More and more people are using Airbnb when they travel. Although there have been some unfortunate incidents, I was an Airbnb host for a short period and have been using Airbnb for more than 5 years. Based on my experiences in Taiwan, running an Airbnb is more of an investment than adopting the “sharing” concept. Hosts usually rent out spaces from their previous purchases or investment properties. These spaces may have flaws that could affect your stay, so I’m sharing these 10 things to look for when booking an Airbnb in Taiwan.

1. Most Airbnb in Taiwan are NOT Legal

Running Airbnb in Taiwan by unlicensed host is not legal. It’s still under negotiation between the government and the company. Hosts can be fined up to 2 million NTD (approx. $65,000 USD) if caught. As a traveler, this might not be your concern, but be prepared to tell neighbors that you are a friend of the host if asked.

So if this legal thing bothers you, staying in an Airbnb might not be an option when you visit Taiwan.

2. Natural Light and Ventilation

Taipei’s crowded housing often limits sunlight and fresh air in rooms. Check listing photos for windows that show outside light, street views, or sky. Good ventilation is crucial in Taiwan’s humid climate, especially in older buildings where Airbnb properties are commonly located. 

3. The Noise

Some people are more sensitive to noise while some people, like me, are not. Taipei’s living condition is more crowded, and residential and commercial areas are often mixed. Usually there are restaurants, and bars just next to you and it’s always the most convenient location that you would like to stay at. If you are very sensitive to noise, you can ask the host about the night and do they use soundproof/airtight windows which are common in Taiwan. Or you can always bring earplugs with you to prevent noise.

4. Smells

Smells are something that is difficult to find out when you check the listings online.

It can be smoky smell from the restaurant downstairs or neighbor’s kitchen, smell from the drain in the bathroom, moldy smell from stairway, rotten smell from the garbage room, or smoke pollution from the road.

I know it can happen anywhere in the world but since the living condition is more crowded and not as good in Taipei, it’s possible to get one of those. Smells are hard to identify from photos or description, so the best way is to read the reviews carefully to see if there’s any complaint in the past. And I’d also recommend you not to stay next to the big road or in a room above a restaurant. The smell from the bathroom drain is the hardest to avoid, since it can happen in either old or new buildings.

5. Which Floor? Elevator?

Many apartments in Taipei do not have elevators. Because there’s no complete address showing floor until your booking confirmed, the issue can be easily overlooked. Not every host states floor in the description. We had an experience where we stayed in an Airbnb on the 4th floor with no elevator and very narrow stairway. We almost fainted after carrying all of our luggage up.

If you travel with heavy suitcases, make sure you ask the host on which floor the room is and if there’s an elevator. Sometimes they have more than one room in the same building, you don’t know which room you get until you get the host’s confirmation, so it’s better to know in advance.

6. The Space

Housing in Taipei is extremely expensive and has not much space. When you search for rooms, if most of the photos are close-ups or only show a specific angle, the room is probably not big. Some hosts take photos with wide angle lens to make the room look bigger, so if you see distorted edges, the photo is possibly taken by wide angle lens, and the space can be much smaller than the photo shows.

7. Do You Want to Interact with the Host?

For some people, staying in an airbnb home in a foreign country is to interact with the host and experience the culture. However, many Airbnb hosts in Taiwan are doing this for profit or investment so they wouldn’t have connection with you. Some don’t even show up when you check in, but just inform you a passcode or put the key in a key box.

This can be a benefit too for some people who want privacy and don’t like too much interaction.

8. Which Area to Stay in Taipei?

Quite a few people would choose to stay at Ximen when they visit Taiwan due to the variety of choices and lower prices, yet for locals, not a lot of people want to live/stay in the area. It’s more chaotic, noisy, and too touristy. And you are more likely to encounter the issues mentioned above including the smells, smaller spaces, or noise.

If you’d like to stay in a fun area and have nightlife, you can stay around east district or Xinyi; if you’d like to be in a city center but not too crazy, you can choose Songshan or Zhongshan district.

I would recommend to stay around these MRT stations:

  • Dongmen: Good food. Yellow line and red line both pass here.
  • Zhongshan: Lots of places to shop and eat. It’s on red line and close to Taipei Main station.
  • Blue line (from Zhongxiao Fuxing, Zhongxiao Dunhua, SYS Memorial Hall, to City Hall) : one of the most lively areas in Taipei. Lots of good food, bars, shops, clubs and it’s convenient to go to the airport.
  • Nanjing Fuxing: Very convenient. Green line and brown line cross here.
  • Taipei 101: The fanciest area in Taipei. High end restaurants, malls, clubs, and Taipei 101.

If you have a choice, don’t stay near Taipei main station, where most Taipei people don’t go for leisure. Nothing really fun or good around there except the station itself.

9. The Decor

After staying in different Airbnbs in the world, I’d say the thing I like the least about Airbnb in Taiwan is the decor. Except those fancier ones, it’s very difficult to find a decent looking room. Many of them look like the hosts move all the furniture that they don’t want to the Airbnb room. Everything doesn’t match and lots of colors are placed in one room. You can see old fashioned couch, tacky wallpaper, colorful bed sheet, or cheap decorations altogether.

So basically you can’t expect good tastes in these rooms. Sometimes the place looks okay on the photos, but when you get there, some unmatched stuff has been added to the room. These are the things people don’t mention in the reviews. Anyway, keep this in mind and you wouldn’t feel too upset when you open the door and see the wallpaper.

10. Security and Safety

Even the safest place has bad guys. Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world, yet the safety is still the top priority to consider when you pick a place. Besides personal harassment, you need to be aware of that there’s security camera in the room. A host is permitted to install a security camera in the common area but not in your room. Another thing to look after are the fire facilities in general and building strengthening during typhoon season.

The place might not be perfect, but the host is usually the best.

Lastly, it might be difficult to find a perfect Airbnb in Taiwan, but most hosts are super nice, responsive, and easy to communicate. If you have any requests, they are more likely to make that happen. The kindness and connection are more precious than anything else, therefore if you don’t mind staying with the host, I’d totally recommend to choose the room but not the entire apartment. By having conversation and building connection with the host, you will get to know more about Taiwan and the Taiwanese kindness and hospitality.