Taiwan culture shock for you?

Dear traveler to Taiwan, have you:

Ever felt you could have trepassed on taboo,
    • sensitive areas of Taiwan culture and people?


Ever felt not understood or worse, misunderstood when interacting with Taiwan locals?

Ever felt surprised, or even upset, by how the Taiwanese speak and act, especially those behaviours so different from what you are used to back home?


If you had met such traveling experiences as described above, you might have just tasted what is generally known as culture shock in touring Taiwan!

Do not be a stupid tourist – know Taiwan taboos, no-nos & sensitivities! 🙂


The “stupid tourist” and Taiwan culture shock

No one likes to be a stupid tourist. Or likes one.
Yet at times, we as traveling visitors in Taiwan do act or feel like one.

Like any place rich in history and culture, there are taboos, no-nos and whatnots in Taiwan.

As tourists, we are foreign to the local culture and lifestyle.

So when we (knowingly or unwittingly) trespass on different and sensitive areas of the Taiwan culture and people, we can be misread or misunderstood in what we say or do by the locals, or fellow tourists.

We can feel dumbfounded, embarrassed. Or at worse, ridiculed.

We find ourselves having acted like “stupid tourists”.


How I was once a “stupid tourist” in Taipei

Bring your own bag, traveler!

2 bowl-packs of instant beef noodles and 2 large bottled drinks were in my arms. I had paid for these items and stood facing the 2 cashier gals.

I was dazed in fatigue. I was also defiant. For some full minutes I was staring blankly at the cashiers. The gals looked clueless, unempathetic actually.

“You have a bag for these?” I finally blurted, straining out as much of a smile as I could from reddish eyes which had just experienced the wonderfully scorching sun at Danshui riverside.

To cut the story short, a gal then asked for a Taiwan dollar. She gave me a thick plastic carrier to send me (unhappily) out the mini mart.

Tour Taiwan lesson I learnt hours later..

It was not the cashiers at fault here.

They likely were just as clueless to my situation, as I was totally unaware that they had stopped giving out free carrier bags in many retail stores in Taiwan. Part of their islandwide eco-friendly efforts you see..

And having returned to visit Taiwan after 15 long years, I was clueless of this very interesting change – and was dumbfounded (and quite angry as I’ll admit)!


Help me to help other Taiwan tourists?

Stupid tourists in Taiwan culture shock?
Though no real harm is done (hopefully!), won’t you as tourists in Taiwan like to avoid such dilemma, and likely embarrassment?

How we travelers can help ourselves:
We can know first and learn of such different to shocking ideas, things in Taiwan we want to tour in.

How you can help other Taiwan tourists:
I have gathered a list of things (40 ideas so far!) that are different or done differently in Taiwan that may just give a tourist eye-opening amazement or shock!

Can you,

• Share your “culture shock” or “stupid tourist” incident

    • in Taiwan, with us?

• Help prevent a fellow traveler to Taiwan

    from acting and feeling like a stupid tourist?

Published by David

Fan of Taiwan. Friend from Singapore. :-)

Join the Conversation


  1. That is very true. Cause it also happen to me in one of my shopping experience too in Geant hypermart. Thanks for sharing, so that it maybe helpful for the first time traveller to Taiwan.

  2. Welcome and what a coincidence, Kiwi!
    My group & I bought stuff from Carrefour hypermarts in Taipei with similar experiences too. It was TWD1 for a thick Carrefour plastic bag haha! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Haha yes they no longer give carriers.
    Another thing to take note is that if u are lost and trying to ask someone for direction to your hotel, use the word “Fan Dian” instead of “Jiu Dian”.. Haha.. We Singaporeans understand “Jiu Dian” to be hotel, but to Taiwanese, “Jiu Dian” literally means a place for alcohol or nightclubs. =)

  4. So this is how Chinese words can mean different things in Taiwan, Ivan, LOL.
    Many years ago when working there, the locals almost always raised eyebrows whenever I talked about the “jiu dian” I stayed in. They also would reply with the “correct” term “fan dian”. Good point, thanks! 🙂

  5. It’s actually worse than that. 🙂 Jiudian means a “hostess bar” karaoke club.
    In China, don’t call a woman xiaojie as you would in Taiwan. In China, xiaojie basically means the type of woman you would find in a Taiwan jiudian.

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