Taiwan has always been famous for the night markets with all sort of famous delicious local street food but there is one dish that I would encourage tourists to try out during your holiday - Taiwanese Railways Bento 鐵路便當/台鐵便當.
便當 - Pronounced as "Bian Dang" in Chinese, it was translated from "Bento" = lunch box in Japanese.
Taiwanese Rails Administration (TRA) and other private kiosks sell various lunch boxes at the major train stations for the convenience of the travellers. I would say most Taiwanese have tried those lunch boxes in their lives - especially those who travelled by trains for work or moved around in the era (1945 onwards) that trains as major transportation while domestic flights or expensive cars were not a popular option.
This traditional lunch box usually contains one meat, a braised hard boil egg, two vegetable and one type of pickle in a cardboard box. The prices are ranging from NT50 - NT100, it is very affordabe. Besides the meals with meat, there are vegetarian options too. The lunch box was designed to feed the people with affordable low cost meal, now it has become a trend for the nostalgic meal to remember the old days.
If you would like to experience the Taiwanese Railway Lunch box, remember to buy one when you are on your train journey to anywhere in Taiwan.
Authentic local experience!
Braised pork belly, braised hard boiled egg and two vegetables on Taiwanese chewy rice.
TRA Pork Chop Boxed Meal
Taiwanese chewy rice, prime pork chop, braised hard boiled egg, vegetable and pickle vegetable.
Checken Drumstic Boxed Meal in an Octagonal Box
Aromatic chewy rice, stewed chicken drumpstic, dried small fish with honey sauce, braised hard boiled egg, two types of seasonal vegetable, a slice of ham and some seasoned pickle.
P.S.: These lunch boxes were hot meals while the Japanese Bento at the Japanese rail way stations are mainly cold meals.
Taiwan is a country with small Island, rich in culture and full of friendly people.
If you would like to maximise your travel experience in Taiwan, I would strongly suggest to research the history and culture before planning your trip. The reason behind this is to ensure that you have some idea of why are the local eating weird food such as "Stinky Tofu" (Trust me, I puked after a small bite - or rather I felt like puking even with the smell in the air... urgh...), the interesting culture of the indigenous people etc.
The common language is Standard Mandarin, followed by Taiwanese Minan, Hakka and the rest of the unique indigenous languages. Generally you may meet some Taiwanese who can communicate with simple English, but you may find many still are not that comfortable to do so. You can approach the younger generation for translation if you have problems with that. Many Taiwanese that I met were very friendly so I hope you enjoy the experience of language games! Just smile and say "Xie Xie Ni" (Thank you)!
When is the best time to visit Taiwan?
My answer is anytime but typhoon Season (June to October)!
My friends found cheap tickets and were so happy to visit Taiwan for the first time without knowing it was a typhoon season. They ended up staying in the hotel and shopping at the Shopping Centre next to the hotel for a whole week.
If you would like to make your holiday more interesting, you can consider visiting Taiwan during festive seasons to join the local celebration. Festive celebration can be New Year celebration (1st Jan or New Year Eve on 31st Jan) when you can experience concerts with local food stalls in major cities such as Taipei, Kaoshiong, Hualian etc. Other festive celebration such as Lantern Festival, Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage and indigenous ceremonies are definitely in the top list too.
Taiwan has great and convenient transportation system with domestic flights, high speed rail, MRT, buses, car rental, bikes and taxi. If we are talking about Taipei, all you need is to use the convenient MRT to travel to most destinations.
There are many souvenirs you can buy from Taiwan and this amazing handkerchief is one of the souvenirs I wouldn't miss. You can check out Taiwan just from the handkerchief to plan for your next holiday to Taiwan.
This Taipei MRT map handkerchief is also one of my favorite souvenirs. It shows Taipei MRT stations with Chinese and English translation along with the landmarks and regional specialties on it. How convenient is that to check out Taipei with this amazing handkerchief map?
After visiting Taiwan for a few trips, below is the list of impression I have for Taiwan:
* Night Markets = the way to immerse into Taiwanese local lifestyle
* Shopping Heaven
* The indigenous people and their culture
* The Taiwanese pop star culture with concerts everywhere
* The inevitable delicious street food
* The friendly and warm personality of the people
There are always more places to visit in Taiwan so this is what I am going to say:
“I’ll be back!”
I love this small little island, Taiwan. Besides the rich culture and scnenic places, the people were very friendly. It is one of the countries in Asia to check out if you are adventurous to explore with limited English speaking environment.