When in Taiwan, Do as Taiwanese Do

Taiwan City ViewAre you planning to visit Taiwan? If so, you made the right, best choice. Taiwan is a tourist hotspot where enjoyment, excitement, and adventure lie in every corner. See beautiful temples, climb gorgeous mountains, explore verdant forests, walk under the shadows of ultramodern skyscrapers, sample exotic cuisine, and so much more. I guarantee you, you don’t want your Taiwan adventure to end!

However, do keep in mind that you’re in a foreign country. This means you should keep your attitude in check. Although modern and sophisticated, Taiwan is still heavily influenced by Chinese and other Asian cultures, which are vastly different and more conservative than Western culture. What you think is a normal action in your country may be completely the opposite when you’re in Taiwan.

Thus, it is noteworthy to follow certain customs in Taiwan so you wouldn’t insult your hosts.

* Like other East Asian nations, Taiwanese people are superstitious with lots of things that are connected with dying. Thus, do not mention unlucky things such as speaking the word “si” for the number 4. “Si” sounds similar for the word for “death” in Mandarin.

* Never write someone’s name using a red pen, especially if you are writing their Chinese names. That’s because the colour red is associated with the concept of death.

* Avoid whistling or ringing a bell in the evening. According to the locals’ beliefs, the sound invites ghosts. Also, do not point your finger on cemeteries and graves. Many Taiwanese consider this to be a gesture of disrespect to departed ones.

* Don’t give a Taiwanese friend an umbrella. That’s because the word for umbrellas in Mandarin means “break up.” You don’t want to break up with your new Taiwanese friends, do you?

* Taiwanese generally don’t drink as heavily as Westerners. In fact, it is very uncommon to see drunks in the street. Yes, you can invite Taiwanese to drink, but do know that becoming drunk is perceived as a sign of immaturity, indecency, and bad manners.

* Remove your shoes before entering a residence and wear slippers that are offered top you. This is considered a sign of respect.

* You may receive small gifts such as drinks, foods, and souvenirs as you form a bond with Taiwanese friends. Accept them in good grace, but do give them something similar in return. It does not have to immediate. Just be aware of over-generous people; the act is a cause for suspicion of malicious intent.

* Tips are not required in hotels, restaurants, taxis, and other hospitality-service establishments. However, you may want to tip people anyway so they will go out of their way to serve you.

* Many temples have washrooms so worshippers can relieve themselves when they experience the call of nature. But before you use a temple’s washroom, you have to bow down to statues of deities that you pass along the way. Temple staff, monks, and clerics readily allow visitors to use the washroom, but they expect visitors to show respect.

visit taiwan* Have a third person introduce you to another party. In a party or during a business meeting, wait for the host to introduce you. When he or she does so, nod or make a slight bow. Handshakes are normally reserved for male friends.

* Note that winking, pointing your index finger on someone, and putting your arm around one’s shoulder are considered very rude.

* During dinners, the host usually pays the bill. If you’re the guest, you may offer to pay, but never insist.

Observe and follow these customs so you’ll have a better, more pleasant stay in Taiwan.

Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter is not your average tourist. He is a lover of tourism! This website is dedicated to his love for all things Taiwan. Ten years ago, he left his native USA and set out to trek as far as Asia and to many major Asian cities but ended up loving Taiwan. The beauty of the island and its rich cultural history are what drive Scott's passion even more to help others experience a memorable stay in Taiwan. This tourist is here to stay.