It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you learn beforehand the dos and don’ts of every culture. If you were planning a trip to mesmerizing Taiwan, you’re in luck!
Taiwanese people are generally not overly formal or easily offended, and they are also very familiar with Western customs. As long as you smile, and we mean smile a lot, you’ll do just fine.
People in Taiwan are quite hospitable, and often shy when meeting a foreigner, so be friendly and don’t forget to smile. The Taiwanese really appreciate when foreigners are interested in their culture, as all people usually do.
The Taiwanese dress the same way that Westerners do. They are also not unfamiliar with subcultures and various types of style that may be a little extreme. Neat is always the safe option. As for formal and business dressing, it’s also the same as in Western countries.
Wearing sandals and flip flops is viewed as a farmer’s habit, and therefore inappropriate for town outings and work. Many libraries and finer establishments prohibit sandal-wearers onto the premises.
However, leather sandals with straps, particularly imported and expensive ones are accepted. Also, don’t forget to take your shoes off when entering someone’s home.
Taiwanese usually shake hands when meeting each other, and they generally do not bow (as in Japan or Korea), except when on very formal occasions while being on a stage (in front of audience or being presented with an award).
When presenting a gift or anything at all for that matter, it is polite to offer it with both hands to symbolize that the present is an extension of your person. When thanking someone, say “xie xie”.
While Western-style restaurants use the knife, fork and spoon, the utensils of choice throughout Taiwan are chopsticks. Be free to pick up your bowl and hold it under your chin when you eat and tuck the bones under the edge of your plate.
Make sure to never stand your chopsticks up in your rice bowl – this action is seen as food left for the dead, usually done at funerals. When beckoning someone over, a waiter perhaps, your hand should be palm down to be polite, not palm up as in the west.
Tapping your thumbs on the table is a compliment when eating and a gracious host will tell you the food isn’t as good as he wanted it to be, because they are really humble.
Tipping is not expected in Taiwan, except when it comes to bellhops in hotels. In restaurants, they will just add 10-15% to your check. Other than those places tipping is a custom yet to be practiced regularly. It is not necessary to tip taxi drivers, but if the balance is not too much tell them to keep the change (“bu yong dzao.”) It will be appreciated.