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Culture Shock in Taiwan

Expats should expect some degree of culture shock in Taiwan. Simple tasks and comforts that are taken for granted in an expat's home country aren't as easy when a person doesn't speak or read the local language.

Once expats start learning, speaking and understanding Mandarin, their understanding of Taiwanese culture will deepen, making day-to-day life much easier.

Language barrier in Taiwan

The most challenging thing to adjust to in Taiwan is the language barrier. Mandarin is the official language, while Taiwanese, Hakka and indigenous Formosan languages are also spoken.

The most crucial thing expats can do to acclimatise is to start learning Mandarin as soon as possible. While it is challenging, learning Mandarin can help expats feel less isolated. Attending local language classes is also a great way to meet fellow expats.

Saving face in Taiwan

'Saving face' refers to maintaining personal and collective honour and integrity and is central to Taiwanese social relations. This means that locals, when asked a question they don't know the answer to, are likely to give an answer anyway as admitting a lack of knowledge causes one to lose face. Expats should avoid losing their temper or embarrassing anybody, as this too causes loss of face for both parties. If it is absolutely necessary to criticise someone, be sure to do it in private. Self-control and subtlety are preferred Taiwanese strategies when dealing with conflict. This can be frustrating for foreigners accustomed to direct communication, but it's vital for smooth interactions, especially in the workplace. 

Taking off shoes in Taiwan

It is customary for people to remove their shoes before entering homes, tea houses and certain public areas. Slippers are usually available for people to wear once they have taken their shoes off.

Dates in Taiwan

Although the Gregorian (Western) calendar is widely used in daily life, Taiwan also has its own Minguo calendar, with the first year of the Taiwanese calendar beginning with the country's founding in 1911. Payslips, bank receipts, licences and tax slips often show the year of both the Taiwanese and Western calendars.

Many public holidays are also calculated according to the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is the most important holiday and is at the end of January or the beginning of February.

Public bathrooms in Taiwan

Many new arrivals from the West have never used squat toilets, which are common in Taiwan. While some public spaces have both squat and Western-style toilets available, many only have squat toilets. Toilet paper may not be free in public bathrooms but can be purchased from a vending machine. The paper isn't flushed but must be placed in the provided bin.

Traffic in Taiwan

Taiwan's traffic makes even experienced expat drivers nervous. Even crossing the street can be hazardous. The dominance of scooters and motorcycles, alongside cars, buses and bicycles, creates a unique dynamic on the streets.

Many expats may find Taiwan's traffic daunting initially. It's not uncommon to see scooters weaving through lanes or sometimes even driving on sidewalks. Pedestrians need to be cautious as they may encounter scooters in unexpected places, including pedestrian paths. The general rule for pedestrians and drivers alike is to always be aware of your surroundings.

Public transport in Taiwan is generally reliable, convenient, and often the preferred method of travel for many locals and expats alike. Taiwan boasts a well-developed network of buses, trains and a high-speed rail system, along with a highly efficient metro system in Taipei.

Friendships in Taiwan

Expect friends to cancel plans at the last minute for family affairs – family takes precedence in Taiwanese society, and this isn't considered rude. Unreliable RSVPs and uninvited guests, even when reservations are involved, are also common.

Local friends may also not directly tell an expat when they are upset with them. It can be difficult for foreigners to discern indirect cues from locals, especially as locals will avoid saying "no" outright.

Even though Taiwanese people are less direct in some ways, they can be more direct in others. A Taiwanese person may not tell someone that they are upset or may not express open disagreement, but many will make remarks about their friends' complexion, changes in weight or other things that wouldn't be mentioned in the West.

Gender in Taiwan

Expat women can expect to be safe, treated with respect and earn equal wages in Taiwan. On the whole, Taiwanese laws protect women. 

Maternity leave is guaranteed to full-time employees, and most reproductive health needs are covered under national health insurance, except for birth control. It is more likely to find women who prefer an independent lifestyle and have chosen not to marry in Taiwan than in many other Asian countries.

Despite high levels of gender equality in Taiwan, some traditionally minded locals do wonder about women who are single, unmarried or don't have children. Some employers might also be overly familiar and offer unsolicited life advice or have sexist notions about female employees' emotional or family needs.

Articles about Taiwan

Work Permits for Taiwan

Expats looking to take up employment will need a work permit for Taiwan. Most foreigners moving to Taiwan obtain a work permit with the help of an employer, which removes much of the stress and tension normally caused by navigating government bureaucracy.

Getting a work permit in Taiwan

Over the past decade, Taiwan has made large strides in allowing more leeway for international companies to fulfil their staffing needs with foreign nationals. The application process for work permits has been streamlined, and many restrictions have been relaxed or even lifted for multinationals.

A foreigner's work permit in Taiwan is tied to their employer, so if an expat changes jobs or employers, they must apply for a new work permit. An employer must start the work permit process by applying with the Workforce Development Agency. It's best to check the agency's website for a list of required documents.

Useful links

Getting an Alien Resident Certificate in Taiwan

Once granted a work permit, the process for obtaining a residence visa and an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can begin. Having an ARC means that an expat is a permanent resident and is therefore entitled to National Health Insurance.

In order to become a legal permanent resident and receive an ARC, however, expats must fulfil the following criteria at a minimum:

  • Pass a health check (not necessary for those from visa waiver countries or in possession of a residence visa)

  • Have a work permit (which will be arranged by their employer)

  • Have a residence visa (which can be applied for either at the Taiwanese embassy in one's home country or from within Taiwan if one has entered the country on a visitor's visa)

An ARC is issued for the same length of time as a work permit. An ARC will become invalid as soon as an expat's work permit expires or if they leave their place of employment.

Useful links

Taiwan Employment Gold Card

The Taiwan Employment Gold Card is a key initiative by the Taiwanese government to attract top-tier international professionals. Introduced in 2018, the card combines a work permit, resident visa, Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) and a re-entry permit, all valid for one to three years. This allows holders to work, stay and move in and out of Taiwan with relative freedom, all while being recognised as legal residents.

The Gold Card stands out for its flexibility, allowing holders to freely change jobs, seek employment and even work part-time legally. It also eliminates the need for job security prior to moving to Taiwan, as qualification is based on professional skill assessment, not a pre-arranged job offer.

The cost of the Gold Card varies based on the nationality of the applicant and the card's duration. Conveniently done online, the application process can take around 30 days for a perfect application. However, if additional supporting documents are needed, applicants may expect a 50 to 60 day timeframe.

The Gold Card also offers several noteworthy benefits. Unlike typical work permits, the Gold Card is issued directly to individuals, removing the need for employer involvement in the application process. Gold Card holders working in Taiwan for the first time may qualify for a 50 percent tax exemption on annual salary income exceeding a set amount for the first five years.

After three years, Gold Card holders (excluding residents of Hong Kong and Macao) can apply for permanent residency, with any earned doctorate degree in Taiwan counting towards one of the required three years. Furthermore, Gold Card holders and their dependent relatives can join the National Health Insurance system without the typical six-month waiting period, provided they are employed in professional work, employers or self-employed business owners in Taiwan.

    Useful links

    Pros and cons of moving to Taiwan

    With the ESL market expanding rapidly, Taiwan has become a popular expat destination, especially with younger expats. Like with most destinations, a move to this East Asian island comes with ups and downs. While the warm weather and plentiful travel opportunities have drawn many expats in, the culture shock and language barrier have also shortened many an expat's stay in Taiwan.

    Below are some of the biggest pros and cons of living in Taiwan.

    Accommodation in Taiwan

    + PRO: Affordable accommodation is easy to find

    Accommodation in Taiwan can be expensive in certain areas, but it won't take much effort to find an affordable place that suits an expat's needs, even if they only speak English. There are plenty of dedicated groups on social media for foreigners looking for accommodation for long- or short-term stays in Taiwan. 

    - CON: May not meet Western standards

    The downside to accommodation in Taiwan is that apartments aren't all that modern and are generally rather small. Humidity also affects accommodation significantly. Apartments in Taiwan can get hot and humid in the summer months, and although most have air conditioning, cooling it down will result in high electricity bills.  

    Quality of life in Taiwan

    + PRO: Taiwan is safe

    Taiwan is a safe destination, more so than what many expats may be used to. It's possible to walk around alone in most cities, even at night.

    - CON: Air pollution is a reality

    Taiwan suffers from extreme air pollution. This is especially the case in larger cities such as Taipei. It's not uncommon to see residents walking around with face masks. There are also times when the air pollution gets so bad that residents are advised to stay indoors.

    - CON: Taiwanese cities can be crowded

    Large cities in Taiwan tend to be crowded and noisy. The cities are densely populated, which can come as quite a shock to expats. Expats who are used to space and quiet will need some time to get used to the hustle and bustle of Taiwanese cities.

    Lifestyle in Taiwan

    + PRO: Entertainment is easy to find

    Taiwan has a variety of things for expats to do in their downtime. It's very easy to find beautiful spots where expats can spend a day enjoying the outdoors, and Taiwan also has a fun nightlife scene. Most expats and locals are open and friendly, making it easy to find someone to have a drink with, even if it's on short notice.

    + PRO: Delicious and affordable food

    The food scene in Taiwan is incredible. Street food is delicious and friendly to the wallet and can be found everywhere. Convenience stores like 7-Eleven also make it easy for residents to get tasty food on the run. Even going out for a night or eating at a nice restaurant in Taiwan is very affordable compared to the prices in most Western countries.

    - CON: Expats will experience a language barrier

    One of the biggest struggles for expats moving to Taiwan is the language barrier. Mandarin is famously hard to learn for those who haven't grown up speaking it. With the language so hard to learn, it can affect different aspects of expat life, like going to the grocery store, setting up banking or even going to the doctor.

    Visa regulations in Taiwan

    + PRO: Possibility of Employment Gold Card

    Taiwan offers an Employment Gold Card, a combined open work permit, residence permit and visa for high-skilled professionals. This can simplify the process of moving to Taiwan for work.

    - CON: Visa regulations can be complex

    Visa regulations in Taiwan can be complex and may require a lot of paperwork. There can also be strict conditions for obtaining and renewing visas. It's essential to thoroughly research the requirements and be prepared for the process.

    Getting around in Taiwan

    + PRO: Excellent public transport options

    The public transportation in Taiwan is excellent. Taiwan has a wide range of options, including trains, subways and buses. To add to this, public transport is also very cheap. This makes it easy and affordable for expats to get around the island.

    + PRO: Google Maps is available

    An issue many foreigners experience in Asian countries is that navigation apps in their home language aren't available. That said, new arrivals can rest assured that they can still use their favourite navigation apps like Google Maps in Taiwan. 

    - CON: Strict rules on public transport

    Taiwan has stringent rules when it comes to using public transport. This especially applies to the subway system. Some expats may be shocked to find that they aren't even allowed to drink water on the subway. The reason for these strict rules is to keep these areas clean.

    - CON: Driving can be dangerous

    Many expats choose not to drive in Taiwan. This is because roads tend to be congested and dangerous to drive on. Taiwanese locals often drive scooters and may not always follow the rules of the road. This can take some getting used to. It's therefore advised for expats to stick to public transport.

    Weather in Taiwan

    - CON: Summers can be sweltering

    Summers in Taiwan can take some getting used to. Temperatures can get extreme, with highs ranging between 80°F and 87°F (27°C and 31°C). What makes summers even more extreme is the intense humidity Taiwan experiences, which increases the real-feel temperatures considerably.

    - CON: Typhoons and heavy rain occur frequently

    Like many Asian destinations, Taiwan suffers through an annual typhoon season. Typhoon season in Taiwan usually lasts from July until September. This season is characterised by extreme rain showers, thunderstorms and strong winds. Expats need to invest in proper raincoats and umbrellas if they want to survive the Taiwanese rainy season.

    + PRO: Winters are mild

    Winters are famously mild in Taiwan. Average lows range between 54°F and 58°F (12°C and 15°C) during the day, while nighttime temperatures in the northern region of Taiwan can dip to the mid 40°F range (below 10°C).

    Safety in Taiwan

    Taiwan is an extremely safe destination, and violent crime against foreigners is rare. That said, expats in Taiwan, particularly in metropolitan areas like Taipei, should exercise basic precautions as in any large city, such as being aware of personal belongings in crowded markets. Walking around or catching public transport at night is safe, but this should be done with company while avoiding isolated areas.

    The police are genuinely helpful, and people are kind – if a foreigner is in distress on the street, it shouldn't take long for someone to come to their aid. 

    Gang-related crime in Taiwan

    Gang-related activity is known to happen in Taiwan, but the prevalence varies widely depending on the specific location in the destination. In some districts, businesses function as fronts for prostitution and are controlled by criminals. Expats should avoid these areas and instead attend nightclubs, barbershops and massage parlours that advertise themselves prominently and have store windows that passers-by can easily peer into.

    This may seem scary, but it's generally not an issue for the average expat, as gang activity is mainly confined to certain areas. Gangsters are more concerned with territory and making money than violence.

    Pickpocketing in Taiwan

    Although theft is rare, crowded public areas such as markets and public transport hubs are often targeted by pickpockets and occasionally even bag snatchers. In these areas, new arrivals should be careful not to carry valuable items in open bags and should wear bags on the front of their body rather than on their back. Purse snatching from motorcycles also happens occasionally.

    The usual rules of travel apply – keep photocopies of passports and other essential documents in a safe place and, if possible, carry the photocopies themselves in place of the original documents.

    Scams in Taiwan

    Expats should be aware of scams in Taiwan. Credit card fraud and telephone fraud can occur, where the scam artist will call the victim and claim to be from a government department, bank or other official office and request personal information such as bank details. ATM fraud is also a risk – when using ATMs, expats should be aware of their surroundings and not accept help from strangers.

    Road safety in Taiwan

    Taiwan's metropolitan areas often see major traffic jams, so many people opt for the scooters visible in abundance on Taiwanese roads. Although scooters allow a person to weave in and out of traffic and get around faster than other means, this sort of erratic driving does make for chaotic traffic, especially at peak hours, and bicycle and scooter accidents are common. Added to the confusion are ongoing repairs and extensions of the MRT underground system and highway overpasses, which have resulted in congestion at peak hours.

    The highways in western and northern Taiwan are usually in good condition, but those in eastern Taiwan are sometimes in disrepair. Road closures due to flooding aren't uncommon during the typhoon season.

    Food and water safety in Taiwan

    Because of the frequent earthquakes, water pipes are often cracked, so tap water can be contaminated. The quality of tap water in Taiwan varies, but it's safe to drink in most cities after boiling and filtering. Expats moving to Taiwan should consider installing a quality water filtration system or sticking to bottled water. Public drinking fountains are generally equipped with filters and are safe to use.

    In Taiwan, food safety standards are generally high, with rigorous inspections and regulations in place. Street food is a major part of Taiwan's food culture, and most vendors maintain good hygiene practices. However, as with any destination, it's important to choose stalls that appear clean and are popular with locals.

    Natural disasters in Taiwan

    Taiwan is located in a seismically active zone, making earthquakes a relatively common occurrence. Although severe, damaging earthquakes happen less frequently, it's important to familiarise oneself with local earthquake safety procedures, such as taking cover under sturdy furniture or against an interior wall away from windows during a quake.

    July to November is typhoon season. Typhoons can lead to heavy rainfall, causing landslides and flooding, particularly in the mountainous regions. It's advisable to monitor weather reports during this period, and avoid travel to high-risk areas.

    The Taiwanese government has efficient early warning systems and emergency procedures in place for both earthquakes and typhoons. In case of a natural disaster, follow the instructions from local authorities and emergency services.

    Diversity and inclusion in Taiwan

    Accessibility in Taiwan

    Navigating Taiwan's crowded streets in a wheelchair can be challenging, but it's becoming more accessible. Recently constructed (and planned) inner city districts have wider pedestrian pathways with designated mobility lanes, and legislation is in place to ensure greater accessibility to all public and private businesses and spaces. Away from major centres, though, pavements and sidewalks can be intermittent and cluttered.

    In addition to the infrastructural improvements made in Taiwan's major cities, the government is actively promoting the Barrier-Free Environment Act. This legislation advocates for better access to buildings and facilities for individuals with disabilities. Nevertheless, the island still faces challenges in its rural areas, where older buildings and uneven terrain may limit accessibility.


    The principal airport, Taoyuan International, serves differently-abled passengers well – with free parking, large elevators and designated wheelchair lanes on walkways and roads and to Skytrain platforms. There are also dedicated courtesy counters and rental services for manual and electric wheelchairs. Public telephones and ticket machines are designed to be accessible to all.


    Most taxis have space for a folding wheelchair, and there's been an increase in fully accessible 'van taxis'. It's a safe, regulated service, and drivers are generally polite and helpful. Online platforms such as Uber are also popular as they can be 25 percent cheaper than metered fares.


    The government has invested heavily in barrier-free buses, and 80 percent of the fleet is accessible. They feature ramps, dedicated wheelchair space and safety belts at the front of each bus. Boarding can be time-consuming, and choosing the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) metro for most journeys is often more practical.


    Metro Taipei carries over 500 million passengers a year through over 130 stops. Every station has wheelchair-accessible ticket machines, gates, elevators and waiting areas. Trained staff are also on hand to make journeys smoother and more comfortable. Tactile signage and guide paths also support the visually impaired.

    Car hire

    Renting a car in Taiwan is easy and cost-effective, although drivers must be aged 21 or over and have an international driving permit. The roads are generally well maintained, but car hire is aimed at tourists who want to go 'off the beaten track' – as public transport infrastructure is more cost-effective and convenient.

    Further reading

    DisabilityIN: Disability Inclusion in Taiwan
    UN DESA: Disability Inclusion

    LGBTQ+ in Taiwan

    Although Taiwan is a regional leader in LGBTQ+ rights with legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the fight for full equality continues. For instance, the law currently does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children or have access to surrogacy. Moreover, societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ individuals can still be improved, with some reports of discrimination, particularly in more traditional or rural areas.

    On the streets, Taiwanese, in general, rarely show public displays of affection. Relationships are considered private in traditional culture, but younger people express themselves more openly – especially in bigger cities where same-sex couples often walk hand in hand. In the capital, Taipei, there is a lively and active LGBTQ+ community in the Ximen District near the Red House Theatre.

    Further reading

    Hotline: Taiwan LGBT National Helpline
    Human Rights Watch: Taiwan
    ILGA Asia: LGBTQ+ Rights in Asia
    Equaldex Taiwan: LGBTQ+ Rights in Taiwan

    Gender equality in Taiwan

    Taiwan has made significant strides in gender equality. For example, the Gender Equality in Employment Act passed in 2002 provides a legal basis for equal treatment and opportunity in employment, making workplace discrimination based on gender illegal. The government also implemented a gender quota system in politics, which has resulted in an increased number of women serving in political leadership roles.

    Modern Taiwanese society aims to achieve freedom, equality, democracy and human rights for all: Gender equality has also become a universal value. The promotion of laws, policies and dialogue around diversity in Taiwanese society has better enabled women to succeed in all walks of life. These include educational opportunities, rights at work, social welfare, and increased involvement in private enterprise and national government decision-making.

    Further reading

    Gender Equality Committee of Taiwan
    UN Women: Results for Taiwan
    World Economic Forum: Global Gender Gap Report 2020

    Women in leadership in Taiwan

    The UN's equality index ranks Taiwan ranks first in Asia and 6th worldwide. There remains a gap in participation and pay between men and women, though the gap is reduced year by year. A social stereotype still exists that men study more science subjects and women study the arts. Still, overall, research shows women in Taiwan enjoy greater equality of opportunity than their peers in Japan or Singapore.

    The status of women in leadership in Taiwan has improved over the years, exemplified by Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's first female president, serving since 2016. Despite the traditional stereotypes that still exist, more women are taking up leadership roles in science and technology fields, breaking the gender barriers in these traditionally male-dominated sectors.

    Further reading

    Taiwan Insight: Transformation of Women's Status in Taiwan 1920-2020
    Pew Research Center: Women Leaders Around the World

    Mental health in Taiwan

    While mental health has been a somewhat taboo topic in traditional Taiwanese society, there has been a positive trend towards openness and acceptance, particularly in urban areas and among younger generations. There's a growing network of mental health facilities and support services, including government-run clinics and helplines such as Taiwan Lifeline International.

    A stigma remains around mental illness, although less so in international corporate culture. Post-pandemic, many multilingual online resources have become available to broaden support services.

    Further reading

    World Health Organization: Mental Health

    Unconscious bias in Taiwan

    Taiwanese culture is a vibrant blend of its original roots and an immigrant society that's grown over the past 400 years. Cultural awareness is one of tolerance and freedom – manifested in openness to others, respect for differences, mutual understanding and valuing Taiwan's traditions.

    Despite the overarching tolerance and cultural acceptance, unconscious bias persists in some areas. To combat such biases, the government introduced the Employment Service Act, which outlaws employment discrimination based on age, race, colour, nationality, sex, marital status, family responsibilities or any other discriminating factor.

    Diversification of workforce in Taiwan

    Data shows Taiwan enjoys relatively good workplace diversity, although many say they suffer inequality of opportunity because of their age or physical appearance. 97 percent of the population is Han Chinese, with just 0.1 percent of residents being Westerners. Taiwan is using its Foreign Professional Talent Introduction and Employment Promotion Act to broaden diversity rates, including race, religion, gender and beliefs.

    Further reading

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Republic of China (Taiwan)

    Safety in Taiwan

    Taiwan is one of the safest places in the world. Crime rates are very low and are primarily associated with petty offences such as pickpocketing at festivals or night markets. The government's initiatives, such as CCTV systems in public places and 'crime mapping' for police officers, have significantly contributed to this. Police are friendly, efficient and supportive and will enforce the law with clarity and commitment when needed. While walking late at night alone is generally very safe, walking with another person or in a small group whenever possible is still advisable.

    Further reading

    National Police Agency: Taiwan
    Travel Safe Abroad: Taiwan

    Women's safety in Taiwan

    Taiwan has focused on enhancing women's safety in recent years. Numerous initiatives have been implemented, such as women-only carriages on certain train lines during rush hours, as well as better lighting for public areas and the installation of CCTV cameras. Additionally, Taiwan's Social and Family Affairs Administration provides a toll-free hotline for women in danger or in need of assistance.

    While local society can still be considered relatively conservative, women can typically dress appropriately for the weather and according to their style. It's quite common in Taiwan for both men and women to stare at someone who has not dressed modestly, but there is little or no danger of confrontation. City centres and public transport are comparatively safe places for women day and night.

    Calendar initiatives in Taiwan

    February 28: Peace Memorial Day
    March 8: International Women's Day
    Late September – Early October*: Mid-Autumn Festival
    October: Taiwan LGBTQ+ Pride Month
    October 10: National Day/Double Tenth Day
    November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
    December 10: Human Rights Day

    *Note: Lunar dates changes each year based on the lunar calendar

    Embassy contacts for Taiwan

    Taiwanese embassies

    • Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 895 1800

    • Taipei Representative Office, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7881 2650

    • Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 231 5080

    • Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, Canberra, Australia: +61 2 6120 2000

    • Taipei Liaison Office, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 430 6071

    • Taipei Representative Office, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 678 5413

    • Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Auckland, New Zealand: +64 4 473 6474

    Foreign embassies in Taiwan

    • American Institute, Taipei: +886 2 2162 2000 (ext. 2306)

    • British Trade and Cultural Office, Taipei: +886 2 8758 2088

    • Canadian Trade Office, Taipei: +886 2 8723 3000

    • Australian Office, Taipei: +886 2 8725 4100

    • Liaison Office of South Africa, Taipei: +886 2 2715 2295

    • New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office, Taipei: +886 2 2720 5228

    Public Holidays in Taiwan




    Republic Day / New Year's Day

    1–2 January

    1 January

    Lunar New Year

    20–27 January

    9–14 February

    Peace Memorial Day

    27–28 February

    28 February

    Children's Day

    3–4 April

    4 April

    Qingming Festival

    5 April

    4 April

    Dragon Boat Festival

    22–23 June

    10 June

    Mid-Autumn Festival

    29 September

    16–17 September

    National Day

    9–10 October

    10–11 October

    *When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is moved to the previous Friday or following Monday respectively. Public holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday are usually granted an additional "bridge day" to the weekend. The extra day off is made up by working on a Saturday. Some holidays are based on the Chinese lunar calendar, so dates on the Gregorian calendar can change.

    Healthcare in Taiwan

    Healthcare in Taiwan is affordable and user-friendly. Foreigners moving to the island will be well provided for by highly skilled medical personnel in well-equipped hospitals. Facilities at both public and private hospitals in Taiwan offer a high standard of care, although private hospitals afford both more choices and less waiting time than public facilities.

    Public healthcare in Taiwan

    Public health insurance in Taiwan, which is managed by the National Health Insurance Administration, is compulsory for all Taiwanese residents, including foreigners working in the destination. 

    Expats using one of Taiwan's excellent public health facilities are given access to heavily subsidised medical care. Services covered by National Health Insurance (NHI) are varied and range from traditional Chinese medicine to emergency care. 

    Although public hospitals are world class, many inpatient services that are standard in the West may not be provided at Taiwanese public facilities, and it is often expected that a patient's family provides these services. Another disadvantage is that patients seeking treatment may experience long waiting times at public care centres. 

    Taiwan healthcare

    Private healthcare in Taiwan

    Although most expats rely on the public healthcare system, many also utilise Taiwan's high-quality private care in order to avoid long waiting times, receive better patient care and access a greater choice of treatment options. 

    There are also many private clinics in Taiwan's urban centres which specifically serve the expat market. These are primarily staffed with English speakers, which can be more convenient for English-speaking expats.  

    Private healthcare in Taiwan is expensive, so those planning to make use of this sector should explore their private health insurance options.

    Health insurance in Taiwan

    The majority of foreigners and Taiwanese citizens make use of government-funded healthcare through the National Health Insurance (NHI). Expats living in Taiwan for more than six months or who hold an Alien Resident Card (ARC) are required to join the NHI.

    New arrivals are often enrolled in the health insurance system by their employer, with their contributions being automatically deducted from their salaries. Dependants, students or self-employed residents need to register at a hospital within four months of obtaining their residence status. Taking out private health insurance is, however, still recommended.

    The National Health Insurance is funded by employee taxes and government subsidies, but there are still co-payments and limited coverage for certain types of treatment. If an expat becomes ill, the capped insurance coverage provided by the NHI may not cover all of their medical expenses. This is where additional private insurance is useful.

    After enrolling in the NHI programme, expats are issued a Health Insurance Card, which must be presented in order to receive benefits. 

    Pharmacies in Taiwan

    Pharmacies are widely available in Taiwan. Though 24-hour pharmacies are rare, there are some operating in Taiwan's major cities. Doctors and hospitals often have pharmacies attached to their premises, making it convenient to pick up prescription medication after consulting with a doctor. 

    Medicine is generally cheaper in Taiwan than many expats may be used to. Those who rely on a specific brand of Western medication should bring an adequate supply with them to Taiwan. In some cases, it can be difficult to find the exact same medicine, but there are usually local alternatives or equivalents under a different brand name.

    Health hazards in Taiwan

    Although Taiwan is mostly safe for foreigners, mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are endemic to the island. Expats can avoid mosquito bites by taking the necessary precautions, such as using mosquito repellents, sleeping under a mosquito net and wearing long-sleeved clothing.

    Pre-travel vaccinations for Taiwan

    There are no specific vaccinations required for travel to Taiwan, but expats should ensure that they are up to date with all routine vaccinations.

    A yellow fever certificate is required if travelling from an infected area.

    Emergency services in Taiwan

    For ambulance or fire services in Taiwan, dial 199. Ambulance dispatchers may not speak English. For police, dial 110.

    It's important to be aware of emergency evacuation procedures in the case of an earthquake or typhoon, both of which may occur from time to time.

    Weather in Taiwan

    Weather in Taiwan is heavily influenced by the tropical monsoon climate that also affects the southern portion of China's mainland. However, Pacific Ocean currents and the island's topography make the effects of the monsoon quite distinct.

    Expats moving to Taiwan will find a climate that requires light, breathable clothing for the hot and humid summers. Winters are relatively mild, particularly in the southern part of the island. The northern part of Taiwan can potentially experience slightly cooler temperatures during the non-summer months, but lows rarely dip below 54°F (12°C), with the average annual temperature sitting at a comfortable 72°F (22°C).

    Rainfall is a defining characteristic of weather in Taiwan. It's worth noting that the eastern coast is generally wetter than the west due to the Central Mountain Range. Typhoon season settles in from late summer to mid-autumn (June to October), with three or four major storms that can cause substantial wind damage and flooding each year. It's crucial for expats to familiarise themselves with local typhoon preparedness measures.

    Taiwan also experiences the occasional earthquake, although they are typically minor tremors and not severe.


    Working in Taiwan

    Expats working in Taiwan will find themselves part of a steadily growing economy marked by low unemployment rates, rising salaries and increasing output. Most foreigners moving to the island work in the ESL teaching industry or are transferred through multinational organisations.

    Over the past century, Taiwan has exchanged its agrarian roots for electronic extensions to become a global player in the information technology and electronics market. The island is a prolific producer of computer-related products, and it continues to promote enterprise in technology-intensive industries.

    As a result, many multinational firms, including over 20 of the world's top communication and technology companies, have opened up branches in one of Taiwan's three major cities: Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung.

    Job market in Taiwan

    Taiwan's key industries include micro-processing, electronics, communications and technology development, and industrial processing. That said, it can be difficult for foreigners to find prominent positions working in these sectors.

    There are management, finance, design and marketing positions available in Taiwan, but expats will need to work hard to prove that they hold exceptional skills and a high level of education and experience. Learning Mandarin is a great way to get a foot in the door. More opportunities will materialise for those with even a moderate understanding of the language.

    Overall, though, the most common jobs for expats in Taiwan are related to the English language itself, including teaching and translation.

    Finding work in Taiwan

    Due to the large number of international organisations that operate here, intra-company transfers are a primary source of employment opportunities for expats wanting to work in Taiwan. This is the easiest way for foreigners to find a job here, especially for those who wish to find a senior management position.

    Foreigners can also search for jobs through online job portals and local publicationsOtherwise, expats should approach recruitment agencies that represent companies in Taiwan.

    Useful links

    • 104 Job Bank – One of the largest job portals in Taiwan, with thousands of job postings.
    • LinkedIn – An excellent resource for finding jobs and networking with professionals in Taiwan.
    • Tealit – A good site for foreigners, particularly English teachers, looking for work in Taiwan.
    • Robert Walters – A reputable recruitment agency that has extensive connections with companies in Taiwan.

    Work culture in Taiwan

    In accordance with Confucian principles, maintaining a sense of harmony by carefully controlling one's interpersonal relationships is paramount in Taiwanese business culture. Individualism is abandoned for the collective, and in many cases, local work groups are a significant source of identity for people. 

    Therefore, creating and sustaining relationships is integral to doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely negotiate before establishing a connection between the parties involved. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving, and should avoid rushing business dealings.

    The concept of 'face', meaning a person's or company's dignity and prestige, governs all actions and behaviour in Taiwan's leisure and work culture. Foreigners should keep this in mind and realise that decisions are often made to give face or save face.

    In line with this, new arrivals should make all efforts to avoid confrontation in business. Any loud or angry outburst will be considered unforgivably rude. Indirect or no communication at all is preferable to causing a colleague to lose face.

    Banking, Money and Taxes in Taiwan

    Banking, money and taxes in Taiwan are generally easy to navigate. The banking system is efficient and reliable.

    Once new arrivals have the appropriate documentation, opening a bank account is easy. Taiwan is traditionally a cash-based society, and ATMs are plentiful and can be found throughout the destination. That said, the card payment market is growing, including alternative payment options such as the EasyCard.

    Money in Taiwan

    The currency used in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (TWD), subdivided into 100 cents. In common usage, Taiwanese money is often referred to as kuài or yuán, although this is not to be confused with the Mainland Chinese Yuán.

    The New Taiwan Dollar is available in the following denominations:

    • Notes: 100 TWD, 200 TWD, 500 TWD, 1,000 TWD and 2,000 TWD

    • Coins: 1 TWD, 5 TWD, 10 TWD and 50 TWD

    Banking in Taiwan

    Taiwan has a sophisticated banking system, and expats have a wide variety of options when it comes to managing their finances.

    Internet banking is available, although some banks don't have English versions of their websites. Banking hours can vary, but are generally from 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. Some banks are also open from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.

    Opening a bank account

    Local banks that are popular with expats include CTBC Bank, Bank of Taiwan and Taichung Bank. Alternatively, expats can open an account at a local branch of a foreign bank such as HSBC, Barclays, Citibank or Standard Chartered.

    While many new arrivals use foreign banks in Taiwan, this may not always be possible, as some employers insist on paying salaries directly into a Taiwanese bank account.

    To open a bank account in Taiwan, expats will need an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC). Other documents that may be required include a passport or other proof of identity, and proof of residence. A minimum deposit is also required when opening an account.

    ATMs and credit cards

    ATMs are widely available, and they operate on a 24-hour basis. While some ATMs only accept Taiwanese cards, foreign credit or debit cards can usually be used to withdraw cash in Taiwan, but will incur charges. Even using a local card at an ATM operated by a different bank than one's own will incur charges. ATMs in Taiwan offer English menus and facilities for transferring money and paying bills.

    Credit cards are accepted by hotels and large retail outlets, but less so in smaller establishments. It's common practice in Taiwan to use cash whenever possible, although this is rapidly changing, and there is rapid growth and prevalence of digital payments.


    One card payment method that has burgeoned in popularity is the EasyCard, a contactless smart card used for public transport and other services, such as parking, bike rental and convenience stores. It was launched in 2002 and has since become a popular and convenient way for locals and expats to travel around Taiwan.

    EasyCards can be purchased at any MRT station, convenience stores and EasyCard service centres located in major cities. Payments can be made at the entrance of MRT stations and on buses, and the card can be used to pay for parking and small purchases. It also offers discounts on some transport services, such as the YouBike bike rental system and some tourist attractions.

    Taxes in Taiwan

    Expats staying in Taiwan will be subject to a withholding tax of 18 percent on their personal income for the first 183 days of their stay. Thereafter, both their income derived in Taiwan and their worldwide income will be taxed according to a progressive scale of between 5 and 40 percent.

    As expat taxes can become quite complicated, we recommend hiring an experienced expat tax practitioner to ensure that tax obligations in both Taiwan and the expat's home country are being met.

    Accommodation in Taiwan

    Expats moving to Taiwan can expect to find plenty of accommodation options available to them. Although accommodation in Taiwan can be relatively expensive, there are so many properties on offer that, with a bit of patience and ingenuity, new arrivals are sure to find a comfortable, reasonably priced place to rent.

    Some Taiwanese employers will provide foreign employees with a housing allowance over and above their basic salary, while other companies may provide free accommodation. Considering the high costs, it's worth negotiating this as part of an employment package, especially if relocating specifically for work purposes.

    Types of accommodation in Taiwan

    Most expats live in apartments. Houses aren't very common, particularly in dense urban areas such as Taipei and Kaohsiung, although they can be found in suburban areas on the peripheries of Taiwanese cities. The small, studio-style variety is the most commonly available type of apartment, especially in city centres. Generally, accommodation and room sizes are smaller than some new arrivals may be used to, especially those from the US.


    Most apartments have air conditioning installed (Taiwan is very hot in summer), but central heating is uncommon. It's also possible to find apartment blocks with indoor swimming pools and gyms, but these tend to be expensive.

    Taiwan is a very safe destination with some of the lowest crime rates in the world. Expats can rest assured that home security won't be an issue during their time here. That said, some apartment blocks employ security guards for the apartment block foyers (a cost included in the rent).


    Detached and semi-detached houses are rare in Taiwanese cities but are more common in the suburbs and rural areas. These properties can offer larger living spaces and even gardens, which can be a big advantage for families with children. Additionally, these options might provide a more tranquil living environment with less noise and more privacy. However, they tend to be quite costly, especially in the areas close to the city.

    Furnished or unfurnished

    Although some apartments are furnished, most apartments in Taiwan will come unfurnished. It's relatively easy to buy second-hand furniture and appliances, with online marketplaces, thrift shops and online expat communities being good places to start.

    Short lets and unserviced apartments

    Short-term rentals and unserviced apartments can be a convenient option for those staying in Taiwan for a few months. These come furnished and usually include utilities in the rent. Some even offer weekly cleaning services.

    However, they are more expensive on a monthly basis than standard leases, and due to local regulations, they might be less prevalent on the market. It's best to explore these options through online rental portals or agencies catering to the expat community.

    Finding accommodation in Taiwan

    Finding an apartment in Taiwan can be difficult, especially if one doesn't speak Mandarin. Foreigners can search for accommodation through online property portals (some with English postings) and expat social media groups.

    Otherwise, new arrivals should contact a local real estate agent directly. Many Taiwanese estate agents won't be able to speak English, but there are some agencies that cater specifically for the expat market.

    Those looking for accommodation should ensure they can view the property in person before committing to it, as the quality of many listed properties may not match what is presented in the listing.

    Useful links

    • 591 Real Estate – One of the largest online property portals in Taiwan with English language support.
    • Tealit – A website that offers a wide range of resources for foreigners in Taiwan, including property listings.

    Renting accommodation in Taiwan

    Many expats rent in Taiwan's capital. Accommodation in Taipei is relatively expensive compared to the rest of the island, but it varies according to the area. Neighbourhoods such as Xinyi, Da'an and Tamsui are popular among expats and can offer a good balance of amenities and affordability.


    One- to two-year leases are common. If securing a lease through an agent, expats must pay an agent's fee, typically one month's rent.


    While some landlords allow tenants to keep pets, this is not always the case. Prospective tenants with pets should communicate this to the landlord or agent in advance to avoid potential disagreements. Be aware that some apartments that allow pets might have restrictions on the type and size of the pets, and an additional pet deposit might be required.

    References and background checks

    While references are not commonly requested, some landlords may want a letter of employment or proof of income. Background checks are not typically conducted on foreign tenants.


    Typically, rental deposits in Taiwan are between one and three months' rent. This deposit is refundable at the end of the rental contract, provided that no damage has been done to the apartment.

    Utilities in Taiwan

    Sometimes rental prices in Taiwan include utilities such as building maintenance and garbage disposal. Tenants must pay their own water and electricity bills, which are relatively low. Most Taiwanese apartments already have internet connections installed. In these cases, the landlord would usually have included the cost of internet in the rent. Note that Taiwan uses 110V for its electricity supply.

    Utilities and bills can be paid at convenience stores, the post office, the bank or through the landlord. It's also possible to set up a direct debit at the bank.

    Gas and electric

    Gas and electricity are typically not included in the rent and must be paid separately. Taiwan uses both gas and electricity for cooking and heating, depending on the apartment setup. The cost of gas often depends on the number of gas appliances in the apartment. These utilities can be paid through various channels, including convenience stores and post offices.


    Water bills are generally the responsibility of the tenant and are relatively inexpensive. As with other utilities, water can be paid at convenience stores, banks, post offices or directly to the landlord.

    Bins and recycling

    Taiwan has set up strict recycling guidelines. Tenants must separate their trash into cardboard, aluminium, plastic and glass. Each group of materials needs to be bagged separately in the corresponding coloured bag and placed in the designated collection area. Note that different cities in Taiwan use different coloured bags, which can usually be purchased at local convenience stores.

    Trash is typically collected daily. Many buildings have a designated area for collection, but in some cases, tenants must run out when they hear the bin lorry coming and throw their trash in the truck themselves. These trucks usually play a jingle that makes it easy to identify.

    Keeping in touch

    Internet and phone services are widely available across Taiwan. Many apartments come with an existing internet connection. For those that don't, setting up a new connection is straightforward, and there are multiple service providers to choose from. Mobile phone contracts are also easy to set up, with prepaid and monthly plans available from various providers.

    Useful links

    Doing Business in Taiwan

    Expats are often unprepared for doing business in Taiwan. The working culture may seem unfamiliar to many, particularly those from Western cultures, and achieving an adequate understanding may require some cross-cultural training.

    While capitalism is a significant aspect of Taiwan's economy, many businesses also incorporate Confucian values into their practices, which can influence etiquette and common practices. Expats should familiarise themselves with this system of behaviour to better succeed in the business sphere.

    Taiwan largely depends on foreign trade, and the number of multinationals here means that locals are typically accustomed to interacting with expats in the business world.

    Fast facts

    Business hours

    8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

    Business language

    Taiwanese and Mandarin are the official languages. While English is frequently used in large multinational organisations, it can be less common in local enterprises, so a translator may be necessary.


    Formal and conservative, with dark suits for men and modest dresses and skirts for women. Pantsuits are considered business casual and might not always be appropriate.


    Gift-giving is an essential relationship-building tool. A simple gift for all members involved in a meeting is appropriate. A slightly better gift may be presented to the most important member of a party. It is customary to open gifts in private.

    Some gifts to avoid are clocks, umbrellas, shoes, sharp objects and handkerchiefs. Good gifts include high-quality tea, fruits (but not pears), pastries or sweets from one's home country, high-quality liquors and nice pens or stationery.

    Gender equality

    While Taiwan has made significant strides towards gender equality, including having a female president, it should be noted that there are still challenges related to patriarchy and gender disparities. However, women increasingly occupy larger roles in the working world, and efforts are ongoing to decrease the gender wage gap.

    Business culture in Taiwan

    While Taiwan’s highly developed capitalist economy is marked by modern enterprise, its business culture is rooted in old-world tenets.


    Many businesses in Taiwan, particularly small- to medium-sized and family-owned ones, tend to have a hierarchical structure, where senior managers take significant interest in all activities and expect to be consulted on key decisions.

    Hierarchy is established and greatly respected, although protocols are not as formal as in nearby Japan and South Korea. Consequently, lower-level employees may exhibit less initiative due to cultural emphasis on hierarchy and respect for seniority.


    As in many East Asian cultures, many Taiwanese businesses may prioritise harmony and group cohesion. These values are linked to Confucian principles, although not all companies or individuals will share these values equally. For many Taiwanese workers, work groups become a significant source of personal worth and identity.

    According to this line of thought, the most important aspects of business culture in Taiwan are 'face' and 'guanxi' (relationships).

    Creating and sustaining relationships is integral is doing business in Taiwan. Local enterprises rarely engage in negotiation before establishing a connection between the parties involved. Expats should take note of the practices that support this concept, like gift-giving. It's also crucial not to rush business dealings, allowing time for relationships to develop.

    Saving face 

    'Face', a concept deeply intertwined with personal dignity, prestige, and reputation, can impact both personal and business interactions in Taiwan. However, its importance and application can vary between individuals and organisations.

    When there is a high level of trust and understanding between partners, more room is generally made for open and potentially face-threatening communication. In new relationships or those with significant power differentials, it's important to preserve face.

    Giving face, saving face and avoiding losing face is so important that expats may find that other principles that usually guide negotiation don't apply. For example, Taiwanese colleagues will avoid pointing out others' mistakes to allow them to keep face, even if this comes at a cost to the company.

    New arrivals should abide by these principles, as causing someone to lose face will have a negative effect on business dealings.

    Dos and don'ts of business in Taiwan

    • Do show respect and deference to the most senior person in a meeting, acknowledging their position and influence.

    • Don’t do or say anything that will embarrass or shame the company. Causing a collective group to lose face has an extremely negative impact on business relations in Taiwan.

    • Do accept any invitations to events outside of the normal working environment. Relationship-building is paramount, and it's important to capitalise on any and all opportunities to connect with clients and colleagues.

    • Don’t be afraid to depart from a meal during tea time, even if asked to stay or go somewhere else. This is a feature of all Taiwanese meals and an appropriate time to leave.

    Visas for Taiwan

    Unless they are from a visa-exempt country, foreigners will need a visa to visit Taiwan. Those from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK, Ireland and several EU countries, as well as some Asian countries, can stay for 90 days without a visa. South Africans need to acquire a visitor's visa before travelling to Taiwan.

    To stay longer, expats will need to acquire a residence visa, while those wanting to work in Taiwan will need both a work permit and a residence visa or an Employment Gold Card.

    Visitor's visas for Taiwan

    Expats looking to visit Taiwan for a short time, up to 90 days, without working, will need to apply for a visitor's visa at their local embassy unless they are from a visa-exempt country. Required documents include application forms, travel documents, passport photos, proof of airline tickets, proof of funds and a hotel reservation.

    eVisas for Taiwan

    Taiwan has launched an electronic visa (eVisa) system that provides a convenient alternative to the traditional paper-based visa process. The eVisa is valid for three months from the date of issue and is a single-entry visa. The maximum stay in Taiwan on an eVisa is 30 days, which cannot be extended.

    Eligibility for an eVisa depends on the nationality of the applicant and the purpose of their visit. For instance, nationals of countries like Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia and others are eligible for an eVisa when they meet relevant criteria.

    Nationals from all foreign countries who are invited to attend international conferences, sporting events, trade fairs or other activities in Taiwan organised by central government agencies are also eligible for an eVisa.

    For a detailed list of eligible nationalities and conditions, please check the official Taiwanese eVisa portal.

    Useful links

    Residence visas for Taiwan

    Expats wishing to stay in Taiwan for more than 90 days for purposes such as working or studying must apply for a Taiwan Resident Visa, also known as the Long Stay visa. There are several types of Taiwan Resident Visas, including:

    • Taiwan Work Visa: Issued to foreigners working in Taiwanese businesses. An additional work permit is also required.
    • Taiwan Student Visa: Intended for foreigners enrolling in Taiwanese educational institutions.
    • Taiwan Family Reunification Visa: For foreign nationals joining a family member who is a Taiwanese resident.
    • Taiwan Entrepreneur Visa: Granted to foreign nationals establishing a business in Taiwan.
    • Taiwan Working Holidays Visa: Issued to young people from countries with a Taiwan Working Holiday Programme. It allows them to work for up to one year in Taiwan.

    Expats will usually only be able to get their residence visa after finding a job and getting their work permit approved. To be granted a work permit, applicants send copies of their documents (including a health check and police clearance) to their employer, who can apply for a work permit on their behalf.

    Once the company receives the applicant's original work permit, prospective expats can apply for a residence visa at their local embassy before departure.

    Some foreigners looking to work in Taiwan arrive on a visa waiver, find a job, apply for a work permit, and then use the work permit to apply for a residence visa in Taiwan. This process has been streamlined in recent years and is, for the most part, relatively straightforward. For those not eligible for a visa waiver, it's best to obtain a work permit before arriving in Taiwan. 

    New arrivals should remember that they cannot begin working in Taiwan without a work permit, even if they have started the permit process, which can take several weeks. Once an expat has their work permit, they can legally work while they apply for a residence visa and wait for it to be processed. The advantage of organising a work and residence permit before arriving in Taiwan is that an expat can legally live and work in Taiwan from their first day of arrival.

    Note that after an expat receives their residence visa and is living in Taiwan, they need to apply for an Alien Registration Certificate (ARC) within 15 days of arriving in Taiwan.

    Useful links

    Alien Resident Certificates in Taiwan

    Once granted a work permit, the process for obtaining a residence visa and an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) can begin. Having an ARC entitles an expat to temporary residence in the country and allows expats to access Taiwan's public healthcare system, which operates under National Health Insurance. An ARC is valid for the same amount of time as the holder's work permit.

    Foreigners must carry their ARC identification to prove they legally live in the country. Read more on Work Permits for Taiwan.

    Useful links

    *Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

    Keeping in Touch in Taiwan

    Keeping in touch in Taiwan is straightforward, thanks to the country's advanced and dependable internet infrastructure, while ADSL broadband connections are also typically reliable.

    The media industry in Taiwan is diverse and competitive, offering a wide variety of radio stations, cable television channels and newspapers, including sources in English.

    Mobile phones in Taiwan

    Foreigners are eligible to sign contracts with local mobile phone companies, although the actual documentation required varies between companies. Some service providers allow expats to sign a contract with a one-year advance payment, while others may require a Taiwanese resident as a guarantor.

    An Alien Registration Certificate (ARC) is typically required for expats, but some companies may also request additional identification, such as a passport. A deposit is often needed as well. Despite the potential complexity, securing a mobile phone contract is usually worthwhile, as prepaid options, while available, may be more costly over time.

    Many mobile service providers offer contracts with discounted rates during evening hours or for calls to other phones on the same network. Expats are encouraged to compare plans from various companies to find the one that best suits their needs.

    LINE, an instant messaging app widely used in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, is the preferred communication app in Taiwan. Despite the availability of global alternatives like WhatsApp, WeChat and Telegram, LINE remains the most popular, also offering features such as mobile payment and music streaming services.

    Internet in Taiwan

    Taiwan's robust communications infrastructure provides consistently high-speed and reliable internet connections. There's no internet censorship in Taiwan, and social media platforms and instant messaging services are freely accessible.

    Internet cafés are widespread across the country, and free WiFi is commonly offered in coffee shops, restaurants and certain public spaces. In Taipei, the city government provides free WiFi service at MRT stations and select public areas. Certain public telephone booths also offer WiFi connectivity.

    Postal services in Taiwan

    The postal service in Taiwan is efficient and reliable, operated predominantly by Chunghwa Post, the state-owned postal service provider. They offer a wide range of services, including domestic and international mail, express mail service (EMS), registered mail and parcel post.

    Post offices are widely available throughout Taiwan, even in more rural areas. Business hours are generally from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Some larger post offices in cities may also operate on weekends. English signage is common, and many staff members can communicate in basic English, making the process easier for expats.

    For sending mail, postboxes are readily accessible in cities and towns across Taiwan. They are painted bright red and green. The red box is for standard local mail, and the green box is for express and international mail. Mail is usually collected several times a day.

    Package delivery services are also widely used in Taiwan, with numerous international courier services, such as DHL, FedEx and UPS, along with local companies, offering delivery options. Taiwan's e-commerce boom has resulted in efficient and reliable delivery services, often with next-day delivery options available.

    It's worth noting that, for sending important or valuable items, registered mail or a reputable courier service is recommended for the added security and tracking capability. Despite the prevalence of digital communications, the postal service remains an important and convenient part of life in Taiwan.

    English-language media in Taiwan

    There are numerous cable television channels in Taiwan, alongside five free-to-air television networks. Cable is available at affordable subscription rates. While most channels broadcast in Taiwanese or Mandarin, a few English channels are available. Notably, many Western programmes are aired in their original language with Chinese subtitles, providing expats with varied viewing options.

    Several English-language newspapers and news sites cater to Taiwan's expat and English-speaking audience. The China Post, The Taipei Times and The News Lens are among Taiwan's prominent English newspapers, while Taiwan News is a popular online portal for local news.

    Cost of Living in Taiwan

    The cost of living in Taiwan varies depending on an expat's lifestyle and the area theey choose to live in. Most foreign nationals relocate to Taipei, although rural living and the south of Taiwan are much less expensive. The 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey ranked Taipei at 57th out of 227 cities, making it more expensive than Rome and Oslo, but cheaper than London and Hong Kong.

    While Taipei may inspire the highest cost of living in Taiwan, it is still significantly cheaper than regional competitors like Beijing, Seoul, Singapore and Hong Kong. That said, life in Taiwan is based on consumerism and expats living in Taipei, in particular, will have to battle the constant onslaught of trends, merchandise and entertainment if they wish to save money.

    One silver lining is the overall tax burden in Taiwan being lower than in many Western countries, potentially offsetting some of these costs. Additionally, the cost of electronics in Taiwan is quite low due to Taiwan's prominent role in electronics manufacturing.

    Cost of accommodation in Taiwan

    Housing in Taipei is expensive, and most accommodation is small and only has basic amenities. Affordable studio apartments will most likely be lacking a kitchen. Buildings tend to suffer under the humid climate, and cheaper accommodation is often plagued by mould and mildew.

    Utilities are affordable, although electricity bills increase significantly during the hot summer months, when it is all but impossible to live without air conditioning. Stoves and geysers are usually gas powered, which helps minimise costs. Initially, the most exorbitant household cost will seem to be the rubbish bags, which are sold at a premium to encourage recycling. Internet access in Taiwan is both affordable and extremely reliable.

    Cost of transport in Taiwan

    Taipei has fantastic public transport. The vast majority of both locals and expats in the city make use of public transport, as it's possible to get anywhere at any time without a car.

    Owning a car is a significant expense as the monthly costs include not only the car repayments but also fuel, insurance, maintenance and extremely expensive parking fees.

    Many locals (and some brave foreigners) have small motorcycles which are a cheap and convenient, if somewhat dangerous, way to get around. Those without motorcycles usually have bicycles, which are easy to ride on Taipei’s flat streets.

    Cost of food and clothing in Taiwan

    The cost of food and clothing in Taiwan varies hugely, and it's up to the individual how much they want to spend, but it's fair to say that the quality of clothing is determined by price. As such, quality clothing tends to be limited to big name brands and is therefore expensive. Many expats prefer buying clothes when they visit their home countries or shopping online.

    Night markets have cheap food and clothes, but the clothes are often made from poor-quality, synthetic fabrics. Day markets sell large amounts of affordable fresh vegetables, and fruit is also readily available and relatively inexpensive.

    Taiwan does not have much of a drinking culture, and alcohol is expensive. Spirits are the most affordable, followed by beer and wine.

    Cost of entertainment and eating out in Taiwan

    The cost of entertainment and eating out in Taiwan can fluctuate based on preferences. For those who relish local Taiwanese food, the numerous night markets and street food stalls across Taipei offer an abundance of low-cost and delicious options. Traditional Taiwanese meals are not only sumptuous but also very economical, making eating out an affordable pastime.

    On the other hand, Western dining and high-end restaurants are more expensive, reflecting prices akin to those in European cities. As for entertainment, there is a variety of options ranging from budget to high-end. Cinemas, karaoke bars, and cultural events such as operas and concerts are all popular, but prices can vary significantly. Outdoor activities, like hiking or visiting the numerous free parks and temples around the city, provide cost-effective entertainment alternatives.

    Cost of education in Taiwan

    There are world-class English education schools in Taipei, but expats should be prepared to pay high fees. International school fees are typically pricey and additional expenses such as textbooks, uniforms and bus service are not always included.

    Cost of healthcare in Taiwan

    The healthcare system in Taiwan is extremely advanced and low cost. In Taiwan, employers are legally required to subsidise the health insurance of their employees. Foreign employees will be placed on the National Health Insurance and receive the same benefits as Taiwanese locals. In this system, a small stipend is paid for access to Western doctors, Chinese doctors, hospitalisation, dentistry, prescription medicine and more.

    Cost of living in Taiwan chart

    Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Taipei in July 2023.

    Accommodation (monthly rent)

    Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

    NTD 47,000

    Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

    NTD 35,000

    One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

    NTD 19,100

    One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

    NTD 13,500

    Food and drink

    Dozen eggs

    NTD 125

    Milk (1 litre)

    NTD 95

    Rice (1kg)

    NTD 100

    Loaf of white bread

    NTD 64

    Chicken breasts (1kg)

    NTD 131

    Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

    NTD 128

    Eating out

    Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

    NTD 1,200

    Big Mac Meal

    NTD 149

    Coca-Cola (330ml)

    NTD 33


    NTD 102

    Bottle of beer (local)

    NTD 49


    Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

    NTD 5.13

    Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

    NTD 770

    Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

    NTD 2,300


    Taxi rate/km

    NTD 25

    City-centre public transport fare

    NTD 25

    Gasoline (per litre)

    NTD 31

    Frequently Asked Questions about Taiwan

    Expats considering a move to Taiwan may have some concerns about life in this fascinating destination.

    From questions about finding a job to language concerns, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about expat life in Taiwan.

    Do I need a car in Taiwan? What's public transport like in cities such as Taipei?

    A car is not a necessity in Taipei. The public transport in Taipei is excellent, and the MRT system reaches most of the city, including outlying suburbs. If they want to drive, expats should be aware that traffic can be a nightmare at peak times and parking is expensive. New cars are rather costly in Taiwan due to import taxes.

    On the other hand, if living outside of Taipei or looking to explore the island, a car can be helpful. Renting a car is possible with an international driver's permit. 

    Where is a good area to live in Taipei?

    Taipei is one of the safest cities in the world, so foreigners can search for accommodation with cost and proximity to their work or children's school as a first priority. There are many expat-friendly areas throughout the city.

    Is it easy to find work in Taiwan?

    For English-speaking foreigners, a common way of working in Taiwan is teaching English as a second language at local schools. Otherwise, those with a tech background should be able to find work, and those with sound business acumen can usually find opportunities.

    Generally, most expats living in Taiwan work in the finance and IT sectors and are often transferred from their home country. There are several large multinationals based in Taipei. If working for a Taiwanese firm, it may take a while to adjust to Taiwan's business culture.

    How do I make friends in Taiwan?

    Taiwan has a large English-speaking expat community, and as a result, there are plenty of expat groups that one can join to make new friends. Of course, if working for a Western company or as an English teacher at a large school, expats will also have the chance to make friends with colleagues. 

    Do I need to speak Chinese to survive in Taiwan?

    Although Taiwan has a large community of English-speaking foreigners, Mandarin and Taiwanese are spoken more often. Even a small amount of Mandarin will go a long way to help ease the transition to living in Taiwan. It can also be beneficial for finding employment, and for integrating into everyday life. It's a good idea to get a phrasebook with phonetic translations as well as Chinese characters.

    Do I need health insurance in Taiwan?

    In short, no. Taiwan has a national public healthcare system that foreigners are entitled to use if they have an Alien Registration Certificate – which is issued when an expat starts to work in Taiwan.

    Moving to Taiwan

    A mountainous island off the coast of mainland China, Taiwan is home to the tallest peak in northeast Asia, and has an abundance of nature reserves and hot springs. Expats moving to Taiwan will likely notice that space is a concern on the island – it has one of the highest population densities in the world.

    Living in Taiwan as an expat

    Taiwan has ultra-modern cities that still strongly uphold traditional Chinese culture while at the same time embracing a capitalist business culture that appeals to Western expats. As a result, many new arrivals find that the lifestyle in Taiwan is highly convenient – goods are easily accessible and both the public transport and healthcare are excellent.

    Taiwan's main industries include electronics, industrial processing, and information and communications technologies. Expats looking to work in these industries should be highly qualified, as Taiwanese companies tend to employ skilled local workers. Those keen on working in Taiwan often take the route of working for an international company with a presence on the island and requesting a transfer. Otherwise, many young Westerners move to Taiwan to teach English.

    Taiwanese are extremely friendly, helpful and gracious people. They will generally go out of their way to make visitors feel at ease. They pride themselves on being good hosts. Expats may find themselves asking a stranger for directions and be personally escorted to their destination and invited home for dinner. The language barrier is no obstacle to this hospitality and willingness to assist, as many locals can speak English.

    Cost of living in Taiwan

    Although cheaper than many of its neighbours, the cost of living in Taiwan is generally high – the capital city, Taipei, is by Taiwan's most costly city. Accommodation, which mostly consists of apartment living, can be expensive. 

    That said, public transport is extremely affordable. Local goods and produce and even eating out at local restaurants is cheap. Western goods come at a high cost, and those who choose to shop locally will save money they can spend elsewhere. 

    Expat families and children

    Most expats choose to send their children to international schools in Taiwan, the majority of which are situated in the capital. International schools are extremely expensive though, and expats will therefore have to factor this into their budget or negotiate a school allowance into their contract. 

    Parents wanting to spend some quality with their family will be happy to discover that weekend getaways are possible no matter where in Taiwan expats live, thanks to the extremely efficient and affordable public transport system. Although the cities can be crowded, it's easy to spend a family day outdoors as nature is never too far away. There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions, such as the Taipei Zoo, for the kids to enjoy. 

    Climate in Taiwan

    Taiwan has a tropical climate. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are mild. Although it rains all year round, the summer months are the wettest. Typhoon season sets in towards the end of summer and lasts until mid-autumn. Temperatures in Taiwan range from a high of 90°F (32°C) at the hottest time of the year to 54°F (12°C) at the coldest. 

    Taiwan is incredibly safe, and foreigners moving to the destination are unlikely to be affected by political tensions. In fact, those living there enjoy Taiwan's cultural richness, modern amenities and the island's embrace of the wider world.

    Fast facts

    Official name: Republic of China

    Population: Around 24 million

    Capital city: Taipei

    Neighbouring countries: China, Japan and the Philippines

    Geography: Taiwan is an island characterised by a contrast between rugged mountains (which run in five ranges from the northern to the southern tip of the island), flat land and the gently rolling Chianan Plains in the west.

    Political system: Semi-presidential republic

    Major religions: Buddhism and Taoism

    Main languages: Mandarin (official), Taiwanese Hokkien, Hakka and English (mostly in Taipei)

    Money: The New Taiwan Dollar (TWD), which is divided into 100 cents

    Tipping: Tipping is not standard, although it's unlikely to be refused if offered. Baggage handlers at hotels and the airport will accept loose change. Hotels and restaurants typically add a 10 percent service charge to the bill.

    Time: GMT+8

    Electricity: 110V AC, 60Hz. 'Type A' two-pin plugs with flat blades and 'Type B' three-pin plugs with two flat blades and a grounding pin are commonly used. 

    Internet domain: .tw

    International dialling code: +886

    Emergency contacts: 110 (police), 119 (ambulance and fire)

    Transport and driving: Cars drive on the right. Taiwan has an extensive public transport system that is easily accessible and reliable.

    Transport and Driving in Taiwan

    All regions and cities in Taiwan are connected by comprehensive and affordable bus and rail services. Transport in Taiwanese cities is excellent, and Taipei, where most foreigners live, even boasts a metro system. The public transport system is reliable, affordable and easily accessible, so expats should have no problem getting around in Taiwan.

      Public transport in Taiwan


      With an EasyCard, expats can pay for bus services in most cities, as well as railway, MRT and some ferry and cable car tickets. They can also pay for YouBike rentals, parking and convenience store purchases. Some taxis also accept payment via the EasyCard, further enhancing its usefulness.


      There are buses that travel almost every main street in Taiwan. They're clean, safe and run often. Taking the bus in Taiwan is a practical and safe way to get around town inexpensively. They're also a popular means for travellers who want to get to smaller or more rural destinations. When paying in cash, some buses may require an exact fare. Contactless payment methods may also be available.

      There are a variety of buses to choose from, and among the most popular are Kuo-Kuang Hao and Ubus. Bus companies usually have offices near train stations in most Taiwanese cities. Visit Kuo-Kuang Bus or Ubus for their routes and schedules.


      Passengers can take the train easily from city to city. The trains in Taiwanese urban centres run frequently and are cheap. The announcements are in both Mandarin and English, as are all the signs.

      The express train, Tze-Chiang, is the most comfortable and fastest way to travel around Taiwan. It is also the most expensive. Tickets should be booked in advance, especially when planning to travel over a weekend or public holiday.

      For long-distance travelling, Taiwan has a high-speed rail system. In a little over two hours, expats can travel the whole length of the island. The train is modern but can be pricey.

      Train stations in the larger cities in Taiwan usually have tourist information counters with English-speaking staff. Most cashiers at ticket booths will understand foreigners when they speak slowly, and buying train tickets should therefore be relatively straightforward.

      Visit Taiwan Railways Administration or Taiwan High-Speed Rail for more information on their services.

      Cycling in Taiwan

      Taiwan has a well-developed cycling infrastructure with a bike network spanning more than 3,000 miles (5,000 km) and much of it on dedicated paths. The island has a variety of routes, from flat coastal paths to challenging mountain climbs, and many bike rental shops are available. Taiwan has a strong cycling culture, and the world's largest bicycle company, Giant, calls Taiwan home.

      YouBike is a public bicycle-sharing service operated by Taipei City that allows anyone to rent a bicycle from kiosks throughout Taiwan's major cities. Users can rent a bicycle using a smart card or a mobile app, and in the more crowded cities, cycling can be the fastest and most affordable means of getting around.

      It's important to note that while Taiwan has a strong cycling culture, cycling in the cities can be challenging due to traffic. Always adhere to the road rules and use bike lanes where available for safety.

      Useful links

      • Visit YouBike for information on the public bicycle-sharing service.

      Taxis in Taiwan

      There are taxi services in most cities in Taiwan. Taxis are metered and fares are cheap. Fares differ between cities, but no matter where in Taiwan an expat is located, the cost of taking a cab is much more affordable than in Western countries.

      Taxi drivers often don't speak English, and expats should therefore have their destination written down in Mandarin. Bear in mind that not all taxi drivers use meters, especially in rural areas or during late-night hours. In such cases, it's advisable to negotiate the fare before starting the journey.

      All the taxi companies in Taiwan have apps. Expats can use the app to hail a taxi or call the designated taxi company number. Uber is also available in Taiwan but only in certain cities, namely Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Taoyuan and Hsinchu. Apart from Uber, Taiwan also offers local ride-hailing apps such as Taiwan Taxi which are commonly used by residents.

      Useful links

      • Visit the Uber website for their services in Taiwan.
      • Check out Taiwan Taxi for local ride-hailing services.

      Driving in Taiwan

      Driving in Taiwan is on the right-hand side of the road and can be difficult due to the chaotic nature of the local driving culture. In Taipei, traffic laws are enforced, making driving there safe and easy. That said, outside of Taipei, this is generally not the norm. Scooters also tend to weave in and out of traffic, which can result in accidents.

      An International Driving Permit can be used in Taiwan, and for those who plan on living in the destination, it is valid for 30 days, after which new arrivals must obtain an extension or a Taiwanese driving licence. Taiwan has reciprocal licence agreements with certain countries. Members of these countries can obtain a Taiwanese licence without taking a driving test, but they must first ensure that their original licence is translated into English or Chinese. Otherwise, expats not from these countries will need first to secure and hold a learner's permit for at least three months and pass the Taiwanese theoretical and practical driving test, which can be taken in English.

      Useful links

      Air travel in Taiwan

      There are four international airports in Taiwan. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is for the northern part of the island, and Kaohsiung International Airport caters to the southern part of the island.

      While Taichung International Airport and Songshan Airport also fly internationally, they only fly to specific destinations in Asia. There are also many local airports where one can book a flight to anywhere in Taiwan, including the islands in the Strait of Taiwan.

      Useful links