Travelling is as much about people as it is about places. Witnessing different behaviours and customs is a big part of our adventures, and often leaves a stronger impression than any landscape ever could. For Taiwan, this is certainly true.  

Every country in the world has its own curious customs, habits and beliefs. The UK is no exception to this; non- natives may marvel at our seemingly pre-organised queuing techniques, habit of apologising for everything and dislike of walking under ladders. To travellers arriving to the UK unaware, these may seem strange local habits. It is always best to be prepared.

Taiwan, similarly, has its own customs and traditional habits. If you plan to enjoy your stay in this magical country, it’s probably advisable to avoid generating any unnecessary bad luck! Here are 5 things you should know in advance to ensure you keep the omens positive!


Never waste a single grain of rice

Not one. Never. Ever.

You’ve probably seen that HSBC ad; the one where the Englishman is being hosted in Hong Kong and continually overfed for finishing his meal. Well Taiwan works a little differently. Rather than a polite courtesy to your host, instead it is said that if you fail to finish your rice, your future wife or husband will have pimples!

The confusion continues, however, since this doesn’t actually apply to every food. At new year, you will be expected to finish your rice as usual, but to leave a little fish and meat, to show that there will be plenty for the next year!



They’re chopsticks, not goal posts 

Sticking with the rice theme, do not stick your chopsticks straight up in a bowl! Dating from Japanese colonialism in Taiwan, it is incredibly taboo because it reminds Japanese people of funerals, where a bowl of rice is left with two chopsticks standing vertically in the center. Anyway, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, because you’ve followed rule 1 and finish all your rice anyway, right?!


Do not point at the moon – it is disrespectful

Are you a fan of music? Perhaps you just enjoy listening to the birds in the morning? This is something to avoid then! Pointing at the moon is considered disrespectful to the moon goddess Chang’e. Unfortunately for hearing aficionados, her usual response to such open rebellion is to chop off your ear! Or at the very least, a part of it.


Never gift a clock

Besides the obvious hint at their poor time keeping, gifting a clock to a friend or loved one is a big no-no. Clocks are not suitable gifts, as in Chinese the phrase ‘giving a clock’ sounds the same as ‘attending a funeral’. Not sure how many of our readers were planning on giving a Taiwanese friend a clock, but good to know just in case.


Don’t back slap at the blackjack 

If in a casino, do not pat anyone gambling on the back as this will bring bad luck for them. Similarly avoid celebrating too vividly, or laughing when people lose. Nothing to do with luck, it’s just bad manners.


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