Taiwan is a sweet potato-shaped isle, tucked away off the southwest coast of China, and its some 3,500 hectares are filled with mountainous ranges, bustling cities and rural panoramas. But what makes Taiwan so special is its mélange of cultural influences, its diverse population and its appreciation for good food, good times and relaxation at the end of the day. Want to know more? Read on.
Australian passport holders are usually allowed to enter Taiwan without a visa for up to 30 days (no extensions permitted) as long as you have a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into Taiwan and a confirmed return or onward air ticket. Please be aware this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute information, contact the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in the ACT.
The New Taiwan Dollar is the currency of Taiwan. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the New Taiwan Dollar changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Taiwan’s cuisine has influences from China and Japan but the flavour is distinctively Taiwanese. Surrounded by ocean, seafood has always been an important staple. Oyster omelettes are found in every street food market along with the infamous stinky tofu (dubbed so because of its strong unpleasant odour). There must be something to the taste because the stuff is knocked back by the bowl-full. Back in the Qing dynasty, stinky tofu was a dish eaten by the royal family. Where’s the best stinky tofu? The historic old street in Shenkeng District in New Taipei City is where you’ll find every variation imaginable: barbecued with pickled cabbage, deep fried with a creamy interior, steamed, braised or spicy. Taiwan’s xiaochi (snacks) are famous worldwide and this is what the night market fried, baked and boiled goodness is all about. In fact, many travellers go to Taiwan just for xiaochi. Each night market also has its own famous xiaochi but favourites include ‘big sausage wrapped small sausage’ – a grilled pork sausage wrapped in a grilled rice sausage, and wrapped with garlic and basil. Then there’s the black pudding on a stick made from pork blood and rice, dipped in soy sauce, and topped with powdered peanut and coriander. Taiwanese respect their food and your meal will always be proudly made with love.
Night owls will find refuge in Taiwan. They say: “If New York is the city that never sleeps; Taiwan may very well be the country that never sleeps.”! While Taiwan’s 3 party cities (Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Taichung) have plenty to offer in terms of bars, karaoke, night markets and clubs, many young Taiwanese can’t go past picking up a 6-pack of local beers from the 7-Eleven store and finding a nice park to sit and chat and joke until sunrise. Few places on Earth are as atmospheric and as exciting as Taiwan at night. But before you dance and drink – you must eat. The after-dark culture in Taiwan revolves around the institution of the night market where people go to eat snacks and shop. In Taipei, head to Luxy club for famous international DJs; in Kaohsiung, the party is at Dreams disco club; in Taichung, your best bet is Xaga for dancing and cocktails. No matter what city you’re in, you’re never too far from a karaoke joint and this is where you'll find the real Taiwanese party animals.