Shopping in Taipei

29 Apr

Shopping in TaipeiFind the best places to shop in Taiwan’s capital!

Ximending shopping district
Taipei is a shopper’s dream, with its multitude of department stores, markets and little alleyways that snake around filled with boutiques and shops. The Taiwanese are a fashionable bunch, so it is never difficult to find a local product – be it a pair of shoes, a handbag or a simple souvenir – that truly reflects the unique character of this island nation.

Taipei’s Shopping Districts
The city of Taipei is so big that it can be difficult to sort out where to begin your shopping adventure. Luckily, there are numerous districts around Taipei that offer particular shopping experiences, so you can narrow down where and how to begin your day of retail therapy.

The Daan and Xinyi Districts are full of big shopping malls, so this is a good place to start if you just want to buy something fashionable or check out what Taiwan’s fashion is all about. Zhongxiao East Road, in particular, has a huge number of malls and department stores to keep you busy for hours.

Ximending used to be Taipei’s theater district, but it is now also a hugely popular shopping area. Ximending is particularly impressive at night, when the huge square glows with massive LCD screens and bright neon lights that advertise the many stores and brands represented here.

Taipei is also home to dozens of markets where vendors sell special products at discounted prices. For instance, the Jade Market is located at the south end Zhongxiao East Road, and is one of the largest jade markets in all of Asia. There is also a huge wholesale clothing market, where vendors offer discounted clothing in large amounts, in the Wufenpu area of the Songshan District.

What to Buy in Taipei
There is so much on offer in Taipei that the question really should be, “What not to buy?”. The city is literally your oyster when it comes to clothing, shoes, accessories and electronics, and you will also find that it is easy to score cheap DVDs, CDs and techno-gadgets around town.

Sometimes, though, what you really want is something a little bit special – a souvenir you can only procure in Taipei, and for that, you should keep a look out for jade, Buddhist items and wooden crafts, all of which are local specialities in Taiwan.

Jade jewellery and statues are best purchased in the Jade Market in the Daan District, while the area around Longshan Temple on Xichang Street is an excellent place to search for Buddhist items and typical Taiwanese wooden crafts.

My Favorite Night Market in Taipei City

Shilin Night Market: No Taipei shopping odyssey is complete without walking around the infamous Shilin Night Market, in the northern part of the capital. Shilin is a maze of small streets and alleys that packs thousands of food stalls, small shops, karaoke stores, arcades, massage parlors, and other small businesses.

If you’re only gonna have time to visit one night market during your trip to Taipei, this should be it. Sellers start setting up their stalls around 4 in the afternoon, but the best time to be there is between 9:00pm and midnight.

Getting to Shilin Night Market: Take the MRT (Danshui Line) to Jiantan Station.

English Books in Taipei
If you need to buy magazines or books, know that the Page One bookstore on the fourth floor of the Taipei 101 mall has a huge selection of English stuff. If you’re looking for English-Chinese language material, travel guidebooks to Taiwan, or an imported mag, Page One is where you’ll most likely find it.

Taipei 101 Mall
I’m not a mall guy. I prefer shopping at small, traditional markets like the Jade Market or even better… local markets that are so small, they don’t even have a name. BUT, I have to honestly admit that the shopping mall at the base of the Taipei 101 tower is really nice. The food court is the best in Taiwan – in my opinion – and there’s a supermarket (Jason’s) which has the biggest deli in Taipei.

I’ve got my little ritual every time I go to the Taipei 101 building:
First, I go to Page One to buy a book or two. After that, I slowly make my way down to Jason’s where I buy a fresh baguette, some brie cheese, a cold salad from the deli and a bottle of strong, Belgium beer. Then I find a table outside and I have a picnic with one of the finest views in the world above my head – an awesome skyscraper that rises half a kilometer toward the sky!

Tips for Taipei Shoppers
Taipei is an extremely crowded city, so shopping areas tend to be quite busy. Be prepared for big crowds and queues.

Keep an eye on your wallet and personal belongings, as pickpockets are known to work the large shopping areas and markets. I’ve personally never been a target but I’ve heard a few scary stories about people being mugged while doing some late night shopping in Taipei.

In some of the markets in Taipei, it is necessary to haggle for your price, so come with a price in mind and bargain upwards to reach an agreement with the seller. It is common practice to ask for a 10 to 20 percent discount at the beginning.

In summer, shopping in Taipei during the day is almost impossible because of the heat, so most locals do their shopping during the evening, when the weather is cooler.

I hope you enjoy shopping in Taipei and that you find what you’re looking for! Zai Jian!

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