Besides being a popular travel destination, Taiwan is also a very popular place for international students and expats. Life is completely different if you are staying there for a longer term. Here are some apps to survive in Taiwan. You can use to make your transition and life easier if you are going for exchange in Taiwan as a student or working there as an expat.
Of course, if you’re a tourist there, you could also use these apps to survive in Taiwan!
Image Source: Wired
Public transport can be complicated in Taiwan, especially for someone new. Google maps may not always provide the most up to date information and hence, it is recommended to rely on some local apps to get around the island.
This app allows you to check the bus routes and bus timings of most buses in Taiwan. It is also able to show where the bus stop is via Google’s Street View. This is important as there are bus stops in Taiwan which are very near to each other so you may be confused about where to wait for the bus. You can also see the real-time position of the bus so you can estimate how long the wait is till your bus will arrive (or if you have already missed it). Other than buses, it is also able to track other transport services like the metro.
Taiwan Railway Timetable [Android]
As the name suggests, this app allows you to see the schedule for TRA trains and also the High Speed Railway. It also has the features to see bus and MRT timings similar to Bus+. While you can book TRA and HSR tickets, we believe you can’t redeem it on your phone so you will have to collect it at the station. We would recommend the next app if you want to book TRA tickets.
** For Apple users, you can download a similar app here. However, it is only equipped with the feature to check the TRA and HSR schedule.
Like the previous app, you can also view the timetable for TRA trains on this app. However, the main use of this app is to reserve seats on TRA trains. Some routes, especially the trains departing from the Southern part of Taiwan bounding for the North, maybe popular over the weekend. After searching for the train route you want, you can book tickets for whichever timing where seats are still available. Simply pay via credit card and you can redeem your train ticket over the app or at the counter at the train station. If you choose to get the ticket on the app, you will be given a QR code and you just need to scan to enter and exit at the station.
While Uber is out in Singapore, it is still dominating the market in Taiwan. Just like Grab, you are also able to hail private cars as your mode of transportation. However, recent laws in Taiwan has made private hire cars more inaccessible thus, it is not available in all cities. Also, there is currently no reward system in the app yet so you can earn points.
Like Uber, this is a ride-hailing app, just that instead of private cars, you are calling for a normal taxi. Other than the standard features of selecting a pickup and drop off point, you can also customise request for your taxi. For example, you can choose if you want a non-smoking car, a car with a baby seat or one that is pet-friendly, or maybe even a car with karaoke. If your Chinese is not very good, you can even choose a driver that speaks English!
YouBike is a ride-sharing service available in some cities in Taiwan (e.g. Taipei, Taichung and Hsinchu). With this app, you can see all the YouBike stations and how many bikes are available. You will also be able to manage your YouBike membership over the app, however, we rarely used that feature but you might find this app useful nonetheless.
While convenience stores, which sell a huge variety of food, are situated in every corner in Taiwan, there are definitely days when we are just lazy and decide to stay home.
Like Singapore, FoodPanda is one of the major players in the food delivery business. You are able to filter whether the food prices have been marked up (a common practice by restaurants) and also the type of cuisines you are craving for. Simply make an order and wait for it to arrive at your doorstep.
For Singaporeans Only: One edge that FoodPanda has is that it accepts the YouTrip card and hence you will be able to save some money. Note that some apps do not accept travel cards as a mode of payment!
Similar to FoodPanda, UberEats is the other market leader in the food delivery business. We usually alternate between the 2 apps as they may offer a different selection of food. However, we preferred UberEats as there is a monthly free delivery promo code as long as you hit the minimum order.
Taiwan’s weather can be very volatile. It can be very windy and cold but very hot and humid the next day. Taiwan is also prone to natural disasters like typhoon and earthquake. It is also not uncommon to have adverse weather conditions like heavy rain, strong wind and cold surge. Hence, we would recommend the following apps to help you make the necessary planning for the weather.
Simply called Taiwan Weather, this app is developed by the Central Weather Bureau of Taiwan. Other than having a weather forecast, it also shows the RealFeels (which is how hot or cold it actually feels like). It will send push notifications whenever adverse weather is predicted or if there are any incoming or ongoing natural disasters. On top of this, it will also recommend whether the weather is suitable for drying clothes, driving and other day to day activities. For aspiring meteorologists, there are even satellite images and maps for you to browse at. To be honest, we have no idea what we are looking at but it looks cool.
You will most likely be doing some online shopping while you are there. Also, it is also good to know how you can potentially earn some money from those which you have spent with deals and…lottery.
Many of us will be familiar with Shopee, an e-commerce giant in Singapore and also in Taiwan. They have a huge pool of sellers which sells most of the products you will ever need. There are also daily deals and occasional sales which can help you find hidden loots. From our experience, our credit card could not be accepted but there is an option for cash on delivery. Instead of delivering the parcel to your house, you also can choose for it to be delivered to any of the convenience stores for self-pickup. This is useful for people that are out most of the day and may not be able to personally receive the parcel during the day.
In Taiwan, many shops offer 發票 (“Fa Piao”) which is a unique kind for a lottery held every 2 months. Think of it like the Big Sweep in Singapore, offered by Singapore Pools. Some winning numbers will be drawn and the winner gets to win 1 million NTD. The lowest win is 200 TWD where you have to match the last 3 digits of certain drawn numbers. With this app, you can scan the QR code that comes with the receipt and it will automatically check if you won once the result is out. It also provides a breakdown of your expenses which can be an easy way to track them. For those wondering why the government will hold such a nationwide “lottery” system, it is actually their effort to combat tax evasion.
In Taiwan, Telegram and Whatsapp are not very commonly used. Over here, locals use different messaging apps hence, you should consider getting them if you want to stay in touch with the Taiwan friends and colleagues.
Other than the basic messaging function, LINE is equipped with tons of other functions. You can make a call via LINE, send stickers, or change the theme. However, some themes and stickers may require you to purchase them. You can create a group chat and add friends via your personalised QR code. LINE games are also available so you can compete with your friends.
Tip: You may enjoy some discounts with the app. Some shops may ask you to add them on LINE and by doing so, you get to enjoy a sweet discount!
While we don’t use Facebook Messenger much, it is very popular in Taiwan. It is a common alternative to LINE for group chats for work and recreational clubs. Like many apps, you can send voice mails, make a phone or video call, and also share images or videos.
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Last but not least, if you’re Singaporean, besides these apps to survive in Taiwan, a YouTrip card is a must for any countries you go to. YouTrip offers MasterCard exchange rate hence you will never lose out. Some countries like Taiwan requires local identification card for you to create a bank account, hence, it is a good card to have if you want to withdraw money overseas.
Which was most useful for you amongst all the apps to survive in Taiwan? Let us know!
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Last updated on January 10th, 2020.