What To Buy After Arriving In Taiwan

Aug 2, 2020

Congratulations!  You’ve made it to Taiwan.  If it was a long flight, get some rest.  You’ll have some serious shopping to do once you wake up.

#1 – Clean Water Prep

Water Filter

Electric Kettle

Water Bottles

One of the first things to do is look around at the place you’re staying.  Do they have an RO water dispenser or filters connected to the kitchen faucet?  If not, you’ll need to take some steps to ensure you’re drinking safe water.  Many local people still boil their water, even after some recent advances by local water utilities.

To take care of chemicals, odors, and flavor, it’s a good idea to use some sort of filter.  The simplest way is to get something like this faucet mounted filter.  It won’t work on every faucet, but it’s likely to work on most because it comes with 5 different adapters for male and female threading.  To ensure that any bacteria has been neutralized, the filtered water can be boiled with an inexpensive electric kettle.  Once it cools, you can store it in these common water bottles.

Where to find:
Water filters: water filter stores, hardware stores, or Costco
Electric kettle: appliance stores or everything stores
Water bottles: department stores, everything stores

#2 – Heater

In the larger cities, the mercury in winter can dip below 60°f overnight.  Since local homes typically don’t have heating, people buy portable heaters like this.  Many of them come with timers and remote controls and have important safety features.

Where to find: electronics or appliance stores

#3 – Power Adapters

The good news for Americans is that Taiwan uses the same electrical specs!  The bad news is that older homes and hotels often don’t have grounded, three prong outlets.  To safely plug in your electronics, you’ll need to get some of these grounded adapters.

Where to find: electronics stores, hardware stores, or everything shops

#4 – Rain Gear

Umbrella

Flip Flops

If you plan to do some walking, it’s good to keep an eye on the weather and radar using the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau app.  It’s normal for the locals to carry umbrellas (for rain or sun protection), unlike many places in America.  Wearing flip flops is also common on rainy days among walkers and scooter drivers. Save your regular shoes.

Where to find:
Umbrellas: most convenience stores
Flip flops: shoe stores or everything shops

#5 – Masks

Masks are much easier to find now, compared to the government rationing done during the early days of COVID.  Local residents became vigilant after the SARS epidemic in 2003 and many families set aside a few boxes for a rainy day.  Depending how long you intend to stay, it might be a good idea to pick up a whole box for yourself.

As of early August, 2020, it is still common to see most people wearing them.  They are also compulsory on some forms on public transportation.

Where to find: most convenience stores, pharmacies, and supermarkets such as PXMart.

#6 – Cell Phone Service

It’s not as easy as in America where you can simply get a prepaid sim at WalMart, but it’s not bad.

I’ve found that FarEastone has excellent service and has a ton of locations across the island.  They started my prepaid service on day one with just my passport as ID (no local document).  Converting to a postpaid account later was simple. 

This is worth mentioning because some other providers will not do business with foreigners without a local cosigner – even if you offer to prepay the entire term of service up front.  If you find yourself in that embarassing situation, you don’t need to tolerate it.

Where to find: any FarEastone location

Photo by Plann on Unsplash

#7 – Dessicant

Dessicants

If you keep your clothing in an enclosed wardrobe (closets aren’t much of a thing here), the humid summer months can encourage mold growth.  This is especially important for anything leather, like shoes.  You don’t want your stuff looking like this.

Tons of different styles (hanging, plastic boxes) and scents.  If you wait until you need it, that’s too late.

Where to find: supermarkets such as PXMart, and everything shops