Before we came to Taiwan, I couldn’t even remember the last time I had seen a 7-Eleven. Even if I had grown up with a 7-Eleven around the corner, I don’t think I would have thought twice about it. Unless I happened to be craving a Slurpee.
But now, I have about thirty-five 7-Elevens around the corner. You might think I’m exaggerating, and…well, I am. But only slightly. 7-Elevens are seriously everywhere in Taiwan, with nearly 5,000 stores in a country the size of North Carolina. That ranks Taiwan as having one of the highest densities of 7-Elevens in the world.
Not only are 7-Elevens convenient for their location, but also for the fact that you can do almost anything there. Don’t believe me? Read on.
13 Amazing Things You Never Knew You Could Do at a 7-Eleven
1. Get your dry cleaning done
Haven’t tried this one firsthand yet, but for around US$3 you can drop off your dry cleaning at 7-Eleven and they’ll take care of it for you.
2. Pay bills and tickets
Electricity. Water. Insurance. Pesky speeding tickets from when your motorcycle was caught on camera. Just take ‘em in, scan the barcode, and pay up.
3. Call a taxi
Once we saw a family of foreigners walking in the middle of a busy Taipei intersection, beer cans in hand, frantically waving their arms above their heads, all the while screaming for a taxi. I was embarrassed for them. No need to act like you’re in the middle of a crisis—next time you need a lift just ask the attendant at the nearest 7-Eleven to call one for you.
4. Recharge your cell phone minutes
Most cell phones in Taiwan are pay-as-you-go. Which means, inevitably, I’m quite bad about keeping my cell stocked up with minutes. (Even if it takes about five seconds to purchase more, and my friends at the 7-Eleven will do all the work for me.) Oh well.
5. Renew your driver’s license
If you’re a foreigner, your license expires annually. We didn’t realize this, so when Dan tried to rent a scooter in Taitung, we were quite surprised to be rejected because the expiration date had passed. Our Taiwanese friend just told us he could renew it at the 7—now we just need to give it a try. Anyone have experience with this one?
6. Send packages
You can only send them from 7-Eleven to 7-Eleven, but it still beats the lines at the post office. Not to mention 7-Elevens probably dominate post offices by, like, twenty-to-one.
7. Buy tickets to shows and games
There’s an ATM-like machine in every 7-Eleven store. It’s called the ibon. This is your source for any kind of ‘ticket’ you need. We knew this before, but then forgot, and went all the way to Taipei to purchase Cirque du Soleil tickets last year. (We couldn’t navigate the Chinese website…) It was a bit embarrassing when we arrived at the venue and they just pointed us to the adjacent 7-Eleven to purchase the tickets.
8. Buy meals, beverages, clothing, stationary…
This ones a bit obvious, but of course it had to be on the list. Snacks, full on meals, coffee, and alcohol can all be found. As well as about fifty different kinds of tea. And fresh produce. And underwear. Depending on the store, the selection can be quite encompassing.
9. Have said meals prepared for you
Not only can you buy meals, whoever is working will microwave and prepare them for you. Unfortunately we still don’t have a microwave (something we probably should have bought right away) and we’ve actually brought in Thanksgiving leftovers for them to microwave for us. I don’t know if this is normally frowned upon or not, but the staff sure got a laugh out of it.
10. Redeem Taiwan Receipt Lottery winnings
On every receipt in Taiwan there is a number. And every two months, a select few of those numbers are chosen as the lottery winners. Earnings can range from NT$200 to NT$10 million. As long as you’re only slightly lucky and the winning is NT$200 (which is the most we’ve ever one) the 7-Eleven will redeem it for you.
11. Use Wi-Fi
There’s free Wi-Fi, but you do have to sign up for it.
12. Use an ATM (which can also wire money)
This is also a staple of most convenient stores, but the ATMs here are especially handy. Not only can you withdraw money, you can use them to send money to other bank accounts. Most hotels require you to wire a small deposit in order to hold your reservation, so you might actually find yourself using this feature more often than you would expect.
13. Print, fax, and copy
I don’t really have anything to say about this one. Pretty explanatory I guess?
On top of all that, there’s an awesome sticker reward system. With any purchase, you get a bunch of really annoying small stickers that seem to pop up absolutely everywhere around your apartment. In return for organizing them in your sticker book, you can redeem the stickers for super adorable Hello Kitty trinkets and other ‘cute’ collectibles. Or ice cream, which is what Dan tends to hoard them for.
Pretty amazing, right? And I still bet we missed a whole bunch of great things 7-Elevens can do. By all means, if you can add to our list, please do.
What do you use 7-Elevens for?
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