It has been a whirlwind of events during my 11 day trip to Asia. I started the journey with a 6 day trip to Taipei to attend my friend’s wedding. It was my first time in Taipei and I didn’t know what to expect. Here are 10 things I learned from my recent trip to Taipei Taiwan.
1. It rains too much in Taipei – I spent 5 nights in Taipei and have only seen sunshine for a total of two hours. It was practically raining every day when I was there. I found out that it rains in Taipei 180 days out of the year because it’s located in the basin of Taiwan. Not only does it rain, but it’s also hot and humid due to the sub-tropical climate.
2. Street food in almost every corner – I am an absolute big fan of street food and I was on a mission to try all the different types of Taiwanese food. There are rows of street food in Taipei called Night Markets where I went to four different ones. In addition, street food in Taipei is really affordable.
3. Taxis are ridiculously cheap – I know I’m an avid fan of avoiding taking Taxis because they’re a rip off. In Taipei, the prices of taxis are along the prices of UberX and lower. There is an extra 20 NTW (~$0.60) surcharge during the late nights, but that was minimal.
4. There are no scams in Taipei – It was unbelievable that I could not find one scam when I spent five nights in Taipei. I was basically in all the touristy areas and no one approached me.
5. The MRT (mass rapid transit) system is amazing – You can get pretty much anywhere in town via the MRT in Taipei. It’s basically Taipei’s metro system which is easy and convenient to use. Be aware that the MRT doesn’t run 24 hours, but cabs are plentiful after midnight.
6. Free City-wide WiFi – Taipei has city-wide WiFi that is complimentary for everyone. I was able to pull a signal to “TPE-Free” in almost every spot around town. There is a catch though – you must first register with your mobile phone or you can visit a tourist information booth at many MRT stations to obtain a username and password.
7. Carrefour sells TVs and Tires – I saw a Carrefour store right across from my hotel on the first night and thought it would be convenient to pick up some liquor. I’ve always known Carrefour as one of the most inexpensive stores to purchase items from. I’ve bought wine for 1 euro at a Carrefour store in Rome and have made multiple inexpensive food purchases whenever I find a Carrefour store. When I went into the Carrefour store in Taipei, I saw all kinds of things being sold like laundry machines, flat screen TV’s, household items, and even car tires! It basically reminded me that it’s like a Target that sells pretty much everything including groceries.
8. Drinks cost more without ice – There is an abundance of Tapoica (Boba) Milk Tea joints in Taipei. It’s my absolutely favorite drink and most people refer to these shops as the Asian Starbucks. In every shop, you can choose the amount of ice and the level of sweetness on your drink. If you choose “No Ice” you will be charged more which is clearly explained in the menu. It makes sense since you’re getting more product and less ice.
9. Night Markets aren’t just for food – Taipei is famous for its Night Markets, just like how Singapore is famous for their Hawker Centers. Taipei has one notch up in that Night Markets aren’t just for food. They have carnival type games where you can win prizes. While having your street food, you can also do a little shopping. Taipei’s Night Markets are a great place to go and hang around with friends.
10. The umbrella market is huge – Since it rains in Taipei 180 days out of the year, owning an umbrella becomes a norm. I bought a cheap umbrella and accidentally left it behind at a restaurant because I’m not used to carrying an umbrella. If you look around town, you can find a store that just sells umbrellas and umbrellas only. It’s kind of fascinating that there’s a huge umbrella culture in Taipei. Many hotels will have an umbrella bag machine where it will wrap your wet umbrella in a plastic bag. Shops and Restaurants will have an umbrella holder outside so customers can leave their umbrella to dry.