Likes & Dislikes

Opinions

“During our trip to Taiwan at the end of December and the beginning of January, we visited the southern port city of Kaohsiung for the first time, because it is usually 4-5 degrees warmer there in winter than in Taipei, and we also wanted to see something other than the capital. With the HSR (High-Speed Rail), we covered a distance of 360 kilometers in about an hour and a half. The train is very modern, but the landscapes you pass en route are nothing special. Kaohsiung is a large, attractive city, and worth spending two days in. This was followed by Taipei, which we thoroughly explored both on foot and by using the super-modern subway.

We (the whole family!) really liked Taiwan and Taipei. The biggest surprise for us was that the locals are the most pleasant Chinese people we have ever met anywhere in the world. They are cheerful, cultured, well-dressed, and generally extremely likable. We did not see any shady-looking characters in either of the two cities we visited and enjoyed perfect public safety.

Taiwan is a rich, successful country. We’ve seen that there’s a lot of work behind this success, but people are enjoying the fruits of their labors. There are Chinese people living in Singapore and Hong Kong as well, but the Taiwanese Chinese felt somehow calmer and more balanced. You don’t see the same strain and fatigue, despite the fact that they have to work a lot.

Taipei is a huge city with spectacular boulevards. Everywhere is clean and tidy. There are an amazing number of dining options, and a huge selection in this regard as well. It was a great experience to visit the night markets, which people mainly go to in the evening. For seafood lovers (like half of our family) Taiwan is heaven.

What I liked best: The atmosphere of the side streets in some parts of Taipei with its many tastefully decorated, well-lighted cafes, boutiques, and various shops. Everything is very different from the people in China, where many tourist groups come from. Seeing the uncouthness, clothing, and facial expressions of the many Chinese tourists, we felt the contrast even more strongly. No wonder the Taiwanese do not want big China to engulf them. (They are not at risk for now.)

In general, Taiwan is more expensive than China, Thailand and even Malaysia, but cheaper than Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan. We took a lot of taxis in Taipei and that was cheap, plus the drivers never tried to cheat us. The subway is especially cheap, especially for locals who have a high standard of living. A high school teacher earns about 1200 dollars a month.

We still want to explore many new countries, so we are unlikely to return to Taiwan, but we can wholeheartedly recommend this pleasant country to everyone. Apart from the 101-story tower building in the capital, there is no sensational attractions, but it’s definitely a great, pleasant, and relaxing tourist destination. The sense of security you feel there is a real plus for travelers these days.” (Aji, 2016)

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“It’s rare for me to be so surprised by the cleanliness of the place, and its natural beauty. I knew it was a place on the same development level as Japan, that trains were punctual and that there was Shinkansen there too, but the fact that the food was so good, that the natural landscape was so varied, that locals were so infinitely kind even though the concept of tipping is unknown, and that you can’t even bargain with them – that was definitely a surprise.” (2019)
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“The west coast of the country is more urban, while the east coast has plenty of natural attractions. During our two weeks there we visited three cities – Taipei, Tainan, and Kaohsiung – and their surroundings. All are on the west coast.
Taipei is a hypermodern big city with great public transportation. It’s clean and tidy and has interesting attractions, fantastic, real Chinese food, and amazingly interesting history. (This is true of the whole country)
Tainan is interesting for its Portuguese and Dutch heritage, while Kaohsiung is the second-largest city in the country, with the largest Buddhist shrine.
There are always night markets everywhere, and you can try different foods in other cities.
For those who haven’t been to China yet, I think it might be an interesting alternative. No visa is required, you can stay here for up to 90 days as a tourist.” (2020)



Practicals

Background

Destination in brief

Taiwan in brief
 
Taiwan (or, as it is called in Taiwan, the Republic of China), an archipelago is in East Asia (or the Far East), is an entity whose political status is heavily disputed. The (communist, mainland) People’s Republic of China regards Taiwan as part of its territory. Most countries in the world do not officially recognize Taiwan as an independent state, but nevertheless maintain active commercial relations with it.
 
Taiwan borders the Pacific Ocean to the east, the East China Sea to the north, and the South China Sea to the southeast.
 
The island of Taiwan lies about 161 kilometers (100 miles) east of mainland China.
 
Size: 36,193 km² (13,974 mi²) - Taiwan is located in the Ring of Fire, which makes the tiny island one of the most earthquake-prone places in the world. Taiwan experiences over 1,000 perceivable earthquakes a year - It takes about 8 hours to drive around the entire island of Taiwan.
 
Capital city: Taipei – pop. approx. 7.7 million (2020) - There are several popular eateries in Taipei that serve meals and ice cream in mini toilet bowls.
 
Population: A large majority of the population lives in urban areas, mostly on the western coast of the main island.
 
The population is divided into 3 main groups: Malayo-Polynesian aborigines, who are the island's original inhabitants (only 2% of the population); those now called Taiwanese, who are descendants of the original immigrants from the mainland Chinese provinces of Fujian and Guangdong (83% of the population); and the descendants of more recent immigrants who were adherents to the former mainland Nationalist government (15% of the population).
 
Language: Mandarin Chinese – there is a local dialect besides standard Mandarin
 
Religion: Most Taiwanese practice a combination of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Those who consider themselves more progressive often practice Taoism because it fits better with the more materialistic way of life they lead. Buddhists, who are more conservative, often look down on those who are closer to Taoism.
 
Political system: republic, multi-party democracy
 
Currency: New Taiwan dollar (TWD)
 
Average net monthly salary: 1,600 USD (2020)
 
Most common surname: Chen
 
The Taiwanese consider it rude to say "no." They may say "eh, maybe” instead.
 
Safety: Taiwan is very safe for tourists. Hygienic conditions are excellent.
 
Best time to visit: March-May and September-November
 
Top tourist attractions:
 
Taipei (101 building, Shilin Night market, famous temples), Shifen Waterfall, Sun Moon Lake, Rainbow Village, Yushan National Park, the twin pagodas of Kaohsiung
 
In Taiwan, garbage trucks play music to prompt people to bring their garbage to the truck. The garbage trucks often play Beethoven's “Für Elise” to announce their arrival.


Geography

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Taiwan - Jing Pu- Tropic of Cancer Monument - Elter photo

Climate

“The typhoon season in July and August is the most dangerous time of the year for the island nation, with a couple of planes disappearing every year, and a few people who did not take the forecast seriously enough to lose their lives. Cars and windows are smashed, mailboxes sway in the wind, and centuries-old banyan trees twist or split in two.

At home, we like to complain about the weather: if it’s too hot, we talk about that, or about the rain if it’s raining. When I spent a year in Taiwan (officially still the Republic of China), it was refreshing to see that although the temperature was thirty-five degrees Celsius, with 100 percent humidity and heavy rain, it wasn’t really a topic among the locals – they put on their raincoats, got on their scooters, and went to work the same as usual. At most, we were laughed at by foreigners when we arrived dripping with water, and then we chatted all day in the 20-degree air-conditioned building.
But the Taiwanese people react to the typhoon season just like we would. They ransack the stores, complain about forecasts (which they say are inaccurate – for instance, there’s a belief that if CNN says a rough storm is coming, it will hardly be felt), and show on social media what damage the apocalypse did to their apartment.)

People

“Here are some stereotypes about the Taiwanese: They are very polite. Women are cute and delicately sentimental. The girls in the capital have very pale skin. Taiwanese men (especially the guys in the capital) behave and speak in a somewhat feminine manner, and have European eyes. They love everything Japanese. They feel superior to the Chinese people. They work very long hours. They are basically lazy people and don’t want to hurry (although they are often forced). They are nature lovers.

Many young Taiwanese people even work abroad, mostly in Western countries, but some also go to China. They like to ride scooters. Taiwan's domestic politics are chaotic and bare-knuckle, no matter how democratic the framework. Taiwanese people are short. Traffic rules are considered recommendations only. The guys in Taiwan don't like the fact that some of the local girls are more attracted to white (European) boys. Many Taiwanese girls are very materialistic, introverted, and have shallow tastes. Among young people, girls speak English better than boys. Very many girls have a university degree.

Attractions

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