Education time! If you plan on going to Taiwan, you should know what to do and what NOT to do so you don’t offend anybody there. We don’t want you to have a bad reputation there. Taiwan is a beautiful and amazing country and you will want to keep going back there so be on your best behaviour.
So first off!
There are no hugs when you greet someone here, or anything really sweet like that. We do it business-like in Taiwan and shake hands. In the case of good friends of acquaintances, you nod your head or just simply say “Hi” and that’s it.
Also, don’t be surprised if we greet you with “Have you eaten?”. We love food and therefore incorporate it into our greetings as well.Gift-Giving
Also, don’t be surprised if we greet you with “Have you eaten?”. We love food and therefore incorporate it into our greetings as well.
Receive and present gifts with both hands and never open them in front of the giver. Do that at home. Don’t be surprised if your gift is declined at first. This is a sign of politeness. Just keep insisting. Eventually they will accept it, don’t worry
Things you should NOT give as gifts:
- Anything made in Taiwan (it is offensive to some though I am still not sure about the origins as to why)
- Handkerchief (there’s an implication that there may be a reason to cry about)
- Clocks (the saying “giving a clock” has the same feel as the phrase “attending a funeral”)
- Shoes to older people (it implies you are sending them to heaven with them)
- Umbrella to your Taiwanese lover (the Chinese word for umbrella also means “break up”)
It is taboo to stab your chopsticks into the food. Never do this, this is also taboo in other countries when using chopsticks. You also should use the serving chopsticks when getting food from a different plate. There are times when the host would put food into your plate directly. Don’t refuse this nor be surprised. Also, when you are eating, the rice bowl is brought near your lips while plates are staying on the table.
Another thing to know is that unless you are really close friends with a Taiwanese family, we mostly eat at restaurants with you. We rarely invite people into our homes for dinner.
Extra Do’s and Don’ts
- Although it’s basic etiquette around the world, you ALWAYS offer your seat to children, the elderly or to pregnant women on no matter what kind of public vehicle. You will be stared at judgingly if an old lady is standing for too long right where you’re sitting.
- Left side of the elevator is for walking. Right side is where you stand.
- Remove shoes when entering indoors. Even if they insist it’s okay.
- One thing you should know about Taiwan is that you never talk about Taiwan-China politics, whether you think Taiwan should be an independent country or if Taiwan is China itself. You are not winning in this. People will always get offended.
- No tips. Only at bars. It’s offensive in other establishments.
When leaving or entering a temple, never step on the extra step.