Taiwan's economy centres around service businesses, making up over 70 percent of the country's output and over half of the workforce. The region has a very high population in a small geographical area, so competition is extremely high among businesses. This places severe limitations on the market share a business can achieve and the resources it has at its disposal.
Although Taiwan does not have a free trade agreement with Australia, the two hold annual meetings to discuss market access and other issues. Taiwan is one of Australia's largest export markets, so there are a lot of opportunities for Australian business dealings in Taiwan.
In Taiwanese culture, it is often the quality of your network of contacts and not the quality of your product or service that secures business deals. It is unlikely that a Taiwanese businessperson will agree to a deal without first meeting and building a relationship with you. As such, most meetings typically begin with small talk before moving on to business matters.
As in many other parts of Asia, the bulk of business dealings often happens over dinner and drinks after office hours. Wait until a toast has been given before drinking, holding your glass in your right hand, supported by your left. It is customary to return the toast as well. Expect late-night activities, like karaoke, as part of the package.
In Taiwan, exchanging business cards is common, so be sure to bring plenty with you. Always give and receive cards with both hands. The Taiwanese are known for being shrewd negotiators, so make sure to do plenty of research before entering into negotiations.
In Taiwan, social norms require people to behave with politeness and respect. Always allow more senior business representatives to speak first when it comes to negotiations. Try not to get overly emotional or agitated, as this can often be interpreted as immature. Show patience and even-headedness to win the most respect.
People in Taiwan place a high value on punctuality, even though traffic can often make this difficult. Do your best to show up to meetings early, and always respond to messages as quickly as possible, even if it is just to notify the sender that you have received their message and will respond more fully later.
In Taiwan, businesses are typically open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, although many close between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. for lunch. Banks are the exception, closing at 3:00 p.m. Shops usually open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day, including holidays. However, most are closed during Chinese New Year. Taiwan is two hours behind Australia's eastern time zone, three hours during Daylight Saving Time.
Currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar. In Taipei, you will find that most major credit cards are accepted. However, Southern Taiwan operates mainly on cash, so be sure to have plenty available. ATMs are prevalent in most public areas, providing easy access to cash.
Heavy rain is common in Taiwan during the summer months (May to September), so it is advisable to carry an umbrella at all times. Typhoons also occur frequently during this time of year. The weather is hot and humid in summer, with temperatures over 30 degrees. The temperature drops to about 10 degrees in winter. Earthquakes are common in Taiwan as well. Brace yourself in a doorway if one occurs, and try to stay away from power lines if possible.
Taiwan's electricity is 110 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin flat plugs are the most commonly used.
Australian travellers to Taiwan do not need a visa if their trip will take less than 30 days and their passport has at least six months of validity remaining. If you will be staying longer than 30 days or if your passport is nearing expiry, you will need to obtain a visa from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia.
Taiwan's main airport is the Chiang Kai-Shek International Airport. Most major hotels offer airport transfers, making it easy to get between the airport and your hotel. Public buses also run frequently and are a relatively inexpensive option. You can also take a taxi from the airport if you so choose.
Taxis are typically the best option for getting around and are not very expensive by Australian standards. The Mass Rapid Transit train network is another great option, but keep in mind that it only services Taipei and does not go out of the city. You can also choose to hire a car for yourself, although you must obtain an internal license from the Motor Vehicle Supervision Department. These licenses are usually valid for three to six months from the date of issue.
Throughout Taiwan, a service charge is incorporated into your bill, so there is no need to tip for services.
Taiwan offers loads of mid-range hotel options. It is best to avoid the luxury hotels, as they can often be quite pricey when compared to other hotels available.
When dining out in Taiwan, it is usually best to avoid restaurants in hotels, which tend to be much more expensive than standalone restaurants. Major cities in Taiwan offer a wide range of dining options, including western-style eateries and traditional Chinese fare.
Taiwan is known for both its rugged mountains and beautiful coastlines, so be sure to allow time in your schedule to see both. No trip to Taiwan would be complete without a visit to one of its bustling night markets, like the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei. In addition to a vast selection of local cuisine, this market also offers a variety of shopping opportunities. As an added bonus, car traffic is separated from foot traffic, making this market much safer for visitors.
For an escape from your busy work day, head to one of Taiwan's many hot springs. They are prevalent near almost every city in Taiwan, earning it the nickname, "Hot Spring Heaven." Hot springs are especially concentrated near the Datun Volcano.