Taiwan may not seem like a conventional surfing destination, but it’s amazing waves, hospitality, and affordability makes it a great choice for surfers on a budget who want to try something new.
The ideal water temperature and high waves during monsoon season make it great for surfers, and as it’s not yet a booming surfing destination you don’t have to worry about packed beaches.
A tropical island located in the Pacific ocean, Taiwan was discovered by the Portugese, and aptly called ‘Isla Formosa’ or ‘Beautiful Island.’ While its west coast is densely populated, its east coast is populated by less than 25% of the country’s population, and its ecosystem and beaches were made for surfers.
Despite not being a go-to destination for surfers just yet, its ideal conditions, budget-friendly appeal, and welcoming, friendly people make Taiwan a place to watch.
The surf camps available are limited, so as well as including the few surf camps there are in Taiwan, we have also listed stunning surfing locations that are a must if you plan on surfing in Taiwan.
Formosa Surf Camp is located in Taitung, an area where you’re most likely to catch excellent waves. What makes Formosa an even more prime location, is its proximity to the famous Jinzun Harbor where the WSL QS (the Taiwan Open of Surfing) is held every November. Plus, the 3 main breaks are only a 5-minute walk away!
Open all year round, you can find Surf House Taiwan on the pristine east coast. They aim to provide a welcoming, relaxing base for you when you return from a long, satisfying day of catching waves!
Located on the stunning mile-long Dulan Beach, Wa Ga LiGong Surf Camp provides the ideal surfing camp for beginners. The smaller, softer waves and sand-bottom beach make it a perfect place to learn. Wa Ga LiGong caters to those who have some surfing experience and would like to work on their skills, as well as those trying surfing for the first time.
4. TW Surf Tour
Offering three different courses for groups consisting of 6-8 people, TW Surf Tour caters to beginners and those who want to improve basic knowledge. Are you a beginner who’s a bit nervous about going in too deep? TW Surf Tour may be for you, as they practice at waist-level. What’s more, you can also rent boards and clothing for up to two days.
Known for its sugary white beaches, caves, coral reefs, and mountains, Kenting National Park is an idyllic place to surf. Meanwhile, the bars, nightlife, and street food give you plenty of ways to relax and unwind away from the beach.
From beautiful coasts to sublime mountains, Taitung is often referred to as the Garden of Taiwan. If you’re looking to get around by bicycle, Taitung has plenty of cycling routes including Longtian Village, Chishang, and Taitung City as well as being home to Taiwan’s oldest bikeway, the Guanshan Bicycle Trail.
Donghe has become the go-to place for surfers in Taiwan in recent years, with surfing shops popping up everywhere, and the eateries being established by Western expatriates from Taiwan’s bigger cities add to the laidback, bohemian vibe.
8. Dulan Forest
Located in a remote but breathtakingly beautiful corner of Taiwan, Dulan is the ideal escape for surfers.
Not only does Toucheng have a great place to surf in the form of Honeymoon Bay, but you can also book whale and dolphin watching tours too!
An underrated surfing spot, Fulong Beach is home to its famous Sand Sculpting Festival as well as live music events.
With its hospitable people, plenty of options for public transport, and delicious food influenced by many Asian cuisines, Taiwan is truly a hidden gem.
Below, we’ll break down everything from meal prices to gas prices to make sure you can enjoy Taiwan to its fullest without breaking the bank.
Meal Price Range
While meal prices in Taiwan can vary, the average cost of food in Taiwan is NT$416 per day. A meal at a sit-down restaurant will most likely set you back more than street food or fast food prices.
However, breakfast tends to cost a little less than lunch or dinner.
While surf camps like Wa Ga LiGong provide equipment for you to rent, in most surfing hotspots the hotels and hostels provide rental for surfing equipment, and there should be plenty of surf shops dotted around – especially in Donghe!
Prepaid SIM Cards
Buying a prepaid SIM card in Taiwan gives you the chance to make calls and text messages to family and friends back home, as well as browse the internet at 4G speed. One huge benefit of using a prepaid SIM card in Taiwan is that it cuts down on 95% of roaming costs, even when visiting the most remote locations.
To use a prepaid SIM card, all you need to do is register. Once you’re registered to an internet service provider, just insert the SIM card into your mobile phone. The best mobile providers in Taiwan are China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, and Taiwan Mobile.
One of the best ways to travel around Taiwan is by high-speed rail (HSR). Reaching speeds of around 330km/hour, HSR is a safe, easy, and convenient way to travel, especially between big cities. Not only that, but it’s a fantastic way to take in the beautiful Taiwanese countryside on a clear day.
The high-speed train runs from Nangang (just north of Taipei City – Taiwan’s capital) and goes all the way south to Kaohsiung (Zuoying). Its stops are Banqiao, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Changhua, Chiayi, Yunlin, and Tainan.
Most HSR stations are located outside of big cities (except Taipei and Banqiao), with highways fairly close by. HSR stations also have car rental services available that are run by English-speaking staff.
But while the HSR is impressive, one of the most notable things about Taiwan is just how many buses there are on the roads. They are the cheapest way of getting around Taiwan, and they also run very frequently. Not only that, but they are extremely comfortable – most of them have seats resembling an armchair!
Kuo Kuang Hai bus company offers the cheapest tickets, while the Aloha and Ho-hsin bus companies have the most comfortable seats.
We also recommend not taking the bus during rush hour. This is between 7:00 and 9:30, to 17:00 and 19:0o. The traffic is incredibly slow at this time and everything comes to a grinding halt. Buses in Taiwan are also chilly, so make sure to bring a sweater with you!
Despite buses in Taiwan being comfortable and affordable, the best way to get around Taiwan is by train (either by HSR or normal train), especially if you’re traveling long-distance.
From March to June 2021, the average price of gas in Taiwan was NT$28.21. Meanwhile, the average price of gas in the rest of the world during that period was NT$42.67.
Types of Risks
Be wary of bugs in Taiwan, especially mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. They carry diseases that cannot be prevented by vaccine or medicine, but there are ways you can prevent being bitten.
The type of clothes you wear can protect you from bug bites. Make sure to cover bare skin by wearing hats, long pants, and long-sleeved shirts, and wear permethrin-treated clothing and gear but do not use permethrin directly on your skin.
You should always make sure to stay and sleep in an air-conditioned or screened room, and if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors then you should use a bednet. Lastly, always use insect repellent.
In terms of crime, Taiwan is a relatively safe place to visit. But you should always remain vigilant.
Both violent crime and petty crime rates are low, but pickpocketing and bag-snatching do occur especially in locations popular with tourists. You’ll encounter the criminal world of Taiwan around barbershops and nightclubs that are fronts for prostitution.
But these places are easy to spot and discern from legitimate businesses. Real barbershops will openly advertise their business for example, and you will see barbers cutting hair. If neither of those things are present, then it’s most likely shady.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there have been reports of people being assaulted by taxi drivers. There were thankfully only a couple of incidents of this, but it’s better to be vigilant than complacent about the risks.
Be careful when taking taxis alone at night, and it’s recommended to not give the taxi drivers your exact address, but just the street name and section to remain safe.
How to Prepare
Just like any big trip, there will always be things you need to prepare before you leave, such as visas, vaccines, and travel insurance. Below, we’ll break down everything you need to know.
Travelers from the US to Taiwan that are visiting the country for less than 90 days will not need a Visa. However, in this case, extensions or changes of status are allowed. Your U.S. passport must be valid throughout your stay, and you must have a confirmed return or onward air ticket.
Before travelling to Taiwan, you should be up to date with all your routine vaccinations (Chickenpox, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis, Influenza, MMR, and Polio).
A vaccine for Hepatitis A is also recommended for unvaccinated travellers over one-year-old, and for infants between 6 to 11 months old. This dose is not part of the routine 2-dose series. Meanwhile, Hepatitis B vaccinations are recommended for any travelers who haven’t been vaccinated before traveling to Taiwan.
You should also consider getting vaccinated for Japanese Encephalitis if you’re spending less than a month in areas with Japanese encephalitis, or are visiting rural areas, going hiking or camping, or staying in places without air conditioning, screens, or bed nets.
If you’re unsure of your plans when you get to Taiwan or how long you’ll be staying, you should also get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis.
If you are bringing children aged 6 to 11 months old with you to Taiwan, make sure they have received 1 dose of the MMR vaccine before travel. However, this will not count as part of the routine childhood vaccination series.
While Taiwan is free of dog rabies, it may still be present in wildlife species such as bats. However, this vaccine is only recommended for those who are working directly with animals. This includes veterinarians, animal handlers, field biologists, or laboratory workers who are working with specimens from mammalian species.
Language and Currency
While the official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, English is the most widely spoken foreign language and a large number of the population speak it fluently. Those working in hotels and businesses are also likely to have good written fluency in English too.
The currency of Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar.
Checking Surfing Forecast
Due to the good weather and gentler winds in October to May, this is the surfing season in Taiwan. While the Typhoon season provides large winds in June to September, surfing is usually forbidden if there is a typhoon warning because of the potential dangers.
The best way to check the surfing forecast is by downloading the Magic Seaweed app that provides high-quality surfing forecasts wherever you are in the world.
Travel insurance is essential if you’re traveling abroad, but even more so if you’re doing potentially risky activities like surfing. In the unlikely event that you get into an accident, travel insurance ensures you and whoever you are traveling with will not have to worry about paying expensive medical bills.
There is specialist travel insurance out there that caters to surfers, and finding good quality surfers insurance needn’t be difficult. We recommend World Nomads for surf insurance, as they provide highly comprehensive policies for traveling surfers.