Travel to Taiwan and discover a land of contrast and colour. Ornate temples, bustling night markets and breathtaking mountain views can all be found on this beautiful and vibrant island. Join Odyssey Traveller as we take you on a journey through this fascinating travel destination.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) runs an extensive rail network, with an efficient system of train services running across the country. Bus services are also widely available, and are reasonably priced.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, environment and weather
The island of Taiwan covers a total area of 36,104 square km, and has a coastline of 1,139 km. Much of Taiwan is mountainous, with two thirds of the country dominated by mountain ranges. The terrrain levels out towards the western coast, with most of the country’s population living on the flatlands in the west of the country.
Taiwan has both subtropical and tropical climates, with warm year-round temperatures and heavy precipitation during monsoonal periods. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World Heritage sites
Due to Taiwan’s current diplomatic status, UNESCO does not presently include any sites in Taiwan on its World Heritage Sites list.
Festivals and events
Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in Taiwan. Many of the Taiwan’s biggest annual festivals reflect the island’s Chinese cultural heritage, including Chinese New Year and the Chinese Lantern Festival. One of the more visually striking events of the year is the Taiwan International Balloon Festival. Taking place between July and early August, the festival features an eye-catching array of hot air balloons, including balloons in the shape of animals, vehicles, fictional characters, and religious figures. Traditional crafts and art forms are preserved through events such as the Yunlin International Puppet Arts Festival, which showcases puppetry, shadow puppetry and marionette performances.
Formosan Odyssey, by John Grant Ross
Taiwan Tales, by J.J Green
Heaven Lake, by John Dalton
Accidental State, by Hsiao-ting Lin
Eating and Drinking
Taiwanese cuisine has been shaped by the culinary influences of neighbouring China, as well as the local produce and unique flavours of the island. Noodles and soups feature prominently in Taiwanese cooking, with beef noodle soup one of the most popular dishes in the country. Steamed buns are widely consumed, and are found at nearly every night market, food court and street stall, while soup dumplings are also very popular. Taiwanese cooking has some rather innovative uses for some of the produce of the island – for example, oysters have been used as the key ingredient in noodle dishes (oyster vermicelli) and is even cooked with eggs to make an oyster omelet.
To keep cool in Taiwan’s often stifling heat, a refreshing pearl milk tea may come in handy. Featuring milk tea filled with chewy tapioca balls, pearl milk tea can commonly be seen in the hands of locals on hot summer days. Tea itself is something that Taiwan greatly treasures, with Taiwanese oolong tea held in particularly high regard.
Health and Safety
Taiwan is generally a safe country to travel in, although always exercise common sense while travelling. The monsoon season between May and November can bring flooding and mudslides, while Taiwan is also prone to earthquakes.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The standard voltage in Taiwan is 110V, while the standard frequency is 60Hz. Taiwan uses both Type A and Type B electrical plugs, so make sure that you are carrying the right travel adaptor with you.
Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
Taiwan's National Palace Museum
Mengjia Longshan Temple
Taiwan has a single time zone, Taiwan Time (UTC+8). Taiwan does not observe Daylight Savings.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not particularly common in Taiwan, with a few exceptions. Bellhops in hotels may expect a tip of around $1 per bag, while tour guides should be tipped around 10% of the tour cost.
Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Taiwan. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Taiwan
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although many locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of NTD in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.