I’ve heard that Taiwan holds the second highest ratio of convenience stores per population density of any country in the world. As an overseas traveler, what services that Taiwan convenience store offers can be beneficial to me other than food and drink?
Good question. We Taiwanese love our convenience stores! They are everywhere – city or countryside – and the array of services that these convenience stores provide to their customers are incredible. We pay our bills, taxes, and parking tickets in convenience stores, buy concert tickets, train/bus tickets, print documents, withdraw money, we can even send our online purchase to any of our local convenience stores and so much more. To many Taiwanese, convenience store is the one-stop shop that has everything they need.
For overseas travelers, you will find convenience stores can be extremely helpful as well. Here are some of the many things that these shops can do for you:
- Buy a public transport card:The easiest and most economical way to get around Taipei and Kaohsiung city is to take advantage of the public transportation. Buying a reloadable EasyCard (or IPass) is recommended. These cards allow you to access both Taipei and Kaohsiung MRTsystem including expansive network of buses. EasyCard used to require a 100 NTD deposit. Not any more.If you feel the crave or just want to grab a bite when inside a convenience store, paying is made easier through your EasyCard. In case you run into trouble settling your bill due to insufficient funds, no need to worry, just top up your EasyCard right away in any convenience stores without any additional charges.For your information, EasyCard is issued by Taipei City government and IPass is issued by Kaohsiung City Government.
- Printers and photocopying machines: Printers and photocopying machines located in every convenience store allow you to make quick photocopies of your important documents. USB drives and sim cards are also supported so there won’t be any problem if your documents are stored digitally.” black and white 3NTD each. Ask the clerk for assistance.
- Buy a prepaid card: You can apply for 4G prepaid card anytime at any 7-ELEVEN with your passport and visa, and enjoy 5 days of unlimited data usage. Ask the clerk for assistance or make good use of the ibon machine with English and Japanese instructions available for your convenience.
- Free Wi-Fi: Some convenience stores offer free WiFi. To check, open your Wi-Fi connection and see if you can find the username – iTaiwan. If yes, log in and fill out the required information (name and passport no.). Then you can enjoy free Wi-Fi for 30 minutes.
- Toilet: Need to answer nature’s call urgently? Some convenience stores have in-store public toilet. You can tell if the toilet is available from the signage outside. Another way is to rush into any of the fast-food restaurants to have your business done. No need to feel pressure about buying something. Locals do that all the time.
- Pay bills: If you rent a car in Taiwan and you receive parking tickets or citations (for some reasons), you can get all these payment settled at the convenience stores.
- Dine-In Area: Whenever you feel like taking a rest, drop in a convenience store, grab a drink and snack, and indulge. No need to fumble around with so many things on hand; just take your time and enjoy your snack.
Of course, convenience stores in Taiwan serve all kinds of delicious food that will satisfy all your cravings. That part I will leave you to find out. Oh, did I mention that over 99 percent of convenience stores in Taiwan are open 24/7?