So, since we have decided to go to Taiwan (YAY!!!), we must know what it is about. In the past, we have done some major research on countries like Uganda, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and Iceland. I know some people will tell you they just go to places and see what’s there, but seriously, have you met a traveler these days who hasn’t ever googled their next destination at least once? (Whispering: There is nothing bad about just hitting the road and knowing nothing but the name and train ticket price to your next destination, but we are not that extreme. The other half is an engineer, it just isn’t possible not to do a research..)
The great unknown is part of the thrill of travelling, but there are still some tips we want to share with you. Here it comes: (A very very simple) list of web sites and other sources we have used so far to learn about Taiwan. Please feel free to add your ideas and experiences in the comment section. You might help us.
- The engineer has searched websites such as Airbnb, Expedia and Hotels.com, for tips on accommodation and prices.
- I learned a lot about the country at the official government website. I checked it for things such as working, health care and so on.
- Flights can easily be found with Google Flights. What we love the most is that you can just draw your preferred route on the map, and you’ll get suggestions on the flights.
- I, the nurse, have been exploiting Twitter a lot lately. I’ve read stories about travelling in Taiwan on other bloggers’ websites, and totally liked every single photo of Taiwan.
- The engineer has a magical touch on Google and uses it a lot. The search engine can be your best friend on such important matters as is there an H&M, Decathlon and/or Uniqlo in Taipei. Yes, there is. And yes, as you might have guessed, these were my searches, not his (the enginerd read this and pretty much added a few hundred euros in the monthly clothes column on our budget sheet).
- Lately, I have been very keen on finding a proper gym in the city, but of course a very simple search for “gym Taipei” gave me more to chew on than I could possibly handle. So I decided to combine the previous two tips, and just tweeted the question “Any ideas on good gym in Taipei” on Twitter. Let’s see the results soon..
- It is always a good idea to figure out the currency and the exchange rate. We simply use Google for that.
- Some good restaurants are almost a must to know (check Happycow for vegetarians’ safe havens. It helped us to navigate to a mysterious vegan restaurant ran by monks in the middle of Xi’an. That and speaking Chinese…), as well as the climate and pollution. The last one is important especially in big cities. It is not pleasant to go to a place and not see the blue sky on a clear day. Use Aqicn for searching the current and long time air quality stats. I have first hand experience on this one, after living in Beijing.
- Read a good old travel guide. Get an e-book or a paperback. We used Lonely Planet in Thailand, and were very positively surprised how accurate even the paper copy was. They tend to come with maps, too, so you’re not entirely dependent on your phone and/or 3G or WiFi. Still haven’t bought one about Taiwan, but I’m 100% sure they sell them at the Taoyuan airport.
- Ask a friend. My decision to convince the engineer we wanna try Taiwan was made the moment my good friend told me how much he likes the island.
- Always worried about my Chinese skills, and reading and writing being my strengths, I just had to figure out how difficult it would be to use traditional characters. I found this awesome website about it, and am not worried anymore!
Admittedly, some or all of these tips may seem like something everyone knows. But, as I could tell you, everyone has to start from somewhere and doing so might sometimes be very perplexing. The engineer, for example, spends hours and hours online searching for information, then he tells me his findings and I have no idea how he got them. Or he used to, until I figured out it’s not rocket science. It’s just about trying it yourself.
Let us know your best ways to find information about your next stop. Oh, and tell us more about Taiwan.