Study in Mesmerizing Taipei

Night time traffic in Taipei
Taipei, a bustling modern metropolis

Located between China and the Philippines, Taiwan is Asia’s rising travel destination. Tourists have been interested in it for some years now. The island has everything you need for a perfect holiday: beautiful mountains, rain forests, hot springs, beaches, culture and a trendy capital city. Taipei is like a Chinese version of Tokyo or Seoul, but more affordable than Hong Kong. In this metropolis you can see pieces of Chinese culture that have disappeared from China. Taipei is also considered one of the best food cities in Asia ranging from its mouthwatering street food to award-winning haute cuisine.

Ecotourism is more and more popular in Taiwan, and travelers interested in environmental sustainability should now head to Taiwan, as the country has made strong efforts to protect the environment. In recent years, Taipei has built nice bike paths and scenic routes. Renting a city bike is very easy thanks to many bike stations. Also the high-speed rail network has been improved.

A lot of people are standing in a metro in Taiwan.
Getting around the city is easy with the MRT

In 2016 Taipei served as the World Design Capital, and different cultural events filled its streets. Our partner university Shih Chien University is also ranked one of the best design universities in the world.

Taiwan’s status as one of the four Asian Tigers wouldn’t be possible without the country’s continuing investments in higher education. In 2017, Taiwan ranked 15th out of 137 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness report, with high scores especially in education. Taiwan is perhaps best known as one of the most powerful players in the global information and communications technology (ICT) industry. If you’re pursuing a career in technology and are looking for networking opportunities, Taiwan is the place to go.

While progress and innovation are certainly the name of the game in Taiwan, they blend with traditional values and the preservation of ancient Chinese culture, some of which has been lost in Mainland China. Combine this with the friendly population and you’ll get a fascinating and highly welcoming environment for studying Mandarin Chinese.

3 students relaxing in a park while looking at their PCs
A relaxed study session

Contents

Key Facts

Country: Taiwan (Republic of China)
Capital: Taipei City
Area: 35,883 km2
Population: 23.55 million
Language: Mandarin Chinese, Standard Mandarin
Currency: New Taiwan dollar (NTD)
Religion: Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity
Time Zone: UCT + 8

red flag with a blue square in the top left. A white sun is on the blue square
The Taiwanese Flag

Best of Taipei

Taipei 101

A must-see in Taipei! Taipei 101, Taiwan’s treasured skyscraper, is a 509.2 meters tall engineering marvel located at the heart of Taipei. Taipei 101 was the tallest building in the world until the completion of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa in 2010. The name of the tower refers to its 101 above-ground floors and the shape of the building is inspired by bamboo shoots.

The two observation decks of Taipei 101 offer breathtaking views over the city! The indoor observatory is located on the 89th floor and the outdoor observatory even higher, on the 91st floor. The way up to the observation decks won’t cost you too much time, the double-deck elevator of Taipei 101 travels 60km/h and lifts visitors to the observation decks in only 37 seconds!

In addition to the impressive views, Taipei 101 offers numerous other things to explore. Besides the tower and office space, the base of Taipei 101 houses a luxury shopping mall, food courts, and a wide range of restaurants and stores.

Large city with a huge tower in the middle
Taipei101 towers over the city

National Palace Museum

You can’t miss this! The museum features rare artifacts from imperial China. Kai-šek
troops who fled communists brought them from Beijing’s Forbidden City after World War II.

A palace is in the background with multiple Taiwanese flags. Tourists mingle in the walkway in the front and on the palace itself. Many have cameras out
The National Palace Museum houses several important relics. Entry is free with a student card!

Beitou Baths

Bath time! From downtown Taipei you can reach Beitou District by metro. Beitou is famous for its hot springs and there are several spas in the area.

A red brick building with large windows and a white balcony
The Beitou Hot Springs cultural center allows you to learn more about the role and history of hot springs in Taiwanese culture

Taipei Confucius Temple

Confucius Temple is the symbol of Chinese Confucian culture. Located in Dalong Street, so called Dalongdong, Taipei Confucius Temple was built in 1879. The Temple performs also Yayue Dance. Yayue was originally a form of classical music and dance performed at the royal court in ancient China.

Traditional Taiwanese temple and architecture
There are numerous other temples dotting Taipei. Be sure to visit them as well!

Geography and areas

Taiwan is a 394 km long island on the right side of mainland China and above the Philippines. The capital city, Taipei, is located only 2h hour flight away from Shanghai and Hong Kong and is therefore perfect for those who are also interested in exploring the big cities of China.

A map showing the island of taiwan, major cities there, and geography
Map of Taiwan

Taiwan is on the same latitude as Hawaii and Mexico. The environment in Taiwan is tropical with a lot of beautiful valleys and forests to explore. The eastern part of Taiwan is mostly covered with mountains which makes Taiwan a heaven for hikers! Most of the big cities are located on the flatter west side of Taiwan.

Taipei, located on the very top of Taiwan, is a metropolis of 2 million people. The Tamsui river runs through the western part of the city where Taipei borders New Taipei City.

Climate and weather

There is no need for a winter jacket in Taipei! The city is located in the sub-tropical climate zone meaning that the weather is warm the year round. Due to Taiwan’s location in the Pacific Ocean, rainfalls occur quite often, so bringing an umbrella is a good idea. The seasons are not immensely distinct, but generally speaking, the summer is hot and humid whereas the winter is cooler and drier.

The spring season begins in March and lasts until May. In the springtime, you can see the city and its many gardens in full bloom! The weather is pleasantly warm and long-sleeved clothes are enough to keep you warm during the daytime. Climate gets warmer and more humid towards the beginning of summer. The average temperature in the spring is about 20 °C.

A woman carries an umbrella. It is raining
Be prepared for rain in Taiwan!

The summer season lasts from May to September. During the summer, Taipei gets very hot and humid, and there are occasional rainstorms and typhoons. The buildings in Taipei are usually equipped with very good air condition, so it will be easy to find a place to have a rest from the heat. Rain showers are often unexpectable and intense, but fortunately, they usually last only for a short time. The average temperature is about 30 °C.

The fall begins in September and ends in November. Besides the spring, the fall is weather-wise the best season to visit Taipei. The typhoon season ends after September, and the weather gets drier and sunnier. In November, the average temperature lies at 20°C.

A white gate with mandarin text on it stands in the middle of a square. A temple like building is in the background. The sun is shining and there is a single white cloud in the sky
The sun shining over Freedom Square in Taipei

Winter lasts from December until February. Winter is the driest and coolest season and the average temperature is about 18°C. December is the driest month in Taipei with only 60mm of rain.

Transportation and getting around

The easy card is a must-have for moving around in Taipei! It is an electronic fare-card that allows you to pay in metro, bus, or even at certain convenience stores.

Taipei’s Metro (MRT or Mass Rapid Transit) contains five main lines and is the most convenient way to get around in Taipei. Just remember that eating or drinking in the metro is forbidden.

A train is driving on a railway between high buildings in Taiwan.
The MRT network spans the entire city

City Buses are well available and cover over 300 routes.

Taipei’s bike share program, Youbike, which began in 2008, has now hundreds of stations with thousands of bikes and millions of rentals. The price for a 30-minute rental is only 30 cents!

For long distance traveling there are bus and train options. It takes around 6 hours from Taipei to the south of Taiwan by bus or regular train but with High-Speed Rail, you can travel to the south of Taiwan in just 2 hours!

Currency

The official currency of Taiwan is New Taiwan dollar (TWD or NTD). It is subdivided into 100 cents. 1 EUR is about 30 NTD.


Blue bills worth 1000 NTD are at the bottom while coins worth various amounts of money lie on top
New Taiwan Dollars are the official currency of Taiwan

Safety

Taiwan is probably one of the safest places you’ve ever been. Violent crime is outstandingly low and theft is uncommon. Taiwan was ranked the second safest country in the world in 2015, according to a survey released by U.S. lifestyle magazine Presscave.

Hundreds of people at a night time market in Taiwan
Even in a crowd at a night market, pick pockets are not a concern

Taiwan is also one of the most tectonically active places on earth and earthquakes are a common occurence. On the east side of Taiwan small earthquakes happen almost daily, but in the Taipei area, there are rarely big earthquakes.

Vaccinations

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) and Tetanus-diphtheria should be kept up-to-date. Hepatitis A and B are recommended. Japanese encephalitis is recommended for those who are planning on spending a month or more in rural areas or who are going to spend a lot of time outdoors in rural areas after dusk.

History

Taipei lies in the relatively narrow bowl-shaped valley that belongs to the geographical area of Taipei Basin. Nowadays the cities within this area form the largest metropolitan area in Taiwan. In the prehistoric time, the area of Taipei Basin looked completely different than the present-day bustling metropolis. Namely, it was a lake surrounded by mountains. The majestic mountains are probably the only thing that hasn’t changed in the area over the past decades.

The earliest inhabitants of the area were sailors from other islands in the Pacific Ocean. These first settlers are called “Pingpu” or “plains aboriginals” and their descendants still live in Taiwan. Taipei’s recorded history began in 1709 when the Han Chinese people from the mainland China began to settle in the Taipei Basin. These settlers forced the original inhabitants to return to the surrounding mountains and began to call them ‘mountain people’.

Mountains covered in mist during sunrise in Taiwan.
Taiwan is a mountainous country, a rugged line separates the east and the west side of the island

During the 19th century, the economic importance of Taipei grew especially due to the increases in foreign trade and tea exportation. In 1886, Taiwan was proclaimed a province of China and Taipei was made the provincial capital.

The Japanese took over Taiwan from 1895 to 1945 and made Taipei their capital. During that time, Taipei’s infrastructure developed a lot and it acquired the characteristics of an administrative headquarters, including new public buildings and other houses. The buildings remaining from that era are nowadays among the city’s most expensive estates. At the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC) took control of Taiwan.

Taipei started to expand and in 1967, and city’s total area increased a lot by absorbing several outlying towns and villages. Today, Taipei is a world-renowned high-tech hub and one of the world’s most densely populated urban areas.

Tens of tall buildings with Taipei 101 as the biggest building
Taipei, a great city to explore, never a dull moment to be found

The current political status of Taiwan is a complicated situation and there are many different opinions on that. Currently, it is a de facto independent state ruled by the government of the Republic of China (ROC). The political and legal status of Taiwan is controversial over questions about whether Taiwan should remain the Republic of China (ROC), become unified with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), or become an independent Republic of Taiwan.

The complicated situation has caused confusion when maintaining the international relations with Taiwan. Most countries and groups have chosen to unofficially treat Taiwan as a state and at a minimum and not to declare official support for the government of this state. This perspective of the status quo is popular because it does not define the legal or future status of Taiwan and it allows each group to interpret the situation in a way that is politically acceptable to its members.

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