“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)
“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)
“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)