Taiwan information - safety in taiwan
Taiwan is very safe for tourists, even for women at night. This is not to say, however, that there is no crime, and you should always exercise caution. In crowded areas such as night markets or festivals, for example, pickpockets are a known problem. However, it is fair to say that the streets of Taiwan are generally very safe and that violent crime and muggings are very rare.
In addition, it is also very unusual to see drunks on the street, day or night.
Like anywhere else in the world, women should be cautious when taking taxis alone late at night. Although they are generally safe, it's a good idea to arrange to have a friend call you when you get home and to be seen making the arrangements for this by the cab driver. It also helps if a friend sees you being picked up as taxis have visible license numbers. As an additional safety precaution, tell taxi drivers just the street name and section instead of your exact address.
Police departments in most jurisdictions have a Foreign Affairs Police unit staffed by English speaking officers. When reporting a major crime, it is advisable to contact the Foreign Affairs unit in addition to officers at the local precinct. Police stations are marked with a red light above the door and display a sign with the word "Police" clearly printed in English. For more information see the National Police Agency website.
Foreign victims of a major crime in Taiwan are also advised to report the matter to their government's representative office in Taipei.
Taiwan often experiences typhoons during the summer months and early fall. Heavy monsoon rainfall also occurs during the summer. Hikers and mountaineers should be sure to consult weather reports before heading into the mountains. A major hazard following heavy rainfall in the mountains is falling rocks caused by the softening of the earth and there are occasional reports of people being killed or injured by these.
Taiwan is also located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, which means that earthquakes are a common occurrence. Most earthquakes are barely noticeable, though the effect may be slightly amplified for those in higher buildings. While the local building codes are extremely strict, general precautions should still be observed during an earthquake, including opening the door for preventing it being jammed, taking cover and checking for gas leaks afterwards.
Taiwan's wild areas are home to a variety of poisonous snakes, including the bamboo viper, Russel's viper, banded krait, coral snake, Chinese cobra, Taiwan habu, and the so-called "hundred pacer". Precautions against snake bites include making plenty of noise as you hike, wearing long trousers and avoiding overgrown trails. Most snakes are scared of humans, so if you make noise you will give them time to get away. The Russel's viper, one of the most dangerous snakes in Taiwan, is an exception...it generally prefers to take a stand against threats.
Local drivers have a well-deserved reputation for being somewhat reckless. Many motorcycle riders also have a tendency of zipping through any space no matter how tiny. Be extra careful when crossing the road, even to the extent of looking both ways on a one-way street. When crossing at a pedestrian-crossing at a T-junction or crossroads, be aware that when the little green man lights up and you start crossing, motorists will still try to turn right, with or without a green feeder light. If you happen to drive a car or a motorcycle, the obvious rule from the traffic is that if someone take a turn on your way in front of you, you should be the one to adapt. Do not expect drivers to yield way, or respect traffic lights in quiet areas, especially in southern Taiwan. Even on roads where traffic is infrequent and the green light is in your favor, bike-riders are still strongly advised to check the opposite lane.
Emergency Phone Numbers
- Police: 110
- Fire/Ambulance: 119
By the way, to talk to the Taiwan government in English, one can use http://iff.immigration.gov.tw/ 's 24-hour toll-free foreigner service hotline, 0800-024-111.
- Westerners should be cautious of relatively undercooked food. Many Taiwanese restaurants offer plates of raw, sliced red meat and uncooked seafood that are brought to the table and either barbecued or simmered in a pot of stock. As this constitutes a staple of the Taiwanese diet, any bacteria that may remain doesn't affect the locals, but it can wreak havoc with foreigners. The best policy is to make sure you cook the food in a manner to which you are accustomed.
- Don't drink tap water without boiling it, though it's safe for brushing your teeth.
- Medicines are available for minor ailments at drug stores. You may also find common drugs requiring a prescription in the west (like asthma inhalers and birth control pills) cheaply available from drug stores without a prescription.
- The quality of the hospitals in Taiwan is excellent and on par with those found in the West. Legal residents with a National Health Card can avail themselves of the very convenient and efficient national health service, which covers treatment and medication using both Western and traditional Chinese medicine. However, this service is not available to short term visitors on tourist visas; nor does it cover major hospitalization expenses. Still, hospital visits and medicine in Taiwan tends to be far less expensive than in the west. For minor ailments and problems (flu, broken bones, stitches, etc) visiting a hospital for treatment should be in the USD $100-$200 range at most.