When researching places to travel with our 18 month old we needed to find somewhere that was Zika free! I was pregnant at the time, and to be honest, our destinations were very limited. After much research we decided on Taiwan, and we are so glad we did! An untouched country full of culture, beaches, temples, hot springs, lakes, picturesque mountains and mouth watering food.
So what is Taiwan about? That was the million dollar question we had even up to the point we stepped off that plane. Researching Taiwan travel with a baby proved to be challenging. There was definitely not much information out there, and to be honest we were a little worried, but we thought we would give it a crack!
We spent close to 6 weeks in Taiwan, starting and ending in Taipei. Below are our top tips for traveling with a baby/toddler in Taiwan
We did a mountain of research prior to leaving for Taiwan, purely because we had no idea what to expect. We found it difficult to find information on travelling to Taiwan with a baby/toddler. For each destination we had a list of attractions we wanted to see and places we wanted to visit. See our top things to do in Taipei. When visiting the night markets, we recommend to get there early. Most markets will open at around 5:00pm. Getting there early means you beat the larger crowds. I would also recommend not taking a stroller through the night food markets. Due to large amounts of people walking through, it makes it harder for you to maneuver that stroller through the crowds and your child will not be able to see anything (except bums).
When visiting temples, children are very welcome, however, a big thing to remember is that it is a place of worship. Trying to remain respectful and quiet is important in all temples.
When sightseeing take a stroller with you. Taiwan is very stroller friendly, in fact we were shocked that we got a lot of special treatment at some of the museums and palaces in Taipei. You get special treatment and get to use the “special assistance immigration” line. Don’t be afraid to do this! It was a godsend for us, and made wait times alot quicker.
Keep in mind that on Mondays, some attractions and restaurants close for the day. You may need to plan ahead on Mondays. Most of the major attractions are open, however, smaller restaurants, play centres or museums may be closed.
When planning our trip to Taiwan, we made sure we pre booked accommodation. Finding accommodation in Taiwan is easy, however finding the right accommodation to suit your needs and budget can be difficult especially if viewing pictures online. We researched and found places that were close to train lines or transport, had a balcony, close to restaurants or night markets and that preferably had a kitchen/kitchenette. Our main form of accomodation in Taiwan was AirBnb’s, Homestays or small guesthouses. We find these to be a lot more welcoming, helpful and homely. We have also made a lot of life time friends from the families and owners. Feel free to email us for a full list of places we stayed in Taiwan.
3: Taiwanese children are very well disciplined
In the whole 6 weeks we were away, we never saw another Taiwanese child cry, have a tantrum or misbehave. They are very quiet and well behaved children. Each time our son cried, we got very disapproving looks which made us very uncomfortable. We tried to keep him quiet with snacks, but quickly found out that eating on transport is very frowned upon as well. This was the part we found most tricky when travelling Taiwan. It all came down to him being tired and exhausted, as he wasn’t getting his usual big midday sleep. We try very hard when travelling to always stick to his routine and venture out in the morning, come back to our accommodation at midday, then go out again in the afternoon, however, some days just didn’t work out like this and he had his nap in the pram when out. These were the days when he would usually get tired in the afternoon and misbehave.
4: Transport/getting around
Taiwan has one of the best transport systems of any country we have been to. The ease of getting around Taipei and getting to and from each destination around Taiwan was very easy. I recommend purchasing an Easy Card (for NT$100). You can purchase these from 7-Eleven, Family Mart or any other corner store. It is much easier to swipe your card when traveling then scurrying through your wallet for loose change. Keep in mind that children (under 6) travel for free on Metro lines and trains.
Taxis are also a great way to get around. I recommend having the name of your hotel/guesthouse or general destination written in Chinese (mandarin). Google translate was a godsend for us with this. If you don’t have wifi when you’re out, ask someone to translate for you and screenshot the name or get them to write it down in Mandarin so you can show your taxi driver. Everyone is always willing to help and i makes it a lot easier for the Taxi driver to understand where you would like to go.
5: What to take
Taiwan caters very well for children and young kids. We found it hard to find a “supermarket” type shop, however, there are smaller shops such as 7-Eleven, Family Mart or Hi-Mart where you can purchase essentials like Nappies, wipes, creams etc. The main shopping centres are the Carrefour Shop. You can find the closest one to you with a quick google search. We found that we did not need to take anything out of the ordinary when travelling to Taiwan. Everything you need you can get there. See our link for Essential packing tips when travelling on an overseas trip with kids in case you have missed something. When at restaurants, you will most likely not find highchairs. We took a product called an anywhere chair, which is a fabric chair which harnesses your child onto a regular chair. We use The Anywhere Chair
Breastfeeding in a foreign country may be difficult, especially if it is culturally taboo to do so. So where does Taiwan stand on Breastfeeding? Back in 2010, Taiwan released a law to protect mothers and allow them to Breastfeed in public, fining those so say otherwise up to $30,000TWD (approx $1300AUD). So go ahead, feed that precious bundle of joy of yours anywhere you want and don’t feel bad about it.
7: Catering for kids:
As mentioned above, Taiwan caters very well to kids. You can find hotel rooms with playrooms in them, indoor and outdoor play centres, parks and playgrounds everywhere. We loved the fact that everywhere we went, there was something for our son to do as well. Even some of the larger temples have a playground on the temple grounds. We were also surprised to see that most of the train stations have feeding rooms and parents rooms. All museums and attractions also have a parents/baby change room as well. Kids are free for almost all attractions and transport, and there are kids days in Taipei. Larger malls and shopping centres have amusement parks on their roof, and almost all have indoor play centres. The list goes on! I would recommend to always carry a pair of socks. Your kids need to wear socks when using the indoor play centres. We got stung a couple of times and left our son very upset.
8: Food and water:
Taiwan has food that will suit any culinary enthusiast. A fusion of Japanese, Chinese and Korean dishes, as well as western style restaurants. The food was definitely a highlight for us while travelling through Taiwan. We took pre made food pouches over with us in preparation for food that wouldn’t be suitable for our son, however, the food over there was amazing. Most food is sample sized, made from fresh ingredients and not full of spices. We loved the dumplings, beef noodles, fried rice, vegetable stir fries, omelettes, Gao Bao – pork and vegetable bun, Ba Wan – large dumplings, fried or grilled chicken, Vegetable vermicelli noodles, rice pudding and steamed spring rolls to name a few. Scattered everywhere across Taiwan are bakeries. You can get fresh bread, savoury wraps, pies and breads as well as sweet treats as well. On most street corners is a market or fresh fruit store. We frequented these shops daily to get our son fresh fruit and fresh coconut water. They will make fresh fruit juices if you ask, and they are happy to chop up all fruit for you. In regards to water, we washed our son’s teeth with bottled water and we all drank water from the bottle. At each park and attraction there is generally a water station there. I was a bit sceptical at first, but was quickly reassured it was the freshest water in the world. We didn’t get sick, so it must have been good!
9: Places to go:
You will be surprised as to how child friendly Taiwan is. Most attractions in Taiwan are catered to suit children. Here is a list of “Best places to visit with kids in Taipei”, and “Places to visit in Taiwan with kids”.
10: When to go:
We visited Taiwan in February and March for 6 weeks. I must say, it was probably the perfect time to visit. It only rained on one day in the entire 6 weeks we were away. The weather was nice, not too hot or humid and towards the end of our trip was the beginning of the cherry blossom season. I can’t say it was the “Best” or “worst” time to go, but it was very pleasant. Visit the Lonely planet website for the weather guide on Taiwan and when to go.