A quick list of  essential (and often overlooked!) items for life in  Taiwan

This is a guest blog post from TutorMandarin (www.tutormandarin.net) – an online Mandarin Chinese teaching service that teaches students how to speak Chinese using an innovative mobile app and PC Software.

So, you’re going to live in Taiwan – awesome. You have made a good choice. If you’re unfamiliar with Taiwan’s weather, geography, and lifestyle you may now be pondering about what ‘essential items’ you need to survive the day to day life of Taiwan. This is a short 4 item list of some things you must have.

An Good Umbrella

This is necessity number one! There is a rainy season and a dry season in Taiwan and they are aptly named. In the wet season, it will rain for weeks at a time. It will rain suddenly. It will rain then stop then rain again. There is no excuse for not being prepared for it.

If you already brought a good umbrella from home, that should suffice. However, a cheap umbrella will not be able to withstand the heavy rain and the blustering winds of Taiwan (Fun fact: Typhoon season in Taiwan is in full effect from June-October). If you think you can just buy a cheap umbrella from 7-11… let me tell you now — it will break. On Typhoon days, trash cans are littered with crumpled umbrellas from unprepared bystanders with that line of thinking.

Now, the good news! You can buy some of the most high-tech umbrellas in Taiwan! There are entire shops dedicated to fighting falling precipitation and there may be more to Taiwanese umbrella technology that you realize. They have super reinforced umbrellas with a popup mechanism made of with double reinforced.  They have umbrellas that turn inside out — so you can easily shake out the water after a hard day. Hell! They have umbrellas that can cover whole families with their sheer size and shape. So head over to the nearest umbrealla speciality shop and get yourself and umbrella worth writing home about.  Now all you gotta now is how to ask about the weather in Chinese!

Bonus tips:

  • You can buy a poncho for very cheap at a convenience store (better than a crappy umbrella)
  • Products like ‘neverwet’ can be preemptively used to waterproof your shoes and clothes beforehand.
  • Rain boots and flipflops both work well in the Taiwan rain
  • You can go a complete different tactic and just buy 10 crappy umbrellas and treat them like disposable chopsticks (though this is environmentally unfriendly and will not help you in tougher weather)

A Stock of Tissues/Hand Sanitizer

“Because sometimes there isn’t toilet paper when you need it.”

Having tissues on-hand is a good idea not just for bathroom situations but also for night markets, hikes, colds (from all the rain!) and more. While Taiwan will have its fair share of fully-stocked nice Western toilets, this is not always the case (especially in smaller cities). We recommend you err on the side of caution and have tissues with you at all times. You can buy small packs from 7-11, large packs from Carrefour, and huge packs from Costco. If you want to double down, we recommend you also keep hand sanitizer on your person. With the combination of tissues and hand sanitizer ready for easy access — you’re ready to handle any situation no matter how dirty.

Bonus tips:

  • Check bathrooms for toilet paper before you use it. Never assume!
  • Also, anti-itch cream is not a bad choice, either. Mosquito are near all the riversides (of which there are plenty!) and love to feast on some bare skin. Prepare!

A Collection of Shoes

Living in Taipei, a very walkable city,  necessitates a pair of sturdy, comfortable walking shoes. However, Taiwan is a little bit unique in terms of terrain and because of the constant weather shifts, so you need to be prepared for all sorts of situations. If you haven’t already gone hiking, you have made a mistake. Hiking trails start at the end of almost every subway line in Taipei and you would be amiss not to go out walking in some of the scenic areas. So, in addition to your walking shoes, make sure to have a pair of hiking shoes that can handle the rougher, muddier stuff. In Taiwan, you also have the opportunity to river trace, where you can hike through the water. You can buy special river tracing shoes that allow you to walk through the water while maintaining a sturdy grip on the moss covered rocks. 

You also need a pair of flip flops. The weather can change in an instant and if you didn’t wear rain appropriate shoes, you need to have a backup plan. Flip flops or galoshes both work well in the “puddly” streets of the city.

Lastly, make sure to keep your fashion on point. Taiwan’s southern cities are known for cool and artistic fashion. If you want to strut your stuff, this is definitely a city that will oblige. Feel free to bring out some of your finer fashion for the city days.

Bonus Tip:

  • Keep a pair of flip flops in your bag or backpack for emergencies
  • In the summer, your feet will get hot and need to breathe. Act accordingly. 

Power Strips (Not Adapters!) for Americans/Canadians

Taiwan runs on 110-120 voltage, which is the same as the US and Canada. So if you are American or Canadian,  your chargers and appliances should be just fine. Good for you. Note, some buildings don’t have three prongs (0nly 2!) so you’ll need to get an adapter to accommodate for anything 3 pronged devices you got.

Most grocery stores have basic power strips to choose from. Taiwan night markets have several unique and creative powerboxes that sit on your desk. Also, the electronics market at Guanghua has the sleekest in power technology.

Conclusion

Ok, hope you enjoyed the 4 necessary items for Taiwan. However, 4 is just the tip of the iceberg. What “necessary items” do you recommend for living in Taiwan? We’d love to hear from you!