Taipei is an ultra-modern city, but it also has deep rich cultural roots and it is becoming more and more a gateway to East Asia and Southeast Asia. Here are five things you should know before you visit Taipei, Taiwan.
The currency in Taiwan is the NTD or new Taiwan dollar. Make sure you carry a bit of this around with you especially if you are going out for meals. This is because many of the very famous restaurants don’t accept credit cards.
Tipping is Unnecessary
Tipping is not customary here in Taiwan, so don’t worry about tipping in restaurants or taxis. If the taxi fare is 95 NTD and you give the taxi driver 100 NTD and tell them to keep the change, that’s okay but don’t feel you have to tip the taxi drivers or restaurant staff as well. Now, if you are staying in a four or five-star hotel, then sometimes the staff that works in the hotel will expect the tip especially the porter that carries your bag.
English is not Widely Spoken
What you will find when you visit Taiwan is that people do not speak as much English here especially compared to Southeast Asia. But no worries, if you come to a restaurant in Taipei like Din Tai Fung in Dongmin everybody on staff can speak English and virtually all of their restaurants have English-speaking staff. That is not the case with all restaurants so you will find a little more of a language barrier. However, many restaurants in commercial districts will have at least one person on at all times that could speak English.
If you go to a traditional morning market in Taipei, then it will be a bit more of a language barrier for you. Food stalls and little restaurants that are around the night markets probably will have a bit of English language skills and sometimes Japanese and Korean as well. Most of the signage is in English in Taipei City especially and all the transportation services have English and will all have English speakers on hand at any time as well. Also, no worries when you are visiting tourist attractions like Taipei 101, the number one tourist spot in Taipei. Most of the staff speak English and many museums and tourist attractions also have English-speaking staffs.
Claim your VAT Refund
Claim the 5% VAT tax when you leave Taiwan. All foreigners can get back up to 5% VAT but you must spend 3000 NT dollars on the same day which is about $90. Do that at a big department store or retail outlet that that sells big-ticket items and they will be happy to issue you that receipt. You can take that to the airport on departure and cash out and get your money back either on your credit card or cash. Don’t ask night market stalls or outdoor clothing stores to give you a receipt they won’t do it.
World Class Public Transportation
Taipei has one of the best metro systems in the world; it is super efficient and very convenient. If you think you will be in Taipei more than a couple of days, you should get one of the easy cards because not only is it convenient to get around on the MRT and bus system but you can also use it to use the U-Bike system which is a fantastic way for getting around the city.
I hope you have an amazing time in Taipei Taiwan. The people are extremely friendly and helpful, so don’t be afraid to get lost you are in a safe place.