you could be shopping or sampling the nightlife in one of the country’s bustling towns.

  • Currency: New Taiwan Dollar (NT$) = 100 cents
  • Time Zone: GMT + 8
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Telephone Services: Country code +886, International Access code 002
  • Emergency Numbers: 110 Police

Climate

The climate in Taiwan is generally sub tropical, the temperatures in the north are more moderate and this region experiences a defined winter. The southern region does not have a winter season as such and is warm and sunny all year round, there is however a onsoon season from June to October.

Taiwan climate map including average rainfall and temperature by month. Find the best time to backpack Taiwan based on your climate preferences.

Things to see and do

Taiwan’s capital is a city called Taipei, this city is home to about 6 million inhabitants and is easily the busiest city on the island. Although there are definite problems with pollution and traffic congestion, Taipei has the biggest selection of shops, bars and nightlife on the island. The city centre also offers a selection of tourist attractions from the National Museum of History to Fu Hsing Dramatic Arts Academy, here visitor have the opportunity to take a tour of this remarkable institution and watch tradition Chinese opera, acrobatics and theatre. The city also houses what is reputably the finest example of temple architecture in the country in the form of the Lungshan or “Dragon Mountain” temple. This temple was founded in 1740 and was built as a tribute to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy.

No Asian country would complete without its temple town, in Taiwan the town of Tainan fills the niche nicely. There are over 200 temples in and around the town, many still in active use. Highlights include the Taoist East Mountain temple where worshippers come to exercise ghosts or to communicate with their ancestors and the Mito temple which is famous for its statue of the 100 armed goddess of mercy Kuan Yin. Visitors looking witness actual Buddhist practices should head for Luerhmen. This suburb contains three large temples which are in current use. At each of them you have the opportunity to have your name engraved on a temple artefact in exchange for a donation to maintenance costs. Once you have seen the temples the Woozland water park is close by and offers an excellent way to unwind after a hard day’s temple touring.

A short ferry hop from the south-east coast of Taiwan takes you to the beautiful volcanic island of Lanyu. This tiny island has a tropical climate and is inhabited by Yami aborigines. The Yami speak their own dialect which is totally dissimilar to Chinese, whilst modern culture has influenced the Yami people there is still a lot of aborigine culture present. For example the Yami build their homes underground to avoid typhoons. There is enough of a Chinese influence for you to find restaurants and taxis so inexperienced travellers shouldn’t feel too out of their depth when exploring this pretty little island.

Travel

The rail system in Taiwan is provided by the Taiwan Railway Administration. The service is quite good especially on major tourist routes such as Tapei – Kaohsiung or Tapei to Sun Moon Lake. Most cars are air conditioned and some trains have a restaurant carriage. Fares are quite cheap and children under three travel free with under 13s paying only half fares. Tickets can be purchased from train stations or from most hotels.

The inter-city bus system in Taiwan is run by a collection of private companies with no real central resource. Fares are cheap but buses are often crowded, the best bet is to ask your hotel for details of bus services or find a tourist information point locally.

Travel within cities is generally accomplished by using local buses but Taipei has a partly finished monorail system which serves the city centre and some of the suburbs.

Accommodation

There are over 450 tourist hotels in Taiwan ranging from small budget hotels right up to luxury “5 lotus blossom” hotels with extensive facilities such as pools, gyms and tennis courts. Most hotels belong to the Internatinoal Tourist Hotel Association of Taipei who can be contacted at the address given in our “Useful addresses” section.

There is limited hostel accommodation in Taiwan mostly centred around major cities or tourist hotspots. Both dormitory and non-dormitory rooms are offered at most locations. Many hostels will give discounts to members of the International Youth Hostel Federation.

Health

Healthcare in Taiwan is more than adequate and most western medications are available. Staff are well trained and competent and very close to the standards of the US or Western Europe. Healthcare is quite expensive especially for medicines which are not locally produced so comprehensive travel insurance is highly recommended.

A vaccination against typhoid is advised before departing for Taiwan. The appropriate vaccination can be supplied by your GP and should cost no more than NT$40. There are no other vaccinations required although you should consult your GP for up to the minute medical advice before you travel.

Tap water is not considered safe to drink and should be boiled or otherwise sterilised before use. Bottled water is recommended. Milk are usually pasteurised, long-life, or filtered to make them safe for human consumption. Meat should be well cooked and served hot, both fruit and vegetables should be washed and peeled before use. Normal precautions should be observed when purchasing food from street vendors.

Useful Links

The Taiwan Railway Administration operates the rail network in Taiwan

Entry Visas for Taiwan

All visitors to Taiwan must have a valid passport for the duration of their stay as well as proof of a return ticket. Visas are not required by US and EU nationals except nationals of Denmark, Finland and Ireland who do require visas. Ellegible EU and US nationals may stay without a visa for up to 14 days, this period can not be extended so stays of a longer duration require a visa. Visas can be obtained from your local Taipei Representative Office and cost NT$25 for a single entry visa or NT$50 for a multiple entry visa.

Addresses

There is no Embassy in the UK so all visa related enquiries should be directed to the Taipei Representative Office:

Taipei Representative Office 
50 Grosvenor Gardens 
London 
SW1W 0EB 
Tel: (020) 7 396 9152 

The British government does not currently recognise Taiwan as a state and there are therefore no diplomatic relations with it. Visitors who need consular advice should contact the British Embassy in China. There are however unofficial British commercial and cultural offices which may be able to help with some enquiries:

British Trade and Cultural Office
26 Floor - President International Tower 
No. 9-11, Song Gao Road 
Xin Yi District
Taipei 11073 
Taiwan
Tel: 00 886 2 8758 2088 
Fax: 00 886 2 8758 2050 
Email: info@btco.org.tw 

Local tourist information is dispensed by the Taiwan Visitors Association:

Taiwan Visitors Association 
5th Floor 
9 Minchuan East Road 
Section 2 
Taipei 
Taiwan 
Tel: (2) 594 3261. Fax: (2) 594 3265 

Many hotels in Taiwan belong to the International Tourist Hotel Association of Taipei:

International Tourist Hotel Association of Taipei 
Eighth Floor-1 
369 Fu Hsin N Road 
Tel: (2) 2717 2155 
Fax: (2) 2717 2453

How to Say Common Mandarin Phrases

Meeting People

English
Cantonese
yes
hai
no
m hai
thank you
doh jeh, m goi
you are welcome
m sai haak hei
please
m goi, ching
excuse me
ching yeung, dui m chu
hello
nei ho
goodbye
joi gin
Good morning
jo san
Good night
maan on, jo taau
I do not understand
ngoh m ming baak
Do you speak…?
lei sik gong…ma?
English
ying man
What is your name?
lei giu me ye meng?
Nice to meet you
rho go hing ying sik lei
How are you?
nei ho ma?
good
ho
bad
m ho

Directions

English
Cantonese
map
dei to
left
joh
right
yau
straight on
jik hui
far
yuen
near
gan

Methods of Transport

English
Cantonese
Where is…?
bin do hai…?
How much is the fare?
che fai gei doh chin?
ticket
piu
A ticket to…, please
yat jeung piu hui…, m goi
Where are you going?
nei yui hui bin?
Where do you live?
nei ju hai bin?
train
foh che, tit lo
bus
gung gung hei che, ba si
underground
dei ha tit
airport
fei gei cheung
train station
foh che jaam
bus station
gung gung hei che jaam, ba si jaam
underground station
dei tit jaam
departure
chut ching
arrival
yap ching
parking
ting che cheung

Time

English
Cantonese
What time is it?
gei dim jung a?
today
gam yat
yesterday
kam yat
tomorrow
ting yat

Accommodation

English
Cantonese
hotel
lui goon
room
fong
reservation
ding, yue ding
Are there any vacancies?
ching man gam maan yau mo hung fong?
No vacancies
mo saai hung fong
passport
woo jiu

Places

English
Cantonese
post office
yau ching guk
bank
ngan hong
police station
ging chaat guk
hospital
yi yuen
chemist
yeuk fong
shop
dim po
restaurant
chaan teng, jau lau
museum
bok mat goon
church
gau tong
square
gong yuen
street
gaai do, ma lo

Shopping

English
Cantonese
How much does this cost?
ni goh gei doh chin?
I will buy it
ngoh yiu maai ni goh
I would like to buy…
ngoh seung maai…
Do you have…?
lei yau mo…?
open
hoi
closed
yau sik
postcard
ming shun pin
stamps
yau piu
little
siu-siu
lot
taai doh
all
chuen bo

Meals

English
Cantonese
breakfast
cho chaan
lunch
ng chaan
dinner
maan chaan
vegetarian
so sik jeh
cheers!
ging jau, yam booi
The bill please
maai daan, m goi

Drinks

Drinks

English
Cantonese
drink
yam ban
coffee
ga feh
tea
cha
juice
jap
water
shui
beer
beh jau
wine
jau

Food

English
Cantonese
meat
yuk
fish
yue
vegetable
sho choi
fruit
shui gwoh
potato
ma ling sue
salad
sa laai
dessert
tim ban

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Mandarin Phrasebook

Meeting People

English
Mandarin
yes
shi
no
Méiyǒu
thank you
Xièxiè
you are welcome
bu yong xie
please
Qǐng
excuse me
Láojià
hello
ni hao
goodbye
Zàijiàn
Good morning
zao-an
Good night
wan-an
I do not understand
Wǒ bù míngbái
Do you speak…?
Nǐ huì shuō?
English
yi-ng yu
Chinese
Zhōngwén
What is your name?
Nǐ jiào shénme míngzì?
Nice to meet you
Hěn gāoxìng jiàn dào nǐ
How are you?
ni-hao-ma?
good
hao
bad
Huài

Directions

English
Mandarin
map
Dìtú
left
zuo
right
Duì
straight on
Zhíjiē
far
yuan
near
Jìn

Methods of Transport

English
Mandarin
Where is…?
zai-na li-?
How much is the fare?
che-fei duo shao?
ticket
piao
A ticket to…, please
Qǐng gěi wǒ yī zhāng dào…… De piào
Where are you going?
Nǐ yào qù nǎlǐ?
Where do you live?
Nǐ yào qù nǎlǐ?
train
huo-che
bus
Zǒngxiàn
underground
Dìxià
airport
fei-ji-chang
train station
Huǒchē zhàn
bus station
Gōngchē zhàn
underground station
Dìtiě zhàn
departure
Chūfā
arrival
Dàodá
parking
Tíngchē chù

Time

English
Mandarin
What time is it?
Xiànzài shì jǐ diǎn?
today
jin-tian
yesterday
Zuótiān
tomorrow
Míngtiān

Accommodation

English
Mandarin
hotel
Lǚguǎn
room
Fángjiān
reservation
Bǎoliú
Are there any vacancies?
Yǒu kòngquē ma
No vacancies
Méiyǒu kòngwèi
passport
Hùzhào

Places

English
Mandarin
post office
Yóujú
bank
Yínháng
police station
Jǐngchá jú
hospital
Yīyuàn
chemist
Huàxué jiā
shop
Diàn
restaurant
Cāntīng
museum
Bówùguǎn
square
fang, guang chang
street
jie

Shopping

English
Mandarin
How much does this cost?
Zhège duōshǎo qián?
I will buy it
wo-mai
I would like to buy…
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi…
Do you have…?
Nǐ yǒu méiyǒu…?
open
kai
closed
guan
postcard
Míngxìnpiàn
stamps
Yóupiào
little
yi dian er
lot
hen-duo
all
Suǒyǒu

Meals

English
Mandarin
breakfast
zao-can
lunch
wu-can
dinner
wan-can
vegetarian
cheers!
gan bei
The bill please
Qǐng zhàngdān

Drinks

Drinks

English
Mandarin
drink
coffee
ka-fei
tea
Chá
juice
guo-zhi
water
shui
beer
Píjiǔ
wine
jiu

Food

English
Mandarin
meat
Ròu
fish
vegetable
Shūcài
fruit
shui-guo
potato
Tǔdòu
salad
Shālā
dessert
Tiándiǎn

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Taiwan Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accomodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travellers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Taiwan to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Taiwan, you’ve come to the right place.

Kaohsiung

There you have it, the ultimate Taiwan backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Taiwan.

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