TOP 5 TIPS for how not to be seen as an uncouth yob in Taiwan

As a general rule of thumb: as long as you behave politely as you would in your home country and not act like a complete lout (ie. like any English tourist on his mate’s stagdo), you’ll be alright in Taiwan. For a little more direction, here are our top five recommendations:

1. Respect people’s personal space (a little more than you may be used to)

When meeting for the first time, people generally don’t shake hands but instead will bow lightly or nod their head – that doesn’t mean that if someone initiates a handshake or a hug you have to avoid it, just be aware that some people may be put off by physical contact.

If you encounter kids, you can wave and pull faces at them, but avoid ruffling their hair or touching their head in any way (no matter how cute they are) as it is considered rude to touch people’s heads.

Bowl of noodles with chopsticks

2. Watch where you put your chopsticks!


You can do pretty much whatever you want with them when eating (obviously, don’t chuck them across the room or something else to that effect) just don’t stick them in your rice bowl – it’s reminiscent of funeral rites and also just looks odd.

Try not to chew on your chopsticks either, because that’s just gross and will make you look like you’re having teething problems.

If you’re worried about using chopsticks, here’s another mini-tip: use a spoon in your other hand to cheat/hold up the food in your chopsticks.

Family on a motorbike in Taiwan

3. When in doubt, stay on the right


In Taiwan, people drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Similarly, on escalators, people (generally speaking) will stand on the right to allow room for businessmen rushing to get back to work after a cheeky mid-day pint.
When visiting any temples or shrines, stick to walking on the right-hand side of any paths.
Lastly, when you get lost: just stick to making right turns, it’ll get you right back to where you first started (getting lost).

3. When in doubt, stay on the right


In Taiwan, people drive on the right-hand side of the road.
Similarly, on escalators, people (generally speaking) will stand on the right to allow room for businessmen rushing to get back to work after a cheeky mid-day pint.
When visiting any temples or shrines, stick to walking on the right-hand side of any paths.
Lastly, when you get lost: just stick to making right turns, it’ll get you right back to where you first started (getting lost).

Family on a motorbike in Taiwan
Man praying at Longshan Temple

4. Show some degree of respect towards older people

…otherwise, you might get a telling-off in public and that can be kind of embarrassing.

On any type of public transport in Taiwan, there will be seats that are a different colour to the rest. It might be tempting to sit on one of these special seats – leave them for the elederly, pregnant people and/or kids instead.

5. Don’t step on the threshold!

When visiting any temple or shrine (or even somebody’s house), don’t step on the threshold of a doorway, step over it. This is especially so if the threshold is raised.

It can be tempting to rest your jelly legs by perching on a raised threshold whilst you admire the inside of a temple – this is a big no-no.


This tip also works for a lot of other countries with a history of Buddhism – Thailand, Japan, Korea, Burma, China…etc.  so you get even more bang for your buck!

Eternal Spring Temple
Eternal Spring Temple

5. Don’t step on the threshold!

When visiting any temple or shrine (or even somebody’s house), don’t step on the threshold of a doorway, step over it. This is especially so if the threshold is raised.

It can be tempting to rest your jelly legs by perching on a raised threshold whilst you admire the inside of a temple – this is a big no-no.


This tip also works for a lot of other countries with a history of Buddhism – Thailand, Japan, Korea, Burma, China…etc.  so you get even more bang for your buck!

We hope you found some of these tips informative and that you’ll be able to put them in use when you come with us to explore Taiwan.

For more general tips and questions, check out our FAQ page, or if you think we missed any, let us know!

See you soon!

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