Shopping in Taipei
When you go shopping in Taiwan, it will become very clear why products all over the world are labelled ‘Made in Taiwan;’ they have everything you could ever imagine. Shopping options in the city vary from skyscraper malls to night market stalls, and consider bringing an extra suitcase to fill as the prices will amaze you.
The main shopping destinations you won’t want to miss are Ximending, Jhongsiao, and Xinyi. Ximending is an upbeat entertaining area and primarily accommodates younger generations. Jhongsiao is a shopping district that has kept both the young and older shoppers in mind, as it is a combination of lively shops and elegant boutiques. The Xinyi region is a collection of malls that are perfect for a rainy day as everything is indoors and constantly air-conditioned.
However, once the sun sets, which is pretty early in Taiwan, the place to be is most certainly the Shilin night market to join streams of people buying things you can’t get anywhere else in the world.
Markets are a big part of Taiwanese culture and are worth visiting to witness the copious amount of bright signs and the authentic food served by street vendors. Get a good grasp on the currency, New Taiwan Dollars, often referred to at NT, as haggling is a must.
The market to make time for is the Shilin night market. The best way to get there is to travel like the locals do and take the MRT to Jiantan Station. Dihua Street, the oldest and largest trading area, is the best daytime market for atmosphere, although Chinese Handicraft Mart, 1 Xuzhou Road, is a one stop shop for inexpensive traditional items.
Taipei offers an assortment of malls of different shapes and sizes. A well-managed mall for designer labels, excellent restaurants and cinemas is Breeze Center, 39 FuSing South Road, Section 1. Japan's Mitsukoshi department store, 19 Sung Kao Road, covers three blocks and remarkably occupies 12 buildings across from a six-floored, 24 hour Eslite Bookstore, at 11 Sung Kao Road.
Living Mall, 138 Bādé Road, Section 4, is known as the ‘Living Hell’ by locals as it’s so big it’s easy to get lost, but the largest shopping extravaganza is Taipei 101 Mall, 45 Shifu Road where international designers from Armani to Louis Vuitton rub shoulders. Miramar Entertainment Park at 20 Jingye 3rd Road, is the perfect outing for some shopping, a movie, and ending the night with a ride on the rooftop ferris wheel.
Shops are open daily 1000-2200, while night markets stay open till 0100 and convenience shops are open 24 hours.
Souvenirs from Taipei are not the typical miniature statues of landmarks as they are in many countries. Of course those memorabilia items are available, such as replicas of the Taipei 101 (one of the tallest buildings in the world) but the real souvenirs you will want to buy range from adorably wrapped sweets to scarlet red calligraphy posters.
The best place to buy souvenirs is either museum gift shops for items specifically targeted at tourists, or the grand night markets with more traditional Taiwanese keepsakes.