If you’re traveling to Taipei or even just thinking about it, you might find that some of these tips will make your life sooo much easier. I recently moved there in late April, and have found some interesting “hacks” to solve the unique challenges of a foreigner living in Taipei.
Get the WayGo App
I tried a couple of different translation apps to help me translate food menus and grocery store labels, but none of them worked as quickly or seamlessly as WayGo. Basically, you just point the app at the words, and it’ll translate from Chinese, Korean, or Japanese to English.
If you’ve ever been stuck pointing your way through an incomprehensible menu in Asia (I’m looking at you, Tokyo), you’ll love the convenience and options that WayGo opens up for you. Now you can try just about any restaurant in these countries without having to worry about whether they have English menus!
Ask for English Menus
Speaking of English menus, this brings us to tip #2, which is to ASK for the English menus! I’ve been surprised at how accommodating some smaller eateries are to English-speaking patrons. You could be walking past some Taiwanese eatery that’s like a hole-in-the-wall type of sitch, and for some reason, they DO have English menus! Ka-ching! Now you can enjoy authentic food, (usually) save some dough, and understand what it is you’re ordering beforehand.
This is one area where Taipei beats Tokyo hands down.
Load up on Mosquito Repellant
It’s full-on summer right now in Taipei, and the mosquitoes here LOVE fresh foreigner blood. Have no fear, Taipei has a great array of drugstores that you can pop into and get some mosquito repellant from. You’ll want to check out stores such as the pink Poya, green Watson’s, or the orange CosMed. They’re everywhere in Taipei, so you’ll be spoilt for choices here.
Get Mosquito Bite Ointment
I had to learn about this the hard way, so let me spare you the trouble I had to go through. If you get bitten by mosquitoes, get some mosquito bite topical medicine at Watson’s. This will help you sleep much better at night and be so much more comfortable on your trip. I found out about this after getting both of my legs COVERED in bites within weeks of arriving here, and it’s saved me in many ways.
The one I got was highly recommended on a Taipei facebook group, and it comes with an easy-to-apply applicator where you roll it across your skin, and the liquid covers the bite. It immediately feels cool and relieves the itching. It also lessens the inflammation from the bites and the redness and bumpiness go away pretty quickly after a few applications.
It’s a blue bottle with some cute water droplet cartoons blowing air out of their mouths. Get it and be well!
Negotiate at Markets
Taipei is famous for its night markets, where one can shop for clothes and accessories alongside the many food options. Night markets open around 4 pm and stay open until late at night. The famous ones are usually packed at night, so if you want to shop for earrings, accessories, or clothes, it’s best to start at 4 pm or go to Shidai night market, which is less crowded and better for shopping due to its many shops in the area.
Night market stuff is usually not great quality, so if they tell you it’s around $490NTD for a skirt or a shirt, you can usually get it around $300NTD a piece if you buy at least two things there. I’ve found that the shops are tougher on prices, but if you go to the street vendors during the night time, they’ll often give you a good discount if you can buy more items. For accessories, you can negotiate the prices if you buy 3 or more items. If they tell you a pair of earrings is around $130-$170NTD, then it’s really only around $100NTD max if you buy 3 pairs or more. In Shilin night market, I saw a pair of earrings that were priced around $400NTD in a shop, but I was able to get it for $100NTD at a street stall just a few steps away. Know your bargaining power before you go!
Don’t Buy Smartphones or Ladies’ Clothes Here If You Can Help It
Both are overpriced for what you get, and you’ll find better prices for similar quality in the States.
Those are the tips off the top of my head so far. I’ll update this post or perhaps make a new post when new things come up. If you have questions, pop a comment below!