So you are coming to Taipei, first of all, well done! Taipei is a beautiful, friendly city and with the coming 2017 Universiade there will be an influx of people from all over the world. The city itself is surrounded by mountains and natural beauty so if you love hiking and river tracing, you are in the right place. There are tens of thousands non-locals working and living here. I tried to avoid the word foreigner, having grown up in London, a very multi-cultural place, you are no stranger to me. That being said, the locals, in which I am also becoming myself, are very friendly indeed. Most know a bit of conversational English so don't worry about asking for directions, all the roads have English names and the public transport, such as the MRT, have complete English signs and names. If you do get lost in Taipei, like myself, it would really be your own fault :D

I think it is a culture thing to be a gracious host and the Taiwanese are hospitable to a fault. People here do like to stare though, just out of fascination, so don't be offended. It's like going to the zoo, think Giraffes like humans staring and pointing at them? Just keep chewing that hay.

Getting the best out of Taipei

1. Guides by Lonely Planet iOS/Android

Now this is a good one to have if you are new to Taipei or in fact for any major city in the world. This is because it lets you download the guide and the offline map for free so you don't need to use roaming internet on your mobile! Lists all the must-see sights, guides are carefully curated to make sure you don't miss the best places. Within each city, it lists what or where you can see, eat, sleep, shop, drink, and play. It is easy and intuitive to use. I have already downloaded Lisbon, Madrid and Barcelona for my trip in a few months.

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2. Google Translate iOS/Android

This is obvious for the wrong reasons but one of the best features from google translate isn't telling you what words mean but to have it access your camera and change Traditional Chinese to any language you see in the screen on the fly! Talk about an amazing functionality that no one knows about. Actually, google bought this company and incorporated it in their translate software. Google will finally merge with your brain. You heard it here first.

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3. FunNow iOS/Android

Have a gap in your trip schedule and don't want to get that third coffee? Then this is for you! You can book anything up to the next 15min and swipe your card and the service is reserved and waiting for you. Everything listed is available and unavailable stuff is taken out. Talk about instant gratification. They have picked out the better stuff of Taipei, includes city tour double decker busses for sightseeing, like the ones in London but instead of just stepping off the bus on your last stop, you are dropped off at a massage place to sooth your tired legs, or at a yummy dessert shop to replenish your energy. Some other cities are included, such as Hong Kong.

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4. Uber iOS/Android

Slightly cheaper than the yellow taxies, though not by much. You get to know exactly how much you are owed before you get on and using your credit card so there is no need to carry a bucket of coins. They were banned a while ago, but did some tweaking to their business and are back in the fold again.

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5. uBike/oBike iOS/Android

Two different apps but with the same idea that you can ride bicycles around the city, the only difference is that oBike does not have return stations so you must be careful that you don't park in inappropriate places. With oBike you can reserve the bike that you want before you claim it. It is a nice feature that ensures you have a bike when you get there. Cycling is the best way to get to know a city such as Taipei. Can be very hot so wear a straw hat and take with you a big bottle of water during the summer. Summers are long in Taiwan :D

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6. Google Maps

More than just finding your way, it shows you walking routes, local public transport routes/times. For those typhoon days where you'd get blown away cycling uBike/oBike and also when you find you spam uber way too much and drivers start to call you by your first name.

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