What is Taiwan Most Famous For?

Taiwan is famous for its food, electronics companies, and more. Keep reading to find other things that make it stand out from different countries.

Taiwan isn’t the most popular tourist destination and is mainly known for its geopolitical situation with China—and semiconductors. You have probably seen other brands, products, or people from Taiwan.

Let’s see who and what.

1. Oolong Tea

Taiwan’s tea technology, soil quality, elevation, and climate provide ideal conditions for Taiwan to grow high-quality teas. Combined, they give Taiwan’s tea a more complex taste and a richer finish.

One of Taiwan’s most famous teas is oolong. Otherwise known as Taiwanese Oolong, High Mountain Oolong, or Formosa Oolong.

Here’s an introduction to it and why it’s unique in Taiwan:

Oolong tea is a separate category from green or black tea. It contains 30-50 mg of caffeine, identical to green tea’s 30-50 mg. However, it has less caffeine than black tea, which has 40-60 mg.

You’ll find oolong tea everywhere. But if you visit Taiwan, I highly recommend oolong tea at tea houses in the mountains. They have the most refreshing taste and give you a fantastic view while you sip your drink.

And if you’re looking for a souvenir from Taiwan, I recommend getting loose-leaf oolong tea.

2. Taiwanese Food, Drinks, & Night Markets

Taiwan’s most popular foods are as follows:

  • Pineapple cakes: Sweet pastry with pineapple filling, popular souvenir.
  • Oyster vermicelli: Savory noodle soup with oysters, a local favorite.
  • Braised pork rice: Steamed rice topped with tender, slow-cooked pork belly.
  • Stinky tofu: Fermented tofu with pungent aroma, a divisive delicacy.
  • Hot pot: Communal meal with simmering broth, various raw ingredients.
  • Beef noodles: Hearty soup with rich broth, slices of beef, and noodles.

Try any or all of these while in Taiwan. There are plenty of other foods that I could have listed, but those deserve a separate post.

Taiwanese culture revolves around food and drinks. I’ll cover famous, noteworthy, or interesting food items that have come from or are within Taiwan.

1. Mongolian Barbecue

A Taiwanese comedian and entrepreneur, Wu Zhaonan, created Mongolian barbecue after opening a street food market in Taipei after the Chinese Civil War [1]. He wanted to name it “Beijing barbecue.”

But it wasn’t the best idea since he had just fled China because of a civil war.

I can’t find any mention of why he chose “Mongolian” Barbecue. As it has no ties to Mongolia.

You’re probably wondering what Mongolian BBQ is. It’s a stir-fried dish with meat and veggies cooked on iron griddles at high temperatures.

2. Bubble Tea

Bubble tea (or boba) is milk tea with tapioca pearls and creamer from Taiwan. However, the company that invented bubble tea has been questioned.

A cup of delicious bubble tea at Chun Shui Tang with bubbles floating on top and a large straw, ready to be enjoyed.
Chung Shui Tang’s bubble tea.

Chung Shui Tang claims to have invented bubble tea in 1988. Hanlin claims to have invented it in 1986. Both companies filed lawsuits against one another, which resulted in no trademarks or patents.

In the end, it doesn’t matter which company invented it. So long as we have sweet bubble tea.

3. Kavalan Whiskey

Taiwan’s home to Kavalan Whiskey. It’s a company that has won 7 of the 111 Platinum awards from the Beverage Tasting Institute. Their Single Malt bottle is an excellent buy if you’re a whiskey person.

Here are its tastes, notes, and finish:

  • Notes: Mango, vanilla, floral, & tropical fruits
  • Taste: Spicy barley, gentle oak, mango, & creamy
  • Finish: Fragrant pear skin, allspice, & vanilla
Helps you understand Kavalan’s taste.

4. Night Markets in Taiwan

Taiwan has more than 60 street food markets. These markets are streets lined with stalls that sell various street foods, clothing, carnival-style games, and other trinkets. The food doesn’t cost much and is a great way to get a quick snack.

Raohe Night Market, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan
Raohe Street Night Market stalls

Hence, many Taiwanese may prefer visiting these markets after a long work day.

Most night markets throughout Taiwan have at least one stand with a dish that’s popular in its area. Or have received a Michelin star.

5. Popular Taiwanese Chain Restaurants

Din Tai Fung (鼎泰豐) is a world-renowned restaurant from Taiwan. Many of its branches worldwide have received Michelin stars. Meaning judges have ranked its food as the best in its category.

What does Din Tai Fung serve?

Small dumplings, or xiaolongbao (小籠包), are their most famous foods. They’re steamed buns prepared in bamboo steaming baskets. Din Tai Fung has other foods like fried rice, wok dishes, and noodles.

Usually, I feel fatigued after eating dumplings and similar foods, but eating at Din Tai Fung gives me a “clean” feeling after eating. I don’t feel lethargic.

Other chain restaurants from Taiwan include:

  • 85°C Bakery Cafe (85度C): Offers a wide variety of baked goods, cakes, and beverages. Popular for its sea salt coffee.
  • Chatime (日出茶太): One of the leading bubble tea brands, with locations in over 30 countries.
  • CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice: Another popular bubble tea chain known for its diverse drink menu.
  • Ten Ren’s Tea Time: Specializes in tea-based drinks and snacks, with a focus on high-quality tea leaves.

I’ve tried 85°C and CoCo outside of Taiwan, and they honestly didn’t taste different from what I had in Taiwan.

3. Athletes

Taiwan isn’t known for manufacturing many internationally renowned athletes. However, many have made a name for themselves through various feats:

  • Tai Tzu-Ying: World No. 1 ranking in women’s singles badminton for many years
  • Jeremy Lin: One of the most successful Taiwanese stars in the NBA
  • Yani Tseng: Second-youngest player to win the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) major
  • Wang Chien-Ming: First Taiwanese baseball player to win a World Series ring
  • Kuo Hsing-Chun: 5-time world champion weightlifter

Many Taiwanese athletes have won gold medals in the Olympics as well. For instance, Kuo Hsing-chun won one in 2021.

4. TSMC (What a Surprise)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is a contract semiconductor design and manufacturing company. While many companies worldwide produce semiconductors, TSMS produces the most advanced ones.

Semiconductors are essential in managing electrical properties in military systems, transportation, computers, phones, and more. They’re essential for electronics to work. Hence, why TSMC is vital to Taiwan.

Here’s more information on semiconductors:

Explains what semiconductors are (in general).

5. Chinese Artifacts

Taipei’s National Palace Museum houses more than 650,000 ancient Chinese artifacts. The most extensive collection in the world. These items encompass ancient Chinese history spanning 8,000 years.

Many items that are a part of this collection include:

  • Textiles
  • Qing dynasty archival documents & other rare books
  • Fans
  • Calligraphic model books & works
  • Paintings & tapestries
  • Coins
  • Carvings
  • Enamel wares
  • Jades
  • Ceramics

After the Republic of China (ROC) lost to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek relocated many Chinese artifacts from Beijing and other cities to Taipei.

6. High-Quality Bicycles

Have you ever seen a Giant Bicycles (捷安特) or Merida (美利達工業) brand bike? Both brands earned spots in the “Taiwan Top 10 Global Brands” in 2022. Solidifying their spots as global leaders in the bicycle market.

I couldn’t find more information regarding their overall market share.

Taiwan’s bicycle rental service, YouBike, also uses Giant’s bikes.

7. Betel Nut Beauties

Betel nut beauties are saleswomen who wear seductive clothing to attract people to betel nut stands. Despite the clothing they wear, most of them don’t solicit prostitution or are managed by gangs.

Usually, mom-and-pop stores hire these girls to attract more customers and drive sales.

Local governments throughout Taiwan began enforcing dress code laws that ruined betel nut beauties’ appeal in 2002. It prohibited them from wearing clothing that revealed the “three nos”:

  • Butt
  • Boobs
  • Belly

You may see betel nut ladies throughout Taiwan nowadays despite the laws. However, I haven’t. I mostly see girls wearing short skirts at betel nut stands.

Explains who betel nut beauties are.

What even are betel nuts?

The betel nut, or Taiwanese chewing gum, is a betel palm seed with stimulating properties. Many suggest 1 betel nut equals 5 cups (1.18 l) of coffee. 

If you’re in Taiwan, I recommend avoiding betel nut seeds. Studies suggest that they increase the risk of oral cancer and heart disease [2]. You also need to spit them out after chewing.

Which usually leads to blood-tinged spots on sidewalks throughout Taiwan.

8. One of The World’s Tallest Buildings

In 2004 (its open date), Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest building. As of 2024, it is the 11th tallest.

It has 8 sections that resemble a bamboo stalk. The number “8” and bamboo stalks represent wealth and good luck in Taiwanese (and most Asian countries) cultures. There’s a lot more to cover about the skyscraper’s design features, but that’s for another guide.

9. LGBTQ+ Marriage Laws

Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage on May 24th, 2019. In 2022, Taiwan legalized same-sex couples to adopt children. This wasn’t the case when the same-sex marriage law went into effect.


Taiwanese can only marry same-sex partners foreigners from countries that acknowledge same-sex marriage [3]. A couple of countries on this list include the USA and Canada. You’ll need to read the rest of the list to find more.

10. Computer Parts Companies

Taiwan’s home to various notable electronics companies like:

  • Foxconn: Responsible for iPhones, Macs, & other Apple products
  • ASUS: Laptops, routers, & more
  • ACER: Laptops & more
  • Asrock: Motherboard
  • BenQ: Monitors
  • Thermaltake: Gamer peripherals
  • Cooler Master: Power supplies & more
  • HTC: Smartphones
  • MSI: Graphics card & more

Despite these companies basing their operations in Taiwan, Taiwanese don’t enjoy the luxury of more affordable computer parts. Various tech. experts I’ve seen suggest this is because Taiwan has a smaller market. When compared to the United States and China.

11. Affordable Health Insurance

Taiwan provides its citizens with an affordable and mandatory national health insurance system. Most copay visits are NT$150 ($5.00), and monthly premiums cost less than $30. Plus, they have decent-quality healthcare.

The biggest issue stems from the time crunch doctors face. Since many people visit the doctors daily, they don’t have enough time for thorough consultations, which could lead to misdiagnosis.

This has happened to me.

12. Taiwanese Celebrities

You may recognize some of these Taiwanese celebrities:

  • Jolin Tsai: The “Queen of C-Pop”
  • Chou Tzuyu: Member of the K-Pop group Twice
  • Jay Chou: A Mandapop star who has won countless awards and nominations
    • He also starred in movies like Me 2 & The Green Hornet
One of Jay Chou’s most popular songs.

13. Convenience Store Culture

Taiwan’s convenience stores serve as a one-stop-shop for the fast-paced Taiwanese lifestyle. At 7-Eleven, Family Mart, OK, and Hi-Life shops, customers have access to the following:

  • Affordable hot meals
  • Wi-Fi 
  • Pay bills & fines
  • Send & receive packages
  • Buy tickets
  • Buy prepaid SIM cards
  • Rent power banks

I visit convenience stores every day and find no reason to see most other places. Because I can get affordable food and coffee.

If you’re in Taiwan, you’ll likely see a 7-Eleven and/or a Family Mart on almost every block in cities. In rural areas, they’ve been adding more facilities. Whether through stores or vans that provide convenience store services.

14. Political Drama

If you know about the Republic of China (Taiwan), you likely know about all the drama with their neighbor, the People’s Republic of China (mainland China). China claims Taiwan is a breakaway province due to the results of the Chinese Civil War.

The Republic of China’s constitution claims China as its territory [4]. However, the Taiwanese government has unofficially denounced those claims, and almost all Taiwanese don’t hold this claim, either.

Taiwanese people just want to live normal lives.

On a slightly lighter note:

You may have seen videos of Taiwanese politicians brawling and hurling pig organs at their opponents.

Here’s a NSFW(ish) video:

15. Politician Who’s in a Metal Band

Freddy Lim (林昶佐) is a politician who’s Taiwanese of course. He’s one of the founding members of the New Power Party (NPP) and the symphonic black metal band CHTHONIC.

A black metal band renowned for blending traditional Taiwanese musical elements with metal. Their songs primarily revolve around themes of Taiwanese mythology, history, and politics, often addressing issues such as cultural identity and social justice.

They also collaborated with Trivium’s Matt Heafy to give us this awesome song:

I went to one of CHTHONIC’s “shows,” which was just a political rally for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). However, it was still awesome. If you like metal music and have a chance to see them live in Taiwan, do it.

16. It’s One of the Safest Countries Out There

Taipei is the 5th safest city in the world (in 2024 so far). According to Numbeo, it has a “Very Low” level of crime of 10.09. The worst number a city could have is around 120 in this category.

The level of walking alone during night is 86.30 out of 100. “100” is the best number in this specific category. Thus, it’s super safe.

I’ve never felt in danger here—other than the earthquakes and typhoons.

17. Earthquakes

Taiwan has more than 2,200 earthquakes annually. Taiwanese people feel around 200 of those. Within the past 10 years, 155 people have died from earthquakes.

In 1999, Taiwan’s largest recorded quake killed around 2,415 people.

However, these days, Taiwan has improved its infrastructure a lot (for the most part), which has resulted in A LOT fewer deaths. Hopefully the infrastructure keeps improving and those numbers continue to drop.

18. Motorbikes/Scooters/Mopeds

Taiwan has 1 motorbike per 1.7 folks in the country. More than 12% of these motorbikes (recorded in 2022) are electric scooters [5].

I sure wish they’d publish a 2023 update.

Anyway. Gogoro’s battery-sharing network accounts for 90% of all electric mopeds in the country. A-Motor, PGO, eMoving, and Yama are the other popular companies.

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Source: Directorate General of Highways, Highway Bureau, MOTC, Taiwan

I should tell you about the battery swapping stations.

Instead of charging at home, riders swap depleted batteries for fully charged ones at convenient GoStations located throughout the island.

19. Being Mistaken for Thailand

When I was in the US I told my coworkers about Taiwan and they kept thinking I was talking about Thailand.

Apparently, CNN, a news network that should know the difference, is the same:


Source: @meiguo_niupai, Twitter / X

Count how many errors you can see in both pictures. Maybe in the second picture, their “autocorrect” put in “Thailand’s” instead of “Taiwan’s”. Considering in the upper-left corner it says “Taipei, Taiwan.”

20. Pleasant Garbage Trucks

At least within the cities, garbage trucks will play The Maiden’s Prayer by Bądarzewska-Baranowska or Für Elise by Beethoven when approaching their pickup spot.

These songs warn people that a garbage truck is approaching. As most people in older buildings are responsible for chasing garbage trucks at certain locations during certain times.

Here’s a truck playing the song by Beethoven:

21. Global Leader in Recycling

The formerly dubbed “Garbage Island” now has one of the highest recycling rates in the world. Here’s a breakdown of some of the areas they succeed:

  • Landfills contribute to less than 2% of their total waste.
  • Recycles 80% of industrial waste.
  • Has more than 2,000 recycling companies.
  • 55% overall recycling rate
  • Recycles more than 73% of their plastic.

Most people don’t think of Taiwan when they think of recycling. However, many articles have been written about it.


What is Taiwan the Biggest Producer of?

Taiwan is the biggest producer of advanced semiconductors.

What’s Taiwan’s Biggest Export?

Taiwan’s largest export is electrical machinery—it makes up 49% of the country’s total exports.