Being such a technologically advanced and well connected country, Taiwan is a very digital nomad friendly place to travel. Smart phones are extremely common, as is working in cafés on a laptop, especially among students, so you are unlikely to stand out in that regard.
We spent just over two weeks travelling there and found decent places to work (with good internet connections) in most of the towns and cities we visited. Also, mobile data is very cheap and fast. Be aware, however, that many cafés have minimum charge policy, meaning you have to spend at least a certain among in order to be able to stay and get online. Here’s our digital nomad guide to Taiwan.
We bought a SIM for Zab’s iPhone at Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) when we landed from Chunghwa Telecom with the help of this post. The shop was in the arrivals area, along the walkway leading to the bus station next to a pink cash machine. Here it is on Foursquare. You’ll need a passport to buy a SIM there.
The staff were very helpful and spoke good English. They gave recommendations about which package to buy and even put the SIM in and set it up for us! The SIM itself was free, and we loaded NT$300 (€8.20) of credit onto it, with which we bought a NT$180 (€5) package of 1GB data that would last a month, leaving us some credit remaining for calls. With this, we could also create a wifi hotspot to connect other devices too, which was very useful, though it was difficult to see how much data we had used up.
There are several shops selling tourist SIM cards, but we don’t recommend using them as they are relatively expensive, but options are more limited making them simpler to set up. However, since the staff in the Chunghwa shop were willing to do it for us, it wasn’t much trouble at all!
There are Starbucks in most cities in Taiwan, and though they are not our favourite kind of work café, they do always have soy milk and wifi. When all else fails, finding a Starbucks to get some work done in is a decent option.
To register for their wifi, which you only have to do once, you need a Taiwanese mobile number to receive a code to. We used the same code for multiple devices, so that was pretty easy. Once you’re registered, your device should connect automatically each time you’re at a new Starbucks.
Since we were in Taipei over Chinese New Year, there weren’t that many decent work cafés open during our stay so we unfortunately didn’t get to try them out. It seems that there are plenty, though, as you can see from posts like this one.
We only got to try out one café as a work space in Taichung as we were only there for two nights, but it seemed there were quite a few hipster cafés ideal for working from in the country’s second largest city.
With a great selection of teas, and a nice aesthetic this place is a good option for a short work stint. There is wifi and a few (kinda old and dodgy-looking) power sockets but the chairs are not super comfortable. However, it is ideal for a late night session as it is usually open until 11pm, long past when most other cafés will have closed.
In Tainan we found some of the best co-working spaces in the country, as well as some nice cafés to work from. We were only there three nights, though, so didn’t get a chance to try them all. For a more comprehensive list, check out this post.
This excellent bookshop/café/co-working space is one of those places where you pay NT$60 (€1.70) for the first hour you spend there, then NT$1 (€0.03) for every subsequent minute. Self-service tea and coffee is included and other drinks, cookies, light snacks and meals are available at additional cost.
There was nothing specifically vegan, but the friendly staff were happy to custom make a nice sandwich for us, with the aid of Google Translate! During the day, it’s apparently busy with a lot of students studying, but we visited in the evening when it was wonderfully quiet and open till 10pm.
There were plenty of power outlets, a variety of chairs, but loads of decent tables and the wifi was reliable. Even if you’re not working, this is a really cool place to hang out and browse the interesting selection of books. Zab was in hipster heaven and regretted we didn’t have more time in Tainan to come back and just enjoy the space.
Somewhat hidden on the third floor of an unsuspecting building a little bit away from downtown close to the train station, this spacious café has plenty of seating.
Wifi is decent, but if it’s busy, you may struggle to reach a power outlet as there are only ones lining the walls. Lots of students come here to study, and the atmosphere is both relaxed and work-oriented.
The aesthetic is pleasing too, with floor to ceiling bookshelves on one side and huge windows letting in loads of natural light on the other. There was a decent selection of teas, and they made us a vegan sandwich specially. We found it a calm and convenient place to work while waiting for our train to leave town.
Fat Cat Deli
A regular café in the old part of Tainan, this cute little place served us nicely as a good place to work for a few hours. The owners spoke perfect English and clearly have gone for something a bit less typical than your average Taiwanese café with some interesting design touches and a few cats wandering around.
There weren’t all that many power sockets, but the wifi was solid and the cosy atmosphere made it a nice place to concentrate on work. There were also independent books and CDs for sale and it had a cool, alternative vibe.
JJ-W Hotel 佳佳西市場旅店
Neither a café nor a co-working space, this hotel (where we stayed) is worth mentioning because of how nice it was to work there. While our room had a small desk, there wasn’t actually much natural light in it, so it wasn’t the best place to work. However in the common area on the first floor, there was a large table with several stools next to a big window and self-service tea, coffee, biscuits and sometimes fruit.
The nice thing about it was that we could work there any time, and the design of the place in general was very pleasing and interesting. Most of the time, we had the space to ourselves even though it seemed the hotel was otherwise fully booked. As a hotel, we would also recommend it highly for the friendly and helpful staff, comfortable bed, decent breakfast and cool design. Book a room.
We found this small city in eastern Taiwan to be one of the more difficult places to find work spots in the country, so we resorted to Starbucks several times or just worked in our hotel room. Otherwise, there are two places worth mentioning.
Books Light 時光二手書店
This super cool second hand bookshop has several places to sit and offers decent wifi, though there are no power sockets, making it a perfectly adequate place to work for an hour or two.
The atmosphere is very quiet but laid back and there is a cat (and maybe also a dog) wandering around who might be interested in being petted. There are some hot and cold drinks for sale too.
The vast majority of books are in Chinese, though there is a small section of books in other languages, mostly English. It’s also a nice place to buy a few small gifts, like notebooks, postcards or stationary.
Hive B&B Café 蜂巢膠囊
Probably the only thing coming close to a hipster café in Hualien, this place below a hostel serves a vegan sandwich and has decent coffee. There’s wifi and the tables and chairs are reasonably comfortable for working at. Staff are friendly and speak pretty good English but will happily leave you alone to work.
What to bring to Taiwan
There are a few important things to remember to pack if you’re planning on visiting Taiwan, as a digital nomad or otherwise.
- In Taiwan they use the flat, two pronged power sockets just as they have in North America, so make sure you have an adaptor if your devices don’t already have that kind of plug.
- Pack layers and some warm clothes! Taiwan may seem like it should have a tropical climate all year round due to its location at the 25th parallel north, but this is not the case. In winter it can be quite cold and wet, and in the central mountain areas, like Alishan, doubly so. Also, since it is an island with mountains in the middle, the weather is very changeable.
- In cities, it is quite possible to find people who speak at least some English, we definitely found it useful sometimes to be able to communicate through writing. The Google Translate app does a pretty good job of this, and the text will fill the screen if you turn your smartphone on its side, making it perfect for quickly displaying information to a taxi driver about where you want to go or someone in a restaurant about what you’d like to eat.
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you may know that we are big fans of packing light. For this reason, we’re really excited about our friend Erin’s book The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light. For six years, she has been travelling full-time with only carry-on luggage, and in her book she shares her practical tips and secrets to help you pack light and never need to travel with checked luggage again. You can buy the book now on Amazon UK, Amazon US and Amazon Canada.
What did we miss about travelling in Taiwan as a digital nomad? Let us know in the comments.
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