Taiwan itinerary for 14 days

Solo female travel in Taiwan: hitchhiking from south to north for 2 weeks

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!

Taiwan itinerary for 14 days

Hitchhiking companions, Lander (Spain) and Alex (Philippines).

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.

solo female travel in Taiwan

Lander couldn’t believe his eyes!

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?

solo female travel safety in taiwan

Tsai Ing-wen is the first woman President of Taiwan / Photo by The Washington Post

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?

Taiwan itinerary for 14 days

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

Taiwan itinerary for 14 days

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.

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Have you tried solo female travel in Taiwan?

Where did you go? What did you do? How was it to travel to Taiwan? I would love to hear from you! Leave your thoughts in the comment box below and help other solo female travelers plan their trip to Taiwan!

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Trisha is one of those people who left their comfortable life to travel the world and learn about life. Her style is to stay in one place she likes for 3 months (or more) to know what it feels like to eat, cook, speak and sleep in another culture that isnโ€™t hers. She'd like to believe she's not traditionally traveling but she just chooses to be somewhere else all the time. Trisha is an ambassador of Girl Rising, a global movement for girls' education and empowerment. In no particular order, her favourite cities in the world are Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong and Tel Aviv. Follow her life adventures on Instagram: @psimonmyway

Comments

  • Carol Colborn
    June 16, 2019

    I don’t travel solo but I can attest to the friendliness and helpfulness of the Taiwanese. It is one of the stories I always retell. Spent 3 weeks in Taiwan and the speed trains took us everywhere from north to south and back.

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  • Hannah
    June 17, 2019

    Wow, what fun adventures hitchhiking! I remember hitchhiking in NZ 20 years ago, but probably wouldn’t do it now… purely because my old bones wouldn’t appreciate the back of a pick-up truck ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hostels sure are a good way to make friends!

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  • sherianne
    June 17, 2019

    Great way to save money and see an unexpected attraction. A penis shrine? Love it. Oh my gosh. I needed a morning laugh. I havenโ€™t tried couchsurfing but it does sound like it could be a great way to experience everyday life with the right host

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  • Elaine Masters
    June 18, 2019

    I used to hitchike but not alone. Glad to hear tt hat it’s not too challenging in Taiwan. It’s always easier when you have others to travel with. Staying in hostels is a great way to meet people for sure.

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  • Linda (LD Holland)
    June 18, 2019

    I have to give you credit for hitchhiking around Taiwan. You are a good sport for being ok with getting wet on your ride. And interesting to learn that there are no gender prejudices. So that makes it easier to travel as a solo female. You gave me a better view of the safety in Taiwan.

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  • Indrani
    June 18, 2019

    Good to know solo trip is possible in Taiwan. Women leaders do make a difference to this world. Couch surfing, hitch hiking, solo travel all in one place! Taiwan sure is a great place to travel.

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  • Vasu Devan
    June 19, 2019

    This has to be the first time I have heard of someone hitchhiking in Taiwan. Kudos for that! I think the reason why most hostellers drink are because of the reason you mention. Easy to make friends. Not only hostel-dwellers, even otherwise, I have found smokers make friends very fast and then come the drinkers. ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Tami Wilcox
    June 19, 2019

    I’m glad to hear it’s been safe for you to travel solo in Taiwan. I can’t imagine hitchhiking here in the United States and feeling as safe as you did. I think the best part of your Taiwan experience is the opportunity to make new friends at hostels and through couchsurfing, and learn more about the culture too.

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  • Nicole
    June 19, 2019

    This is so awesome! I really want to visit later this year! Great info here on Taiwan

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  • Sara
    June 19, 2019

    I felt incredibly safe when I was travelling in Taiwan. The people are very honest and lovely. But would I ever think of hitchhiking, probably not. Though you really did have an amazing time and it was a great adventure.

    reply

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