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Taiwan Travel Information

The Basics

Time

GMT +8

Electricity

Electrical current is 110 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin, flat blade plugs are standard.

Language

Mandarin is the official language but many people speak Taiwanese (also called Hokkien). There are a growing number of English speakers.

Travel Health

Taiwan's medical facilities can handle routine, emergency and outpatient treatment, with some centres also employing English-speaking staff. Travellers should have up-to-date vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis.

There has been an increase in cases of dengue fever, so travellers should pack insect repellent, especially if they're visiting the south of the island. Health insurance is recommended.

Tipping

Tipping isn't expected in Taiwan, though it is appreciated. Guests usually tip the porter at better hotels (100 TWD is considered courteous), and add 10 percent to their tour guide's fee if they're happy with the service.

Safety Information

Most visits to Taiwan are trouble-free, with the only concerns being a low incidence of petty crime and natural hazards such as typhoons, tropical storms and earthquakes. The natural hazards are seldom severe.

Local Customs

The concept of 'saving face' is very important on the island and tourists should try to avoid embarrassing locals. Self-control is another key point of etiquette, with the Taiwanese frowning on outbursts and other public spectacles. It's impolite to have shoes on when entering someone's home or to make physical contact with strangers.

Business

Doing business in Taiwan is a pleasure for those who value a high work ethic and technologically savvy business partners. The island has traded heavily with the West for many years and business formalities have melded over time. However, it's important to observe and respect the cultural heritage many cling to.

Confucian values tend to dictate business etiquette in Taiwan, so locals generally appreciate gratitude, respect, mutual understanding and studiousness. Also, bar a few multi-nationals, most businesses in Taiwan are medium-sized and family-owned. In this context, the family's paternal head is always consulted, meaning business decisions can take longer.

Two important aspects of business culture in Taiwan are face and 'Guanxi' (relationships). Face relates to the dignity of a person or a company, and it informs all social and business interactions. It's important to save face at all times. For this reason, foreigners should not correct colleagues or expect them to correct themselves.

Gift giving and conducting deals slowly are key to operating in Taiwan. Generally, business people give a simple gift to all members involved in a meeting, and a better gift to the most important person. It's impolite to open gifts in front of hosts.

Foreigners should always accept invitations to events outside of normal business hours, as this is when locals build relationships. Business people consider it disrespectful to make direct or prolonged eye contact with someone who is in a very senior position, but will always direct conversation to the most senior person in the meeting.

The Taiwanese expect punctuality for meetings. Shaking hands is common for men and women nowadays, though a bow goes a long way as a sign of respect. Business hours are from 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Business cards are exchanged often and should be printed in both English and Mandarin. Work clothes tend to be formal and conservative. Men wear dark suits, women wear modest dresses and skirts rather than pants. Mandarin is the language of business and hiring a translator is often necessary.

Communications

Taiwan's international access code is +886. Travellers can purchase local SIMs for unlocked phones; wifi is widely accessible in hotels, hostels, homestays, cafes, restaurants and some shopping malls.

Duty Free

Travellers aged over 20 may enter Taiwan without paying customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 454g tobacco, 1 bottle of alcohol (maximum 1 litre), and a reasonable amount of perfume. Travellers are also permitted to bring personal goods valued up to NT$20,000 duty free (or NT$10,000 for those under 20 years). Guns, narcotics, fresh meat and fruit are prohibited.

Become our Taiwan Travel Expert

We are looking for contributors for our Taiwan travel guide. If you are a local, a regular traveller to Taiwan or a travel professional with time to contribute and answer occasional forum questions, please contact us.