1. Taiwan is Not Your Home Country; Don’t Compare Them 臺灣不是你的家鄉; 不要比較
You are not in Kansas anymore. One of the initial stages of culture shock is to look at all the negative aspects of a new culture by comparing it to one’s home country. If you do compare, try to find the good things about Taiwan that your home country lacks; this way you will have a much happier and fulfilling experience in Taiwan. Taiwan is a separate country with different history, customs, and beliefs than your home country, so you should forget everything you know about your culture and accept Taiwan for what it is. Come to Taiwan with a good attitude, and you might learn something!
The best advice I can give is when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you mimic what other Taiwanese people do, you might find that they do things better than your home country, and you will discover new things about the human experience.
2. Taiwan is Not China; Don’t Even Go There 臺灣不屬於中國大陸; 別提
If you are a foreigner in Taiwan claiming that Taiwan is part pf the PRC or Mainland China, you are going to offend a lot of people here. Even if this is a view that you truly believe because Taiwan is not in the U.N. or whatnot, just keep it to yourself. Taiwan is an independent Nation for all intents and purposes. If you respect democratic freedom, you should also respect Taiwan independence.
3. Taiwan is Not Taipei! 臺灣不是臺北
Many Foreigners come to Taiwan only to visit sights around Taipei, and then leave not seeing all that Taiwan has to offer. Chinese Taipei is a fake country. It is the country of the sky dragon 天龍國, full of many idealistic and westernized Taiwanese that have been abroad and are rich. The South and East are the real Taiwan. Taipei City is only one city in Taiwan and only has less than 12% of its population and .01% of its land area. New Taipei, Keelung, and Taipei city only account for 33% of Taiwan's population and 7% of its land area. If you have only been to Taipei City and call yourself a Taiwan expat, you are not; you are a sky dragon expat. There is much more of Taiwan to be explored.
4. Taiwan is Safe 臺灣很安全
Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world; it was named in the top global peace index and was named the safest country in the world in 2016. People are not allowed to own guns in Taiwan. You don’t need to worry about getting mugged in the street when you are here. People here are nice to people they don't know, especially if they are from a vibrant foreign country. Also, Taiwan is politically stable, even with pressure from China.
5. Taiwan is Cheap 臺灣的東西很便宜
Take a look at some of the commodities above! The cost of living in Taiwan is relatively low, and Taiwan has one of the best standards of living in the world.
6. Taiwan is Convenient 臺灣很方便
Taiwan is one of the most convenient countries in the world. There are almost 10,000 convenience stores, putting them in walking distance for most people. It is hard to tour Taiwan without seeing a 7-11, Family Mart, OK Mart, or Hi-Life everywhere you go. These stores also let people pay their bills with cash, purchase travel tickets, print pictures, ship and receive packages, buy everyday items, and much more.
Also, health clinics are everywhere, and even if you don’t have insurance a checkup is very affordable. A normal checkup is no more than $30 USD, and if you are enrolled in NHI, the copay will range from $2 - $8 USD.
7. Taiwan Has Great Public Transportation 臺灣的交通設施非常好
Taiwan has an extremely convenient and efficient public transportation system. In Taiwan it’s easy to go anywhere on the island within hours. There is a railway that encompasses the entire island, as well as high speed rail along the west side connecting the major cities. Most major cities in Taiwan also have airports, with 4 international airports in total. Freeways and expressways also cover most of the island, which makes it easy to get to place to place by car or bus. It is so easy to travel in Taiwan that one can have a business meeting in Taipei in the morning, and travel via high speed rail for a relaxing afternoon on a tropical southern beach.
8. Taiwan Food is Delicious! 臺灣食物好吃！
We love Taiwan food! Don’t be the expat that eats at McDonald’s for every meal. There is so much delicious food everywhere! For lists of our favorite foods, click here: www.foreignersintaiwan.com/blog-posts/category/food
9. Taiwan is fun! 臺灣很好玩！
Because Taiwan is so convenient and has such a developed transportation system, it is easy to travel and have fun. Taiwan is home to many tourist destinations, from beautiful mountain scenery like Taroko Gorge, to Kenting’s tropical beaches, to Hot Springs in nearly every county, to night markets and endless shopping.
10. The Majority of Foreigners Here are Blue Collar Workers from Southeast Asia 大部分在臺灣的外國人是從東南亞的勞動
As you can see from the above chart (sorry it's in Chinese), most foreign blue collar laborers are from Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, and Thailand. According to Taiwan's government database, there are 657,983 foreign blue collar workers in Taiwan as of July 2017. Most of these people either work in manufacturing or caring for Taiwan's elderly.
Most of your fellow foreigners in Taiwan are from Southeast Asian countries coming here to do blue collar jobs that nobody else wants to do, for very low wages. We want to give them a voice and hope these people are not forgotten.
Please like and share! If we forgot something, please tell us in the comments below!
Taiwan has some of the best food in the world, and it’s a big reason why foreigners like us love coming back. A lot of these foods cannot easily be found elsewhere, which makes leaving Taiwan that much harder. Our top 10 most delicious Taiwan foods are as follows:
10. 葱抓餅 Onion Pancake
This is a salty, oily, tortilla like bread, a Taiwan breakfast staple to die for. Like a breakfast burrito, these things can be filled with bacon, cheese, and egg, along with whatever ingredient you want. Also, very similar to this is Egg Pancake 蛋餅，which is basically the same thing but has a thinner wrap.
9. 水果冰 Fruit Shaved Ice
This is Taiwan’s version of ice cream, but with huge chunks of fruit. The traditional ice 挫冰 is shaved ice with syrup and fruit chunks on top. Nowadays you can have the shaved ice actually be made of ice cream. My favorites are mango ice and chocolate banana ice. There is nothing more refreshing on a blazing hot summer afternoon than a huge bowl of fruit shaved ice.
8. Steamed Buns 包子
Taiwan steamed buns come in many varieties. There is Guabao/Pork Bun which is basically a Taiwanese hamburger made out of steamed bread. They can have filling in the middle, such as pork, taro, vegetables, cheese, and chocolate. I love Taiwanese bread so much, and I especially miss it every time I leave the country.
7. Dumplings and Fried Dumplings 水餃/鍋貼
There is no Chinese staple like dumplings; it’s a food that Taiwanese people never get sick of, as can be seen by Bafang 八方 restaurants that are everywhere and always busy. My favorite are curry flavored fried dumplings. This is a food that simply always satisfies.
6. Red Bean Soup 紅豆湯
This soup is a sweet, delicious desert. It can be eaten hot or cold. Red beans in Taiwan are meant to have sugar added to them. To be honest, my first time eating this I gagged, but now it is one of my favorite foods. Typical ingredients in the soup include sweet potato balls, taro balls, colored rice balls, jelly, and an assortment of random delicious Taiwan condiments.
5. Bubble Tea珍珠奶茶
This is tea with milk and delicious gluttonous starch balls to chew on. It might be an acquired texture for some, but once you’ve had a few of these, you can’t go back. As far as I know, Taiwan is the bubble tea capital of the world.
4. Taiwan Lunchbox (Bento) 自助餐/便當
This is the most typical Taiwan meal, and can be found everywhere. This was coined from the Japanese Bento 便當 (If you didn’t know, Japan ruled Taiwan for more than half a century), and is a staple in Taiwan cuisine. This usually comes in a pre-packaged box, which differs from the help yourself syle lunchbox (自助餐) which includes a buffet style counter full of plates of meat and vegetables that you pick, but you have to pay for everything you put on your plate. My mouth waters just thinking about them; this is one of the main reasons I could not stay in the US.
3. Fried Chicken炸鷄
When I lived in China one of the things I missed the most was Taiwan fried chicken. Taiwan has multiple kinds of fried chicken. First, the traditional fried chicken steak 炸鷄排, which is a delicious slab of fried chicken. Second, salty chicken咸酥雞, which can include an assortment of delicious fried things, including cheese and mushrooms; this can be found everywhere on the street in Taiwan. The healthy alternative is saltwater chicken 鹽水雞, which doesn’t use fry oil, only saltwater to cook. My favorite variety though is cheese fried chicken steak 起司鷄排. Considering so many people in Taiwan eat these things so often, I am surprised most people in Taiwan aren’t really fat.
2. Roast Duck烤鴨
Roast duck has some of the most delicious meat in Taiwan. We recommend 仁武烤鴨 (Renwu Roast duck in Kaohsiung), they have the most delicious sauce that goes perfectly with the duck slices. Also delicious is ordering small tortillas and green onion to wrap the meat and sauce in. Eating this is truly a trip to heaven.
1. Hot Pot Buffet 火鍋吃到飽
Buffets in Taiwan all are incredible, but this is the best kind of buffet in Taiwan: a fat man’s paradise. Depending on the buffet, there could be unlimited Haagen-Dazs ice cream, a chocolate fountain, soft service, unlimited drinks, random snacks, fried vegetables, sushi, pizza, and best of all kinds of meat cuts, seafood, and veggies to put in your hot pot.
If you have a favorite food that should have made the list, please let us know in the comments below.
To many reader’s out there, the following list might be the most delicious menu you have ever seen. Good for you. I’m glad you have become one with the culture in Taiwan. However the rest of us (mostly westerners) would cringe at these foods.
10. Pig Ears 豬耳朵
Westerner’s think that any animal extremity is gross. This is because we make these extremities into sausage instead of eating them straight. Taiwanese however like to each extremity separately creating a new culinary delight. I think it’s strange that pig ears taste so similar to fish. There was one time where I was offered pig ears against my will, so I hid in the bathroom and secretly flushed them down the toilet. Desperate times come for desperate measures. Pic:
9. 1000 Year Old Egg 皮蛋
This delicacy was originally (in the olden days) made by fermenting eggs in HORSE PEE. As much as Taiwanese people tell me that this is not how 1000 year old eggs are made now, I still cannot get that image out of my mind. Once a Taiwanese family gave let my friend try one of these, and he immediately puked it into the trash can.
8. Intestine Noodles 大腸棉綫
I unfortunately have had the opportunity to try this dish on a number of occasions, never to my liking. Not only can I not stop thinking about the poop that went through these intestines, but it actually tastes like a bunch of poop went through them.
7. Chicken Feet 鷄脚
Westerners do not like to eat the extremities of animals. With such little meat on chicken feet, it amazes me that Taiwanese people go through the trouble of cooking them at all. I guess Taiwanese just don’t like wasting food like us westerners.
6. Bitter Tea 苦茶
Bitter tea is seen to many Taiwanese as a healthy drink, one to cure a multitude of ailments and ensure overall good health. My wife says only old people drink it because they have already lost their sense of taste. In my opinion, this tastes the exact same as stomach acid.
5. Snake Meat 蛇肉
We have never had the pleasure of trying snake meat, but some of our friends in Tainan have. It’s Snake meat, meat from an animal that is full of deadly venomous fangs. What else is there to say.
4. Coagulated Duck/Pig Blood 豬血/鴨血
I don’t know why this is a thing, I guess this goes along with the not wasting food thing. While blood is gross in general, eating blood is even more gross. However I have found coagulated blood mixed in a rice cake form is pretty tasty.
3. Duck/Chicken Butt 鴨屁股/鷄屁股
The butt of an animal. The place where poop comes out. Sounds gross, but I find that if you avoid eating the anus, these are actually pretty tasty.
2. Fish Eyes 魚眼睛
Taiwanese (and Chinese) people believe that eating fish eyes and fish head will make you smarter. So it comes naturally that many parents force their children to eat fish eyes so they will do well on their tests. I can tolerate these, but they are not my favorite. As westerners, anything from an animal head is gross, but eyes take the prize.
1. Duck Head 鴨頭
Why is eating a duck head popular in Taiwan? I guess it probably tastes good, but I have never tried one. Also, along with fish head, eating duck brain is supposed to make you smarter. Again, the not wasting food thing. And again westerners do not like animal heads, and eating an entire duck head takes the number one spot.
Do you know of any other disgusting Taiwan foods? Please comment below with any feedback.
Taiwan is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but there are many secret natural wonders that foreigners like us that have lived here got years have yet to go. In this list, we will give the top 10 secret natural wonders that we have not been too. If these were easy to get to, we would have gone there already.
10. Jiqi (Chi Chi) Beach 機奇海濱游樂區
This beach is secluded in Eastern Taiwan. It might be easy to get to, that's why its last on the list. Located between Hualien and Taitung, it has some world class surfing, and you can also swim and paddle board here. The beach includes showers, and the sunsets are beautiful.
9. Taitung Moon World 利吉惡地
I knew there was a moon world in Kaohsiung but I was surprised to find its counterpart also existed in Taitung. Due to Taiwan’s heavy rainfall mixed with raised sediment, much of Taiwan is filled with eroding badlands like this. These formations are some of the most unique and picturesque in Taiwan. Photo cred:
8. Fish Road Old Trail 魚路古道
This trail is not far from Taipei in Yangming National Park. This trail features a grassy lava plateau, with grazing cattle: a very rare sight in Taiwan. Photo:
7. Qinshui Ying Old Trail 浸水營古道
This historic road dates from the Qing dynasty. Located in Pingtung County, it runs from Fangliao to Dawu, and is mountain bike accessible. I hear it is best traversed in winter to avoid heavy rains and landslides. Photo:
6. Jiji Green Tunnel 集集綠色隧道
This “tunnel” runs between Sun Moon Lake and the small town of Jiji in Nantou county. This road seems best cycled, as there are many views to be enjoyed, such as Sun Moon Lake, little villages, dams, and most of all: beautiful green forests.
5. 慄松溫泉 Lisong Hot Spring
This is known as perhaps Taiwan’s most beautiful natural hot spring. Getting there requires some river tracing, but that should make getting there all the more fun. Over the years people have dammed up the hot spring to make a nice pool to soak in. Photo:
4. Caoling Historic Trail 草嶺古道
This is a historic ocean-side highway that used to connect Yilan with the rest of northern Taiwan. It features cliffs, tunnels, and breathtaking views of the ocean. Parts of it are also accessible by bike.
3. Walami Trail 哇拉米古道
This is an old Japanese road originally built so that they could better control aborigines in Eastern Taiwan. Near Hualien, it is well known in hiking circles for its historic significance as well as the untouched natural beauty. It is also accessible via mountain bike. http://tour-hualien.hl.gov.tw/en/Attraction/Album.aspx?id=145&type=4#content
2. Jiaming Lake 嘉明湖
This is the second highest lake in Taiwan, and sits above the tree line. Located in Taitung County, it is not far from Jade Mountain National Park. This hike is a favorite for Taiwan locals to come and take photos. http://mapio.net/pic/p-6560618/
1. O’Holy Ridge 聖稜線
Revered by some to be best hike in Taiwan, this hike spans some of Taiwan’s highest peaks in the Sheipa Range. Much of this hike is on a razor thin ridge with thousands of feet of drop-off on either side. I hear the views are incredible.
If you have anything you feel should be added to this list, feel free to send us a comment. We hope to visit these places soon, but then again there's always a beauty in leaving something undone.
As Foreigners living in Taiwan, we have spent years living in and travelling in Taiwan, but there are some places so remote and secret that we haven’t had the chance to go there. Below is a list of the top places we know of that we want to go to, as well as the small bit of information we have that makes us want to visit there. (BTW none of these pictures are ours; we haven’t been to any of these places.)
10. Mangrove Green tunnel 紅樹林綠色隧道
This is a river with a tunnel made of trees in Tainan. Apparently there is a boat ride that you can take for 150 NT through it. It reminds me of the Louisiana bayou, and seems out of place in busy Taiwan. This is definitely a photogenic and magical looking place. Photo cred: http://blog.xuite.net/ks.ob1/twblog/139571994-%E5%85%A8%E5%9C%8B%E5%94%AF%E4%B8%80++%E7%B4%85%E6%A8%B9%E6%9E%97++%E6%B0%B4%E4%B8%8A%E7%B6%A0%E8%89%B2%E9%9A%A7%E9%81%93
9. Da Yi Temple 大義宮
This is a temple in the Penghu island chain. Its basement has a pool with a bunch of giant sea turtles swimming in it! There is probably some religious significance that goes along with this, but we just want to see those turtles. You are justified in thinking of us as pervaders of animal cruelty. We are sure there are tons of coins in those poor turtles stomach’s that need to be surgically removed. Photo cred: http://loloto.pixnet.net/blog/post/32644579-%E3%80%90%E6%BE%8E%E6%B9%96%E3%80%91%E7%AB%B9%E7%81%A3%E5%A4%A7%E7%BE%A9%E5%AE%AE%EF%BC%8E%E8%93%AE%E8%8A%B1%E7%8F%8A%E7%91%9A%E6%B4%9E%EF%BC%8E%E7%B6%A0%E8%A0%B5%E9%BE%9C%EF%BC%8E
8. 都蘭 Dulan
This is a small village in Eastern Taiwan. Apparently there is a secret local village beach (no picture), few visitors and lots of stuff to eat. Also, there is a unique physics-defying feature there: Water Running Up Hill水往上流. It’s probably just a stupid optical illusion, but it captures our interest nonetheless. Photo cred: https://www.eastcoast-nsa.gov.tw/zh-tw/Attractions/Detail/33
7. Nangan 南竿and Beigan北竿 islands
These two isolated islands are in Matsu county. On Beigan北竿, there are preserved Fujian villages, coastal scenery, peaceful beaches, and surely there are no crowds. Photo cred: https://solomo.xinmedia.com/photo/21829-matsu
On Nangan there is a military tunnel北海坑道, connected to the ocean in which you can kayak. A very special place indeed. Photo cred: https://www.google.com.tw/search?q=7.+%E5%8D%97%E7%AB%BF&newwindow=1&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjmvruBkqbUAhWFgrwKHVVEDZsQ_AUICigB&biw=1440&bih=721#imgrc=eW68Io1AIv5r8M
6. Chi’mei island 七美鄉
This outer island next to Penghu has one of the most photogenic heart-shaped structures built into its beach. Although this was originally made to catch fish, it has become one of the staples of Taiwan tourist marketing. Too bad, like all the outer islands, it is not so easy to get to. Photo Cred: https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E4%B8%83%E7%BE%8E%E9%84%89_(%E8%87%BA%E7%81%A3)#/media/File:Fishpot.jpg
5. 60 Stone Mountain 六十石山
The is the first picture that I have ever seen of Eastern Taiwan. It is the sole reason I took my first trip there, even though I never went to the place the photo was taken, which I regret. I will definitely go there some day. Photo cred: http://share.irving.tw/talk/join.aspx?Seq=107
4. Turtle Island 龜山島
Why is this place called turtle island? Take a wild guess. This place has some great whale watching and snorkeling. I don’t know if you are allowed to sleep overnight there, which makes me want to sleep overnight there. Photo cred: https://www.tripzilla.com/photo-guishan-island-turtle-island-taiwan/19337
3. Guanziling 關子嶺
This is a place in Tainan county. It doesn’t just have hot springs, it has MUD hot springs，and it doesn’t just have mud hot springs, it has FIRE hot springs! What other reasons do you need to want to visit this place? Photo cred: http://guanzi.emmm.tw/
2. Chaori Hotspring 朝日溫泉
This hot spring is located on Green Island, an island off the coast of Taiwan (like many of these places). These aren’t just hot springs; these are natural seawater hot springs, one of only three such natural hot springs in the world! Enough said. Photo Cred: http://tour.taitung.gov.tw/)/Travel/ScenicSpot/372/%E7%B6%A0%E5%B3%B6%E6%9C%9D%E6%97%A5%E6%BA%AB%E6%B3%89
1. Jade Mountain 玉山
Okay, this is not a secret place; it’s probably the most popular hike for tourist in Taiwan. But it is relatively hard to get to. You have to have a local friend draw out of a raffle to get to hike this thing, weather permitting. If the weather gets bad the day of the hike, too bad. Wait until next year. We have been trying to climb this thing for years with no luck, and no time in our schedules. However after writing this we have learned that Foreigners don't have to take part in the raffle, so we might do it soon. But it is Taiwan’s ultimate hike and gives one the right to brag for a lifetime. Photo:
So you might have realized that most of these places are on the outer islands in Taiwan. That is because the outer islands are naturally secretive, hard to get to, and great vacation spots. We will be sure to update and expand this list in the future. If you have any secret Taiwan spots that you want to share with the rest of us, please comment below.
-Foreigners in Taiwan
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living and working in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.