Going to Taiwan in the summer? Better stuff your suitcase with t-shirts and shorts.
As soon as you walk out of the airport in Taipei, you’ll understand why. Even late at night, the humidity and heat can be surprisingly intense. For first-time travelers, it can be hard to understand how anyone could live here, much less go about their business as though nothing was wrong.
Summer is hot. Really hot.
Here is a huge tip for dealing with Taiwanese weather: don’t try anything too strenuous at first. Just hang in there. Most buildings (even the tiniest restaurants) have air conditioning. In a day or two you will acclimate to the temperature and humidity.
Top 3 Travel Tips for Dealing with Summers in Taiwan
1. Buy a water bottle
It’s easy to get dehydrated in humid weather, so be sure to drink up. You can get a good water bottle for NT$39 at Daiso, a department store in Taipei. (That’s about US$1.) Carry it with you everywhere.
2. Get an umbrella
It’s worthwhile to invest in another defense against the heat: an umbrella. In the US, sun umbrellas are rare, but in Taiwan they’re almost everywhere you look. Cheap and effective, a sun umbrella is a must.
A good umbrella can be purchased at a convenience store for between NT$100 and NT$150. (For those of you who haven’t installed an exchange rate calculator in your brain, that’s about US $3-5).
3. Enjoy the summer showers!
Your umbrella will keep you cool and shady under the oppressive sun. Keep it around for protection from the warm, short, and not entirely unpleasant summer showers.
Most shops and restaurants put out a box for wet umbrellas at the entrance. Don’t worry about yours getting stolen; umbrellas are so cheap that nobody will bother. Just don’t forget it when the clouds clear and you step out into the summer sunshine.
By the way…
On the subject of umbrellas, let’s talk about tanning in Taiwan. Or better yet, the dislike of being tan. Many Taiwanese women carry umbrellas simply because being tan is considered unfashionable. Forget about buying tanning creams and lotions. In Taiwan the market is for whitening creams and powders.
Until fairly recently, Taiwan had an agricultural society. The working class spent the days in the fields under the sun, while the privileged stayed indoors. Back then, pale skin meant upper-class.
These days Taiwan is much more industrial and modern, but the skin-tone distinction lives on in fashion. No longer an indicator of class, pale skin is just considered stylish.
Winter is cold. Really cold.
Winters in Taiwan are humid, but extremely cold. Many buildings in Taiwan don’t have heating. (They certainly don’t need it in the extreme summer heat.)
If you’ll be staying in Taiwan during the winter, bulk up with layers and buy some blankets. If you’re desperate for a little warmth, invest in a space heater.
When you’re ready to stock up on blankets, heaters and Swedish meatballs, you can head to Ikea. (Yes, there’s an Ikea in Taiwan.)