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Johnny's Guide to Taiwan: Coworking Spaces, Food, and What to Do as a Digital Nomad

I've always heard great things about Taiwan and even though I've been here a bunch of times with family, this was my first trip as a digital nomad. I've always loved the food and how friendly and polite everyone is but figured I might be biased because my parent's are from there. So this time, I took my girlfriend along to see what her views as a white girl from South Africa would be.

In this guide I talk about where we stayed, what we did, where we worked and what we ate. Lots and lots about what we ate.




How to get to Taiwan:



What's really cool about Taipei is the amount of direct flights that go in and out of the country.  I've had stopovers here when flying from San Francisco or LA and now that I'm based out of Chiang Mai, I'm really excited that a new airline V-Air has direct flights from Chiang Mai Airport (CNX) to Taipei Airport (TPE)  starting at $50US each way!

Once you're here you can either take a taxi for around 1,000NT ($33US) into the city center or you can take advantage of their shuttle buses and even the bullet train, all easy to navigate and find in the airport.





Where to Stay:



If it's your first time in Taiwan, I'd suggest staying in the Ximending area of the city center. Ximending has been called the "Harajuku of Taipei" and is source of Taiwan's fashion, and weird Japanese subculture. It has great shopping, is super easy to get around from there and great food nearby. As long as you are staying close to an MRT station such as (Ximen Station) subway stop you can get anywhere within minutes and for super cheap.

If you get bored of the Ximen area and want to stay somewhere a bit more upscale with shops geared more towards people 30+ instead of teens and 20's head to any where close to the Zhongxiao Dunhua station. 


Taiwan MRT (Train) Map

Things to do:



My favorite thing about Taiwan is the amount of variety in the country. You can take the MRT to the south end of the red line and go hiking within minutes, or you can take the same line up to Beitou Hot Springs, or all the way to Tamsui to hangout by the water, or cycle.  

One thing we wish we did more often was rent the Ubikes which are Taiwan's free (pretty much free) bicycles that are everywhere in the city. We rented ours at Daan Park off of the red line and rode around the park as well as up the river, both where beautiful and only costs 20NT an hour (65cents)

If you feel like having a few hours in to relax, check out the U2 MTV video spots. They are basically like a blockbuster movie store, but instead of taking the dvd home, they give you a private room with a  projector, and serve you food and drinks.  There is also tons of shopping pretty much everywhere.

Hiking trail at Xiangshan station


What to eat:



There is so much good food in Taiwan so be prepared to stuff yourself.  The first restaurant you have to try is the Michelin starred Ding Tai Fung soup dumpling restaurant inside the Taipei 101 building. You can first go up to the 89th floor of what was the tallest building in the world until Dubai built theirs, and then go down to the basement where the restaurant is.  

For dessert you have to try the shaved ice at Yu's Almond Tofu, we must have went every other day while we were in Taiwan and tried everything. 

For breakfast make sure you find one of the many Yonghe Taiwanese Breakfast restaurants that serve warm soy milk and the best green scallion and egg crepes you'll ever taste as well as a ton of other local delicacies.  Finish off with all of the stands with long lines at the night market. If you can only choose one, go to the biggest night market in Taipei, Shilin Night Market which is for some reason located one stop before the actual Shilin stop on the red line, so get off at Jian Tan and it's right there.






What to drink:



A great gift for someone who's into Whiskey, or just for yourself, make sure you try a glass or maybe even a bottle of the world's best single malt whiskey, the Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique which somehow beat all of the whiskies from Scotland, Japan and the rest of the world in the 2015 world whiskey competition.

You can also take a tour of the distillery in in Yilan which is something I really wanted to try but didn't get a chance.



Video tour of Taiwan:


Take a look at the night markets and the street food of Taipei with your boy Eddie Huang from Fresh off the Boat! Just kidding, it's just me and my friend Kevin but making these food videos really did remind me of something I watched on Vice or the food network.




More great Taiwanese Food:


Including two must eats, Din Tai Fung and Yu's Almond Tofu desserts!



Where to Cowork:


I was really hoping to find some cool coworking spaces in Taiwan, but unfortunately we had no luck. Since Taiwan is so awesome in every other way and such an easy flight from Chiang Mai, I really wanted it to be the next digital nomad hotspot.  But kind of like Davao City in the Philippines or Hoi An, Vietnam or even Ubud Bali, all which have potential in the future just aren't quite there yet.

MakerBar Coworking Space in Taipei Taiwan

Take a listen to Episode 69 of the Travel Like a Boss Podcast to hear more about the digital nomad scene in Taipei as Larissa and I go into why and why not in depth.

One of the reasons is as of April 2015 all of the coworking space websites are only in Chinese and none replied to my English written emails so I only went to the most popular one, MakerBar.  The actual space is really cool for those who need a 3D printer or want to physically make stuff, but as for digital nomads at the time we went was just a cluttered space with only one other person there.  We ended up working out of Starbucks everyday and actually really enjoyed it. They free wifi, bathrooms, are happy to refill your water bottles and overall were very nice to work out of.




Overall:


I really enjoyed Taiwan as a whole and was happy to spend 3 weeks here. The airport is super nice, people are genuinely friendly, polite, and everything is well organized and clean including the air quality. As an American and for most countries you get 90 days on arrival which makes it super easy, unfortunately for Larissa being S. African it was  a bit of a pain to get a visa.

I'll definitely come here again as a tourist and recommend it to anyone, but as of 2015 it's not a digital nomad destination.

Warm Regards and Happy Travels!

Johnny

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