Traveling in Taiwan is convenient and a great deal of fun, especially if you are using the right resources! Here is a list of the essential apps you will need when visiting or planning to live on the Island.
There are plenty of other wonderful apps for Taiwan out there but think of this as the list that you really can’t do without.
It is the Whattsapp, Kakao Talk, or WeChat for Taiwan. Most people use LINE in lieu of messaging a person’s number directly and it is often the easiest way to get in contact with someone. While it’s English texting feature is a little clunky, it has great stickers, and odds are at least one person will ask to add you on LINE while you are in Taiwan. If you are planning on renting anything or looking to stay in contact with a friend or even the manager of your hotel, it is worth getting this app.
We are including Whatsapp here as well largely because it is an easy way to communicate with other parts of the world while you are in Taiwan. Zoom, Facetime, Skype, Google Meets, Facebook, Instagram etc. all work too so choose the app/medium that works best for you. The other reason it might be worth getting a Whatsapp is because it is often common among other international travelers. If you are looking to exchange contact info but not looking to add someone on Instagram or Facebook, Whatsapp can be a great neutral connection platform. LINE works too but odds are you may be deleting LINE once you leave Taiwan.
It is hard to oversell this app. If you already speak Chinese or are learning Chinese, odds are you use Pleco, have heard of it, or have another translation app at your disposal.
Nonetheless, Pleco is often a lifesaver. It is a fully downloaded Chinese dictionary that does not need data or wifi to opperate. It enables searches in both English and Chinese and provides a wide range of translations, character breakdowns, sample sentences and more. It will list the simplified character first (reminder: Taiwan uses traditional Chinese characters) but it will include the traditional character in parentheses. You will have to add the function as a keyboard in your phone settings, but Pleco also enables you to search or look up a character by drawing it. The drawing function can be tricky for those just learning Chinese, but remember each character contains a set number of strokes (horizontal and vertical). The drawing feature will help make guesses at the character as long as you can be in the ballpark with both the shape and the number of strokes.
Pro Tip: You can make folders and save characters on Pleco as a means of learning new words or phrases in Chinese.
Pleco is incredible, however, it is also time consuming if say you are at a restaurant and need to know what something is quickly. For this reason we would advise also downloading Google Translate and enabling the photo translate function. Menus, exhibition signs, train tickets, theater seat numbers, etc., have all been known to snag the unsuspecting traveler and induce a state of panic when they realize they can’t read what’s in front of them. As a reminder, google translate will need data or wifi to operate. See our post about getting a sim card in Taiwan here.
Google Maps is of very little use if you are in mainland China, however, in Taiwan it makes life easy. You can download set areas ahead of time if you need to navigate while using it offline. Otherwise, Google Maps can be immensely helpful when finding bus or train times and helping you navigate around different parts of the Island.
Pro Tip: We use it to scan menus and translate Chinese menus ahead of time so that we can walk into an entirely Mandarin speaking restaurant knowing roughly what we would like to order.
In large cities in Taiwan it is easy to use Uber. For the traveler worried about communicating with a taxi driver there is no Chinese required. There will be fewer Ubers if you are in the countryside or a remote part of Taiwan, but there will often be taxi, bus or train options. There is an app called FindTaxi for taxies in Taiwan, however, it is almost entirely in Mandarin and may not be the easiest for a foreign visitor.
If you want to rent a bike in Taiwan, this is how to do it. You will need to create an account with Youbike 2.0 but if you happen to have a Taiwan phone number it is even easier as you can connect the app to an EasyCard. Otherwise, you will have to use a credit card to rent the bikes.
Odds are you already have a weather app that you prefer, however, Taiwan Weather tends to be fairly accurate and is well liked by many. Windy, and the Weather Channel are also fairly common in Taiwan as well.
It really depends on the type of traveler that you are, however, if you are in Taiwan and looking for travel passes, SIM cards, cheap HSR tickets, private drivers, car rentals, day tours, hotels, and highly discounted tickets for various attractions in Taiwan, etc., these apps can be good places to start.
When researching apps in Taiwan you will likely see a number of others listed including ones that help with banking, currency exchange, train/metro travel and hotel reservations, dating, and more.
While we have nothing against these other apps, and indeed use many of them ourselves, we also want to respect your phone space and to facilitate the ease of travel rather than to overly clutter of it.
The apps we have listed above are the ones that we truly believe that you can’t do without.