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Taiwan is a beautiful lush country with so much to do and see. With world-class cities like Taipei, beautiful hikes all throughout the country, and gorgeous beaches down south near Kenting, what you do in Taiwan will largely depend on the season.
Taiwan has four distinct seasons, so if you are coming to Taiwan in winter from another destination in Southeast Asia, expect a bit of a shock to your system. I visited Taiwan in January coming from Bali, and it was on the cool side in Taiwan but still rather pleasant. Average temperatures were around 50-65 °F, about 10-18 °C.
If you come from a cold climate, that may seem like a warm winter! However, many people combine a trip to Taiwan with Southeast Asian destinations, and Taiwan is definitely cooler than destinations like Indonesia, Singapore, or the Philippines in winter. I may have gotten lucky in my two weeks in Taiwan in winter, as it only rained one or two days of my trip. However, apparently the week before I arrived, there was nearly a week straight of rain. So pack accordingly, prepared for the worst but hoping for the best.
Meanwhile, Taiwan summers are hot and humid with the potential for plenty of thunderstorms, usually in the late afternoon. You can expect temperatures around 80 °F during the day, about 27 °C, but heat waves can definitely hit and send the mercury rising up to 95 °F /35 °C with a sea of humidity to boot. Typhoons can also happen during the summer months, but this type of weather is unpredictable.
As I usually end up recommending for most destinations with four distinct seasons, spring and fall are the most pleasant times of year to visit Taiwan. The mild winter means that fall and spring are even milder, but you’re less likely to have truly cold weather and rain in these months. In April/May you may even be lucky enough to see the cherry blossoms, and fall will bring lovely orange and red fall foliage, so there are reasons to visit for every season.
What to Pack for Taiwan
What to Pack Everything In
I normally travel with a backpack, but I actually brought a big 2-wheel suitcase to Taiwan as I was staying in Bali for a month beforehand and wasn’t flying with budget airlines so I was actually able to bring a checked bag for not much extra.
However, I ended up really hating traveling with a suitcase. Even though Taiwan has excellent public transportation infrastructure, it just got annoying to move with my suitcase all the time, and when I took the train to Taichung it was quite bulky and annoying to have my suitcase with me.
I considered traveling more around Taiwan during my 2 weeks there but I ended up sticking to just Taiwan and Taichung because I hated lugging around my suitcase so much. Since that’s kind of ridiculous, I recommend instead just bringing a travel backpack that is comfortable that you actually like traveling with. Normally, I use the Tortuga Setout Backpack and found myself missing it dearly on this trip. Or, pack light and bring a rolling suitcase that isn’t too heavy and has 4-wheel spinners (I was dragging around an old 2-wheeler; do not recommend!)
Here are the products I generally use to organize my packing, and what I wish I had brought to Taiwan instead of my god-awful giant rolling suitcase.
Travel backpack (carry on size or check-in size): When I’m not being an idiot and seriously overpacking, I always use my Tortuga Backpack so that I can avoid checking in my luggage. I really regretted not having it with me in Taiwan and in the year since my Taiwan trip it’s all I’ve brought with me since.
Why do I recommend Tortuga so much? Here’s why: this bag is 45L and has got three main compartments: one for a laptop and other flat objects, one giant rectangular compartment perfect for packing cubes stuffed with clothing, and one smaller compartment with pockets for passports, pens, odds and ends, etc. that I stash all my extras in – plus one small outer zipper pocket for anything you want quick access to. It also has a water bottle holder on the outside as well as buckles so that you can strap something like a yoga mat to the outside. Plus, it’s quite comfortable to wear, with a padded hip belt and comfort-molding shoulder straps complete with a chest strap so that you can distribute weight perfectly across your body in the event that you need to wear your backpack for longer than usual. Check out more specs and details here.
Does it pass budget airline requirements? It depends on the airline. Personally, I’ve never once had to check it in on a budget airline flight, and I’ve taken probably 50+ Ryanair and Wizzair flights at this point. I’m not sure about Air Asia or Scoot. Usually, I just buy priority boarding so that I have a guaranteed spot on board for my bag (plus a second personal item bag), which adds a small amount onto my total flight cost instead of the $20-40 or so that a heavy checked suitcase or backpack would.
I brought a rolling suitcase and really regretted it on this recent trip. If I did still want to bring a lot, but didn’t want to deal with a giant rolling suitcase, I’d upgrade to the Osprey backpack.
A rain cover for your backpack: Taiwan is prone to lots of rain so it’s great to be prepared. I’ll be honest, I actually don’t have one of these because I am a horribly irresponsible person, but every single time I see a person with a backpack proudly trudging through the rain with a rain cover on, clearly not frantically panicking about the state of their electronics the way that I am, I vow to get one. Be like them, not like me. I’m a failure of an adult. This rain cover looks to have good reviews but again, terrible at adulting, 1/10 barely remember to feed myself, so do your own research if you’re so inclined. Alternately, the Outbreaker version of the Tortuga Backpack is water-resistant, so that could be a good choice if you’re in the market for a new backpack.
Packing cubes: Whether you pack for Taiwan with a suitcase or a backpack, I definitely recommend packing cubes. Many people who visit Taiwan visit several cities during their trip via the excellent train system (seriously, guys, Taiwanese trains are next level perfect, especially the high speed trains!) Since you’ll need to pack and repack your bag several times if you do this, packing cubes make a world of difference. Plus, as it keeps your clothes rolled and packed neatly, it prevents wrinkles and makes sure you’re utilizing your space the best way possible. I use these packing cubes and love them, but any will do fine.
Laundry bag: In addition to packing cubes, I also like to bring a laundry bag to separate out my dirty clothing from my clean clothes. Laundry in Taiwan is affordable and can be done at most hostels, hotels, or guesthouses, so you don’t really need to pack everything you need for a long trip unless you really want to. While you could certainly just reuse a plastic bag for this purpose, I do like having a cute one like this travel-themed one from Kikkerland though, because I’m impractical.
Hanging Toiletry Bag: I tend to pack a lot of toiletries with me because this is one area where I find it hard to claim my “light traveler” status – and after falling in love with Taiwanese beauty products, I definitely left Taiwan with more toiletries than I came with. I use a hanging toiletry bag to pack my toiletries in an organized way that takes up minimal space. It has the perfect number of separators, organizers, and pockets without taking up any excess space. It’s kind of a magical Mary Poppins bag – you’d be amazed at how many travel-sized toiletries you can fit in it. Unlike other bags, it zips up flat like a bulky manila envelope, so it is really easy to slide into your backpack or suitcase without being a weird bulky shape that makes bags annoyingly hard to close. Love!
Backpack with locking zippers: Taiwan is one of the safest destinations in Asia in terms of petty crime, but that doesn’t mean that opportunist thieves don’t exist anywhere in the country. On all my travels, I swear by PacSafe for the combination of functionality and cute aesthetics, and I love their PacSafe Citysafe backpack which I use as my everyday bag, even when I’m not actively traveling. It’s actually cute in addition to having all the awesome security features that make you feel pretty much pickpocket-proof. Though of course, you should definitely be careful with your belongings no matter what you pack them in. If you’re curious to learn more, I have a full review here – not sponsored, just irrationally obsessed.
Essential Things to Pack for Taiwan
Taiwan, especially its cities like Taipei and Taichung, are ultra-modern and super easy to shop in. Whether you need more clothes, some toiletries you forgot, or some accessories, you’ll find plenty of stores in Taiwan. However, the language barrier in Taiwan can sometimes be a bit of an issue and a lot of signs and labels will be in Chinese, which is not always the easiest for shopping. Therefore, I recommend packing carefully anyway (that’s why you’re reading this, right?) so that you can buy things as desired rather than as needed.
Travel insurance: Travel insurance is a must for any country, regardless of safety. Taiwan is basically as safe as it gets, but still, there are random acts of nature everywhere — typhoons are a regular occurence in the summer, and a 6.4 earthquake hit Taiwan just a few weeks after I left. Plus I like to be protected in case of illness, family emergencies, that sort of thing. I always travel with travel insurance and have been a paying customer of World Nomads for years. You can get a free quote here.
Lonely Planet Taiwan: While obviously, I do a lot of research on blogs, I also like to have a digital copy of a Lonely Planet loaded up on my Kindle. It is more comprehensive than blog posts, which often give good information and firsthand experience, but sometimes don’t go beyond surface depth or top 10s. I like planning with a balance of both.
Kindle loaded with e-books: If you are traveling between cities in Taiwan by train or bus, you’ll find yourself with a lot of spare time. For travel, my Kindle Paperwhite is my best friend. Buy several books before you go so that you won’t run out of things to read and get bored! It’s not always easy to find English-language bookstores when you travel, so I like having the option of using a Kindle.
Basic toiletries and cosmetics: While I love Taiwanese beauty products and defintiely stocked up on quite a few things in Taiwan, there’s no denying that the brands they have in Taiwan are different to what we have in the US, Europe, etc. If you have a preferred product be sure to bring it. That said, if you’re a beauty fan, definitely pop into Watson’s or some similar beauty store in Taiwan and pick up some fun produts — I love Taiwanese sheet masks; they’re cheap and make an excellent souvenir!
Sunscreen: One major problem with buying sunscreen in Taiwan is that a lot of sunscreens have whitening agents – which is a problem in many Asian countries. These whitening agents can be really harsh, especially on sensitive skin, so I recommend avoiding them. I traveled Taiwan in winter but still liked having my solid sunscreen stick from Neutrogena because I always max out on my liquid toiletry allotment.
Mosquito repellent in summer: In winter, you won’t need mosquito repellent in most places in Taiwan but you definitely will in the summer or shoulder season months. Typically, I bring a bottle of mosquito repellent spray, but I also like to keep a few of these super-handy mosquito repellent wipes with me if I need to reapply on the go. I also highly recommend bringing some After Bite mosquito bite treatment since it’s inevitable some of those buggers will get you at one point in high mosquito season.
Water bottle with built-in filter: Tap water is safe to drink in most places in Taiwan but sometimes buildings have crappy old pipes and the taste or quality may not be as high as you are used to. While it’s not going to make you sick the way, say, drinking Bali’s or Thailand’s tap water would, it still is better to drink it filtered if you have a sensitive stomach. I typically use a Lifestraw water bottle with a filtration system inside of it that gets rid of 99.9% of nasty bacteria and viruses. Another option is the Steripen, which uses UV light to sterilize tap water.
Basic medicine: While Taiwan will likely have most medicine you need, I still always stand by having a basic first aid and medicine kit for common travel woes – especially stomach medicine, as I find a lot of countries don’t have my preferred medicine (salicylate bismuth, aka Pepto) and instead have things like activated charcoal which work okay but not nearly as well as Pepto for me, personally. Here’s what’s in my arsenal for every trip and what I brought to Taiwan: Pepto-Bismol tablets for standard stomach troubles, Imodium as a nuclear option for diarrhea or severe food poisoning, some sort of painkiller like ibuprofen for headaches and minor pains, and some sort of motion sickness tablets. Of course, if you have any specific medical needs, you will want to bring that as well, especially anything that may require a prescription. That said, pharmacies in Taiwan are excellent – I had to buy a cream there because I got ringworm from a cat in Bali and the pharmacists were really helpful in finding what I needed and translating the Chinese on the packaging.
What to Wear in Taiwan in Winter (Ladies)
This part of my Taiwan packing list is specific to women, so men, feel free to skip this part and go on to the next section, where I attempt to guess what you should bring. Taiwan’s winter isn’t that harsh but you should definitely pack differently for Taiwan in winter than in summer, so use this post as a guideline but keep in mind the temperatures are about 50-65 °F, (10-18 °C) so you can also just bring what you’d be comfortable with wearing in those climates.
This packing list is assuming you’ll be in Taiwan for a week or more – if you’re only in Taiwan for a shorter trip, you can subtract from this list.
2-3 long-sleeve dresses: I love dresses year-round, even winter, because I don’t have to match and they make me look a little more dressed up. Pair with leggings or bare-legged with a pair of boots on a warmer day.
5+ tees: I prefer darker colors as I’m able to hide the fact that I spilled soy sauce and xiao long bao juice all over my shirt.
2 pair jeans: Definitely a must for Taiwan – the weather is perfect for jeans.
1-2 pairs thin cotton leggings: Great for pairing with dresses or skirts to keep warm.
2-3 long-sleeve tees or thin sweaters: Taiwan’s winter is perfect long-sleeve weather, so pack a few tees or thin sweaters (nothing too bulky)
2 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I typically wear mini-length skirts with leggings in winter.
1 pair sneakers: You’ll walk a ton in Taiwan, so be sure to bring some easy walking shoes. I love my black Nikes as I find they look cute even worn with my dresses and I’m all about having options.
Moisture-wicking socks, preferably made of wool or something that is odor-absorbent like these ones from Smartwool
1 pairs sandals: Even though it’s winter it may still be warm enough for sandals. Plus, many Taiwanese guesthouses and hotels ask that you remove your shoes when you enter, so having something that slips on easily is nice. I love my Birkenstocks and will never go back
1 rain jacket: Even if it looks like it’ll be a nice day out, the rain in Taiwan often has other plans – namely, ruining yours. I love my Marmot rain jacket and bring it with me on every trip because it packs up small and offers pretty much complete waterproofing.
1-2 cardigans: Great for layering if the weather is being especially finicky!
1-2 bras: I personally brought 1 regular bra and 1 sports bra and switched between the two, but the cleaner people amongst us may object to that and want to bring more. You do you.
1 hat: My ears get cold easily and Taipei can get windy!
7+ pairs of underwear: I like having about a week’s worth of underwear so I don’t always have to plan out my laundry days.
Bathing suit: If you plan on going to one of Taiwan’s hot springs, you may want to bring a bathing suit!
What to Wear in Taiwan in Summer (Ladies)
Generally, summer is quite warm in Taiwan, so you’ll want to wear lightweight, breathable clothing and leave anything synthetic or polyester at home. Opt for cool, natural fabrics like cotton and my personal summer favorite, linen.
That said, Taiwan can go a bit crazy with air conditioning and you’ll want some layers if you go hiking in the mountains, so be sure to bring a cardigan or two to layer with even if the forecast looks hot!
3-5 lightweight summer dresses: Dresses are great for Taiwanese summer weather, plus they pack up small, so bring as many as you can get away with. Aim for something that hits around the knee (a few inches shorter is fine, but avoid tiny mini dresses) as Taiwan is a bit conservative with how they dress. I love maxis and midi dresses for this climate.
5+ tees & tanks: You will sweat a lot, so opt for black, navy, and other dark colors. Yes, they attract heat, but they also avoid the telltale yellow pit stains that seem to be my constant vibe whenever I attempt to wear white.
1 pair jeans: It’ll probably be too hot to wear these during the day, but I like having them to wear at night occasionally, or when I know I’ll be somewhere heavily air conditioned.
1 pair thin cotton leggings: Great for making yourself less appetizing to mosquitos at night and also for cooler nights up north or in the mountains if you go hiking in one of Taiwan’s gorgeous national parks
1-2 long-sleeve tees or thermals: For hiking and unexpectedly high air conditioning
2-3 skirts: I suggest bringing one black skirt and one printed skirt for flexibility. I especially love having midi or maxi length skirts, which feel great and coincidentally look nice in photos! As a bonus, the extra fabric around your legs traps some cool air, making you feel less hot.
1 pair sneakers: Even in the summer I often like to wear breathable running shoes for walking around. I love these black Nikes. Plus if you want to hike, and Taiwan has great hiking, you’ll want proper shoes for that.
Moisture-wicking socks, preferably made of wool or something that is odor-absorbent like these ones from Smartwool because your feet will sweat a lot in the summer.
1-2 pairs sandals: I suggest bringing one pair of rubber flip flops like these Havaianas and another pair of more stylish or dressy sandals. I’m obsessed with my Birkenstocks. These are great for when it’s just too hot to put on sneakers, and rubber flip flops are great for days when rain is in the forecast.
1 rain jacket: Even (especially) in summer rain is common and I need a jacket like my Marmot rain jacket which is pretty much completely waterproof and small when packed up. Plus the underarms have zippers underneath which you can open, making the jacket more breathable, which is a must in humid summer weather.
1 cardigan: In case of overzealous air conditioning
1-2 bras: Maybe more if you’ll be really active
7+ pairs of underwear
Bathing suit: Especially if going down south to Taiwan’s best beaches!
What to Wear in Taiwan (For Men)
Full disclosure, I am not a dude. But if I was, this is what I would bring, I guess.
- 2 pair jeans
- 5 T-shirts
- 5 long-sleeve tees or thin sweaters
- 7+ pairs underwear
- flip flops
- a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks
- sturdy waterproof rain jacket
- swim trunks
- 1-2 cardigans
- 1 non rain jacket (denim jacket, hoodie, etc)
- 1 pair jeans
- 1 pairs thin, lightweight travel-friendy men’s pants
- 2-3 pairs shorts (in summer)
- 7+ pairs underwear
- flip flops
- comfortable walking sandals
- a few pairs of moisture-wicking socks
- sturdy waterproof rain jacket
- swim trunks
- sweater for colder weather + too much AC
What to Pack for a Hostel in Taiwan
If you’re backpacking through Taiwan, there are a few extra things that you should bring that you might not need if you were staying in hotels.
1 pair flip flops: For communal bathrooms, you’re definitely going to want a pair of flip flops to avoid funky foot issues!
1 travel towel: Some Taiwanese hostels will provide a towel, but it’s not always a given. You can usually rent one for a small fee, but I find it handy to carry my own XL quick-dry travel towel – they fold up quite small, are great for beach days or hot spring dips, and are generally just a nice thing to have.
1 eye mask: Great for when you want to sleep but your roommates don’t!
Some earplugs or good noise-canceling headphones: I love Hearos — they’re the gold standard for ear plugs.
What Toiletries to Pack for Taiwan
While you can easily replace most toiletries in Taiwan, here’s quick list of what I recommend bringing in addition to your typical toiletries that you bring with you on every trip (body wash, shampoo, etc.)
Hand sanitizer: Nice for when eating street food etc. and you may not have a chance to wash your hands first
Kleenex packets: Just nice to have in case a restroom doesn’t have toilet paper – I always keep a Kleenex packet with me.
LUSH solid shampoo: Life-changing. Just trust me.
Sunscreen: Again, avoid the icky whitening agents and make sure you bring a sunscreen from home. You can find sunscreen without whiteners in Taiwan but it can be tricky sometimes.
Travel medications: I listed them above, but just to reiterate — stomach medicine, motion sickness pills, and some sort of painkiller are my standards.
Electronics to Pack for Taiwan
Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world – the 2nd safest, according to this likely biased source. You can relax and bring what you normally would on any trip and know that, generally, petty theft is extremely rare in Taiwan.
Laptop, if necessary: I bring my Macbook Air everywhere but other people may prefer a tablet or an inexpensive netbook.
Unlocked smartphone: Taiwan has affordable data plans and it’s easy to buy a SIM card upon arrival at the airport. I love being able to use Uber, Google Maps, etc. and other things while I travel so a SIM card is a must for me.
Kindle Paperwhite: Books are heavy and often hard to find exactly what you want on the road. I love the Kindle Paperwhite because the screen is glare-free, making it easy to read at the beach or in direct sunlight.
Travel camera: I use a Sony A6000 because it’s lightweight for a professional caliber camera, inexpensive, and a HUGE step up from a smartphone. You may want to replace this or add a GoPro if you are doing adventurous activities on your Taiwan trip.
Portable charger: I like to carry a portable charger everywhere I travel and Taiwan is no exception!
Adaptor, if necessary: Taiwan uses the same plugs as the US, Canada, and many other North American countries, as well as some other Asian countries. If you’re coming from the UK, Europe, or Australia you will need an adaptor.
Well, nearly 4,000 words later, I think I’ve finally exhausted all the things you need to pack for Taiwan in any season!
Is there anything I’ve forgotten? Is there anything else you’re wondering if you should bring to Taiwan? Let me know in the comments!