ENTERTAINMENT IN TAIPEI
Most discos, bars, beer houses and nightclubs are found 1) in the large hotels, 2) near National Taiwan University, 3) on Anho Road, 4) around Shuangcheng St, and 5) in the Shihlin-Tienmu area. Many residents of Taipei go to the night markets, KTV's (rooms for watching videos), tea houses and coffee shops to relax and have a good time. There are nice night views of the city from the Grand Hotel, Far Eastern Plaza Hotel and Shin Kong Insurance Tower.
Performance of Chinese and Western operas, dramas, ballets and concerts are performed at the National Theater and National Concert Hall on the grounds of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Chinese opera can also be seen at the Armed Forces Cultural center on Chunghua Road. Many movie theaters are concentrated around Hsimenting and Dinghao. Times are usually listed in the English-language newspapers.
Spot-Taipei Film House is a cinema, bookstore and cafe in a white colonial mansion on busy Zhongshan North Road. The building was the United States government's consulate in Taipei until the Carter administration normalized relations with China and left Taiwan. The old house was empty for more than two decades, until the mid 2000s when Hou Hsiao-hsien, the respected Taiwanese filmmaker, led an effort to transform the place. The white villa houses the screening rooms, restaurant and bar. It is one of the most atmospheric buildings in Taipei, redolent of colonial life in the tropics, with lush grounds that shield the villa from the street. Address: 18 Zhongshan North Road, Section 2; Tel: -(2)-2511-7786. [Source: New York Times]
A calendar of events and guides with entertainment listings can be obtained from the tourist offices. Also check out local entertainment magazines, English language newspapers, the Lonely Planet Books and posters put up around town.
National Cultural Center (National Theater & National Concert Hall)
Built in 1987, the National Cultural Center at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) is the first national-level cultural venues in Taiwan. In addition to hosting major performances, the two major buildings of the center—the National Theater and National Concert Hall—are major Taipei landmarks. The two buildings are designed in a traditional Chinese palace style, with distinctive yellow tiled roofs and red pillars adding to their stately elegance.
The National Concert Hall has hosted world famous musicians such as Yo Yo Ma and the great violinist Shao Lian Lin. In addition to enjoying world-class musical, dance and theater performances, center visitors can also tour the cultural gallery and performing arts library. The center also offers regular guided tours for a more in-depth look at the world of performance arts in Taipei. Guide Service: Time: Monday 13:00 & 15:00; Weekends 11:00 & 13:00; Tour Tickets: Adults NT$100; Groups and Concession NT$70
National Concert Hall
Address: 21-1 Zhongshan S. Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the train to Taipei Station, transfer MRT to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall Station. Getting There: Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Sec.3 to 1, Chongqing N. Rd. Sec. 1, Zhongxiao W. Rd. Zhongshan S. Rd. Sec. 1, Xinyi Rd. National Cultural Center (National Theater & National Concert Hall);
Lounge Bars, Red Envelope Clubs and the Taipei Arena
Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “Lounge bars have popped up all over Taipei. If you're in a mood for dessert with your drink, try the bar in the consciously hip People Restaurant (191 Anhe Road, Section 2; -(2)-2735-2288). The attitude starts even before you enter: the double doors have no handles, nor do they open automatically. Figuring out how to get in is only part of the fun. Once inside, walk through the shadowy industrial rooms and take a seat at the bar or in the lounge, where cocktails are served in large glass globes. Next, saunter down the road to Rewine (137 Anhe Road, Section 1; -(2)-2325-6658), whose head bartender has won international awards for his unique cocktails.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December 9, 2008]
On his visit to something called a red envelope club, Douglas McGray wrote: “It was dark inside. A thin cloud of smoke settled on the ceiling around a disco ball. We found seats by the stage. All around us, old men sipped tea from paper cups; a bunch of them had nodded off. Onstage, a woman, not quite middle-aged but not young either, slinked around in a red sequined dress with a plunging neckline, singing an old Mandarin torch song. When she finished, the house lights came up, and a few old men shuffled to the stage with red envelopes, small bills stuffed inside. [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
“Most of the men around us were in the army, Luo explained. Chiang showed up in a small city with 600,000 Chinese soldiers, most of them single or permanently separated from their families; it made for a skewed dating scene. ''Most of the songs are about homesickness,'' Luo said. There used to be lots of red envelope clubs in the city; now there are just a handful. The generation that remembers these melodies, and the mainland, and the war, and the fight for Beijing, and the flight to Taipei -- it's dying. A song ended; the lights came up again. A few more men shuffled to the stage.”
Taipei Arena is the first multifunctional stadium in Taipei. It has a total area of 34,643 pings and 15,000 seats. Because of its sheer size, its glass curtain outer walls not only add a sense of transparency to the building, but also integrate the spirit of the stadium and the event space around it, making it the most important sports center in Taipei.
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, continue by MRT to Nanjing E. Road Station. By Road: 1.Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Yuan Mountain (Yanshan) Interchange Jianguo Hwy Bridge Exit at Minquan E. Rd. Sec. 3 to 2, Jainguo N. Rd. Sec. 2 to 4, Nanjing E. Rd. 2. Nat'l Hwy 3 Muzha Interchange Nat'l Hwy 3A Exit at the Taipei Interchange Sec. 3, Xinhai Rd. Sec. 3, Keelung Rd. Sec. 2 to Sec. 1, Dunhua S. Rd. Dunhua N. Rd. Sec. 4, Nanjing E. Rd; Address: No. 2, Sec. 4, Nanjing E. Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2578-3536.
Restaurants in Taipei
Taiwan is deservedly famous for its fine Chinese dishes and over 1,000 restaurants, ranging from Michelin star to hole in the wall, are available throughout the city. American-Taiwanese journalist Shirley Fung wrote in Newsweek: “Cities like Paris...come close to competing on the food front, but they can’t surpass the sheer variety that a walk down any street in Taipei reveals. From one direction comes the rich smell of frying bread, from another the aroma of boiled pork dumplings or ‘smelly’ bean curd, a Chinese favorite. Even the raw fruits and vegetables in the markets give off their own sweet smell.”
The best restaurants are generally located in the large hotels. Many of the shopping malls have food courts with the level of food being equivalent to the level of shops found in the malls. For example, the luxury Taipei 101 mall has a gourmet food court (See Shopping Malls and Department Stores). Cheap food can be found in the night markets and snack centers in the basements of some department stores. Street vendors and hawkers that are found in side streets throughout Taipei. There are concentrations of cheap restaurants: 1) around the intersection of Chungking N and Nanking W roads, 2) south of the railway station on Wuchang St, and 3) around National Taiwan University.
In Taipei you can find restaurants that serve Taiwanese food, Cantonese food, Chiangche Chinese food, Mongolian Barbecues, Peking Chinese food, Szechuan/Hunan food, Vegetarian food, Italian food, Malaysian food, Japanese Food, Korean food, Indian food, Thai food, Vietnamese food, Indonesian food, Sri Lankan food, Indonesian food, French food, Mexican food, Spanish food, English food, International food and German food. American fast restaurants such as McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King and Pizza Hut are scattered throughout the city. There are many corner bakeries in Taipei, which are good places to stop for a quick breakfast or snack.
Ding Tai Fung’s is without a doubt Taipei’s most fanous dumpling restaurant. Opened un 1958, it has a reputation that has spread to Tokyo and the United States. Even though it has four floors for customers it still attracts long lines. It specializes in hsiao long pao, steamed pork dumplings but also offers dumplings made with shrimp, crab, glutenous rice and fresh mushrooms and sweet bean paste.
The Taipei tourist office puts out a restaurant guide and restaurant guides in English are usually sold at newsstands in areas frequented by tourists. Also check lists of restaurants in local entertainment magazines, the Lonely Planet books, and other guidebooks.
Douglas McGray wrote in the New York Times magazine: “Street food is a real highlight; don't miss eating at one of the night markets, such as Shihlin. For a variety of stylish modern restaurants, wander the streets and alleys just north of the Zhongxiao Dunhua metro stop and east of Dunhua South Road. Head to Yongkang Street for ramen, Vietnamese and Taiwanese food and mango ice, Fuxing Street for Taiwanese porridge, and Taoyuan Street for renowned beef noodles. Din Tai Fung Famed Shanghai-style dumplings. Xinyi Road, Section 2, No. 194; 011--(2)-2321-8927. Lian Xiang Zhai Vegetarian buffet, a Taipei specialty. Changchun Road, No. 353; 011--(2)-2547-4788. The Phoenix One of the last remaining red envelope clubs. Xining South Road, No. 159, fifth floor. Shao Shao Ke Shaanxi Province-style food. Renai Road, Section 2, Lane 41, No. 15; 011--(2)-2351-7148. Taiwan Beer Bar Lively beer garden. Bade Road, Section 2, No. 85; 011--(2)-2771-9131. Wistaria Tea House For traditional tea and desserts and just hanging out. Xinsheng South Road, Section 3, Lane 16, No. 1; 011--(2)-2363-7375. [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
Recommended Places to Eat in Taipei
Douglas McGray wrote in the New York Times magazine: “''Are you hungry?'' Yeh asked. I answered, ''Here? Always.'' She led me to a tiny restaurant with dim, fluorescent lighting and white walls. It was called King Garden Pork Chops. (I like a restaurant name that tells you what's good. Like Swan Meat City, across town.) A cook sat at an empty table, chopping pork off the bone with a heavy cleaver. He took our order. ''I love this place!'' Yeh said, clapping her hands. ''My parents went here when they were dating.'' The food came almost instantly: bowls of thin yellow broth with clear noodles, cabbage and crispy fried pork. It was cheap, greasy and delicious. Two teenagers next to us ordered steaming pork and rice; they left their headphones on and ate in silence. [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: Go to “the 85th floor of Taipei 101 to feast on traditional Taiwanese dishes at Shin Yeh (-(2)-8101-0185). Try the deep-fried oysters and rolls stuffed with taro and shrimp. Set dinners start at about 1,600 Taiwan dollars per person ($50.40 at 31.75 Taiwan dollars to the U.S. dollar). Be sure to make reservations well in advance, ideally several weeks before arriving. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December 9, 2008]
“There's no avoiding Din Tai Fung, a mandatory stop on Taiwan's restaurant scene (194 Xinyi Road, Section 2; -(2)-2321-8928). This crowded, brightly lit restaurant, with chefs rolling and stuffing dumplings in the front, specializes in xiao long bao, steamed soup dumplings. These are usually associated with Shanghainese cuisine, but the dumplings here are famous for skin that is much more delicate than those of their Shanghainese counterparts. Try the ones with pork, pork and crab meat or purely vegetables. Save room for taro dumplings as a first dessert. A full meal might cost 300 Taiwan dollars a person.
“Head around the corner to Yongkang Street, a celebrated eating avenue, for your second dessert: a mound of shaved ice topped with fresh mango, strawberry or kiwi at Ice Monster (15 Yongkang Street). Then stroll along the Street, lined with traditional noodle shops, Japanese restaurants and sweet tofu dessert parlors.
“Taipei is as modern a city as any in Asia, but traditional night markets thrive in many neighborhoods. The biggest ones resemble beachside boardwalks, with cheek-by-jowl crowds, fun-fair games, knickknack stores selling everything from chopsticks to DVD's and, of course, every kind of Taiwanese snack food. The liveliest markets are Raohe, by Ciyou Temple in the Songshan neighborhood; Shida, between the Guting and Taipower Building MRT stations; and Shilin, at the Jiantan MRT station.”
Claudia Chen posted in the New York Times: “My friends and I have been making annual pilgrimages to Taiwan in the last few years to eat, drink and eat some more. Then drink some more. Our absolute favorite restaurant is Kiki (several locations; 51 Dong Fend Street; -(2)-2752-2781; -(2)-2752-2791), a Sichuan restaurant with a Taiwanese flair. Then there’s mala hot pot. Mala hot pot is numbingly spicy and it WILL set you on fire. We love Tai Ho Dian (No. 315 Xinyi Road, Sec. 4; -(2)-2705-0909). If you love mushrooms or enjoy good hot pot, then make your way to Bai Gu Yuan (Hundred Mushroom Garden) (17, Lane 71, Ren Ai Road, Section 4; -(2)-8773-3160). Here’s the site with the store locations (in Chinese): www.baigu.com.tw/Taiwan/store.html. [Source: Brian C. Chao, New York Times, March 12, 2009]
Another person said: “You can have breakfast in traditional breakfast shops along HangJhou South Road, near National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall (formerly the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall) (www.cksmh.gov.tw/eng/index.php), with a new name of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall, and enjoy steamed bun, sesame seed cake and soybean milk. Having beef noodles for lunch is a good suggestion. There are thousands of coffee shops in the city and many owners are devoted to the best coffee.”
Hsin-I Huang psted: “Skip the restaurants and head straight for one of the many night markets. (Shilin and Shida are worthwhile, as is the lesser-known Tonghua market, but steer clear of Huaxi, a k a Snake Alley.) You’ll find everything from shirts and tea towels next to authentic Taiwanese treats, from ginger duck soups to fried chicken hearts. If internal organs don’t suit your fancy, you’re sure to find the more palatable fried chicken breasts (ji pie) or candied fruit on sticks. Wash it all down with bubble milk tea (jen ju nai cha).”
Tea Houses in Taipei
Edward Wong wrote: “Taiwanese are discerning tea-drinkers, and going to teahouses is popular here. One local favorite is De Ye Cha Chi, near the Shandao Temple MRT station (3-1 Zhen Jiang Street; -(2)-2351-1002). Jars of tea leaves sit against a wall in the quiet dining room, and guests can brew their tea in traditional pots. Try Oriental Beauty, an oolong tea with a naturally sweet taste that was supposedly given its English-language name by the Queen of England after she had a sip. Prices vary, but a pot can cost less than 300 Taiwan dollars.” [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December 9, 2008]
Douglas McGray wrote: “I visited Chow Yu, a trim, quiet 60-something man who runs Wistaria Tea House near Da'an Forest Park. The Taiwan-born director Ang Lee shot part of ''Eat Drink Man Woman'' here. It's a creaky, Japanese-style building nearly a century old, with a garden that blends elements of traditional Japan (bamboo, koi pond) and Taiwan (soft ferns). The busy six-lane street just beyond the garden wall used to be a river. [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
“Wistaria Tea House was under renovation, so we sat at Chow's smaller Vine House on a quiet, crooked alley nearby. It's pretty and homey, with dark slate floors, mismatched tables and austere paintings and drawings by Chow's artist friends. We took a seat near a window... During his dad's university days, the house became an important salon. When Chow inherited the place, he turned it into a teahouse -- not out of any love for tea, but because he kept hosting plays and concerts and readings and realized he ought to sell something. ''All night, the door was open,'' Chow recalled. ''We'd drink and talk. It was very romantic, very bohemian.''
“Lately, the tea has started to take on greater meaning for him. Old tea, especially. He's been collecting it and serving it on special occasions. Some of his teas are almost 100 years old. He went to the basement and came back with a small canister of pu-erh tea, grown in Taiwan and picked in the early 1950s. He got a tiny clay teapot smaller than a tennis ball and a pair of shallow black cups. ''We drink old tea to recall our old times,'' he said, adding hot water to a pinch of long, dark leaves, ''and to connect with history and memory. There is a certain bitterness that recalls time past. You can renew yourself, and look at history with a clearer mind.''
“Old tea is hard to store. It takes on moisture, soaks up flavors of other teas stored nearby. ''The first few brews show the imperfections most prominently,'' Chow said as I took a sip. It smelled earthy and tasted woody, a little bitter. A sip almost drained the cup. ''Toward the end, only the essence remains,'' he said, refilling my cup again, and again. Each time, it tasted grassier, softer. ''You can taste the time,'' he said. ''It's the same for people. If they can overcome the darker parts of their history, they can move on to a better place.''
Shopping in Taipei
Shopping opportunities for gifts and souvenirs abound throughout Taipei and prices are generally pretty reasonable. The shop at the Palace Museum is a good place to shop for gifts and excellent reproductions of calligraphy and paintings found inside the museum. Shops along Can Ya Tsai and Chungshan North Road offer excellent jewelry, curios, rare coins, jewels, and porcelain items. Jade can also be purchased in Taipei, but it is very expensive.
Good places to shop for electronic and cameras are Chunghua Road, Kungkuan market and Hsimenting (Hankao and Pao). Hsimenting is also a good place to shop for clothes, shoes and souvenirs. Popular with teenagers and old timers alike, it has more than 200 shops, numerous fast food restaurants, a dozen and a half modern movie complex. In the late 1960s several streets were closed to traffic and turned in pedestrian walkways. Old men bring their caged birds; street performers and musicians perform; young girls show off the latest fashions. Sometimes more than 200,000 people pass through in a single day.
Dinghao is a maze of backstreets allies with numerous restaurants, pubs, teahouses, fast food restaurants, department stores, boutiques, cinemas, bakeries, book stores, art galleries. Many tailors have shops on Poai and Hengyang Roads, Chungshan N. and Linsen N Roads. Dinghao and Chienkuo have many good art galleries. English language books, porcelain and painting reproductions can be found on Chungshan N Road. Chungshan N. Road is good for books and art reproductions. Shihlin and Tienmu District (Chungshan N. Road) is located in a suburb north of Taipei where you can find numerous Western-style delicatessens, grocery stores, restaurants and discount stores.
Zhongxiao - Dunhua Shopping Area around the intersection of Zhongxiao East and Dunhua South roads has become a major shopping area in Taipei's east district, thanks to its convenient location.
High-end boutiques are packed along Dunhua South Road between Xinyi and Zhongxiao East roads, presenting a tempting array of brand-name clothes, jewelry, shoes, and leather items. The section between the SOGO Department store and the Taipei Metro Mall is an especially good place for the fashionably acquisitive, with Cartier, Louis Vuitton, DKNY and other top brand boutiques to choose from.
The Xinyi District is a trend-setting commercial district in Taipei, embracing skyscrapers, dozens of fashionable malls, restaurants, and hotels on Sections 4 and 5 of Xinyi Road. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store's New Life Square and A4 branches, Novel Hall for Performing Arts, VieShow Cinemas, Grand Hyatt Taipei Hotel, and Taipei 101. By day, the Xinyi District bustles with the fast-paced energy of business as Taipei's commercial and financial center. At night, the skyscrapers come alight with eye-catching displays of LED lights, setting the mood for evening fun. On weekends, the Xinyi District transforms again as outdoor stages and squares come alive with concerts, dance performances, record release events, and celebrity appearances, making this the place where you can experience the youthful energy of Taipei.
Dihua Street is an old-town market area with shops selling Chinese medicines and herbs, temple icons and incense, spices and dried food, colorful bolts of cloth and bamboo and wooden crafts. Taipei's most completely preserved and historically meaningful historical area, Dihua Street was traditionally an area of Taipei were goods such as tree fungus, dried fish and shredded squid were stored for long periods of time. Today the street contains shops associated with Chinese trades. There is a farm supply store, bamboo ware shops, rice mills, incense shops, paper lantern stores and places selling a wide variety of textiles and foods. Dihua Street has undergone massive renovation and now blends traditional architecture and shops selling Chinese medical herbs and dry goods with cool handicraft shops, modern cafes and distinctive tea houses
Guanghua Market (Guanghua Digital Plaza) opened in 1973 under Guanghua Bridge between Bade Road and Civic Boulevard in Taipei. It was originally occupied by used book shops relocated from Guling Street and unlicensed shops that were moved from Bade Road. Business at the market took a while to pick up due to the limited choice of items on sale. This began to change with the arrival of antique, jade, and electronic supply shops in 1979 and in the 1990s the market consolidated its reputation as the go-to place in Taipei for computer equipment and other electronic gadgets, with over a hundred shops selling these high-tech items. On January 18, 2006, Guanghua Market was relocated to a new facility at 77 Jinshan North Road. In addition to computers and other electronic peripherals, the new market sells branded sportswear and athletic gear, DVDs and CDs, posters, PC and console games, books, stereo equipment, mobile phones, and more. The market is known for its wide variety, low prices, and convenient comparison shopping, making it a magnet for budget-minded student shoppers.
Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area
Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area (eastern part of Taipei City) is one place tourist dollars travels far and the there is a lot clothing and accessories to choose from. The literal translation of "Wufenpu" is "five parcels of open land," indicating that in pioneering days the first Chinese settlers bought up a large plot here in modern Taipei's Songshan District in a group of five. To today's Taipei residents, however, the place name is synonymous with a renowned wholesalers' district stuffed to the brim with quality inexpensive clothing and related adornments -- and stuffed with happy bargain-hunters most every day. It is now rightfully gaining recognition on the tourist map as well.
Wufenpu officially called Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Area is just the antidote, then, for those in the last category seeking pure joy, and just the thing for those in all categories in need of clothing necessities or gifts for those waiting back home.
Getting There by Public Transport: 1. Take the THSR to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to Houshanpi Station. 2. Take the train to Songshan Station; By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Neihu Interchange Sec. 2, Chenggong Rd. Xinming Rd. Chengmei Bridge Dongxin St. Sec. 6, Zhongxiao E. Rd. Yongji Rd. Zhongbo N. Rd; Address: Zhongpo N. Rd, Songshan District ,Taipei City, Tel: -(2)-2720-8889]
Jianguo Holiday Flower Market and Jade Market
Jianguo Holiday Flower Market (under the overpass of section 3, Xinyi Rd. and Jianguo S. Rd.), is always packed every weekend and holiday, with people looking to purchase some flowers to brighten their homes. Besides flowers and plants, the Jianguo Holiday Flower Market also sells floral apparatus and seeds. The Da'an Forest Park is located right beside the Jianguo Holiday Flower Market, adding to its allure as the best place for seeing and buying flowers. Next to the flower market, the Holiday Jade Market offers a wide selection of jade goods. Whether you're looking for a bracelet or a Buddhist charm, the market will likely have what you are looking for.
Weekend Jade Market (Chienkuo S. Road and Jenai Road) is open Saturday afternoon and Sundays. Rows of vendors offer good bargains on treasures and trinkets made from jade, gems and other minerals. Trading at the market can be a little intense and tourists should have some knowledge of customary practices and appropriate prices before attempting to make a purchase.The adjacent Holiday Flower market features a mile of flowers and plants. The early Chinese Handicraft Mart (Hsuchow and Chungshan S. Roads) is a good place to shop for wood carvings, lacquerware, hand scrolls, marbleware, brocade, ceramics and jewelry.
Getting There by Public Transport: THSR: Take the THSR to Taipei Station, transfer to the MRT or bus. Taiwan High Speed Rail MRT: Take MRT to Da-an Station, then walk along Sec.3 Xinyi Rd. to Jianguo S. Rd. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Exit at the Yuanshan Interchange Jianguo elevated Rd. Exit at Xinyi Rd. Interchange Sec. 1, Jianguo S. Rd. Jianguo Holiday Flower Market / Jade Market; Open Hours: Saturday and Sunday 9:00am-6:00pm; Tel: -(2)-2720-8889, Address: At parking lot that between the overpass of Jianguo S. Rd, Ren-ai Rd. to Xinyi Rd;
Night Markets in Taipei
Night Markets are good places to shop, eat and observe Taiwanese life. Most vendors speak only Chinese and a paper and pen is needed for bargaining if you don't speak Chinese. Many of the night market areas only come alive at night. They generally become busy around 7:00pm and often stay open past midnight. During the day they are like regular business districts. Many Taiwanese like to shop and roam around at night because it is so hot and people are so busy during the day.
Huaxi Night Market is the most famous tourist night market in Taiwan, famous for things like snake meat and snake wine, pot-edged pancake soup, salty rice pudding, dishes made with fresh water turtle and seafood. It used be called Snake Alley and was where tourists went to see monkeys decapitated, snakes skinned alive and turtles chopped into little pieces before crowds of tourists. Monkey brains from decapitated animals were eaten raw and the snakes and turtles are put into soups and tonics. "I watched hawkers snatch live cobras from their cages," wrote Arthur Zich in National Geographic, "slit them open, and mix the blood with herbs and wine into a Chinese potions believed to restore potency. Wizened old men guzzled it down on the spot." Between Xiyuan Rd. and Huanhe S. Rd. in Taipei City.
Douglas McGray wrote in the New York Times magazine: “It was starting to get dark... We hailed a taxi and headed for one of Taipei's famous night markets, where vendors pack a maze of streets and alleys when the sun sets. Wandering, we dug into a pile of floury, handmade noodles, followed by pig's-blood cake covered with crushed peanuts and cilantro; fried buns stuffed with bitter greens; pungent soup with slivers of fresh ginger and whole pigs' feet; big hunks of melon, just in season; and heaping bowls of sweet, slippery douhua -- chilled tofu pudding with azuki beans, mung beans and boiled peanuts. We ducked down an alley, barely wide enough for two people to pass. The shop awnings almost touched overhead, and strings of tiny lights and colored balls dangled between them, a kind of canopy. It felt a bit like walking through the forest, except the wildlife was getting its nails done and the buzz of tattoo guns stood in for crickets and bird song.”[Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
Sunghan Night Market (Jaoho St.) features handicrafts, clothes, toys, tapes, CDs, bamboo knickknacks, tasty local snacks, electric gadgets and souvenirs. Kungkuan Night Market has bargains on clothes, computers, software, CDs, antiques, art reproductions, curios used books and household items. Numerous food vendors, restaurants, bakeries and cinemas are also found here. Smaller night markets are located at Shih Ta (Hoping E Road), Huahsi Street, Tunghua Street, and Qing Kuang (near Shuangcehng).
Jingmei Night Market features many vendors and shops selling hardware, cassettes, clothes, and accessories are gathered in the 30-years-old Jingmei old street. Moreover, there is a "Jingmei Public Market" of various food and beverage stands and shops on Jingmei new street. , Jingmei St, Taipei City. At Linjiang Street Night Market you can go eating and shopping at the same time. There are plenty of groceries sold on Linjiang Street, the way to get there is to go on Jilong Road and turn to Linjiang Street, then pass Tonghua , which is the part with stores of clothes and quilts. Between Sec. 4, Xinyi Rd. and Sec. 2, Jilong Rd. in Taipei City. A 30-years-old ceremonial arch marks the entrance of Nanya Night Market, with the stores settled neatly here. Among them, most are food stores, only few are clothes and grocery stores, In Nanya E. Rd, Banqiao District, New Taipei City. [Source: Tourism Bureau, Republic of China (Taiwan)]
Night Markets with Food in Taipei
1) Shilin Night Market is known for snacks and dishes such as squid thick soup, steak, hot stuffed dumplings, little cake wrapped in big cake, stinky tofu, grilled squid, pig’s ear, small pancake folded in a large pancake, hot pot on stone, Shilin sausage, corn on the cob lathered with soy sauce. sliced noodles, liver soup, squid thick soup, and oyster omelets. It is located along Dadong Rd, Danan Rd, Wenlin Rd, and Jihe Rd. (See Below).
2) Raohe Street Night Market was the first tourist night market in Taiwan and stretches for about 600 meters. There are many herb-steamed sparerib restaurants here. It runs from the intersection of Sec. 4, Bade Rd. and Fuyuan St. in Taipei City to Ciyou Temple on Bade Rd. 3) Liaoning Night Market features dishes made with goose, seafood, rice tube pudding, kebabs, oyster omelets, marinated vegetables and meat. Besides, the alleys near Liaoning Street stand many featured coffee shops and restaurants. That's why this area is named "coffee street", Between Chang-an E. Rd. and Chung Hsin High School in Taipei City.
4) Ningxia Night Market, located by the Datong District roundabout, is traditional-style night market specializing in mouthwatering Taiwan snack foods. This is the first night market in Taipei to separate pedestrian and car traffic, making it easier for visitors to enjoy the food and shopping attractions here, Around the area of Minsheng West Road, Nanjing West Road and Chongqing North Road in Taipei City.
5) Xinnan Night Market is situated on spacious road with neat stores. There are various shaved ice stores here, which forms the main feature of the market. Moreover, there are many grocery stores selling various kinds of low-priced goods in this market. The market is located on Xinyi St. and Lane 410, Jingxing St. in Zhonghe District, New Taipei City.
6) Xinzhuang Night Market features things like mushroom Hsinchu Meat Balls, thick meat soup, red bean cake, Taiwanese meatballs, cake, oyster thin noodles, and shrimp thick soup. The trace of hundred years of history is hidden among the streets and alleys with shops in buildings formally occupied by a blacksmith workshop, to-fu factories and old brand cake stores. The market is situated on the back of the Sinjhuang Junior High School, on Xinzhuang Rd, Xinzhuang District, New Taipei City.
Shihlin Night Market
Shihlin Night Market (at the intersection of Wenlin and Joho roads) in northern part of the city is considered the king of Taipei's night markets. Popular with both families and teenagers, it has numerous stalls selling clothing, footwear, souvenirs, jewelry, sunglasses, plastic items, and snacks such as squid thick soup, steak, hot stuffed dumplings, little cake wrapped in big cake, stinky tofu, grilled squid, pig’s ear, small pancake folded in a large pancake, hot pot on stone, Shilin sausage, corn on the cob lathered with soy sauce. sliced noodles, liver soup, squid thick soup, and oyster omelets. Vendors often stand on chairs or shout into microphones to sell theur products.
Shilin Night Market is the one of the largest night markets in Taipei. The market is centered on Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple by many prosperous shops on Wenlin Road, Dadong Road and Danan Road. Shilin Market was established in 1899 and is most famous for it snacks. Because the night market is close to many schools, many of the customers are students. Goods are sold at less expensive prices as compared to regular stores. There are special areas for furniture, clothing, photo shops or pet shops. The finery shops and cold dessert shops in "lover's lane" attract a lot of students. Shilin Night Market covers a large area and creeps down many lanes and alleys, where one is likely to find something unexpected. The night market is packed with many people during holidays.
Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, transfer Taipei MRT to Jiantan Station. By Road: Nat'l Hwy 1 Taipei Interchange Sec. 4, Chongqing N. Rd. BaiLing Bridge Sec. 4, Chengde Rd. Ln. 292, Sec. 4, Chengde Rd. Danan Rd. Jihe Rd; Location Address: In the neighborhood of Dadong Rd, Danan Rd, Wenlin Rd. and Jihe Rd, Shilin Dist, Taipei City 111, Taiwan (R.O.C.), Tel: -(2)-2882-0340;
Shopping Malls in Tapei
Taipei 101 Shopping Mall is located in the Taipei 101 tower, once the world’s tallest building. The mall occupies six floors and features luxury brand and high-end fashion stores such as Chanel, Armani, Montblanc, Versace and Dior. There are some nice restaurants and a gourmet food court. The mall’s interior has marble columns and vaulted ceilings. Address: No. 45, Shifu Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110. Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11:00am to 9.30pm, Friday–Saturday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-8101 7777.
Bellavita Shopping Mall is a luxury mall in a cathedral-like building. The small number of but exclusive stores found there include Tiffany & Co, Giorgio Armani, Vera Wang, and even a Lamborghini showroom next to an art gallery. On one level is terrific food court; another contains fine restaurants. Address: No. 28, Songren Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110. Open everyday from 10.30am to 10:00pm (till 10.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays), Tel: -(2)-8729 2771.
The Miramar Entertainment Park is a shopping and entertainment complex intended to offer enough shopping, dining and and entertainment experiences to keep visitors going all day and night. The highlight of this park, which opened at the end of 2004, is a 95-meter-high, 70-meter-in-diameter Ferris wheel that lights up at night. Miramar Entertainment Park is also home to one of the largest cinema screens. The shopping mall occupies six floors with a number of mid-range and top-end stores like Roberta di Camerino, Chanel and Montblanc. Fashion is not the only thing highlighted in this mall. There’s also sports supplies, toys, accessories and cosmetics, not to mention a good good food court. Getting There by Public Transport: Take the THSR or train to Taipei Station, continue by MRT to Jiannan Road Station. Address: No. 20, Jingye 3rd Road, Zhongshan District, Taipei City 10491, Taiwan. Open everyday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-2175 3456.
Taipei City Mall is an underground market with hundreds of shops connected to Taipei Main Train Station by tunnels. Most of the shops are clothing, electronics and food stores, which tend to be grouped by type. Among the more specialized stores are an anime and manga shop and music shops. Some of the stores with cheap products date back to when the area occupied by the mall was Chunghwa Market. Street musicians give the place a friendly atmosphere. Address: No. 100, Shimin Boulevard, Section 1, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100, Open: Monday–Friday from 11:00am to 9.30pm, Saturday–Sunday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-2559 4566.
Core Pacific, also known as Living Mall, was one of the world’s largest malls. Opened in 2001, it boasted 19 floors and 1,000 stores, some of which stay open around the clock. Construction and land cost were around $800 million. The mall was put up for auction in 2018. The mall, instantly recognizable for the 11-storey granite-clad sphere in front, was described as a city within a city, with 12 floors going up and seven underground. The mall contained a large Mira Department, an array of restaurants, a large cinema, a 1,650-square meters cosmetics area, and a shoes gallery that occupied much of the first floor, with over 10,000 items of footwear and a foot spa. Address: No. 138, Section 4, Bade Road, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105, Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11:00am to 9.30pm, Friday–Saturday from 11:00am to 10.30pm, Tel: -(2)-3762 1888.
Eslite Spectrum Mall is a four-floor mall organized around the popular Eslite bookstore. Many of the shops are boutique stores, many of them selling cultural and artistic products like unique handicrafts and handmade clothes. The third floor, ‘Tea with books’, contains the bookstore surrounded by cafés and tea shops. On another level there is great food court, an art gallery and a performance hall. Eslite Spectrum Mall is located right next to Songshan Cultural Park. Address: No. 88, Yanchang Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110. Open everyday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-6636 5888
Department Stores in Taipei
There are about a dozen major department stores in Taipei, including the Far Eastern SOGO Department Store, Dayeh Takashimaya Department Store, Ming Yao Department Store, Shin-Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (Taipei Station Store), Shin-Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (Nanxi Store One), Shin-Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (Xinyi Store), Momo Department Store and Food Court and Far Eastern Department Store.
Far Eastern SOGO occupies 14 floors. Devoted primarily to fashion, it boasts many brand names. There are large children’s wear, sports equipment, lingerie and accessories sections. There is a supermarket on the very bottom floor and an events hall on the top. There is a good range of restaurants on the 11th floor. The store is connected directly to the Zhongxiaofuxing MRT Station. Address: No. 45, Section 4, Zhongxiao East Road, Da’an District, Taipei City 10691, Taiwan, Open: Monday–Friday from 11:00am to 9.30pm (Fridays till 10:00pm), Saturdays from 10.30am to 10:00pm, Sundays from 10.30am to 9.30pm, Tel: -(2)-2776 5555.
Breeze Center has three department stores in Taipei. Breeze Center Mall is the first nad biggest. The others are Breeze II and Breeze Taipei Station. The 11-floor Breeze Center Mall contains a large basement supermarket and high-end to mid-range sections such as Armani, Gucci, UNIQLO, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Calvin Klein. There’s a cinema up on the 9th floor, with a good selection of restaurant on the nearby floors. Address: No. 3, Section 1, Fuxing South Road, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105, Open: Sunday–Wednesday from 11:00am to 9.30pm, Thursday–Saturday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-6600 8888.
Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Mall at Taipei Station is the biggest and most popular of the four Shin Kong Mitsukoshi malls in Taipei. Housed inside the Shin Kong Tower, it has a broad range of stores to suit every budget and is relatively easy to get to by public transportation. The food court is very big. Address: No. 66, Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100, Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11:00am to 9.30pm, Friday–Saturday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Tel: -(2)-2388 5552.
The ATT 4 Fun department store is home to many big international fashion brands, as well as some of the top nightclubs in the city and a 500-seat auditorium. Among the trendy fashion shops are Zara, Che Che New York, Nami&Yami and GAP. The fifth floor has a small but good choice of restaurants. Home products with cool designs and and handmade cosmetics among the products on sale. Address: No. 12, Songshou Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110, Open: Sunday–Thursday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Friday–Saturday from 11:00am to 11:00pm, Tel: -(2)-8780 8111
Accommodation in Taipei
Taipei has about 20 first deluxe hotels including the Palace Hotel, the Grand Hyatt Taipei, Lai Lai Sheraton Hotel, the Taipei Hilton, the Hotel Royal-Nikko Taipei and Imperial Hotel Taipei. The Grand Hotel, one of Taipei's largest hotels, is a favorite stop for tourists. The lobby of the 14-story hotel is the largest in the world and features a wide marble staircase, 42 red pillars, and huge gold-loom carpet.
There are also quite a few standard hotels, hostels, budgets hotels, YMCAs and other accommodation options. Popular budget hotel areas are located around the main railway station on Huaining Street, Chungking S Road, Chang'an W Road. Be warned that many of the cheap hotels also serve as brothels. The tourist office in Taipei and the hotel information desk at the airport can help you find a hostel, standard hotel or luxury hotel. The Lonely Planet books have a good list of cheap accommodation options.
Among the best of the city's big hotels are the Grand Formosa Regent (011--(2)-2523-8000; regent hotels.com; doubles from about $340), the Grand Hyatt (011--(2)-2720-1234; grand.hyatt.com; doubles from $270), Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel (011--(2)-2378-8888; shangri-la.com; doubles from $262), the Sherwood (011--(2)-2718-1188; sherwood.com.tw; doubles from $316) and the Westin (011--(2)-8770-6565; westin.com; doubles from $325). If you prefer boutique hotels, there are the two Les Suites properties (epoquehotels.com; doubles from $179) or the less expensive Ambience (ambiencehotel.com.tw; doubles from $86). A luxe hot-springs inn outside the center in Beitou is Villa 32 (011--(2)-6611-8888; villa32.com; use of hot springs from $47 for four hours; Western-style doubles from $546). [Source: Douglas McGray, New York Times magazine, March 23, 2008]
Edward Wong wrote in the New York Times: “Les Suites Taipei is an intimate boutique hotel that has two locations in the city (12 Ching Cheng Street; -(2)-8712-7688; and 135 Da An Road, Section 1; -(2)-8773-3799; www.suitetpe.com). Late last month, the weekend on-line rate for a double at the Da An location started at about $140 a night. The Grand Hotel, at least architecturally, lives up to its name (1 Zhongshan North Road, Section 4; -(2)-2-8888; www.grand-hotel.org). Built in Qing Dynasty style, it has been a centerpiece of Taipei's luxury hotel scene for years, though the location north of the city center is somewhat inconvenient. Late last month, the weekend rate for a double started at 3,990 Taiwan dollars per night. [Source: Edward Wong, New York Times, December 9, 2008]
Taipei visitors told the New York Times: 1) “I recently spent several days at the San Want Hotel Taipei (No. 172, Sec. 4, ZhongXiao East Road; -(2)-2772-2121; www.sanwant.com/en/index.aspx). I found it delightful. It is mere steps from an MRT transit station. The local street food was outstanding. The Grand Hotel is grand, but isolated. If you are not into taxis or long walks, it is not an option.” 2) “If this is your first time to Taipei, and you want to see the tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101, my recommendation is to stay in the Grand Hyatt Taipei (2 Song Shou Road, Taipei; -(2)-2720-1234; www.taipei.grand.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp). It is located right next to Taipei 101 and within walking distance to shops, restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, etc.” 3) “In May 2007 I stayed at the Riviera Hotel (646 Linsen North Road, Taipei; -(2)-2585-3258; www.rivierataipei.com/index.htm). My room was a small suite, with lots of room. The staff was very friendly and helpful (but that’s generally true of Taiwan everywhere). The location is about three blocks from the MRT station (but cabs are fairly cheap in Taipei). The room was quiet too. And they have computers for guests to use.” [Source: Brian C. Chao, New York Times, March 12, 2009]
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: Taiwan (Republic of China) tourism and government websites, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Japan News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in August 2020