explore Taipei, Taiwan

What to buy in Taipei, Taiwan

Taipei has been given the epithet – “the emporium without end.” Basically, however, the main shopping area can be divided into two districts: East and West. West Taipei is the old city and is characterized by narrow streets packed with small shops. The Western district is also home to most government buildings and the Taipei Main Station. East Taipei boasts wide tree lined boulevards and the four main shopping malls are located in this area. Popular shopping destinations in East Taipei consist of the area around the ZhongXiao-DunHua intersection and Taipei 101.

Shopping malls/areas

Xinyi District is the seat of the Taipei mayor’s office and the Taipei city council. The Taipei Convention Hall, the Taipei World Trade Center, Taipei 101, Taipei City Hall, and various shopping malls and entertainment venues make Xinyi the most modern cosmopolitan district of Taipei. Xinyi District is also considered the financial district of Taipei. The Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall is also in the district. Much of the district used to be wetlands, explaining the abundance of space for construction projects as this was one of the last places in Taipei to be developed. The district is arguably the premiere shopping area in Taipei, if not all of Taiwan. Xinyi District is anchored by a number of department stores and malls. In addition, numerous restaurants are located in the area, especially American chain restaurants.

Taipei 101 Mall

Shilin Night Market has stores selling hand bags, clothing, and more. Most of the merchandise consists of imitations. To get there; take the MRT Tamsui Line to Jiantan Station. The food court is located directly across the street from the station with the rest of the night market spreading out to the north.

Miramar Entertainment Park is a standard shopping center with the usual merchandise. It houses one of two IMAX theatres in Taiwan (the other is in the Science Discovery center) as well as the Miramar ferris wheel which offers great views of Taipei city.

Eslite Mall is an upscale market-style shopping center with a 24 hour book shop (with a good English selection) on the second floor and ethnic music store in basement. 245 Dunhua South Road (near intersection with Renai Road). However, as of January 2010, this is the only Eslite Mall that opens 24 hours.

Miramar Entertainment Park

Breeze Center, 39 Fuxing South Rd, Sec. 1 (near the intersection with Civic Boulevard). Open: 11AM-9:30PM Sun-Thur, 11AM-10PM Fri-Sat.

The Core Pacific Living Mall, reportedly Asia’s largest shopping center under one roof, has many stores open 24 hours a day. It also has a large food court, cinema complex, and the nightclub Plush (located on Bade Rd near intersection with Guangfu South Rd).

East Taipei is the main shopping area of Taipei; also it is located at the center of Taipei. The busiest part of this area is in between MRT Zhongxiao Dunhua Station and MRT Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall Station (Bannan Line). The axis of this shopping area is Zhongxiao East Road, Sec. 4, which is surrounded by numerous of department stores. “SOGO” has three branches in this area, mainly sales various of boutique. Another notable one is Mingyao Department Store which has the flagship store of Uniqlo in it.

East Taipei is also famous for the small stores inside the alleys. Having massive flow of people for both fancy and local dinning, 216 Lane with Din Tai Fung and 688 Beef noodle is always crowded in holidays. On the other hand, Daan Road in the other side of the area has more elegant clothing shops. Beside the intersection of Zhongxiao East Road and Daan Road stands Bistro 98, a ten-story building with stylish restaurants. Other alleys also have an interesting array of small shops and boutiques. Buddha Statues, prayer flags and other artifacts associated with Tibetan Buddhism can be purchased at Potala, 2F, 2-4, Lane 51, Da’an Rd. The staff speaks English and the prices are reasonable. For those interested in all things Nepalese you should check out Jay Shiva Shamyoo Himalayan Handicrafts, located in the basement of 1 Lane 146, Zhongxiao East Road, sec. 4.

Breeze Center

Those interested in picking up inexpensive electronic goods and cameras should wander the lanes and alleys around Kaifeng Sreet and Zhonghua Road (near Taipei Main Station).

Computer buffs will enjoy a visit to Guanghua Digital Plaza, originally called Guanghua Market. Specializing in computer and electronic goods, this market has the largest number of stalls selling hardware and software under one roof in Taiwan, and all at very competitive prices. While there, check out the enormous DVD and VCD selection (remember to check DVD region codes) and used book stores. The new building comprises of six floors: the first floor contains an exhibition area for new products and a food court; the original vendors of the old market are located on the second and third floor; floors four and five include vendors and shops from the Xining Electronic Market; and the sixth floor houses product repair centers.

Core Pacific Living Mall

The Station Front Area is a section of downtown Taipei just south of the Taipei Railway Station. It is a bustling area filled with shops and stores of all kinds, but it is particularly well known for its high concentration of bookstores due to the bloom of bushibans. In recent years, stores specializing in electronics and computer hardware have also grow very fast. Electronic and computer junkies take note, some smaller vendors will allow you to bargain down prices on large purchases (i.e. a custom built PC). Popular places in this area to shop for computer hardware and software include:

Nova, a four story collection of small computer and electronics vendors in what can be described only as a high tech bazaar (located across the street from the railway station on the west side of the Shinkong Mitsukoshi department store).

K-Mall, located in the former Asiaworld department store on the east side of Shinkong Mitsukoshi, this trendy mall specializes in electronics of all kinds and is a location for large companies such as Asus, Samsung, Benq, and Acer to showcase their newest products.

The Taipei Zhongshan Metro Shopping Mall (Easy Mall) is a long underground shopping area that houses several stores selling all manner of items, not necessarily limited to electronics. A few stores in the Easy Mall carry current and vintage video games, hardware and software. They also perform hardware modifications on consoles. The Easy Mall is accessible through the basement of Taipei Railway Station.

Ximending, the area with youth.

Ximending is the trendy shopping area just west of Downtown. It’s popular with local students. If it’s pink, plastic, and imported from Japan, you can probably find it on sale in a store here. Visit BM should you looking for nightlife activities. To get to Ximending, take the MRT Blue (Bannan) Line and get off at Ximen Station.

Zhongshan North Road is a tree-lined boulevard featuring numerous international and local brands. Gucci and Louis Vuitton are among the brands stores along this street. This road, particularly along the second section, is also famous for its numerous wedding picture studios and gown boutiques. It is possible to find a great deal for wedding portraits here as competition is stiff. This road runs parallel to the MRT Red (Tamsui/Beitou) line.

Handicrafts

Weekend Jade Market – Located under an elevated expressway, reaching from Renai Road & Jianguo South Road intersection down Jianguo Road till Xinyi Rd. In addition to jade, flowers and many other kinds of handcrafts and jewelry can be purchased. There are actually three different markets, the Weekend Jade Market, Weekend Flower Market and Weekend Handicrafts Market in this same location. As the names suggest, they are open only on weekends until 6PM.

For handicrafts, visit the Chinese Handicraft Mart, 1 Xuzhou Rd (on corner of intersection with Zhongshan South Roadd).

Pottery enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to Yingge in Taipei County (Take train, and get off at Yingge Station). Old Street is a crescent of beautiful pottery shops interspersed with coffee shops and tea houses.

Trekking/backpacking gear

Mountain Hard Ware, 7 Ln 284, Roosevelt Rd, sec. 3, Gongguan (nearest MRT – Gongguan), plus a few stores within a few doors of each other are professional trekking and backpacking stores offering a wide range of high quality equipment. These stores are just north of the junction with Zhongxiao West Rd on Zhongshan North Rd, sec 1 (west side of the road).

Books

Taipei has great book shops, and roads such are Chongqing South Road, are packed with stores specializing in Chinese language books.

NB: In order to protect the environment, a government policy rules that plastic bags cannot be given freely at stores in Taiwan, but have to be bought – bakeries being an exception as the items need to be hygienically wrapped. Re-usable canvas and nylon bags are sold at most supermarkets.