Taiwan

First Impressions After 24 Hours in Taipei

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei

It’s funny the things that you can learn about a new place in your first 24 hours of being there.  When I’m on the move, I like to write down little observations about a new place and look back at them again on the end of my trip. See if my original perceptions still hold true and assess how good a judge of character I really am!

If there’s one thing I can say about Taipei (and that I can’t stop saying), it’s that Veeran and I both felt very at home there. We both agreed that it’s a place that we could see ourselves living in at some point in the future. We loved the food, the green spaces and, most of all, the kind and pleasant people we met along the way.

These are some of the things that stood out to me most after just 24 hours in Taipei!

Order

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

This is the first thing that stood out to me and something that still continued to surprise me towards the end of our trip. Every time we got to a subway station, I noticed people queueing in an orderly fashion. I was in awe.

We’re not in South Korea anymore, Toto!

One of the things that constantly “grinds my gears” in Korea, is the pushy, “bbali-bbali” (hurry up, hurry up) culture. After 3 years living there, it still doesn’t feel right pushing my way onto a bus, and it probably never will.

Another weird thing that I loved about Taipei? People stand to the right and walk to the left on escalators. I probably did Veeran’s head in going on about this but I really feel this rule should be highly enforced in all countries!! In London, you’d pretty much get mauled if you did any differently at rush hour! Plus, it’s common sense and common courtesy, right?

It’s the little things like this that make a city seem more liveable, and the politeness and thoughtfulness of Taipei’s citizens definitely made a huge impression on me.

It’s a Very Liveable City

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

As I mentioned, during our first day in Taipei, we both kept saying how much we could see ourselves living there. For starters, the city is extremely bike friendly with huge cycle lanes and an awesome bike-sharing system. Plus, the it’s full of green spaces and close to mountains so it’s easy to feel like you’ve escaped the hustle and bustle without being too far from all the conveniences.

Things were reasonably priced and it’d be easy to eat out on the regular, especially if you head to the night markets. Plus, what really struck us is the variety of things to do around Taipei. Especially things to do that don’t really revolve around drinking which can be the norm in big cities. The drinking culture in Taipei is nowhere near as big or in your face as what we’ve experienced in Korea and this was a refreshing change for us.

English is Widely Spoken

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

Ordering my Chinese breakie with ease!

Coming straight to Taiwan from Korea, we inevitably made a lot of comparisons between the two countries. One huge difference that struck us was the ease in which people communicated with us in English. By this, we are in no way stating that people in Taiwan have superior English skills to Korean people. As English teachers, we can both safely say that’s not the case at all.

What we have observed, though, is that people are much more confident speaking English. Even if they can just say a few words to communicate, they make the effort (and don’t start giggling because they had to speak to you.)

Having people communicating with us in English is absolutely not something that we expect when we travel. We spent most of our trip complaining to each other that we were embarrassed by our complete lack of mandarin skills beyond  the usual”ni hao” and “xie-xie.” Our grasp of the Korean language is good enough for us to be able to get by without relying on locals to speak English to us (although it could certainly be a lot better!) But still, this is something that, as a tourist, made our trip much easier and more convenient. (Especially when you find yourself in a sea of Chinese writing that you can’t understand!)

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

If there’s one thing you’re going to want to do, it’s eat lots of street food and decipher those menus!

Seatbelts!

This one is a bit silly but as soon as we jumped in our first taxi, my face lit up when I saw the “Wear your seatbelt or you will be fined” sign in the back. I like knowing that the government has my back and wants me to be safe. I hate getting in taxis and there being no seatbelts in the back and getting told it’s fine because I’m not in the front. Safety first, guys!

People are Proud of their Island Country

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

This was evident by the way that people took care of their country. We hardly saw any rubbish on the streets and everyone that we met was kind to us and really welcomed us to Taiwan, hoping that we had a great stay and glad that we decided to visit.

The people that we spoke to seemed proud of their rich history. They had no problem referring to some of their food as “Chinese” food, they didn’t speak bitterly of their colonisation by Japan. Instead, they were happy to bring attention to the colonial buildings that make up their city and the remnants of Japanese life that have stuck with them. The Taiwanese people seemed to be proud of their rich, cultural make-up and this is something that I found really refreshing.

There can be a fine line between patriotism and xenophobia, and the Taiwanese people we met were simply proud of their country. When we saw young people protesting against mainland China on the street, it was evident that the rallies were spurred more from love for their people than hate towards another country. Of course, we just spent a short time there but, on the surface, there seemed to be no feelings of superiority and we were made to feel welcome there.


Taipei is a city that a lot of people overlook when they travel in Asia. Before I visited, all that I’d heard was that it was like “a more laidback China” but there is much more to it than that. Taipei has a vibe and culture all of its own that, truthfully, I can’t really begin to compare to any other Asian city that I’ve visited. This is one underrated metropolis that you need to spend, at the very least, a few days in!

If you’re planning a trip to Taipei, I’d recommend staying at Eight Elephants and Dreaming Dragons Hostel. Read my full review here.

First Impressions after 24 Hours in Taipei (1)

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Laura Nalin
    30th January 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Love this! We’re still deciding between Taipei and Hanoi. I haven’t been to Taipei yet (neither has James) so obviously we’re stuck on our decision as we love Hanoi! AHH! This brings some ease to my mind though. Would love to chat more about it when you get the chance.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      2nd February 2017 at 11:06 am

      Aww glad it could be of help! I wish I had travelled to Hanoi so that I could compare the two but I haven’t. Taipei is awesome though!

  • Reply
    Where to Stay in Taipei: Eight Elephants and Dreaming Dragons Hostel - Wee Gypsy Girl
    2nd February 2017 at 1:44 pm

    […] our first trip to Taipei was a short one, we instantly felt like locals as we traversed around that city. We stayed at Eight […]

  • Reply
    Alla Ponomareva
    3rd February 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I can not agree more on your points. We also really really enjoyed Taiwan, its laid back culture, order on the escalators and subways even when we visited for only 6 days. Apparently there are some very empty beach and surfing culture, which make this place fantastic!
    As for English, I was disappointed when taxi drivers of all people didn’t speak even a little bit. 🙁

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:37 am

      Thanks Alla, glad to hear that you agree! I would love to get down South and explore more of the national parks and aboriginal islands. Such a beautiful place!

  • Reply
    Wendy
    3rd February 2017 at 9:59 pm

    It’s nice to read your positive impressions of Taipei. A friend recently visited and she and hubby are all praises for the country and its people, too.
    Wendy recently posted…PalomoBrothers Youtube ChannelMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thanks Wendy, I can definitely understand why they loved it so much!

  • Reply
    Nathan Anderson
    3rd February 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I’ve got to say, I agree with every single one of these impressions! I visited last November after spending two months in China, and found the sense of order and the level of English proficiency super refreshing. And the night markets… I went to five different markets in a week o.O Taipei is totally a paradise, and I can definitely see myself living there someday as well. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
    Nathan Anderson recently posted…I Used to Hate: A Look at How Travel Changed My LifeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:31 am

      So great to hear that your impressions were so similar to mine! I also ate at nightmarkets every single night lol. One night I went to a restaurant for dinner… and went to the night market for a second dinner! Too good to miss!

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    4th February 2017 at 2:45 am

    We agree with all of these except we didn’t take a taxi so I didn’t notice the seatbelt signs! We both felt like Taipei was extremely livable too. The orderly subway queue was so interesting to witness, also they had signs saying no food or drink or you’ll be fined, not even on the platform! I think Singapore had a similar rule too. I find myself comparing Asian cities to Seoul just because we lived there as well. The food also left a HUGE lasting impression on us, those night markets are to die for!
    Megan Indoe recently posted…A Complete Guide for Where to Stay in SeoulMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:29 am

      We ALWAYS do it! And then we went to Seoul a couple of days after we got back and were like “tut tut tut, this would never happen in Taipei” haha. I wonder what Taipei is like compared to Singapore. It’s a comparison that is rarely made but I bet they are pretty similar. Would love your opinion!

  • Reply
    Kirsty Mac
    5th February 2017 at 12:15 am

    I read another blog in Taipei this week and the place does seem fantastic. Manners are always a must and definitely make me feel more at home. The pushy pushy attitude out here is tricky to deal with, so Taipei sounds lovely.

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:12 am

      I agree, it can take a bit of getting used to!

  • Reply
    Emre
    5th February 2017 at 7:15 am

    It seems I am bugged by the same things in Korea as you. No pushing at public transport? That sounds fantastic! Taipei looks like Seoul in your pictures, but a more orderly and clean version of it. It is great that it is bike friendly. I miss that here in Korea. I would just rent a bike and explore Taipei. Good to hear that the people are so friendly.
    Emre recently posted…Jeonju Hanok Village Photo SpotsMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:08 am

      Yeah, it is quite similar to Seoul but a lot less really high rise apartment complexes… and a lot more order! Getting a bike is the best way to explore- you can actually see the whole country by bike!

  • Reply
    Kayley Chislett
    6th February 2017 at 9:04 am

    Taipei seems to be pulling more and more on my heart strings these days! You raise such good and valid points about it, not just the wonderful tourist things to do. I havent yet been to Taipei but the fact that it is “livable” really makes me feel like i would be happy and comfortable to explore!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:04 am

      Aw you guys should definitely visit before you go if you get the chance! 🙂

  • Reply
    Samantha
    6th February 2017 at 9:48 am

    I really enjoyed my time in Taiwan. I went over the Chuseok holiday. Mind you, I was sick, but I tried to enjoy it as much as I could. It really is like no other city I’ve been in!
    Samantha recently posted…Weekend Getaway in Seoul: Hotel Maui DDMMy Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:03 am

      I agree, it’s difficult to compare it to anywhere else. Shame that you were sick!

  • Reply
    Rosie
    6th February 2017 at 12:36 pm

    We’re hoping to visit Taiwan once after our contract finishes this year – your post makes me want to visit even more! I hate the pushy vibe in Korea too – Taiwan sounds a lot more relaxed and the people seem to be very kind and friendly. Thanks for sharing your first impressions I wonder if we will notice the same things when we visit!

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 11:03 am

      It’s so much more relaxed than Korea! I’m sure that you’ll love it 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate Carter Hickey
    6th February 2017 at 3:18 pm

    I was supposed to go to Taipei for Chuseok. I was so bummed when there was a typhoon and they let me know when I was checking in that I wouldn’t be able to go! Do you think this is the kind of city you could enjoy on a long weekend? Order is kind of the norm where I come from in Canada. It would be great to see people in Asia “walk left, stand right”, etc. Wicked post! I would love to giv’er a go again soon!
    Kate Carter Hickey recently posted…WDTDT: Who Pays on the First Date?My Profile

    • Reply
      Nicole Louise
      9th February 2017 at 10:52 am

      You could definitely enjoy it in a long weekend- it’s a pretty small city with great public transport. You couldn’t do everything in a weekend, but you’d definitely have a great time!

  • Reply
    1 Week in Taiwan: Our Itinerary - Wee Gypsy Girl
    6th February 2017 at 6:18 pm

    […] Our first day in Taiwan was spent in Taipei. We woke up late and, with no plan in mind, got ourselves acquainted with the city. […]

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