Taiwan is famous for its food, electronics companies, and more. Keep reading to find other things that make it stand out from other countries.
I’ve learned a lot about Taiwan during my 4+ years here. I want to share some of that knowledge to anyone curious about visiting, moving here, or the culture.
Read on to learn more.
14 of the Most Common Things Taiwan is Famous for
I’ll cover some of the following things Taiwan is famous for:
- Betel nut girls
- One of the tallest buildings
- LGBTQ+ laws
- Health insurance
- Convenience stores
1. Oolong Tea
Taiwan’s tea technology, soil quality, and climate provide ideal conditions for Taiwan to grow high-quality teas. One of Taiwan’s most famous teas is oolong.
Oolong tea falls into a separate category of tea from green or black. And it contains caffeine between what the other 2 tea types provide.
You’ll find oolong tea everywhere. But if you visit Taiwan, I highly recommend oolong tea at tea houses in the mountains. They have the most refreshing taste and give you a fantastic view while you sip your drink.
2. Taiwanese Food, Drinks, & Night Markets
Taiwanese culture revolves around food and drinks. I’ll cover popular, noteworthy, or interesting food items that have come from, or are within, Taiwan.
1. Mongolian Barbecue
A Taiwanese comedian and entrepreneur, Wu Zhaonan, created Mongolian barbecue after opening a street food market in Taipei after the Chinese Civil War. He wanted to name it “Beijing barbecue.”
But it wasn’t the best idea since he had just fled China because of a civil war.
I can’t find any mentions of why he chose “Mongolian” barbecue. As it has no ties to Mongolia.
You’re probably wondering what Mongolian BBQ is. It’s a stir-fried dish with meat and veggies cooked on iron griddles at high temperatures.
2. Noteworthy Taiwanese Food & Drinks
Popular foods throughout Taiwan include pineapple cakes, oyster vermicelli, and braised pork rice. However, I want to cover foods most of the world may recognize.
3. Bubble Tea
Bubble tea (or boba) is milk tea with tapioca pearls and creamer from Taiwan. However, the company that invented bubble tea has been put into question.
Chung Shui Tang claims to have invented bubble tea in 1988. Hanlin claims to have invented it in 1986. Both companies filed lawsuits against one another, which resulted in no trademarks or patents .
In the end, it doesn’t matter which company invented it. So long as we have sweet bubble tea.
4. Beef Noodles
Beef noodle soup consists of braised beef broth with noodles and vegetables. It, along with hot pot, are Taiwan’s beloved comfort foods.
5. Kavalan Whiskey
Taiwan’s home to Kavalan Whiskey. It’s a company that has won 7 of the 111 Platinum awards from the Beverage Tasting Institute. If you’re a whiskey person, their Single Malt bottle is an excellent souvenir from Taiwan.
Here are its tastes, notes, and finish :
- Notes: mango, vanilla, floral, & tropical fruits
- Taste: spicy barley, gentle oak, mango, & creamy
- Finish: Fragrant pear skin, allspice, & vanilla
Night Markets in Taiwan
Taiwan has more than 60 street food markets. These markets are streets lined with stalls that sell various street foods, clothing, carnival-style games, and other trinkets. The food doesn’t cost much and is a great way to get a quick snack.
Hence, many Taiwanese may prefer visiting these markets after a long day of work.
Most night markets throughout Taiwan have at least one stand with a dish that’s popular in its area. Or have received a Michelin star.
Popular Taiwanese Chain Restaurants
Din Tai Fung is a world-renowned restaurant from Taiwan. Many of their branches throughout the world have received Michelin stars. Meaning, judges have ranked their food as the best in its category.
What does Din Tai Fung serve?
Small dumplings, or xiaolongbao (小籠包), are their most famous foods. They’re steamed buns prepared in bamboo steaming baskets. Din Tai Fung has other foods like fried rice, wok dishes, and noodles.
Usually, I feel fatigued after eating dumplings and similar foods, but eating at Din Tai Fung gives me a “clean” feeling after eating. I don’t feel lethargic.
Taiwan isn’t known for manufacturing internationally-renowned athletes. However, many have made a name for themselves through various feats:
- Tai Tzu-Ying: world No. 1 ranking in women’s singles badminton for many years
- Jeremy Lin: one of the most successful Taiwanese stars in the NBA
- Yani Tseng: second-youngest player to win the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) major
- Wang Chien-Ming: first Taiwanese baseball player to win a World Series ring
- Kuo Hsing-Chun: 5-time world champion weightlifter
Many Taiwanese athletes have farmed gold medals from the Olympics as well. For instance, Kuo Hsing-chun.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is a contract semiconductor design and manufacturing company. While many companies worldwide produce semiconductors, TSMS produces the most advanced ones.
Semiconductors are essential in managing electrical properties in military systems, transportation, computers, phones, and more. They’re essential for electronics to work. Hence, why TSMC is vital to Taiwan.
Here’s more information on semiconductors:
5. Chinese Artifacts
Taipei’s National Palace Museum houses more than 650,000 ancient Chinese artifacts. The most extensive collection in the world. These items encompass ancient Chinese history spanning 8,000 years.
Many items that are a part of this collection include:
- Qing dynasty archival documents & other rare books
- Calligraphic model books & works
- Paintings & tapestries
- Enamel wares
After the Republic of China (ROC) lost to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek relocated many Chinese artifacts from Beijing and other cities to Taipei.
Have you ever seen a Giant Bicycles or Merida brand bike? The former is the world’s largest bike manufacturer and is based in Taiwan.
Taiwan’s bicycle rental service, YouBike, also uses Giant’s bikes.
7. Betel Nut Beauties
Betel nut beauties are saleswomen who wear seductive clothing to attract passerbyers to betel nut stands. Despite the clothing they wear, most of them don’t solicit prostitution or are managed by gangs.
Usually, it’s mom-and-pop stores who hire these girls to attract more customers and drive sales.
Local governments throughout Taiwan began enforcing dress code laws that ruined betel nut beauties’ appeal in 2002. It prohibited them from wearing clothing that revealed the “three nos”:
You may see betel nut ladies throughout Taiwan nowadays despite the laws. However, I haven’t. I mostly see girls wearing short skirts at betel nut stands.
You may wonder what betel nuts are.
The betel nut, or Taiwanese chewing gum, is a betel palm seed with stimulating properties. Many suggest 1 betel nut equals 5 cups (1.18 l) of coffee.
Which usually leads to blood-tinged spots on sidewalks throughout Taiwan.
8. One of The World’s Tallest Buildings
Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building upon its opening in 2004. Now it’s the 10th tallest .
It has 8 sections that resemble a bamboo stalk. The number “8” and bamboo stalks represent wealth and good luck in Taiwanese (and most Asian countries) cultures. There’s a lot more to cover about the skyscraper’s design features, but that’s for another guide.
9. LGBTQ+ Marriage Laws
Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage on May 24th, 2019. In 2022, Taiwan legalized same-sex couples to adopt children . This wasn’t the case when the same-sex marriage law went into effect.
A couple days after I published this post, Taiwan lifted restrictions on recognizing marriages only from countries that also recognize same-sex marriage .
Taiwan will not recognize same-sex marriages between a partner in Taiwan and one in China. They also won’t recognize marriages from Macao and Hong Kong.
10. Computer Parts Companies
Taiwan’s home to various notable electronics companies like:
- Foxconn: responsible for iPhones, Macs, & other Apple products
- ASUS: laptops, routers, & more
- ACER: laptops & more
- Asrock: motherboard
- BenQ: monitors
- Thermaltake: gamer peripherals
- Cooler Master: power supplies & more
- HTC: smartphones
- MSI: graphics card & more
Despite these companies basing their operations in Taiwan, Taiwanese don’t enjoy the luxury of more affordable computer parts. Various tech. experts I’ve seen suggest this is because Taiwan has a smaller market. When compared to the United States and China.
11. Affordable Health Insurance
Taiwan provides an affordable and mandatory national health insurance system to its citizens. Most copay visits are NT$150 ($5.00), and premiums cost less than $62 per month. Plus, they have decent-quality healthcare.
The biggest issue stems from the time crunch doctors face. Since many people visit the doctors daily, the doctors don’t have enough time for thorough consultations. This could lead to misdiagnosis.
This has happened frequently with me.
I compare the pros and cons of Taiwan’s healthcare system in-depth in a separate piece. Check it out.
12. Taiwanese Celebrities
You may recognize some of these Taiwanese celebrities:
- Jolin Tsai: the “Queen of C-Pop”
- Chou Tzuyu: member of the K-Pop group, Twice
- Jay Chou: a Mandapop star who has won countless awards and nominations
- He also starred in movies like Me 2 & The Green Hornet
13. Convenience Store Culture
Taiwan’s convenience stores serve as a one-stop-shop for the fast-paced Taiwanese lifestyle. At 7-Eleven, Family Mart, OK, and Hi-Life shops, customers have access to the following:
- Affordable hot meals
- Pay bills & fines
- Send & receive packages
- Buy tickets
- Buy prepaid SIM cards
I visit convenience stores every day and find no reason to see most other places. Because I can get affordable food and coffee.
If you’re in Taiwan, you’ll likely see a 7-Eleven and/or a Family Mart on almost every block in cities. In rural areas, they’ve been adding more facilities. Whether through stores or vans that provide convenience store services.
14. Political Drama
If you know about the Republic of China (Taiwan), you likely know about all the drama with their neighbor, the People’s Republic of China (mainland China). China claims Taiwan is a breakaway province due to the results of the Chinese Civil War.
And the Republic of China’s constitution claims China as its territory . Though, the Taiwanese government has unofficially denounced those claims. And almost all Taiwanese don’t hold this claim, either.
Taiwanese people just want to live normal lives.
On a slightly lighter note:
You may have seen videos of Taiwanese politicians brawling and hurling pig organs at their opponents.
Here’s a video of politicians hucking pig organs at each other:
Read these FAQs about things that make Taiwan popular to learn more.
What is Taiwan the Biggest Producer of?
Taiwan is the biggest producer of advanced semiconductors.
What’s Taiwan’s Biggest Export?
Taiwan’s largest export is electrical machinery—it makes up 49% of the country’s total exports .
Despite having a population of around 23 million people and being a place that many confuse with Thailand, Taiwan has various industries and cultural aspects that make it stand out.
Check out some of my other Taiwanese culture guides to learn more.