How Safe is Taiwan to Travel to? Taiwan Travel Advice
Welcome to Taiwan
Taiwan is a beautiful Island nation, home to over 24 million people and located some 200 kilometers east of mainland China. It offers numerous attractions and outdoor activities to tourists who are willing to explore. While there are so many things to do in Taiwan, as with any other “exotic” destination, there are some dangers you should be aware of. Here is an overview of Taiwan safety.
Crime in Taiwan
By world standards, the violent crime and petty crime rates in Taiwan are low. Very low. In fact, Taiwan is annually ranked as one of the safest countries in the world compared to other tourist countries. Though pick pocketing and snatching of bags do occur, it is very uncommon. A few places to avoid in Taiwan however are around urban barbing saloons (hair salons) and KTV’s (Karaoke Bars) which sometimes act as fronts for prostitution. Legitimate salons advertise their businesses in the open and have a glass front door. If you can’t see through the door to the barber from outside, then it is highly likely the “salon” is actually a brothel. Similarly, many late night KTV’s are the Taiwanese equivalent of strip clubs.
Every year, from May to November, typhoons will inevitably strike the Island. It’s best to know and locate the nearest typhoon shelter if one threatens to make landfall near where you are staying. The warning systems are well established in Taiwan so one can expect a weeks warning typically. Always check Taiwan travel advisories, monitor alerts and news issued by the Central Weather Bureau, and follow the evacuation orders of local authorities.
As Taiwan was (and still is being) formed by the collision of two tectonic plates, it has a lengthy history of earthquakes. Earthquakes are a natural disaster that don’t give any warning and can strike in any area at any time. While small tremors can be felt regularly, there is always a chance for a large earthquake to occur. Do your diligence by being aware of the survival procedures and protocols and take a look at the evacuation plan for your accommodation.
Diseases and Dangers
There are numerous species of venomous snakes in the mountains of Taiwan. Though snakebites are rare, if you go hiking it’s important to keep an eye out for them. If you are bitten, be sure to take a good look at the snake that bit you if possible. This way you can identify it to the hospital and receive the proper antivenom.
Dengue Fever in Taiwan
Dengue fever is the most common disease in Taiwan, yet is still quite rare. The mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of the disease are active during the day and especially at twilight. Try as much as possible to avoid being bitten. Use insect repellent if you are travelling out in nature and wear long loose fitting clothes to cover exposed skin if you are in a region known for Dengue.
Drinking Water in Taiwan
It’s typically best to stick with bottled water or purified water while in Taiwan. Most places have it readily available. Though tap water is treated in Taiwan to kill pathogens, local pipes are old and may release heavy metals into the water. Also, water pipes often crack during earthquakes which may cause contamination.
Driving in Taiwan
Generally, tourists try to avoid driving while in Taiwan, preferring to be driven by someone who knows the ins and outs of the places they are going. If you intend to drive in Taiwan, you will need an International drivers permit and have it authorized at a vehicle registration center. The roads are usually filled with motorcycles and scooters as well, especially in the urban centers. Many of them maneuver in and out of the traffic without giving any notice or signaling, making driving dangerous. For these these and many other reasons, most people prefer hiring Taiwan taxis or taking guided tours while in Taiwan. Also, If you are a pedestrian crossing the road, watch out for vehicles as they often don’t yield to foot traffic.
Medical Facilities and Healthcare
Taiwan has a great treatment and healthcare system in place for its citizens. For tourists, if you want to use their hospitals you will have to pay separately for service. Most of their doctors and medical staff are trained overseas so your medical service fee may not come cheap. That being said, most services are comparatively much more affordable than the United States. The hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities are more often of a high quality and up to international standards. If you are admitted and given a bill, keep all the receipts and any evidence of payment given, contact your travel and medical insurer as soon as possible and present your receipts for any claims.