Things you should consider when travelling to Taiwan
Vibrant & lively, Taiwan is a modern fast paced city which welcomes tourists, but can you handle the rat race?
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is home to a little over 23-million people almost indistinguishable from the 1.3 Billion just 200 kilometers across the sea, but here they play baseball, have modern high-speed trains, and democratic elections.
To some it's what China could've been if not for centralized government and Communism. Maybe it's a look into the future of what a liberalized China WILL become.
Crime in Taiwan
The violent crime rate in RoC is low by world standards, as is the petty crime rate.
Pick pocketing and bag snatching does occur, especially in busy tourist locations, but it's not as common as many other tourist busy countries.
The seedy (and criminal) side of life is centred around barber shops and nightclubs which act as fronts for prostitution.
But the dodgy ones are pretty easy to spot. Legitimate businesses, like barber shops, openly advertise their business and you can see through the shopfront into the business. If you see a barber shop, but can't see into it to see the barber cutting hair, you're in the wrong place.
There have been reports of passengers being assaulted by taxi drivers, and the cases received much more media coverage than the low number of assaults warranted. It really is a rare occurrence, but of course it always pays to be vigiliant.
While you're generally safe from disasters of the human kind, mother nature has something else in store.
Earthquakes. Some of them quite strong can strike at anytime. Make sure you're aware of earthquake survival procedures and have read the evacuation plan for your accommodation.
Typhoons strike the island every year July to October. Make sure you know where the nearest typhoon shelter is located.
If you're on the road after a typhoon look out for landslides caused by the heavy downpour.
Taiwan's roads are congested and motorcycles and scooters are very common. Many of them weave in and out of traffic making driving hazardous.
Watch out if you're a pedestrian crossing the road, vehicles don not give way.
If you intend to drive in Taiwan you'll need an international driver's permit, and have it authorized at a vehicle registration centre.
The hospitals and clinics in Taiwan are pretty good. Many of the doctors and other medical staff have been trained overseas and have some English language.
Taiwan has a medical treatment scheme for citizens, but visitors will have to pay a fee for service. Because of the high standard of care this could be expensive.
If you are admitted to hospital, contact your travel insurer as soon as practicable.
If you receive a bill for treatment at a clinic keep all receipts to present for a claim.
Be aware, ambulances in Taiwan are not usually staffed by paramedics.
Health & Disease
Dengue Fever occurs in Taiwan. The mosquito responsible for transmitting the disease is active during the day. There is no vaccine, prevention is the only cure. Avoid being bitten by using bed nets, wearing long, loose-fitting clothing and covering exposed skin in insect repellent.
It's best to stick to bottled water and avoid ice in drinks.
If you go hiking in the mountains beware of poisonous snakes.
Because of the international political situation regarding the "two China's" many western nations do not officially "recognize" the Republic of China, choosing instead to have diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China.
This means there are no embassies or consular services for many nationals. Check with your government before you depart and ask them what arrangements are in place.
Even though your government might not be able to help, your travel insurance provider does operate in Taiwan.
Not really a safety issue, but you can avoid a great deal of inconvenience if you observe the local custom known as "saving face". Do not embarrass a local by making a scene. Do not make a spectacle of yourself. You'll find you get what you need if you approach the situation calmly and politely.