Whenever you plan to visit somewhere for the first time, it is natural to question the safety of the place. This article will hopefully put your mind at rest.
Is Taiwan a safe place? I don’t think that it’s possible for anywhere to 100% safe, but I have to say that I have never felt safer anywhere else. It is one of the reasons I moved here to live.
Let me share with you my thoughts on safety in Taiwan and why you shouldn’t let worries about safety deter you from visiting this beautiful island.
Taiwan is overall a pretty safe place to be. There are some dangers and risks, however. If you take the usual precautions, then you should be fine. I, personally have never witnessed any acts of violence or theft.
There are good and bad people everywhere so it always pays to be vigilant especially when visiting large cities.
Mugging and Violent Assault
There are very few instances of violent crime, rape and mugging. Incidents against foreigners are very sporadic. Just use common sense and don’t do things that put yourself at risk.
Be careful when visiting crowded areas such as trains, MRT and night markets. Don’t put valuables in your back pockets. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
There have been no instances of terrorism in Taiwan in recent history. I researched this and found there were bomb attacks on McDonald’s back in 1992. Those responsible were trying to extort money and found themselves behind bars!
Most scams are related to the use of ATM’s and credit cards. If someone calls you from your bank or hotel and asks for your credit card details, do not give it to them! If you want to use an ATM, those inside buildings are safer.
I also heard of a tea scam where the vendor mixes in cheap
Public Transport and Taxis
In general, public transport in Taiwan is safe, reliable and clean. During busy periods beware of pickpockets and other petty thieves.
Taxi drivers may try to rip you off so always try to negotiate the fee in advance. One tip here is to order your taxi at a convenience store. The member of staff will probably assist you when dealing with the taxi driver. They don’t have to, but they are always kind and helpful in my experience.
Typhoons and Earthquakes
Taiwan has a high risk of earthquakes, some of which have been very bad reaching over six on the Richter scale. While the odds on this happening are still very low, you should be prepared for one to strike. The basic idea is to cover your head and get out of buildings where possible.
Typhoons season is generally June and October. A typhoon is an Asian equivalent of a hurricane in the west. These can be brutal and wreak havoc on buildings and infrastructure. Storms tend to affect the east coast much worse as they build in the Pacific Ocean. It pays to check the weather forecast before venturing to the east coast or into the mountains.
I have been using this app for the past few years, and it has been very accurate. As far as 2018 goes, Taiwan was reasonably quiet on the typhoon front. Several massive typhoons headed toward the island but always veered off to the north and hit Japan instead. In each case, the app predicted the path perfectly. The free version works great!
Taiwan’s medical facilities are excellent and modern, but you will need to pay, so make sure that you have adequate health insurance before you travel.
The sun here is powerful so use sunscreen if you plan on being outside for long periods. The locals use parasols to protect themselves. They also hate to become tanned. They prefer to stay as white as possible. They are more scared of the sun than a typical vampire.
Bugs love me! I’m the one that always gets bitten. Taiwan has its fair share of biting insects so be sure to use a good quality insect repellent and cover up if it is not too hot. There are a few cases of Japanese encephalitis each year due to mosquito bites. The same goes for Dengue Fever.
Snakes, and Other Nasties
There are poisonous snakes in Taiwan, but you will likely never see one. If you are hiking in the mountains or forests, you should be extra vigilant. I’m sure they will be more scared of you than you are of them.
Taiwanese Road Safety
I should say “lack of” road safety. More accidents happen on the roads than anywhere else, with scooters being the primary cause of death on the island. Please be extra careful when crossing the roads as it is not uncommon for scooter riders to use the wrong side of the road.
Red Light Running
For a nation that seems so kind and passive, they turn into crazed idiots when driving. Running red lights is a widespread occurrence. It happens at every set of traffic lights. Be prepared for this and always expect someone to run the light.
Renting a Scooter
If reading the last section did not put you off, I implore you to think carefully before hiring scooters. Only do so if you are a competent and experienced rider.
I hope that list of potential problems did not put you off, it was not meant to. I just wanted you to be aware of what can happen. It is better that you are prepared before you get here. I have travelled to many countries and I have never felt safer anywhere!
Q: Is it safe to travel alone?
A: Absolutely! I would not hesitate to recommend Taiwan to solo travellers, male or female.
Q: When is the best time of year to visit Taiwan?
A: The short answer is anytime! It is hotter, stickier and wetter during the summer months (June – September).