Newbie in Taiwan?

  1. Money: New Taiwanese Dollars is the current currency. What I did was to take out cash (enough for a month) from an ATM at the airport with my Revolut card. I find it very useful when travelling, specially in Europe. It is a banking app based in the UK that allows you to have accounts for 24 currencies (at the moment) AND exchange money between these accounts without any fees. It does not have NTD, but it allows you to extract certain amount of money without any fee. If you are interested, you can check it out clicking here.
  2. Easy Card: This magnetic card will save you time and money when travelling in Taiwan. It costs 100 NTD and you can top it up with any amount you think necessary. It is for the MTR (underground/subway) but also for buses and trains. The best thing about it is that in some places (7/11 and specific restaurants), it is accepted as a form of payment, so you can basically use it as a credit card for certain places.
  3. SIM card: I went through a lot of emotions trying to get a SIM card to get internet on my phone. In the airport there are places where they will sell you a SIM for 1000 NTD per month (unlimited internet and x amount of SMS and minute calls). This is not a normal price, it’s the price for foreigners. Taiwanese people pay, generally, about 400 NTD per month, as I learned later on. When I asked, there was not even an option for lower internet allowance or a way that it could be cheaper. I was asked for my passport and I signed a document, all in Chinese, which I did not understand (but I needed the SIM card and internet on my phone).
  4. Internet: There is a public Wi-Fi network called iTaiwan, in which you register (free) and you get free Wi-Fi in Wi-Fi hotspots. In my experience, it works quite well in city centres (except Tainan) and in train stations.
  5. Accommodation: during my two months here, I stayed mainly in one Airbnb and in hostels. How did I find these hostels? Through booking.com. I look for:
    1. Price
    2. Location
    3. Beds: Are there curtains? How many people in one room? Are there lockers and how safe do they look? Does the mattress look comfortable?
    4. Breakfast: Is it included?
    5. Opinions: The last but most important thing.
    6. Depending on your travel plans: Is it a party hostel? Are there activities? Is there a cool common area to socialise/work on your computer should you need to? If you do need to work, how is the internet?
  6. Food: I would highly recommend to go where the locals go. More often than not, this means low-cost furniture and all Chinese menu. If it smells good, ask what it is. Sometimes they have an English menu and sometimes they will take show you what they are cooking. In my opinion, it is the best way to interact with the locals and to try new food. It is also cheaper. Win, win if you ask me!
  7. Cultural differences: Even if you don’t speak the language, smile and be patient. Taiwanese people are kind and willing to help. If there is miscommunication, know that they are trying their best to make you feel at home.

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