Safest earthquake district in Taipei + What are some of the pros/cons of doing private lessons vs courses in Mandarin?


Hi, I’m new here (from the UK). I’m visiting Asia for the first time in my life, for about 6-8 weeks between February and April, and plan to be based in Taipei because my partner is originally from there. I want to try learning some Chinese, explore the culture, as well as visit some other places in the country (and maybe also outside) - and get a feeling of what it’s like should I move here permanently one day.

I didn’t find any recent posts about where to look for good affordable short term accommodation; but most importantly I’m worried about safety.

  1. I read that Taiwan is constantly struck by earthquakes, so surely some insiders know which areas are safer, and maybe also which types of houses are most earthquake-resistant?

  2. Is there anything similar to Airbnb where I can easily book online?

  3. What sort of documents/paperwork will I need, especially as I will be traveling without a visa?

Safety is priority 1 for me so I’m willing to pay a small premium if that helps increase my chances to survive…

Thank you

Mandarin courses vs private lessons, student visa

Don’t need to worry about safety much here in Taipei, if that’s where you are coming. Here’s the Wikipedia list of casualties.


“Increase my chances to survive…” what the hell are you worrying about? This isn’t a war zone, we aren’t falling down holes and not ever coming back up.


Hello, Hillary, welcome to The Island

Being a fellow nervous traveler, I share your concerns. Generally speaking, Taipei is really safe, in all aspects. No armed robberies a la Central America, stay with reputable taxis and you’ll be fine, social estability and fine folk outnumber the bad apples that you may find anywhere and everywhere.

That said:

  1. There are specif areas in Taipie -mostly downtown, where you probably do not want to stay anyways, due to air quality/traffic/noise, even though they are very interesting- that have higher risk of liquifaction. That is of course if a big one strikes close by. Aside from that, there are building codes and such, most older places, buildings and such that follow them will hold. As to which ones don’t… mixed use, say bottom floor large commercial area, like a bank or hypermarket, are a bit of concern, but generally, maybe L shaped buildings. Yet, due to resonance it is hit and miss. Nevertheless, we are still here. Big quakes are rare and far bewteen.

  2. Sure. Airbnb. :joy: There is Airbnb for Taiwan. Check it out. And hostels, B&Bs, hotels aplenty at reasonable prices. Try to choose one close to the MRT. If it is more than 10 minutes away from the MRT, if you need a bus shuttle to get to the metro, it is not convenient, do not take it.

Any special area of interest? Check with us here. Newbies tend to pick very unconvenient places, and you should be having fun, not getting lost on buses.

  1. Where are you from again? Just proof of return ticket already purchased. Maybe the address where you will the staying. Basic stuff.


As others have stated, this is not something you need to worry about if you’re in Taipei. You will have to be careful as a pedestrian, cars and scooters don’t give right of way to pedestrians.

Airbnb is present in Taiwan. You can check out their website or this FB group:

Not all the rentals on there will be long term. Lots of people coming here for 3-4 months to study Chinese and leave. There’s lots of options near the schools that have mandarin learning programs in Taipei.

If you plan on studying, why not apply for a student visa? This will be helpful when finding a place to live and some small things here and there.

Your passport will be most important, make sure you don’t forget that :wink:

It’s your first time outside of Europe…or err…the UK, sorry. :smiley:

So I understand your concern. If you don’t want to share an apartment, you’re looking at around 15,000NT to 30,000NT per month (not including utilities and management fee) for a studio with nice amenities and 24/7 security. Take note that not all studios have a full kitchen! They may not allow cooking too!


Thank you Icon. Would you kindly elaborate on which areas they are? (The names, I mean). That would be appreciated.

Not sure yet. Somewhere nice and central, close to most places, but not crowded/busy, that would be ideal. My partner’s friends/relatives are in “New Taipei” but I understand that’s all around Taipei. Though if there’s a place from which it is easy to travel there, that would be best.

[quote]3. Where are you from again? Just proof of return ticket already purchased. Maybe the address where you will the staying. Basic stuff.
From the UK. Do I need to have booked a place for my whole stay when arriving?


Thank you ranlee, that sounds very useful!

I did some basic research and got the impression that only certain fixed programs/courses allow applying for a student visa. As of now, I am not sure whether I want to go for a fixed program/course, but rather do something like one-on-one tutoring or private lessons. I want to spend 80% of my time traveling/discovering and 20% studying… so I don’t want to be constrained by a schedule.

But if I find something interesting, do you know how long it would take to get the visa? I plan to arrive in February.


From the UK you just need to make sure you have a return ticket within the 90 days.

You’ll need to fill in a landing card and include an address and tel no for where you’ll stay, it needn’t be booked for the whole time you’re here. You could just stick down you partners/friends addy.


Wow, good that you mention this. I had no clue. Thank you.

If I have a return ticket within 60 days, but am also traveling to e.g. Japan or South Korea for 1-2 weeks within those 60 days, would those days be considered my “leaving the country” dates?


Just downtown, like across Taipei Main Station. Though that would be quite colorful…

Find out where in New Taipei. It is just too vast.

Not for the whole stay. They do not need to know. Just somewhere to write on the form. Maybe even your partner’s relatives.


Yeah that’s fine.


Hmmm, well, I guess I could also put down the hostel. First time meeting all these relatives, so I still need to ingratiate myself and not appear like I’m asking for too many favors :slight_smile: You know what I mean…


I’m not sure how long the process is since I’ve never applied for one. Hopefully someone who has can chime in.

I do know that terms will end a little before February due to Chinese New Year holidays. So, if you do decide to study, it’s not a bad time to apply for the new term after the holidays.

Try looking into National Taiwan Normal University or NTNU (Shi Da) or National Taiwan University or NTU (Tai Da) mandarin learning programs. NTNU seems to fit your schedule and plan, but if you reaally want to learn the language, NTU has the more intensive program.


I wasn’t sure where to post this because the “Language” forum just had many advertisements.

What are some of the pros and cons of doing private lessons vs courses in Mandarin?

I’m from the UK and traveling to Taiwan for about 1-3 months, starting next month, mainly to visit the country and other countries nearby (Japan, Korea). and am considering to study Chinese as well. I have some basic knowledge through my partner and self-study but thought some structured study would help, too.

However, I’m undecided between finding a good course vs doing intensive private lessons. My main objective is to travel, but if good course options exist that wouldn’t take up all my time, I might try enrolling.

I was told on this forum that a student visa is helpful, too, but I assume these are not given in private lessons right?


In your situation wanting flexibility on schedule, I would take classes at a language center. Courses are ongoing and in some centers you can drop in and start at any time. And you can also stop at any time. It’s very very simple to register and typically can be done within 5 or 10 minutes and then off to your first class.

For example, enroll for a month class. Usually will be around 8 hours per week. If you want more, then you can double that for intensive classes or add private classes at language center or find yourself a private tutor.

Pros and cons: Classes are cheaper provide a social group and meet new friends with less intensive stress as your class shares the load talking during the classroom setting. Privates are more expensive and may or may not help you accelerate but you’re definitely on the spot during classroom time.


If it helps, here are some links as to what the process looks like for a student Visa. I hope understanding the process of acquiring a student visa can help with your final decision.

NTU has a nice flow chart you can follow

Bureau of Counselor Affairs has a more in depth run down

To my knowledge, private lessons do not apply as a “certificate of enrollment”


If you are definitely returning home after 8 weeks, I’d advise just using the visa exemption.

To qualify for a student visa for language study, you have to enroll at an approved school (from this list) and you have to attend at least 15 hours of classes per week.

The only real advantage of the student visa* is that it can be extended, and turned into an ARC after 4 months, which gets you NHI and (after 1 year) an open work permit for part-time jobs. Besides this, there’s no benefits over visa exemption, it takes time and money to apply for, and is single entry, so you lose it if you leave Taiwan. They’re most suitable for students committed to stay more than a few months.

Visa exempt allows you to study as much or as little as you like, with whomever you like, and as a Brit you can even extend it from 90 to 180 days under some circumstances.

*Really a “student visa” is just a visitor visa, but your purpose of stay is marked as “study”


You can use air bnb in Taiwan. I did it and it worked out fine. I paid 600 usd for a 1 bedroom for 1 month. Some of my Taiwanese friends said it’s expensive but coming from NY it was cheap to me.


Ha! This is Taiwan, not South Sudan. Your “chances to survive” are greater here than in most places in the world, including much of the West.


Thank you for all your replies!

I noticed the moderator merged the two topics… well, to continue with my other question about earthquake safety:

So if I get a hotel near downtown, like near the Taipei 101, Da’an, Songshan, etc. do you think it’s more prone to liquefaction and collapsing?

So it’s better to go to the outskirts? If you could mention the exact names of the areas I would appreciate that.