Visiting Taiwan

So, you think about visiting us in Taiwan! Great! Three years after Covid started, Taiwan is finally opening for the public again. So let me answer the most frequently asked questions – just to make sure that no-one of us forgets something important!

(Also: Sorry for falling into English out of habit – most of you reading this will likely be German. On the other hand: You will speak English in Taiwan, anyway, so let’s start right here!)

Getting into the mood

Depending on how much time you have, how curious you are, and how adventurous you feel, you might want to get into the mood earlier already and prepare your trip instead of letting life happen over here.

As usual, Wikipedia offers a great source to quickly learn the basics, especially for the intellectually curious. As a start, I recommend the articles on the Republic of China (Taiwan the country), Taiwan the island, the history of Taiwan, and the city of Taipei.

When it comes to books, I really appreciated John Grant Ross’ “Taiwan in 100 Books” as a good and entertaining ride through Taiwan’s history. Together with Eryk Michael Smith, Ross also started a podcast series on Taiwan’s history, “Formosa Files”. If you are more into contemporary issues, Ghost Island Media offers a couple of interesting podcasts on current events and social issues. I am also slowly but steadily gathering my favorite books (on Taiwan and other issues) in my reading list.

And of course there are series, movies, and music! Many streaming services like Netflix offer some Taiwanese movies within Europe, and if your VPN allows to camouflage as Taiwanese, you can even dip into the local offer. Tips might follow, until then, follow your gut!

What to expect in Taiwan, a short overview

Time in Taiwan

Taiwan is on CST (China Standard Time), 6-7 hours ahead of Germany (summer time/winter time).

Days vary little in their lengths, the sun rises early and sets between 5pm and 7pm.

Temperatures in Taiwan

The weather in Taipei is a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and no dry season. Temperatures are between about 14° and 20° in the winter months, spring and fall are in the 20s°, summers very hot and humid between 25° and 35° (all C). In general, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit, winter can get a bit cold (albeit not nearly as much as in Germany!), summers are only good if you really enjoy sweating all day while it also rains.

Air quality

Taipei has done much to increase the air quality and was quite successful in it. Overall, the city is said to have one of the best air qualities for major Asian cities.

Rain in Taipei

Taipei is very very wet. The average monthly precipitation is 200mm, varying between 100-150mm (Oct – Apr) and 250-350mm (May – Sept during typhoon season, July a bit less). In comparison: rainy Hamburg has “only” between 40mm and 80mm of rainfall each month! However, the average amount of rainy days is between 10 and 15 days, quite comparable to the moody northern German Harbor city.

Overall, rain in Taipei is very different from rain in Germany. It rains in heavy, dense bursts, but is usually not cold. If you mirror the Taiwanese peoples’ approach to rain, it won’t really hinder you from enjoying your time. Just bring an umbrella and a rain coat and you’ll be very very fine!


The de-facto official language of Taiwan is Taiwanese Mandarin, based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin Chinese. There are various divergences and differences, especially in the more colloquial Taiwanese Guoyu spoken by many of the locals and stronger influenced by local dialects and aboriginal languages. Also, Taiwan uses traditional characters that are different from the simplified characters introduced in mainland China in the 1950s.

While Taiwan has an initiative to become bilingual (Mandarin-English) by 2030, only few Taiwanese over 40 will speak even fragmentary English. (They will still be better at it than you with Chinese!)


The official currency in Taiwan is New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). For 1€ you usually get between 30 and 33 NTD.


You can expect to have 4G and 5G mobile internet access in all parts of the city and far beyond it. (An average 3000-people village has better connection than the middle of Berlin.) SIM cards are easy to buy at the airport and rather cheap (about 20-30€ for a months). Taiwan’s internet top-level domain is .tw.

Transport in Taipei

Taipei has an excellent public transport system. Five metro (MRT) lines span the city and its surrounding, an extensive bus system braces into the neighborhoods. Frequent “YouBike” stations offer cheap bikes for rent. All services can be easily and rather cheaply used with a simple chip card (the “Easy Card”, we’ll provide one for visitors): MRT rides are usually less than 1€, a typical bike ride between 0.20 and 1€. Sidewalks are frequent and frequently shared by pedestrians and cyclists (albeit in a rather anarchic manner).

Driving in Taiwan

In general, scooters are used much more than cars. Both require a driving license. The German driving license is not valid in Taiwan. (Apparently a tit-for-tat as the Taiwanese is not valid in Germany…) It can be exchanged for a Taiwanese license (and will be sent to Germany in that case as far as I know), but this requires to redo some driving tests. Other European driving licenses are apparently valid.

Packing list for Taiwan



While Taipei is quite western for Asian cities, it can still be foreign and overwhelming. Luckily, your smartphone will be there for you!

Flight & Airport Travel

Taipei’s International Airport is Taipei Taoyuan Airport (TPE), one of the busiest airports worldwide outside times of a global pandemic. Its national airline is China Airlines (CI; Sky Team Alliance, like KLM and Air France), not to be confused with Air China, the flag carrier of the PRC. Another Taiwanese airline is EVA Air (BR; Star Alliance, like Lufthansa). Both are very save.

Direct flights between Germany and Taiwan leave from Frankfurt (operated by China Airlines) and Munich (EVA Air). Amsterdam is another good airport to get nonstop flights to Taiwan (also China Airlines). Expect to pay between 700€ and 1000€ for a two-way ticket. (Life hack when flying CI: order any non-standard meal and you will be served first; vegetarian oriental is usually good.)

Six to seven hour time difference means you’ll likely have a jet lag. Flying west is usually easier. That direction (your return flight) we like to fly during the night. Sleeping isn’t easy but your night will be 6-7 hours longer, so you can watch some movie(s) without feeling bad, dozing as much as possible, and will arrive sufficiently rested for a more or less normal day in Europe. The other direction is harder, as you will have one very short day. We usually take a late morning flight which means (remember: 12-13 hour flight) we arrive in the very early morning hours here. It’s hard to sleep (the airline will darken the plain but your body is essentially still on day time), but try to get a few hours here and there and allow yourself a long nap once here. (Naps are culturally very much approved!) It’s really tempting to splurge and sleep the whole day, but that’ll make it rather difficult to get into the rhythms. Anyway – you’ll be on vacation, and on adrenaline, so it will be fine!

Once you arrive in Taipei, follow the signs and the crowd and take your time. (If you didn’t fly for a long time: You basically want to claim your luggage; after that the exit is very close. The airport will make sure to get everything security related they want from you on the way.) The ground personnel is usually very helpful and speaks decent English.

Wifi should be free at the airport. Once you get your luggage, take a few minutes in the main hall to get a SIM card while there.

To get to the city, you can take a bus or the MRT if you want to take public transports. Taxis are usually about 50€ if you prefer not to start your trip on hard mode.

And that’s how your vacation will begin!