2014年5月6日 星期二

[Travel Taiwan] How to Pack for Taiwan

Hello world! This is Lenny, reporting from Taiwan :)

Packing is an activity that requires a lot of common sense and a bit of background knowledge. How long is your trip? Is your destination an tropical island or in the mountains? Does the ways of living there differ drastically from what you are used to? All these questions, and about a thousand more, can help you determine what to bring and what not to bring when packing for a trip. In this post, I'll talk about some things you should keep in mind when packing for a trip to Taiwan, also offer a few suggestions on what to throw into your bag.


First, 3 Important Things to Keep in Mind...
Taiwan is a well developed country. Taiwan has all the basic modern infrastructure like flushing toilets and tap water.

There are lots of imported goods available, most prices are reasonable. (A can of Coke is about $1 USD )

Most times of the the year, it's hot and humid, which also translates to scorching sun and heavy rain. We do have winters and cold currents though. See my post on weather in Taiwan.

Clothes&Shoes
It's best to pack light breathable clothing, T-shirts and shorts are typical for locals, skirts and tank tops are acceptable too.  In the summer when it's hottest, I strongly advise against wearing skinny jeans or any crotch-hugging garment, or your private parts will suffer. There are always maxi dresses and skirts if you don't want to bare your legs! Always bring along a light jacket or shawl in case the air-conditioning gets too intense. If you are in Taiwan during the winter, bring items you can layer and maybe one warm coat. There is NO central heating systems indoors.
Contrary to European customs, it's commonly acceptable to bare your legs (not your butt cheeks), but any sign of a cleavage or boobs will make people stare. Going bra-less is not okay! 
There are no religious taboos regarding the way you dress, at least to my knowledge, no need to cover up when going in most temples.
Sometimes showing too much skin might not be suitable, e.g. dining with elders, work setting, churches......
Flip flops and sandals are increasing in popularity and worn everywhere, but some places still see them as inappropriate and will not allow anyone wearing them inside, e.g. The Presidential Office, expensive restaurants, libraries......make sure to avoid flip flops if you are going on a governmental tour.
Most people in Taiwan dress casually on a daily basis and dress up in special occasions. 
Leave at home:
Heavy coats
Tight, thick clothing 
High heels
Bring your own:
Tank tops
Shorts
Light jacket/cardigan/Scarf (perfect for avoiding sun exposure or keeping warm in air-conditioned places)
Hat 
Handkerchief/Small towel (if you sweat heavily)
Purposeful outfits (fancy restaurant/clubbing/business meeting)
Buy upon arrival:
Sunglasses (sunglasses can be found in night markets and they cost around USD$10)
More tank tops and shorts (night markets offer lots of options. Do note that most items are free size a.k.a. tiny Asian size, so they may not be for those who are taller or wider.)

MAKEUP
In Taiwan your face will probably sweat a lot and become oilier than usual, so I recommend choosing a base that won't slip around or using a powder/spray to set your makeup. Another common woe in this weather is smudged eye makeup. It's best to use something that is less prone to smudging. 
If you are comfortable being barefaced and does not have plans to go to fancy restaurants or official meetings, you can definitely leave all your makeup at home, since it's completely normal for Taiwanese girls to not wear makeup. Plus, you can use the spare space in your luggage to buy makeup gems that are made in Taiwan!
Leave at home:
non-smudge-proof eyeliners
bright lip colour (if you don't want to get too much attention)
Bring your own:
setting powder/spray
blotting powder/paper
foundation 
Buy upon arrival:
Eyeliners (lots of Taiwanese brands offer smudge-proof eyeliners in a variety of colours)
Blotting paper (cheap and available in drugstores)
More makeup! Even if you have no interest in Taiwanese brands, there are lots of Japanese and Korean brands available in Taiwan.

SKINCARE
Unless you have extremely dry skin like me, you shouldn't worry too much about moisturizing. It's best to keep things light on the face to avoid that uncomfortable tacky feeling. Wipe off sweat diligently and wash face daily to prevent sweat-induced blemishes.
Always wear loads of sunscreen and/or carry an umbrella. Since I don't like sunscreen, I always have an small umbrella with me because it's perfect for shielding sun and rain, both of which we got plenty. There are lots of sunscreen brands at drugstores, but their prices might not be as cheap as your home country.
Leave at home:
Heavy-duty moisturizer
Bring your own:
Face wash
Dry shampoo
Deodorant (Deodorants are sold at drugstores but brands are limited.) 
Sunscreen 
Buy upon arrival:
More MIT skincare products!

FOOD/OTHER
Most Taiwanese food contains meat and/or lard, and the Taiwanese have very few food allergies, so if you have a specific diet you adhere to, such as Halal, vegan, non-dairy, etc., you may have to pack some snacks in case you can't find anything to eat. There are some vegetarian choices available, but the definition of "vegetarian素食" can vary greatly, so check beforehand if you are on a strict diet.
Almost everyone I know loves night markets in Taiwan and have no problem with the food, but I do know this one person who got a bad case of food poisoning after eating at a night market, though all his companions were fine, so pack some meds if you have a sensitive digestive system.
Taiwan is called fruit kingdom for a good reason, I suggest bringing a small knife so you can buy fresh fruit and cut them yourself instead of buying overpriced cut fruit at the market. 
It's really tempting to have drinks from tea shops and cafes everyday, but it's really not the healthiest habit, so try to drink water while you are here. Tap water is not drinkable straight from the tap, but is drinkable after being boiled, most hotels have electric kettles in their rooms. There are water fountains in most public facilities, bring a water bottle to avoid spending money on bottled water.  
Leave at home:
Weapons (Taiwan is very safe and carrying a weapon might get you in trouble, pepper spray is acceptable.)
Bring your own:
Tissue paper! Crucial! (most public toilets don't provide toilet paper. Bring at least a pack and then buy more at convenience stores/drugstores.)
Snacks for specific diets (Halal, vegan, non-dairy...)
Stomach Medicine 
Water bottle
Small Knife (check in luggage!)
Cable line (some older hotels don't have wireless internet and may not provide cable line.)
Tampons (always bring your own preferred brand, tampons are sold in drugstores but selection is limited. )
Buy upon arrival:
More tissue paper
Surgical masks (disposable and reusable surgical masks sold at convenience stores and markets, useful when you have allergies or a cold)
Umbrella (cheap umbrellas with tons of designs available)



I hope you have a better idea of what to pack for your trip to Taiwan after reading this post, and whether you end up using two huge cases or a small handbag, remember to save some space for Taiwanese goodies! Even if you are not a shopping person, there are still lots and lots of things to buy and try in Taiwan.

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