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Is Taiwan Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Taiwan Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Taiwan is a small island, but it has something to offer all types of tourists and budgets. The island has amazing natural beauty, from mountains in the center to beaches by the shore.

It has plenty of places to relax, including hot springs. The history, culture, and especially cuisine are spectacular, with world-famous street food markets.

With all this to offer, it’s a miracle that Taiwan is still considered off the beaten path. Some visitors hesitate to visit Taiwan because they don’t know a lot about the safety situation.

They may be unfamiliar with the island or wary of the dispute between Taiwan and China. The good news is that Taiwan is a very safe place to visit. In fact, it may be one of the safest tourist destinations in Asia.

Even better news? Our travel experts made this complete guide to traveling safely in Taiwan so you can be well-informed before you go. Let us be your guide!

Is Taiwan Safe to Visit in 2024?

For a piece titled Is Taiwan Safe to Visit, a pair of dragons and lions opening their mouths and welcoming tourists into the steps in their mouths at the Lotus Pond

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Yes, Taiwan is very safe to visit, and most visitors report having an excellent experience when they go here.

Taiwan’s safety makes it a great destination even for first-time travelers to East Asia, who might get overwhelmed in places such as mainland China. However, despite the safe atmosphere, you should still use common sense.

Like most places in the world, Taiwan has plenty of pickpockets that operate around popular tourist destinations. The roads are also not always the safest.

Finally, Taiwan does have a high risk of natural disasters, so it pays to research ahead of time and time your visit properly. Every trip requires some preparation, so read guides such as this one and make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Crime in Taiwan

Taiwan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. According to Statista, in 2021, Taiwan reported 1,036 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which translates to a crime rate of about 1%.

Many travel ranking sites rate Taiwan as one of the safest places in the world! Most of the crimes that occur in Taiwan are petty, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching.

Pickpockets operate in crowded areas and popular tourist destinations, typically in markets and national parks, such as Kenting National Park. Another form of crime visitors may get exposed to is fraud or scams.

Be careful when using ATMs to be sure that you are using reputable ones and avoid people approaching you claiming to be authorities asking for money.

To protect yourself from scams or theft in Taiwan, you can use basic common sense. Make sure your valuables are close to you at all times. Don’t leave bags unattended.

When moving around in crowded areas, avoid backpacks or putting wallets in your back pocket. Beware of people approaching you or unsolicited telephone calls. Watch your back when using ATMs.

Taiwan does have a minor problem with organized crime and gang violence, but these mostly don’t affect foreigners. Just be careful that you don’t wander into a gangster-run business when you’re out and about (more on those later).

When talking about crime in Taiwan, it’s important to note that you don’t want to commit a crime accidentally yourself. Laws in Taiwan can be pretty strict, especially around drug consumption and use.

Some prescription drugs are illegal in Taiwan, so check before you visit if you have any prescriptions.

Recreational drugs, including marijuana, are illegal. Police frequently raid clubs and drug test everyone present, so it’s not worth the risk to indulge in forbidden substances.

Natural Disasters in Taiwan

To show that Taiwan is safe to visit minus a few common issues, a photo of an uprooted tree pictured bent over on the ground outside of the modern downtown area

Tainan,Taiwan.September 28,2016. fallen tree. typhoon MEGI/Kazuki Nakagawa/Shutterstock

In some ways, Taiwan is a victim of its geography. The same tectonic activity that formed the beautiful central mountain ridge also means that Taiwan experiences frequent earthquakes.

The country is shaken by over 2,000 earthquakes annually, although people feel only about 200 of them each year.

Most of these are minor, but major earthquakes do happen. Brush up on your earthquake preparedness before you go to Taiwan. The other major natural disaster that hits Taiwan is typhoon season.

Typhoons are tropical storms that form in the Indian or Pacific Oceans, moving through Asia as they gather strength. In Taiwan, typhoon season lasts from May to November.

Heavy rains, flooding, and mudslides are common. Avoid traveling during this time, and you should be fine.

Taiwan’s climate is warm and balmy, but that comes with some downsides. A nearly-tropical island will also have tropical diseases such as the Zika virus and dengue fever. Get vaccinated against mosquito-borne diseases and viruses before you go.

Stock up on medication and bug spray when you visit a local Taiwanese pharmacy and use other methods to keep away bugs, such as mosquito netting and screens.

If you’re pregnant, doctors recommend against traveling to Taiwan due to the risk of fetal abnormalities if you contract one of these diseases.

Road Safety in Taiwan

When people think about dangers they might experience while abroad, they think about dramatic incidents such as earthquakes or terrorist attacks. Very few people think about something as mundane as crossing the street.

However, in Taiwan, the most dangerous place to be is not a particular dangerous neighborhood or conflict-ridden region. Instead, it’s the road.

Taiwan has very dangerous road conditions that state departments include in their advisories when it comes to traveling there. In just the first 10 months of 2022, Taiwan experienced over 2,560 road fatalities.

There are a few reasons why the roads in Taiwan are so dangerous. One is the variety of vehicles on the road. Besides cars, there are thousands of scooters zipping around, often weaving in and out of traffic.

Traffic in major cities, especially Taipei, is notorious not just for its inconvenience but also its danger. Foreign drivers have trouble navigating the unspoken rules of the road, which clash with the posted rules.

That doesn’t mean the drivers are all to blame, as Taiwan’s road infrastructure is poorly planned, poorly maintained, and often unclear about rules and regulations.

That doesn’t mean you’re safe if you don’t get behind the wheel. Being a pedestrian in Taiwan, especially in major cities, is more dangerous than driving.

Drivers don’t respect the right of way of pedestrians, so crossing the street is often dangerous. Less than half of Taiwan’s urban streets have sidewalks, and most of the ones that do have sidewalks are obstructed.

Families with kids in strollers and wheelchair users have the most trouble navigating the crowded streets. When walking in Taiwan, exercise twice as much caution as you would in your hometown.

As tempting as it is to jump on a scooter and zip around like the locals, unless you are very experienced with driving in these conditions, don’t do it. Move around using taxis or public transportation when it is available.

The Risk of War With China

Some geopolitically-informed travelers are nervous about visiting Taiwan due to the threat of a conflict with China. To understand why this is a possibility, however remote, you’ll want to brush up on some history.

Taiwan is an island a few miles off the Chinese coast. It was part of the Chinese empire from the 17th century until 1895 when Japan took it from China.

During the Chinese Civil War in 1949, when the Communists won, the nationalists fled to Taiwan and established a separate government there, called the Republic of China (mainland China is the People’s Republic of China).

What does this mean for the present day? Basically, mainland China sees Taiwan as a rogue province, and its goal is unification.

Pressure from China means that only 17 countries have recognized Taiwan’s independence. Taiwan may be de facto independent, but its international status does not reflect this.

Tensions have increased since 2022. If you research this conflict, you will see many think tanks and officials predicting that China will threaten Taiwan with war soon or that clashes will break out.

However, these predictions have been ongoing for the past several decades.

As a tourist in Taiwan, you have very little to worry about when it comes to war. Don’t let the often-alarmist narratives in international news fool you. If local Taiwanese people are going about their lives as usual, you shouldn’t worry either.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

To illustrate the most dangerous areas in Taiwan, a photo of the eerily empty streets of the Wanhua District in Taipei

Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Taiwan is mostly entirely safe for tourists to wander freely. However, bigger cities such as Taipei have some areas that are sketchier than others, which is expected for any bigger city.

Most locals and authorities consider the Wanhua and Zhongshan districts the most dangerous areas in Taipei. In Tainan, petty crime is concentrated around the main train station and near the clubs.

In such a safe country as Taiwan, “dangerous” is a relative word. These areas are still popular tourist destinations with plenty to see. However, they are also areas where a lot of organized crime is concentrated.

A popular technique by gangs is to use regular-seeming businesses such as barbershops and massage parlors as fronts for prostitution. You don’t want to accidentally wander into one of those and run into trouble with the gangs — or with the police.

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to tell legitimate businesses from gangster-run fronts. Just look at the displays.

If the windows are clear and you can see people inside getting haircuts, or the prices and services are clearly labeled, the business is legitimate. Murky windows and vague wording on signs are a bad sign.

Things to Consider

Although Taiwan is a very safe place to travel, it pays to take a few precautions before you visit. Here are some tips to ensure you get the most out of your visit to Taiwan:

  • Make photocopies of your documents. The risk of pickpocketing is lower than it is in other popular tourist destinations, but it still exists. Make photocopies of your documents and keep them in a safe place, as that will make the hassle of getting them replaced easier.
  • Avoid sketchy barber shops and massage parlors. These are often prostitution fronts run by organized criminals.
  • Look up earthquake survival tips before you go. Earthquakes are common on the island, and you want to know what to do. Keep emergency numbers easily accessible.
  • Use authorized taxis only. Taxi scams and even assaults do happen, so make sure the taxi you are getting into belongs to a reputable company.
  • Avoid talking about politics or mainland China. This is still a very sensitive spot for many Taiwanese, and people have different opinions about the country’s politics and history. You don’t want to make assumptions that will lead to an uncomfortable situation.
  • Drink bottled or filtered water when possible. Taiwan’s tap water infrastructure is mostly good, but earthquakes sometimes crack the pipes, allowing contaminants to get in. Stick to bottled water to play it safe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neat view of the yellow train at the Badouzi station in Keelung City, Taiwan, for a piece on whether or not the country is safe to visit

Richie Chan/Shutterstock

Here are some other things you may want to know about Taiwan:

What Should I Avoid in Taiwan?

In terms of safety, the primary thing you should avoid in Taiwan is crossing the street recklessly. Always look both ways, follow the example of locals, and don’t assume drivers will stop for you.

In terms of etiquette, avoid strong displays of emotion or making a scene, as that is considered highly rude in Taiwan. Another taboo is talking about money, so avoid bragging about how high your salary is.

Is It Safe to Travel to Taiwan Alone?

Yes, Taiwan is very safe for solo travelers, including women. The people are friendly, the infrastructure is well-developed, and crime rates are low.

Is Taiwan Friendly to Foreigners?

Yes, Taiwan is very friendly to foreigners. Visitors, especially Western visitors, are welcomed with open arms. Taiwan is also a great place for foreigners to live, and it has a thriving ex-pat community.

Is Taiwan Safe for Female Travelers?

Taiwan is extremely safe for female travelers. Women traveling to Asia for the first time often go to Taiwan as it is safer and easier to navigate, even as a solo female.

Is Taiwan Cheap to Visit?

Besides your safety, you might be worrying about the safety of your wallet when you visit Taiwan. Taiwan is not as affordable as popular destinations on the budget backpacking circuit, such as Vietnam.

However, it is cheaper than most Western countries, and it is possible to travel well on a budget. Good hostels are well-maintained, and you can eat on a budget in street food markets.

So, Is It Safe to Visit Taiwan?

Taiwan is extremely safe for foreigners and for locals. Crime rates are very low, and the only thing you have to worry about is some pickpocketing.

Taiwan is prone to natural disasters, but the government and locals are very prepared when they happen. Overall, it’s a great destination, even for less experienced travelers. So what are you waiting for — book your trip today!