People: There’s not a lot of Western tourists (yet), so you have to be comfortable with potentially spending some time on your own. Sometimes I was almost the only one in the hostel! Locals are very friendly and extremely helpful when you approach them. However, they are not per se really interested in you as a tourist. You’re not an attraction here like in other Asian countries. People will not usually ask you to take pictures with them and kids will not be coming running towards you, shouting helloooo. Depending on which angle you see this from, it could be disappointing or relaxing 😉
Food: It was at times difficult for me to find vegetarian food. Often food stalls at night markets only have Chinese writing and even some smaller restaurants might not have English menus. Sometimes I ate at vegetarian restaurants but didn’t like it that much because they use all the mock meat instead which to me tastes just like meat. That being said, I found some dishes that I ended up liking, I even tried stinky tofu and didn’t find it too bad. I think my favourite discovery was cheery tomatoes filled with dried plums on a stick, covered in sugar glace. Very sweet but actually quite nice!
Weather: There’s 2 things I felt very grateful for in Taiwan. No 1 is the weather. I was traveling in rainy season and looking at weather charts and reports from people traveling in a similar time, I expected to be stuck in nonstop rain at least on some if not all days. Luckily, this was not at all the case! I only experienced two half-hour evening showers, one grey afternoon and one drizzly and foggy half day in Jiufen and Jinguashi. The rest of the time, the sun was burning down, it was hot hot hot and felt like being in a steam sauna. Lol, no complaints though, anything is better than rainy days!
Costs: My daily costs were just above 30€, whereas the biggest cost factors were accommodation and transport. Street food was very cheap and sights mostly free!
Accommodation: Taiwan has some of the best hostels I’ve ever seen! Everything is clean and works well. Only reception is not always occupied so you have to take every opportunity you have to ask the questions you have.
Infrastructure: Trains and buses are rather modern and were always on time (except for the Taroko NP bus). Costs were a bit high sometimes I found, especially for trains. Kaohsiung and Taipei have good metro systems, in Tainan there’s some busses that don’t run very frequently though.
Illnesses: The 2nd thing I was very grateful for, was that I finally got rid off my bad knee pain that had been terrorizing me the last few weeks. Seems like extreme heat and lots of walking were good for my knees! 🙂 When you are suffering of a continuous pain, you feel SUCH a relief when it’s finally gone!!
Safety: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a country where I felt safer. Taiwan must be one of the safest countries in the world, at least feels like that.
Itinerary: Apart from starting in Hualien, I followed the typical backpacker trail (if there is one). I could have added Kenting for some beach time and some more national parks or hikes in the Taipei area. As I mentioned in many of my Taiwan posts, in almost every place I wished I had more time… and I do want to return one day! I think 3-4 weeks would have been ideal to see the country. Even though it’s small, it has so much to offer and there’s lots of cities where you could stay a little longer because they’re so cool!
Highlight: …uhmmm, everything?
Lowlight: Nothing really.
Click on the photo below to see my full photo album of Taiwan: