We’ll answer this question right from the get-go in a similar manner as we did with our recent piece titled Is Taiwan Safe for Solo Female Travelers. Yes, Taiwan is safe for American tourists. So why even address it in the first place? After all, posing the question in the blog may give U.S. travelers pause. The answer to that is simple too – people are asking, and as a local authority on international travel to the island state, it’s our duty to cover all bases, and queries. And while it is safe, there are certainly things you need to know and consider because Taiwan is indeed on the other side of the world, with nearly 24 million people coexisting on an island that’s four times smaller than Florida. With a juxtaposing mix of densified metropolis, rural countryside, and tropical coastline, the island is a wonder than makes many U.S. travelers wonder what their getting into. Let’s find out.
4 Things for U.S. Travelers to Consider When Visiting Taiwan
1. Taiwan Political and Economic Relations With the U.S. (in brief)
It was only a few months ago that Taiwan gave up its developing economy status in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a move to distinguish itself from mainland China. Under the new “Developed” status, Taiwan has sought to improve ties with the U.S. government. We’re not going to go into a long and boring discussion about the history of political and economic relationships between the two nations (this is a fun travel site for goodness sake!) but we will drop a recent quote from Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, which sums it all up well:
Taiwan has also transformed itself from an aid recipient into a high-tech powerhouse featuring outstanding human capital, a rules-based market, and a sound legal framework that upholds property rights. Taiwan now ranks as one of the top 10 freest economies in the world and has become an important partner for many U.S. companies in the region and around the world.
Since I took office three years ago, Taiwan and the United States have stepped up our joint efforts to promote our mutual interests, such as religious freedom, media literacy, and fighting corruption, safeguarding our shared values in the Indo-Pacific region. (Tsai Ing-wen – ForeignPolicy May 9 2019)
Unlike with other pockets of places in East Asia and even Europe (etc.), you as an American tourist will not be frowned upon. You are absolutely welcome here – hospitality awaits!
2. U.S. Travel Advisory for Taiwan
You’ve heard the Taiwanese perspective, so what does your own government have to say about traveling to Taiwan? There are four travel advisory levels, with Level 1 being “Exercise normal precautions” and Level 4 stating “Do not travel”. The current (and longstanding) U.S. travel advisory for Taiwan is nice and relaxed at Level 1. But alas, do take note to exercise those normal precautions, which includes the following:
- Make sure your documents are in order (more on this below)
- Secure travel medical insurance
- Always let someone (friends, family, and even hotel management) know where you’re going and when you expect to be back when heading into rural parts of Taiwan alone
- Never leave your possessions unattended (on the beach, in a vehicle, etc.)
- Be mindful of your pockets and bags when in crowded areas (day/night markets, etc.)
- If you’re not comfortable with the traffic and road conditions, don’t drive or ride a scooter
- Only withdraw funds from recognized international banks (and their ATMs)
- Don’t access sensitive online accounts (banking, etc.) from public wifi
- Program Taiwan’s “911” into your smartphone. Dial 110 for direct contact to local police
- Treat locals and other international travelers with respect
3. Documents and Enrollments
When traveling anywhere abroad, the U.S. government suggests (not required) that its citizens and nationals enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is a free service that will allow to enroll international trips with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. While there is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Taiwan, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has been established to protect your interests, and enrollment in the STEP program will allow to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency – in the rare circumstance that such a thing was needed.
In addition, understand that U.S. Passport holders may enter and stay in Taiwan up to 90 days without a visa. No extensions are permitted. For stays longer than 90 days, a Taiwan visa is required prior to traveling. Your U.S. passport must be valid throughout the intended length of stay and you must hold a confirmed return or onward air ticket. View more on how to prepare for your trip to Taiwan.
4. Connect to a Local Guide
Admittedly we conclude nearly every article with this important call to action. We’d be remiss not to. It doesn’t matter where outside of the continental U.S. you are traveling to (well, maybe aside from Canada) it is always a big benefit to connect to a local guide – someone that will not only help you learn more about the land and culture and to discover hidden gems, but someone who can help make sure you don’t take any literal and proverbial wrong turns. Taiwan is an incredible place, but with the contrasting city bustle and vast natural beauty (and wildlife) you will gain peace of mind with a local guide that knows that lay of the land (and roads) better than most. Click here to view all the exciting Taiwan Tours.