7 Common Scams in Taiwan All Tourists Should Know Before It’s Too Late

Most Singaporeans love to visit Taiwan. There are beautiful scenery, fantastic shopping places and most importantly great food to have.

It is also a tourist friendly place, and most of them can speak both English and Chinese, the language that many of us are used to.

Taiwan is generally a safe place with pretty low crime rate. Nonetheless, when we are in a foreign land, it is always good to be aware of your surroundings and also to know the pitfalls of travelling in that particular country.

Here are the seven common scams in Taiwan that you must really know and avoid to prevent yourself from getting conned, because “being safe” doesn’t mean you won’t be tricked into a scam!

Fresh fruits stall in popular tourist areas

Taiwan is a fruit paradise. When you visit Taiwan, you cannot resist all the fresh fruits that you will see out in the streets. There will always be fruit stalls selling freshly cut fruits, especially mangoes, at popular tourist areas.

Be careful when you buy from these stalls as they will charge you exorbitant prices for a few pieces of fruits. Some can even come up to more than 1,000NT! In addition, you cannot reject the fruits after they have cut it up for you, and you will have to pay them the price that was charged.

The best place to buy fruits is the market where you can get whole fruits at a reasonable price.

Remember, never ever ask to check if the fruits are fresh. Ask  = cut fruits = you’ll have to buy = crazy price. 

Freshly squeezed fruit juice

This is similar to fresh fruits as the vendors in popular tourist areas will demand high prices for a cup of juice. It was reported last year that a few Chinese tourists were charged 250NT each for fresh watermelon juice in an eatery in Shi Lin Night Market!

That’s almost SGD$11 for a cup of juice!

Xi Men Ding’s hard selling gang

Xi Men Ding is a popular shopping area where almost every tourist will visit due to its big surroundings and low prices. However, beware of the hard selling gang that operates there.

Their target is you–the tourist.

They will hire students to sell all kind of products on the broad walkway of Xi Men Ting. The females will target single or a group of male tourists and entice them into buying by flirting with them.

This usually causes the male tourists to be too embarrassed to reject the advances and pay for the products.

The male salesperson tries a different tactic. They will act like you are the “best-est” friend they have in the universe and try to make you buy the products as a friend. Just be aware of your surroundings and try to avoid these people.

After all, let’s face it: we have these groups of people in Singapore, too. The only difference is that in Singapore, we dare to show them the hand, but not in Taiwan.

Fake gemstones/watches/branded items

For those of you who prefer to travel with a tour group, be very careful when your tour guide brings you to a gemstone shop, a high-end watch shop or any other branded shops. The goods there might not be as real as you think they are, and the tour guide has brought you there because he would receive a commission whenever he brings in a group of unsuspecting tourists.

Tea Leaves

Taiwan is famous for their tea leaves too. There is one type of tea called 高山茶 which is extremely popular with tourists due to its renowned name and the fragrance of the tea leaves.

Be careful to buy only the real ones in established shops for there are quite a number of unscrupulous sellers who will mix cheap tea leaves from China with the premium 高山茶 and pass it off as the high-grade tea.

They will usually sell these packages of tea at a super high price to smoke you about their authenticity.

And remember there’s still some 高山茶 in the package? You won’t even know you’ve bought a package with 10% 高山茶 and 90% mere Lipton tea leaves.

False charity sales

Be careful of local people coming up to you asking you to buy a pen out of love for the poor and needy. These people are lying and they are just cheating you out of your money by invoking your kindness and compassion towards the poor and needy.

Most of them will pretend to represent certain charities organisations, and sell you “cheap” pens for 200NT.

Taxi meters

Similar to Bangkok, some of these taxi drivers will not turn on their meters. When you reach your destination, they will charge you at any price that they deem fit. Always check that the meter is on when you board a cab, especially when you are touring outside of Taipei.

Another way to travel will be to book a cab for the whole day, especially when you have four people travelling in Taiwan together.

Just so you know, there’s Uber in Taiwan but it’s not yet being recognized by the authorities – you can still use them, through you’ll notice that they won’t reveal the full plate number to you in the app.

At least, so far that’s the way it is. Whether the authorities would completely ban Uber or allow it to run in the future is anyone’s guess.

If you would like to, you can watch a video that we’ve made for this topic, too (remember to subcribe to our YouTube channel as well!):

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com in 2016 and revised on 14 July 2017.

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Zerlina

Zerlina is a dreamer who wants to become a full pledged author someday. She spends many evenings reading novels and trying to write her own. She has 2 turtles and many fishes to give her inspiration for writing.