Bring clothes if you are tall or heavy, shoes for big feet, and bring a few months’ expenses to see you through the early part of your stay.
Taiwan is a developed nation with an insatiable love of shopping. Most modern commodities are freely available at reasonable prices. While many people ask what to take to Taiwan, the truth is that all the necessities are available on the island. There are a few speciality items that can be difficult to obtain, including clothing, particularly for people who don’t fit the typical Taiwanese body shape (relatively short and slender). If you have large feet, are particularly tall, or heavily built, the selection of clothing available to you will be quite narrow and may not suit your tastes.
Speciality foodstuffs can be a problem to find, particularly outside the major urban centres. The big cities have western supermarkets stocking a good range of foreign goods, but there will always be brands and treats from home that are unavailable in Taiwan. Expect some adjustment in your diet, and expect to pay more for imported items not commonly consumed by the Taiwanese. Basic commodities like fruit, vegetables, grains, and meat are widely available at reasonable prices in even the smallest town.
For women there are a few difficult-to-obtain items you may want to consider bringing from home. Cosmetics in Taiwan are tailored to the typical range of Taiwanese complexions, so if you have darker skin you may have difficulty locating suitable tones to match your colouring. Taiwanese hair is typically straight and fine, so hair care products for curly or afro hair can also be hard to find. In general Taiwanese women do not use tampons (preferring sanitary napkins), and while there is one brand available (called “OB”), the selection is not extensive.
If you have a hobby or sport you wish to continue in Taiwan, you would be well advised to search the internet to discover whether your pastime is shared by others on the island. To take just a few examples, equipment for some popular sports such as soccer and cricket can be difficult to get hold of. Conversely, martial arts equipment and gear for basketball and baseball is widely available, as is cycling paraphernalia. Two of the world’s largest bicycle manufacturers, Giant and Merida, are based in the country.
If you require common prescription medication, it will usually not be difficult to find in Taiwan, though the brand names may differ. Additionally, many medicines that require a prescription in Europe or North America are available directly from a pharmacist. In general health supplements are also readily available, though it is wise to check ahead if you use a less common preparation. Naturally people with serious pre-existing health conditions should conduct additional research to find specialist doctors and supplies required for treatment.Photo by Lasse Christensen.