10 ‘Tourist Traps’ in Taiwan You Should Know Before It is Too Late

Chinese Singaporeans love to head to Taiwan for a holiday whenever they can make it happen despite their busy schedules.

Taiwan is a friendly country where the locals speak Mandarin and there are beautiful places that Singapore simply did not have.

While we can communicate pretty well with Taiwanese, Singaporeans still stand out as tourists because of our accents and the way we speak. Therefore, we are good targets to popular scammers in Taiwan who specially go for mainly the tourists.

Here are 10 of those tourist traps that you should avoid.

Do not buy fruits from the fresh fruits street stalls
Singaporeans are deprived of street stalls and we love to buy from them when overseas. In Taiwan, many of these street stalls are popular tourist areas and sell all kinds of food.

In particular, there are many fresh fruits stalls. These sellers claimed that the fruits are fresh and would sell them at a high price to tourists. Do not buy from them because they are not fresh and could potentially give you a tummy upset! They are also expensive and once the fruits are cut, you have to buy them. If you want some fruits, head to the night market! Or simply just get them from a supermarket instead.

Do check the price of freshly squeezed fruit juice before ordering
Similar to the fresh fruits scams, these freshly squeezed fruit juice will cost you an arm and a leg if you are not careful. A simpe cup of watermelon juice can cost you up to 250 Taiwan dollars! That is $11 Singapore dollars! You could get a meal for two with that amount in our coffee shop and perhaps still get some change back.

Do not buy useless things from Ximending “hard-selling” gang
Ximending is extremely popular among Singaporeans because of its Orchard-Road-like status. The place is commonly full of youngsters – local and tourists alike. In recent years, there is a group of people who will go around trying to sell useless things like a cheapo pen or a keychain to tourists at extremely high prices.

The girls will flirt their way into your pocket and the guys will pretend to be your BFF just to sell you a $10 pen. Be wary of these people and walk away as soon as you can if you are approached by such salespersons!

Do take note if the branded goods that you are buying are real
If you see branded goods being sold in a street stall, it is highly possible that these goods are fake. The prices on these goods are high, similar to the real stuff, but in actual fact, they are just high-class imitations of the real branded goods. Tour guides or personal guides may sometimes bring you to such stores so do be careful. The best place to get branded goods are in a proper shopping mall such as Taipei 101.

I mean, just like in Singapore, do you think those LV bags in pasar malam are real?

Do not buy cheap tea leaves, especially the popular 高山茶
The ever popular 高山茶 is the reason for tea lovers to visit Taiwan. Due to its fragrance and taste, it is widely sought after and very expensive. If you see 高山茶 that are sold relatively cheaply, do not buy it because it is highly possible to be fake. These tea leaves are expensive because they are produced in high mountains with difficult conditions for the tea leave pickers. No producers in the right mind will sell them cheaply – unless they are fake.

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Do not be taken in by false charity sales
This is a pretty common scam and happens even in Singapore. Young people will approach you on the street and ask you to buy something for the needy, usually a pen or a handmade item that is useless. They will ask for a high price, citing the reason as helping the needy.

Do not be cheated by taxi drivers
Taxi service in Taiwan are generally fantastic, but there are always bad apples among anything good. Some taxi drivers may “forget” to turn on the meter after you board, and charge you a crazy price after they’ve sent you to your destination. If you refuse to pay, you will not be allowed to leave. Therefore, the rule of thumb is to always check that the taxi meter is turned on after you board. If it is not on, remind your driver to turn it on.

If you would like to, opt for Uber. Although it’s not entirely legit yet, with the status a tad ambiguous, you’ll save up to 30% off the taxi fees, too!

Do not be cheated by personal tour agents
Some Singaporeans love to get personal tour agents (eg. Taxi drivers who double up as tour agents) to bring them around. If you do so, make sure that your tour agent is an established one by getting referrals from your friends.

Do not simply contact agents from online advertisements as they might be scammers who only bring you to expensive stores and tourist spots where they have contacts with. These agents will then encourage you to spend a crazy amount of useless and expensive things which they will get commission for later on.

Do not buy gems on the streets
If there is someone who comes up to you in the street and offer you gems for sales, say no immediately. Do not be tempted by their claims that these gems can fetch a higher price in your own country, because these “gems” are actually stones.

Do not believe taxi drivers who tell you that there is no more bus
If you are waiting for a bus at a bus stop, be careful of taxi drivers who will stop and tell you that there is no more bus. Always check with other passengers who are waiting for buses at the bus stop to verify the claim. These taxi drivers normally scam foreigners into taking their taxi and then charging them a high fare by not switching on the meter.

While Taiwan is a relatively safe place with low crime rate, it is still better to be safe than sorry when you are travelling! We’ve also done a video on this topic: check it out here (and do remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel as well!):

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