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Taiwan is a fantastic destination full of bustling cities, mountains and relaxing beaches, but it can be hard to get around without speaking the local language so I’m here to recommend some phone apps to help.
As an avid traveller, I have been to multiple destinations where I couldn’t speak the local language. I’ll be honest, it can be overwhelming. However, we are currently living in an age full of technological advancements that make our lives easier.
With the help of translation apps, transportation apps, food apps and everything in between. I want to share with you my favourite apps that help improve the lives of those living in and visiting Taiwan.
If you’re planning on travelling around Taiwan for more than just a few days, you should consider getting a local eSim card. That way you’ll have access to all of the below apps without needing to hunt for wifi!
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Taiwan apps for translation
Google Translate (Lens)
In Taiwan, the national spoken language is Mandarin Chinese. This means, that if you are unable to speak or read the language you will likely need to use Google Translate.
What’s great about this app is that it allows you to take images of the Chinese written language and it will translate it directly on your screen for you. This comes in handy when you need to read a menu or make a purchase. You can even manually type in sentences and speak verbally to the app and it will translate those ways too.
Pleco (Chinese Dictionary)
For those who have moved to or visited Taiwan without knowledge of the local language. The Pleco Chinese Dictionary is one of the best apps in Taiwan for translation and learning. You can use the audio function to record a word and the app will automatically translate it for you.
Plus, if you need to look up a word you can do so using the dictionary feature that offers words in English, it’s matching Chinese characters and a description of what the word means.
If you download the extra feature (unfortunately for a small cost) you can even take photos of the Chinese language and the app will translate it for you directly on the screen. This app is most useful for those looking to learn some of the language instead of just getting by.
Taiwan Communication Apps
Line is without a doubt one of the best apps to use in Taiwan to keep in communication with people. Similar to WhatsApp in Europe and KakaoTalk in Korea, pretty much everybody in Taiwan has a Line account. You can’t really do much without it.
With Line, you can send and receive messages, images, voice notes and more. Each account is connected to a phone number and “Line ID” so even if you change your number, contacts can still find you by your ID name. I’ve been able to maintain a Line account even though I no longer have a Taiwanese phone number.
Having lived in multiple western countries and met people all over the world, this one surprised me. But in Taiwan EVERYONE uses Instagram and I’d even argue that they use it more than in many other countries for communication.
Although it is predominantly a social network, Instagram Messenger is used as a primary source of keeping in touch with friends here. Unlike many of the other apps on our Taiwan list, many foreigners that visit the country already have an Instagram account so it’s one less thing to set up when you arrive and can easily keep in touch with new friends.
Transport Apps in Taiwan
Bus Tracker Taiwan
In Taiwan, one of the best ways to keep track of bus timetables is to use phone apps. One of the best-recommended apps for this is “Bus Tracker Taiwan” as it not only shows you the entire route map for each bus and transport option, but you can also show in real time which buses will arrive soon.
Also, just because the name says bus tracker, doesn’t mean you can’t check the other modes of transport too.
From this app, you can look up the information and route map for the Airport Bus, the MRT lines, and Trains, and even show bicycles that you can rent. This really is such a convenient app for those using public transportation in Taiwan.
Taiwan Railways Administration
Taiwan Railways Administration is on our list as one of the helpful navigation apps for trains in the country. You can purchase online e-tickets for train journeys, check the schedules for different train lines and routes and you can also check the live train status.
All of this can be done with just a few clicks of a button on your mobile app so you can easily find your way.
The app works in both Chinese and English so you should have no problems navigating the app and getting around Taiwan. You can look at transport routes that are direct and those that include transfers so you’ll be able to get anywhere you need to.
Metro Taipei is another one of the apps I recommend for your time in Taiwan because it’s an easy way to plan your journey and know the price of each ticket in advance. This is great if you are trying to plan an itinerary but you’re on a budget as the app will tell you how much a full fare is for an adult ticket.
If you need to know what times the trains are or if you need to know what route to take, this app will successfully give you the information you need.
If you are likely to be out later than usual, the app will even keep you updated with the last trains each day so you can make sure you don’t get stranded. Plus, it’s completely in English so there are no concerns if you can’t yet understand the Chinese Language.
Taxi & Rideshare Apps in Taiwan
Uber is known worldwide as a convenient rideshare app. It allows you to order taxis directly from your app. What’s great about Uber compared to traditional taxi services is to keep the overall trip at a lower cost, you have the option to possibly share a ride with another passenger heading in the same direction.
There are multiple options within the app so you can either go for the lower-cost share option or you can select a more expensive regular taxi which has only your party included.
Plus, you don’t only have the option to order a taxi here and now, you can also reserve a rideshare for a later date or time if you’re trying to plan ahead. You can pay and keep track of all rides in the app!
Taiwan Taxi (55688)
Taiwan Taxi is another addition to our list of great apps for those in Taiwan as it helps you get taxis in and around the country. Similar to Uber, you can hail a taxi and select cars based on the different features available. The one downside with this app compared to some of the others listed is there doesn’t seem to be a way to get the app in English.
However, it is relatively easy to use thanks to the images so I had a native Taiwanese friend help me translate so we can show you the important features if you’re brave enough to give it a go.
Scooter & Bike Rental Apps in Taiwan
“You Bike” is another one on our list of useful apps in Taiwan, as it allows you to find stations with bikes you can rent. Since so many people use bicycles and scooters in the country there are multiple places to find a scooter on a temporary basis.
You can search the accurate rates through the app for each neighbourhood or city, and you can see a colour-coded map of each place that has bikes available for you.
If you’re new to renting bikes this way, you can read the in-depth instruction manual in the app and also understand how the renting process works. It explains how you can find and rent and bike as well as what’s included so you don’t run into any problems.
Food Delivery Apps in Taiwan
Uber Eats is very popular back home in the UK and it’s used a lot here in Taiwan too. It’s a food delivery app that connects hungry people with local restaurants and grocery stores so they can place their orders ahead of time. The app is highly organised and lets you search by cuisine or daily offer and you’ll be spoiled for choice.
This is one of the best apps in Taiwan for ordering food and you can pay both on delivery arrival or directly through the app depending on what is more convenient for you. Now you don’t have to cook dinner, you can simply order food!
Food Panda is a popular food delivery service that many locals and visitors use around the country. It’s one of the nation’s favourite apps in Taiwan and it gives you the chance to order food to be delivered.
If you’re in the position to pick up the pre-ordered food yourself you can often get a discount to save some money, otherwise, it’s the lazy way to get some dinner without you needing to cook.
Food Panda is a modern app that allows you to search hundreds of food types and cuisines as well as look at grocery stores to place weekly orders on. You can get notified of discounts and offers and there is so much choice available to you. Plus, as you can probably guess, the app is in English too!
Final Thoughts on Apps in Taiwan
These apps should help to make your visit to Taiwan a smooth one. You’ll be able to get around the country and communicate with your new friends with ease.
If you’re spending an extended time in Taipei and you’re looking for some quirky things to do, check out these posts for some inspiration: