Why should you consider Taipei in Taiwan as a Chinese language learning destination?
I think Taiwan is one of the most underrated destinations in Asia and has so much to offer.
- The food is great
- They drink good coffee
- The Chinese Mandarin accent is very clear
- Taipei is a large city but not too overwhelming
- Taiwan is an island full of national parks, nature and bird life
Taipei is a fantastic choice for a Chinese language learning holiday.
I’ve been to Taiwan three times, and last month we spent 2 weeks in Taipei on a Chinese language learning holiday.
The whole family loved it! (me, Lingo Dada and Lingo Bubba who is 17 months old). It really is an easy place to get around and to live.
Here is what you need to know if you are considering Taipei for a Chinese language learning holiday…
Do You Want to Learn Chinese in Taipei?
Where to study?
Taiwan Mandarin Institute
I choose TMI because of the reviews online and the responses I received to my enquiries before booking. I am really happy I chose them and had a great experience with my private 1:1 classes. The class materials were included in my tuition fee, and I could select the days, how many hours and times I wanted to study. There were many other Chinese learners also doing 1:1 classes at TMI while I was there too. They have a social activities program that runs a few evenings a week which you can choose to join or not.
Lingo Mama readers are entitled to a special discount at TMI – subscribe to Lingo Mama to receive this 5% discount off courses at TMI.
National Taiwan University Chinese Language Program
A former classmate of mine from Melbourne is a current advanced Chinese language student at NTU. He is loving the program and the challenges it presents. If you are wanting a traditional university style language program, this could be a good option. The courses run over four terms per year with small sized group classes.
National Taiwan Normal University Mandarin Training Centre
The Mandarin Training Centre has a renowned reputation and has educated many prominent people, including Australia’s former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. As well as normal semester-long programs, they run an express and intensive course. TMI course materials use the textbooks designed by the Mandarin Training Centre.
Traditional characters vs simplified characters
If you have learnt Chinese before chances are you have studied simplified characters (used in mainland China, and in Singapore and Malaysia).
Taiwan (and Hong Kong) use traditional characters and the main difference is there are lot more strokes in each character making it potentially more complex to learn and remember.
In my opinion, if you are a beginner Chinese learner and keen to spend time in Taiwan then I would suggest learning traditional characters. If however, you have been studying Chinese already then I would suggest continuing with simplified characters.
As you improve and spend more time immersed in traditional characters you will find you can recognise many words anyhow.
I chose to continue to learn in simplified characters. The teachers at TMI were happy to accommodate my request and even provide a simplified character version of the course materials (especially for students like me!)
Where to stay?
We are huge fans of using Airbnb when we travel. We love the convenience of having a kitchen, lounge area and laundry. In Taipei we even had an apartment with two bedrooms. This helps a lot with Lingo Bubba’s nap and sleep times. For us, the location is paramount. Our apartment was a 10-minute walk to Taiwan Mandarin Institute and an 8-minute walk to the MRT station. We had cafes, restaurants and shops a 1 minute + walk away. The Taiwan National University campus was only 5 minutes walk too.
There are plenty of hotels and hostel options if you are staying in Taipei short term. If you are looking for a longer term accommodation option many of the language schools and universities offer student dorm style accommodation. For flat share or apartment rental, take a read of this blog post for some insights and ideas on where to start.
Costs in Taipei
We found overall costs in Taipei pretty reasonable, and cheaper than we are used to in Melbourne, Australia.
Our Airbnb apartment cost $91 AUD per night (two bedroom apartment) plus Airbnb fees and cleaning fee. Coffee in upmarket cafes are expensive – sometimes over $6-$7 per cup. A metro ticket costs from $0.90 and a short taxi fare from $4-$5. We were able to get many meals for less than $10 each and street snacks (like gua bao 挂包）are a great bargain usually around $2-$3.
(AUD = $0.75 USD)
How to keep the family entertained?
I chose Taipei mostly because I knew there are a lot of things for Lingo Dada and Lingo Bubba to do whilst I was studying.
It’s a large city but not unmanageable and the metro system is easy to navigate.
Taipei is a big city with heaps of attractions and activities to keep everyone happy and entertained.
What else to do apart from Chinese study?
Eat! There are night markets galore, street vendors with all kinds of goodies.
The coffee is great, and you can find cafes all over the place (although many are not open until 12 midday or even 1.00pm….!)
Plan a day trip or a weekend away out of Taipei. Taipei is blessed with fantastic day trip options, many of which are accessible by metro or train and bus.
When to go?
Taipei is HOT! If you are not a fan of hot and steamy weather then it is best to avoid July and August. The winters are mild in Taipei so this could be a good time to come as well. We were most recently in Taipei in May and it was warm to hot most days and pretty humid.
Other great resources:
Facebook / Instagram @AToddlerinTaipei
Facebook / Instagram @hungryintaipei
Have I convinced you yet? Would you like to learn Chinese in Taipei? Ask me any burning question below!
And don’t forget to subscribe to get your discount off Chinese courses at Taiwan Mandarin Institute.
Until next time,