The following packing list for Taiwan comes from Michelle Li. See all packing list posts here.
Taiwan was not on my planned itinerary when I set out for a 2 month trip to South America. But through a series of (un)fortunate events, I found myself spending 2 weeks in Taiwan perfectly timed to celebrate the Lunar New Years for the first time in Asia. The Lunar New Year is a massive week-long holiday of eating, drinking, and celebrating. I split most of my time between Hsinchu (a technology heavy suburb) and Taipei (capital city).
The weather was pretty mild, most days ranging between 60F and 75F. Some days were overcast, and we had a little rain on one of the evenings. Extreme weather clothing wasn’t needed during this time of year (late February).
Fashion in Taiwan can range from staples you find in stores such as UNIQLO and H&M to elaborate outfits of short skirts, stockings, lace, bright colors, and accessories. Most of the locals I saw were dressed in jeans, leggings layered with skirts, sweaters, and jackets. Backpacker outfits were definitely rare here.
1 pair of jeans: In February, wearing jeans is still comfortable. If you live in your jeans at home, definitely consider bringing them. Once the weather turns hot and humid for the summer, you might consider more loose fitting and lightweight pants. I alternated between wearing my jeans and leggings as my bottoms.
1 pair of leggings: Can be dressed up or down for layering with longer tunics, sweaters, and short dresses.
2 T shirts: The weather in Taiwan in February was quite warm, and there were some areas on the island that were extremely hot. Dressing in a T-shirt with a jacket covers most temperature changes throughout the day.
1 casual top: A light short or long sleeve blouse for dressing up.
2 tank tops: Mix and match your styles for dressing up or layering under your outerwear.
1 light fleece or light down jacket: The evenings can get chilly. I went with a Patagonia Nano Puff that was super light and easily packable into my daypack, but also kept me warm when strolling through the famed night markets of Taipei.
1 lightweight sweater: I ended up bringing along a tunic sweater that was a Christmas gift. It is NOT an item that I had originally planned on taking as it is heavy, frilly, and not traditionally functional as travel clothing. However, it was super comfortable, great with layers, and perfect for the weather in Taiwan at the time. I would recommend a light tunic sweater that you’re comfortable wearing and works in a range of temperatures.
1 pair of walking shoes: I chose to stick with a pair of Sperry Topsiders, but any comfortable walking shoe will work. There’s no need for hiking boots when walking around different parts of the cities, but there is a good amount of walking so pick a pair that is broken in and comfortable. TOMS and flats would be great lightweight options to wear.
1 pair of flip flops: These come in handy when walking around within your accommodations or sharing hostel showers.
Other Notes on Clothing and Shoes
Avoid Shorts: February is still considered to be a winter month, so most of the locals wear long pants. Wearing shorts will most likely cause you to stick out as being a tourist. Pack a pair to use as pajamas, but there’s no need for shorts as outerwear.
Going Out Attire: I didn’t pack any outfits for clubbing or other nightlife activities. If you’re packing ultralight, there are plenty of options to pick up a cheap pair of dressy shoes and outfit in the night markets and shopping centers.
Luggage & Accessories
Backpack: I traveled into Taiwan with my Osprey Kyte 46L. Highly HIGHLY recommend this backpack as it had enough space for all my items and room to spare for souvenirs. I prefer traveling with a backpack (makes it easy to make those tight connections in the airport when you have to run from gate to gate).
Daypack: I used my REI Stuffable Day Pack extensively. Great for carrying water, a light jacket, tissues, snacks, and any other purchases.
Cash pouch: A small zippered pouch to carry cash that is easily accessible. I kept this separate from my credit cards and ID since cash was used more frequently.
Camera/Cell Phone: For taking photos. I took pictures with my iPhone 4S most frequently. There’s wifi available in most public places, so I had no issue getting onto Facebook and Instagram.
Headphones: For listening to music on long train rides if you travel from one end of the island to the other.
Laptop: This is an optional item. We brought a Macbook Air because we had to do work for our business back home. If you can go without it, you can save a few extra pounds in your travel backpack.
Taiwan is a first world country, so you will be able to find plenty of the basic toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner) everywhere. Bring the standard travel size amounts of what you need and purchase more if you need it.
I would recommend stopping by a Watsons or a Mannings (Asia’s version of a drugstore) to check out some local beauty products. Watsons has country-specific products, so a Watsons in Taiwan will often carry different items from a Watsons in Hong Kong. You might end up taking home some extra health products.
>> You might enjoy these tips for getting beauty treatments abroad.
Contact Lens Solution: If you wear hard contacts and happen to use ClearCare as your method of cleaning, I would recommend bringing a 3oz travel size solution to last for the duration of your trip. While contact lens usage in Taiwan is high, I had trouble finding this exact solution in the drugstores.
Anti-itch Cream: Even in February, there were some mosquitoes out and about depending on where you visited. I was bit once while in a t-shirt, and the anti-itch helped curb any scratching urges.
Tissues: Great for cleaning up when eating from street food vendors.
Additional Tips for Traveling to Taiwan
Exchange Cash at the Airport: Although there were ATMs to be found on every corner, we visited over 15 machines before finally finding a bank that would take our Charles Schwab debit card (one of the better debit cards for international travel). We had to borrow cash from our friend for a few days before we were finally able to access our own money. Exchange at least a few days worth of cash at the airport. Large stores and restaurants will take credit cards with no issue, but if you want to do some shopping at the street markets or try the local food, you will definitely need cash.
Crowds: Taiwan is generally crowded in all the major local attractions, but be prepared for extra crowds during the Lunar New Year week when everyone has a week off from work and is out and about. I carried my credit cards and ID inside a pocket in my sports bra for security against pickpockets. Pickpocketing didn’t seem to be much of an issue, but there were signs on all of the subways warning females against possible “gropers” and to report any issues to subway staff. I didn’t run into any problems, but my personal space was definitely tested a few times.
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About the author: Michelle Li is an avid camper and traveler currently preparing for her departure of the cubicle life. She is embarking on a RTW trip in early 2016 and looking forward to go carry-on with 7kg or less. Her travels are documented at Adventurer Experience and on Instagram.
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Thanks for the tips. Have to rearrange some of my packing and its much lighter by now.
Love browsing tru your list but hopefully you can add photos so we can see your actual clothing pieces 🙂