Is solo female travel in Taiwan safe? ABSOLUTELY.
I never expected to hitchhike in Taiwan, however, on the way to the south (from Taipei), I have seen a lot of female travelers on the side road with thumbs up. To be honest, traveling around Taiwan by train can get really expensive, especially if you are doing north to south.
After a week in Dulan, a surf town in the south, I decided to go hitchhiking with friends whom I met at the hostel. We wanted to reach Hualien first to see if it’s easy to hitchhike. The hostel manager made a sign for us in Taiwanese that said “Hualien” and within 2 minutes of raising it in front of the hostel, a pick-up truck stopped for us.
“Please be a pick-up truck” was all I could think about while waiting for the ride. In my hitchhiking experiences, I haven’t had any successes getting a ride for 3 people. Most rides only take 1. Gender is also another factor in hitchhiking as girls get the most luck. I was traveling with a girl and a boy so the odds are very high. It was very unlikely that they will take the guy. However, this hitch proved all those assumptions wrong. In Taiwan, as long as there is space, they will take you!
Raising the thumb was not that difficult as hitchhiking is pretty common in Taiwan. The challenging part was the weather. If you’ve been to Taiwan, you will know that this country is very fond of rainfall. In the middle of that 4-hour ride to Hualien, it rained. The driver and his companion, both about my age, asked the three of us if we wanted to go down and find another ride. We all looked at each other, unwilling to change rides as we were already wet. Nothing could have made it better. I personally love the rain so it was only a few hours to take a shower and not get sick. We told them we’re okay and we’d love to continue the ride with them up to Hualien.
When the rain stopped briefly, they asked if we wanted to see something interesting along the way. One of them explained where they wanted to bring us but none of us understood. His English was not that good. We nodded in agreement anyway. After all, these guys looked harmless. There is also no way that three of us can’t take these 2 guys down. We did not have to discuss that as Taiwanese people are very nice to tourists. I am very sure that they have no intentions of harming us, neither do they know how.
Just as when we were admiring the coast, the truck made a sharp right turn to a canopy driveway that seemed to be a public park. The drive went uphill until we reached the top — there were no views of the coast, nothing really special to see but these guys brought us to a penis shrine. Yes, you read that right. We found ourselves being surrounded by a lot of phalluses in the form of stones.
To date, there are 15 places in the world where the penis is worshipped. The guys told us that the Japanese brought this shrine to Taiwan but we never got any more explanation than that. I also tried to research about it but no penis shrine in Taiwan appeared in the search. It was kinda funny though. We weren’t expecting to be taken in a park full of penises but I guess it comes with the perks of hitchhiking – going places you’ll never think you’ll go.
The rain continued as we paved our way to Hualien. Due to the language barrier, it was hard for us to explain to them where we will go down so they ended up bringing us to our hostel instead. That was over $40 USD saved on transportation!
Women in Taiwan: what’s the status?
Did you know Taiwan has a woman President? This does not make solo female travel in Taiwan safe but Taiwan’s first woman leader makes a difference in the country.
For years, Taiwanese women, like many conservative Asian cultures, have struggled about gender equality. In Taiwan, some women still live in the traditional patriarchal views and social structure within Taiwanese society. For many years, married women’s rights were severely restricted, mainly being subordinates to men. However, through the ever-changing family code of Taiwan, women are slowly getting their seat at the table. Gradually, Taiwanese women have gained a right to education, marriage, work, and political expression. Today, women in Taiwan are a lot more modern and are conscious of their rights.
If you are a solo female traveling around Taiwan, people won’t see you any different. At present, there are no gender prejudices in Taiwan. No one would ask you why you are traveling alone and/or not married. They are very open to the idea that women can travel freely as men do.
How safe is solo female travel in Taiwan?
Apart from this trip, I have visited Taiwan by myself in the past. This underrated Asian country has been my favorite for 2018. I went back three times within one year! Other than the language barrier, it was not hard to talk to locals. They were always willing to help.
Taiwan’s safety record is very impressive. Drug problems are at 23.49%. Property crimes such as vandalism and theft are at 19.55%. Violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery are at 12.08%. Corruption and bribery 39.32%. All these problems are rated very low. In fact, Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei is ranked 66th out of 113 in the safest cities in the world. With this, we can all definitely conclude that solo female travel in Taiwan is very safe.
Making friends as a solo female traveler in Taiwan
When I am traveling by myself, I always encounter friends in hostels. I know staying in hotels in Taiwan is affordable but on this trip, I opted to stay in hostels to get to know more people. It’s easy, cheap and it’s 100% guaranteed to have friends.
In Dulan (pictured above), Alex and I were the only girls in the hostel but we got along with the boys. I find social drinking a way to easily make friends in hostels. I don’t know why but for some reason, every traveler/backpacker I know drinks! Alex even bought alcohol from the Philippines called lambanog, a traditional Filipino distilled palm liquor made from coconut or nipa palm sap. We shared this to all the people in our hostel in Dulan and man, they found it quite strong!
In Taipei, I tried Couchsurfing where I had the chance to meet an amazing human being. When looking for couches to crash, I don’t really expect anything. My experiences in doing this are not always the same. Sometimes, you will get a good host. More often, you don’t. What’s a good host anyway?
Personally, I don’t ask my hosts to do anything for me but I would really like to participate in their daily lives. I do not expect to be fed or to be shown around. If my host has an activity for the day and she/he invites me, I would definitely go. I’ve done this a lot and I got the chance to know the local culture through my hosts.
I don’t have a picture of my host in Taiwan because we were so busy having a lot of fun. My host, Liou, is an artist and a very positive person. I don’t think I’ve met anyone that positive! He is always smiling and is always willing to offer a helping hand. His apartment is huge and super cool, too! Liou showed me the local culture by inviting me to hang out with his friends. I actually didn’t need to be invited — everyone goes to Liou’s house because he has space. Most Taiwanese houses are really small but Liou was able to score a good apartment a bit far from the city center. Up until today, Liou and I talk. He even sent me a gift to my home in the Philippines!
I have made meaningful friendships in Taiwan and in those 3 trips I made to the country, I can definitely attest that Taiwan is safe for solo female travelers.