A few of my friends are either currently on vacation in Taipei or planning on visiting Taipei soon. I'm have no such plans. But that's ok. Yeeeaah. [Curls up into fetal position on floor surrounded by an ever-expanding puddle of my own tears.]
Anyway, it got me thinking about what I'd want to do and where I'd want to bring my friends if I went back to Taipei for a week-ish-long vacation. The result is this list of 50-something places I'd want to go to eat, shop, and do other fun stuff. This isn't a list of "the best" places, nor stuff I would necessarily recommend to first-time tourists to Taipei. (I only mention a handful of museums and sites of historical significance because I've already visited most of the places I'm interested in.) My favorite places are mostly influenced by proximity to my former apartment in Da'an, nostalgia, reasonable prices, and the presence of cuteness. But maybe you and I share some of the same interests. I hope so, or else this post will have all been for nothing, and that aforementioned ever-expanding puddle of tears will turn into an ever-expanding flood.
For other resources about what to do in Taipei, check out A Hungry Girl's Guide to Taipei, The Thousandth Girl, Taiwan Explorer, and Guide to Taipei.com. There's also TripAdvisor's Taipei hub and a bajillion other sites with more recommendations and photos than I could ever give you. If you're planning to visit Taipei for the first time, also check out my post of random travel/living tips.
In my descriptions, I link each place's name to its corresponding tag on my Flickr page in case you want to browse my photos. If I have a photo of a place's menu, I'll link to it, but keep in mind it might not be up to date. I put most of these place on my accompanying map, aside from chains that have a bunch of locations. Some addresses below are written in Chinese because that's what Google gave me and I was too lazy to translate them.
Table of Contents
- Breakfast: Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang (永和豆浆大王) or Rui'an Dou Jiang Da Wang (瑞安豆浆大王)
- Gua Bao: Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)
- Soup Dumplings and Fried Chicken: Golden Chicken Garden (好公道金雞園)
- More Fried Chicken: Yunnan Restaurant (雲南小鎮)
- Bian Dang (Lunch Plates): Yu Ting (羽庭小屋) & Long Cheng (龍城燒烤便當)
- Scallion Pancakes: Shandong Cong You Bing (山東蔥油餅)
- Cheap-Ass Dumplings: Ba Fang Yun Ji (八方雲集)
- Shida Night Market Stands: Ho Ho Mei (好好味), Li Ayi Shui Jian Bao (李阿姨水煎包), & Jian Kang Lu Wei (健康滷味)
- Wonton Noodles: Qi Fu Bian Shi (奇福扁食)
- Beef Noodle Soup: Lao Zhang Niu Rou Mian (老張牛肉麵)
- Night Market: TBD or Shilin Night Market
- Fried Chicken: Hot-Star (豪大大雞排)
- Mussels and Fried Oysters: Jin Tai Yang (金太陽)
- Re Chao: TBD
- Udon: Inaka Udon (稻禾烏龍麵)
- Cafes: Cafe Kuroshio (咖啡黑潮) & Picnic (野餐咖啡)
- Cute Cafe: Xixi Cafe (繪本咖啡 | 嬉々café)
- Pineapple Cakes: Shou Tian Pin (手天品社區食坊)
- Misc. Traditional Chinese Snacks and Cookies: Laiyang (萊陽桃酥)
- Gourmet Taiwanese Foodstuffs: Maji Food & Deli (神農市場)
- Shaved Ice: Bing Zan (冰讃), Xin Fa Ting (辛發亭), Tai Yi Milk King (臺一牛奶大王)
- Dou Hua: Dongmen Jiang Ji Douhua (東門江記豆花)
- Almond Tofu: Yu's Almond Tofu (于記杏仁豆腐)
- Doughnuts: Mister Donut
- Soft Serve: 7-Eleven
- Food Court: Maji Square (集食行樂)
- Farmers' Market: Taipei Expo Farmer's Market (花博農民市集)
- Clothes: Loopy (鹿皮), Uniqlo, 3rd Floor Studio, Butter.fly 2 Collection
- Socks: Night Markets, Random Stores
- Stationery: JSF (金興發), Pinmo Pure Store (品墨良行), Muji, Eslite (誠品書店), Booday Mogu (蘑菇), Yarnball
- Souvenirs: Fingertip Art/Lai Hao (一針一線&來好雜貨舖), Good Cho's (好丘), Tai-uan e Tiam (台灣e店), Eslite (誠品書店), Lovely Taiwan (台灣好店), Ma Ma Umbrella & Handmade Market
- Indie Designers Markets: Simple Market (簡單市集) or Red House Creative Market (西門紅樓創意市集)
- Bike At Night Along Xindian River, Followed By Taiwanese Breakfast
- Bike Through Dinosaur Park Under Huazhong Bridge (新北市恐龍公園) And Take Cheesy Photos
- Play Games at Tom's World Arcade (湯姆熊歡樂世界明曜加盟店)
- Take a Day Trip to Jiufen (九份)
- Hike Up Xiangshan (象山, Elephant Mountain)
- Walk Around Chiang-kai Shek and/or Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall at Night
- Hang Out In a Tiny Park
- Check Out 7-Eleven
- Visit Maokong (貓空)
- Visit the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan (袖珍博物館)
- Visit the 2/28 Memorial Plaque
- Visit Songshan Cultural Park (松山文創園區) or Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區)
- Roam Around Danshui (淡水)
- Get a Haircut From Aline at William Beauty Salon (日式威廉髮藝)
- Visit This Cute Reading Nook
- Collect Souvenir Stamps
Breakfast: Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang (永和豆浆大王) or Rui'an Dou Jiang Da Wang (瑞安豆浆大王)
Yong He Dou Jiang Da Wang: This is my go-to Taiwanese breakfast spot. My most basic order is yóu tiáo (油條, oily deep fried cruller sticks) and rè dòu jiāng (熱豆漿, hot soymilk), or maybe a shāo bǐng yóu tiáo jiā dàn (燒餅油條加蛋, you tiao and omelette sandwiched in a crisp, flakey flatbread) and dou jiang, or maybe xián dòu jiāng (鹹豆漿, salty soymilk, which is more of a soup than a beverage), plus a fàn tuán (飯糰, glutinous rice log stuffed with you tiao and other stuff) to snack on later, plus anything else that strikes my fancy. Yeah, that's it. [English/Chinese/Japanese menu]
106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, Section 2, Fuxing S Rd, 102號 (map)
Rui An Dou Jiang Da Wang: This 24-hour breakfast shop is down the street from Yong He. Even though I think Yong He's food is better, I sometimes prefer to go to Rui An for their more comfortable and ample open-air seating. Their food isn't bad at all, and their prices are a bit cheaper than Yong He's. [Chinese menu]
106, Taiwan, 台北市大安區瑞安街69號 (map)
Gua Bao: Lan Jia Gua Bao (藍家割包)
Lan Jia Gua Bao: You can just get the signature guà bāo (割包, pork belly-stuffed steamed bun sandwiches) and wash it down with suān méi tāng (酸梅湯, sour plum juice), but everything is so cheap you may as well add on zòng zi (粽子, fat triangles of glutinous rice stuffed with peanuts, pork, mushroom, and salted egg yolk) and Four Gods Soup/sì shén tāng (四神湯, mild pork broth with Chinese barley, lotus seeds, something else I can't identify, and chopped pig intestines or stomach). [Chinese menu]
No. 3號, Alley 8, Lane 316, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (map)
Soup Dumplings and Fried Chicken: Golden Chicken Garden (好公道金雞園)
Golden Chicken Garden: Head here for cheap xiǎo lóng bāo (小籠包, soup dumplings) and zhá jī tuǐ (炸雞腿, fried chicken leg)...but also jīn yín sī juǎn (金銀絲卷, fried steamed silver thread bread), vegetable and tofu side dishes, and suān méi tāng (酸梅湯, sour plum juice). If there are enough people to share with, I'd also get the sū shì tāng bāo (蘇式湯包, Suzhou soup dumplings). [English/Chinese menu]
No. 28-1, Yongkang St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
More Fried Chicken: Yunnan Restaurant (雲南小鎮)
Yunnan Restaurant: I recently tried to make the fried chicken dish jiāo má jī (椒麻雞) at home. It was not the same. :( Yunnan Restaurant, please show me the fried chicken light. Read more about it in my Shida Night Market post.
No. 38, Lane 40, Taishun St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Bian Dang (Lunch Plates): Yu Ting (羽庭小屋) & Long Cheng (龍城燒烤便當)
Yu Ting: I visited this tiny restaurant something like a bagillion times mainly for their whole, deep-fried ròu yú (肉魚, butterfish). All of their dishes come with purple rice and veggie sides. It's best to visit for lunch; sometimes they sell out of food before dinner. [Chinese menu]
106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, Yongkang St, 73號 (map)
Long Cheng: This restaurant has upgraded their menu since I lived in Taipei, but assuming it's run by the same people as before (the woman who ran the counter was just the sweetest, THE SWEEEETEST), everything here should still be great—notably cleaner and healthier-tasting than other places—for too-low prices. They serve a variety of chicken, fish, and pork dishes with rice, vegetable sides, and soup. Here's a more recent review with lots of photos.
No. 8之1號, Jinmen St, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (map)
Scallion Pancakes: Shandong Cong You Bing (山東蔥油餅)
Shandong Cong You Bing: This stand in Tianmu makes the best cōng yóu bǐng (蔥油餅) I've ever had (thanks to Lee Anne for the rec!). I didn't live near Tianmu, but I'd go there just to eat this scallion pancake. Read more about it in my review from 2011. [Chinese menu]
No. 3, Keqiang Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 (map)
Cheap-Ass Dumplings: Ba Fang Yun Ji (八方雲集)
Ba Fang Yun Ji: This major dumpling and noodle shop chain is cheap, reliable, and great for the price. It's not a place you'd go out of your way for, but as jobless students, my friends and I went there a lot. I usually mix and matched guō tiē (鍋貼, fried dumplings) and shuǐ jiǎo (水餃, boiled dumplings), most of which cost NT$5 each, plus a bowl of noodles if I were especially hungry. [English/Chinese menu]
Shida Night Market Stands: Ho Ho Mei (好好味), Li Ayi Shui Jian Bao (李阿姨水煎包), & Jian Kang Lu Wei (健康滷味)
Ho Ho Mei: ALL HAIL THE BUTTER SANDWICH, better known as bīng huǒ bōluó yóu (冰火菠蘿油), a pineapple bun with a slab of cold, salted butter in the middle. Read more about it in my Shida Night Market post. [Chinese menu]
No. 19-1, Longquan St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
No. 11, Longquan St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
No. 12, Lane 83, Shida Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Wonton Noodles: Qi Fu Bian Shi (奇福扁食)
Qi Fu Bian Shi: This no-frills restaurant specializes in four kinds of wontons—pork, seafood, scallop, and shrimp—with your choice of noodles and/or soup. I always opted for biǎn shi gān miàn (扁食乾麵), wontons with "dry" noodles (or rather, not with soup; there's some sauce in there). If the portions are too small for you, add a bowl of ròu zào fàn (肉燥飯, stewed minced pork on rice) or grab a cold vegetable side dish from the fridge. [English/Chinese menu, page 2]
Beef Noodle Soup: Lao Zhang Niu Rou Mian (老張牛肉麵)
Lao Zhang Niu Rou Mian: If you google "Lao Zhang Beef Noodle" you'll find information for a famous restaurant near Yong Kang Street. THIS IS NOT THAT RESTAURANT. This is a different, lesser known restaurant named after, I assume, a different old guy named Zhang. I'm not picking it because it's my favorite beef noodle shop—I don't have a favorite—but because I've only been once and always meant to try it again. Someone go try it and tell me if it's good. [Chinese menu]
106, Taiwan, Taipei City, 中正區杭州南路二段48號 (map)
Night Market: TBD & Shilin Night Market
Because I don't have a favorite night market in Taipei, I'd try to go to one I haven't been to before, perhaps Liaoning or Huaxi. (I've been to Shilin, Raohe, Ningxia, Shuang Cheng, Tonghua/Linjiang,
There are loads of night markets in Taipei, but for information on the most famous ones, check out englishintaiwan.com and travelking.com.tw. And remember to visit night markets at night when they're most active. Otherwise you'll be met with a bunch of closed shops and restaurants.
Shilin Night Market: Lane 101, Wenlin Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 (map)
Fried Chicken: Hot-Star (豪大大雞排)
Hot-Star: Their signature item is chicken breast that's pounded flat into a giant slab, breaded, deep fried, and coated with peppery seasonings. Despite that it's destroy-your-mouth-skin hot, you'll probably dig into it right away and smear chicken juices all over your fingers and face despite the pain. Or maybe you won't. But I have, and I shall do it again. No regrets.
Mussels and Fried Oysters: Jin Tai Yang (金太陽)
Jin Tai Yang: Every time I've visited Danshui I've eaten at this restaurant and stuffed myself with basil-and-garlic-laden mussels and fried oysters. Even if the food weren't good, I'd still love going to this place just to eat while sitting on cheap, fluorescent pink, plastic patio chairs on a balcony facing Danshui River. [Chinese menu]
The entrance is on Huanhe Road adjacent to the riverside, but its address is listed as one block north on Zhongzheng Road: 251, Taiwan, New Taipei City, Tamsui District, Zhongzheng Rd, 57號, B1 (map)
Re Chao: TBD
A rè chǎo (熱炒) is a kind of restaurant that serves loads of small, cheap stir-fried dishes, lots of beer, and, in my experience, unlimited rice. These restaurants are generally huge and raucous with large tables that can accomodate you and your 10 closest drinking buddies. I don't drink beer, but I do love stuffing myself with stir-fried food and rice while hanging out with friends as they get increasingly drunk.
I don't have a favorite re chao. You could just search for 熱炒 on Google Maps and see what's near you. Here are four that I've been to:
Xian Ding Wei (鮮定味): No. 67號, Section 1, Chang'an E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104 (map)
Xian Ding Wei #2 (鮮定味): No. 25號, Jinzhou St, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104 (map)
Da Ka (打咔生猛活海鮮): No. 43, Section 1, Roosevelt Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (map)
Ma Lin Yu (馬林漁生猛海鮮): No. 135, Chengdu Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108 (map)
Udon: Inaka Udon (稻禾烏龍麵)
Inaka Udon: This chain serves inexpensive, freshly-made udon and various kinds of tempura from a cafeteria line-style counter. My favorite is the udon bowl topped with a blob of mentaiko (marinated fish roe), an onsen tamago (slow cooked poached egg), and a sudachi halve for squeezin'. If you order the mentaiko udon the counterperson might you if you want to level up your bowl (...not the exact wording) with extra tofu skin and kombu (kelp), and your answer should be yes. [Chinese menu]
Multiple locations, view all at inakaudon.com
Locations I've been to:
Eslite Spectrum Songyan food court: No. 88, Yanchang Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Breeze Songgao food court: No. 16, Songgao Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Cafes: Cafe Kuroshio (咖啡黑潮) & Picnic (野餐咖啡)
Cafe Kuroshio: If I'm eating Chinese/Taiwanese food all day, I'll want a cake-and-latte break at some point. Cafe Kuroshio will provide. Read more about it in my post about my favorite cafes. [English/Chinese/Japanese menu]
No. 9-1, Lane 141, Section 1, Heping E Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
No. 75, Wenzhou St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Cute Cafe: Xixi Cafe (繪本咖啡 | 嬉々café)
Xixi Cafe: I'm differentiating this cafe from the others because to me its main draw is its cuteness as opposed to getting caffeinated. As my Norwegian husband Kåre described it, it's like sitting in a Scandinavian kindergarten, with its natural wooden furniture, neatly-arranged children's books and toys, and pops of bright-but-not-garish colors against clean, white walls. Despite the children's theme, this cafe is meant for adults—children under the age of 12 are not allowed. Don't forget to check out the ridiculously cute fort in the basement. [English/Chinese menu]
Pineapple Cakes: Shou Tian Pin (手天品社區食坊)
Shou Tian Pin: My favorite pineapple cakes in Taipei (and by extension, the world) come from this unassuming little bakery/natural food shop near Shida. They come in plain and walnut-enhanced—I prefer the latter. I've given away at least 50 of these pineapple cakes as gifts. EVERYBODY LOVES 'EM.
Misc. Traditional Chinese Snacks and Cookies: Laiyang (萊陽桃酥)
Laiyang: This shop's specialty is a unique kind of shortbread cookie that melts in your mouth and has a tendency to collapse into powdery crumbs between your fingers. I don't know how the bakery handles these cookies without destroying them. I can't compare it to anything else. I just know I like 'em, especially the delicately crisp almond version. Besides cookies, the shop also sells sweet Chinese snacks like black sesame seed brittle, almond and peanut bars, and mung beans cakes. The few non-cookie snacks I've tried were great. Check out all their products at laiyang.com.tw.
Gourmet Taiwanese Foodstuffs: Maji Food & Deli (神農市場)
Maji Food & Deli: This is a combo food market/cafe/bian dang shop that focuses on local and/or high-quality goods—fresh meats, condiments, snacks, teas, grains, and more. You can browse their catalog at majifoodanddeli.com. I can't say I've bought much from here, but I like browsing the store and scoping out potential gifts to give to people. I also like the bian dang counter at the end of the shop.
104, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, 台北市中山區玉門街1號 (map)
Shaved Ice: Bing Zan (冰讃), Xin Fa Ting (辛發亭), Tai Yi Milk King (臺一牛奶大王)
Bing Zan: This shaved ice shop makes my favorite mango shaved ice in the city, topping fluffy, finely shaved, milk-flavored snow ice with super-ripe mango and drizzles of condensed milk. (Keep in mind the best time to eat mango shaved ice is during mango season in the summer. Some shaved ice shops might not sell it during the off-season, and if they do it won't taste as good.)
Xin Fa Ting: A visit to Shilin Night Market also means a visit to this over 50-year-old shaved ice shop. Like Bing Zan, they also make fluffy flavored snow ice as a base for their shaved ice bowls. I'm a big fan of their fresh strawberry and strawberry goo-topped shaved ice. [Chinese menu, English menu]
No. 1, Anping St, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111 (map)
Tai Yi Milk King: This 60-year-old shop makes the crushed ice kind of shaved ice, not the fluffy snow ice kind, as well as tāng yuán (湯圓, sweet glutinous rice dumplings) and wontons. Although I prefer snow ice to crushed ice, I like the excessiveness of their bowls. They don't hold back. So. Much. Chunk. Condensed. Milk. Everywhere. Mountain. Of. Beans. [Chinese menu]
No. 82號, Section 3, Xinsheng S Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Dou Hua: Dongmen Jiang Ji Douhua (東門江記豆花)
Dongmen Jiang Ji Douhua: This small douhua (soft tofu pudding) stall within Dongmen Market sells three things: bīng dòuhuā (冰豆花, cold douhua), rè dòuhuā (熱豆花, hot douhua), and bīng dòujiāng (冰豆漿, cold soymilk). As opposed to other douhua shops where you can customize your douhua with a wide variety of toppings, here the douhua just comes in a bowl of lightly sweet syrup topped with soft, cooked peanuts, which as far as I'm concerned is the best choice. [Chinese menu]
No. 5, 金山南路一段142巷, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan (map)
Almond Tofu: Yu's Almond Tofu (于記杏仁豆腐)
Yu's Almond Tofu: This chain specializes in almond tofu and almond milk desserts with your choice of toppings, as well as almond milk shaved ice and dessert soups. The silky smooth almond tofu topped with almond milk is great, as well as the almond tofu topped with a mountain of light-n-fluffy snow ice. [English menu]
Doughnuts: Mister Donut
Mister Donut: I'm all about their cute mascots. and range of chewy doughnuts, called Pon de Ring. Besides getting a pleasant hint of springy chewiness not found in American doughnuts, you also get the satisfaction of dismembering the doughnut by pulling apart each ball-shaped nubbin.
Multiple locations, search at misterdonut.com.tw
Locations I have been to:
Taipower Station: 羅斯福路三段245號1樓, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Danshui Station: No. 1號, Zhongzheng Rd, Tamsui District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 251 (map)
Soft Serve: 7-Eleven
7-Eleven: Being in Taiwan means inevitably ending up at a 7-Eleven. And being me means inevitably wanting soft serve. Besides that 7-Eleven's soft serve is pretty good, they also come out with seasonal flavors (right now it's Yame green tea) that make people like me come back for more.
7-Elevens are everywhere in Taiwan, but not all 7-Elevens have soft serve machines. Those 7-Elevens are full of LIES. But there are so many 7-Elevens, you'll find a soft serve machine eventually. They'll probably advertise the latest flavor in their window. Here are the two 7-Elevens I went to the most for soft serve:
Shida Road: No. 87號, Shida Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan (map)
Yong Kang Street: No. 7之1號, Yongkang St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Food Court: Maji Square (集食行樂)
Maji Square: There are loads of food courts in Taipei, commonly found in the basements of department stores, or in the case of Taipei Main Station's ginormous food court, on the second floor. In general, they all seem pretty good to me, but I don't have a favorite. Maji Square is not like a department store food court. This open-air complex in Expo Park features non-chain food stalls and other small shops (like the aforementioned Maji Food and Deli). On the weekends you can check out the nearby farmers' market. My favorite dishes from the food court (which are just three of my favorite foods in general) are lǔ ròu fàn (滷肉飯, braised pork sauce over rice), xián sū jī (鹹酥雞, fried chicken nubs/popcorn chicken), and the popcorn stand that, to my surprise, made fresh kettle corn and not just plain popcorn.
Farmers' Market: Taipei Expo Farmer's Market (花博農民市集)
Taipei Expo Farmer's Market: This weekend market in front of the Expo Park complex is filled with stands selling locally grown produce and foodstuffs. If you're there during pineapple season, eat as much pineapple as you can. That stuff is ambrosial.
Clothes: Loopy, Uniqlo, 3rd Floor Studio, Butter.fly 2 Collection
Loopy: THIS IS MY FAVORITE CLOTHING STORE EVER. The couple behind Loopy, Gaga and Lucky Chen, design high quality, comfortable clothes in simple cuts with a touch of their whimsical, weird-cute illustrations. If you like what you see on their online shop, go to the physical store for the full happy sunshine Loopy experience and buy that shizz right away before it sells out. Besides clothes, they also sell stickers, posters, and a selection of other indie designers' wares.
Note: The store is cash-only.
Uniqlo: This Japanese chain is my go-to for everyday affordable clothes. Although I could shop there in the US too, I found...multiple...reasons to go there in Taipei as well. They make it too convenient—just look at all this map of Uniqlo shops in Taipei. There are almost 20 of them. The clothing selection seems to vary a bit between different countries, so you might find something in Taiwan you can't find back home.
Multiple locations, view list at uniqlo.com/tw
- Wedding dress! Scarf-belt not included.
- Engagement photo dress. With finger guns! Photographs by Amber Marlow.
3rd Floor Studio: During one of my last days in Taipei, I spent an afternoon roaming around Yong Kang Street with my friends Ying-Le and Charlotte in search of a wedding dress. I wanted the wedding dress to follow my basic requirements for a non-wedding dress: comfortable, as easy to put on as a T-shirt, made of natural fibers, cute-looking, has pockets. But look more...you know, wedding-y. I found my wedding dress at 3rd Floor Studio, a store that specializes in Japanese-style clothing, along with a dress I ended up using for my engagement photos. Together, both dresses only cost NT$5700 (about US$175), which I considered a good price for the quality. If you like the dresses in the photos above, this store might be for you.
No. 223-1, Jinhua St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map, but it's showing up wrong, should be at the northeast corner of Jinhua Street and Yong Kang Street)
Butter.fly 2 Collection: This is one of many stores I ended up at during my afternoon of hunting for a wedding dress. Although they didn't have a wedding-appropriate dress, like 3rd Floor Studio they had a lot of comfortable, simple, Japanese-style dresses for everyday use. With less restraint, I would've bought one or two dresses from here instead of zero. I felt kind of bad for not getting anything considering how nice the staff were to me, but they seemed to also recognize that their dresses weren't exactly wedding-ready. Next time...next time...
106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, 台北市大安區永康街31巷12號 (map)
Socks: Night Markets, Random Stores
I'm putting "socks" in its own category because they're just that special. Many places sell cheap, comfy socks with cute patterns, especially in night markets. The socks I bought at a stand in Shilin Night Market over a year ago are still my favorite socks, and they're still in good condition.
Stationery: JSF (金興發), Pinmo Pure Store (品墨良行), Muji, Eslite (誠品書店), Booday Mogu (蘑菇), Yarnball
JSF: If you're obsessed cute, cheap stationery—the sort that is likely to be decorated with broken English—then JSF will be a complete time suck for you and you must go there. If you're not into the cute and colorful, JSF is still great for buying basic notebooks, pens, pencils, binders, and the like. (In particular, I would restock my supply of FriXion erasable pen refills. Those pens are awesome.) Pretty much everything is below retail price. They also sell snacks, toiletries, and other home goods, but who cares 'bout that stuff.
Multiple locations, view list at JSF's Facebook page
The locations I've been to:
Shida Night Market: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, Lane 39, Shida Rd, 10號 (map)
Shilin Night Market: 111, Taiwan, Taipei City, Shilin District, Wenlin Rd, 120號 (map)
Zhongshan Station: 104, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongshan District, Nanjing W Rd, 5-1號 (map)
Pinmo: This independent design studio and stationery/paper shop has that subdued-cute-clean-organic aesthetic that Taiwanese designers seem to do really well. They sell a variety of quirky notebooks and postcards, plus hundreds of kinds of papers by the sheet.
Main shop: No. 10, Lane 75, Yongkang St,, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
2nd shop (sells more non-stationery goods, as well as cookies): 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, Yongkang St, 63號 (map)
Muji: Like Uniqlo, this Japanese chain has a a buttload of locations in Taipei. You cannot escape it. And I'm okay with that. It's great for basic stationery—notebooks, pens, pencils, containers for storing such things, etc. They also sell clothing, snacks, bath products, furniture, and all kinds of home goods in their signature clean-and-simple style for reasonable prices.
Multiple locations, search at muji.com
Eslite: Eslite is a combo bookstore/design-focused lifestyle department store chain (and so much more) unlike any other store I've ever been to. Although sleek and high-end, it still manages to feel somewhat cozy and inviting, in turn making me and surely many other people want to buy unaffordable things. Damn them for being good at their job. They do sell plenty of affordable things, like books and stationery, which are the items I'm most interested in. I can't speak for every location, but I know the stores by City Hall Station, Dunhua South Road, and Songshan Cultural Park have large stationery sections. Japanese products and indie-ish Taiwanese products (the sort JSF doesn't stock) are the main draws for me. Eslite also sells their own line of stationery that's quite nice.
Note: If you're looking for the indie/Taiwan-themed stationery in the City Hall location, it's probably not in the stationery section but the Taiwanese products section within one of the bookstore floors.
Multiple locations, search on Google Maps)
My favorite locations:
City Hall Station: No. 11號, Songgao Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Dunhua South Road (the 24-hour location, but the stationery section is only open during regular business hours): No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua S Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Songshan Cultural Park: No. 88, Yanchang Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Booday Mogu: The overall aesthetic of this indie design shop and cafe is dreamy/organic/simple/cozy/colorful-enough. ...Never mind, just look at their website. They mostly sell clothes and bags, but I'm more interested in their stationery.
Yarnball: This is one of my favorite stationery designers in Taiwan and I only just found out they have retail shop in Taipei. Excuse me...[quietly seethes for half an hour]. I've bought their postcards and stickers at Simple Market and Red House Creative Market, as well as some other shops. Their hand-drawn/painted illustrations mostly feature Taiwan-centric anthropomorphic animals and food, aka two of my favorite things. Surely you can see the appeal.
Souvenirs: Fingertip Art/Lai Hao (一針一線&來好雜貨舖), Good Cho's (好丘), Tai-uan e Tiam (台灣e店), Eslite (誠品書店), Ma Ma Umbrella & Handmade Market
Fingertip Art/Lai Hao: This store is split into two sections on two floors. I mostly went to the Lai Hao shop in the basement, where you can browse their ample selection of adorable postcards (Taiwan's postcard game is unparalleled, for real), Taiwanese snacks and teas, and other Taiwan-made souvenirs. They also have souvenir stamps behind the counter, so make sure to get in on that.
Multiple locations, view list at Good Cho's Facebook page. The Yuanshan/Maji Square location only sells food. I haven't been to the Tianmu location, but it seems to also sell gifts and food products.
Xinyi location: No. 54, Songqin St, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Tai-uan e Tiam: This is the bookstore to visit if you're interested in Taiwanese culture and history, especially if you're pro-independence. In addition to loads of books, they also sell Taiwan-centric souvenirs like postcards, maps, mugs, T-shirts, stationery, and unique items such as a passport covers that turn "Republic of China" passports (or any passport) into Taiwan passports.
Eslite: There's a section in the City Hall location of Eslite that features a variety of Taiwan-made products that could make for nice souvenirs, like food products, postcards, textiles, and various home goods, in addition to the aforementioned stationery. The Eslite Spectrum by Songshan Cultural Park is on a whole other level, with loads of mini-shops and stalls selling all kinds of Taiwan-made goods. I particularly like the Expo section.
Lovely Taiwan Shop: I've never actually bought anything from this shop, but because it's close to Loopy and right next to Booday Mogu, I'll usually pop in here if I'm walking around with friends from out of town. They mostly sell handcrafted Taiwanese products, teas, and a handful of other Taiwanese foodstuffs. If you're feeling pooped and want to rest your feet, there's a reading/resting room for tourists on the 3rd floor where you can write postcards and browse their selection of books about Taiwan.
Ma Ma Umbrella & Handmade Market: This colorful shop is packed with cute umbrellas and various goods from indie Taiwanese artists like bags, jewelry, stickers, and postcards. Although Lai Hao has a larger postcard selection, Mama has some that Lai Hao doesn't, like those by Yarnball and Xiu Xiu Lian. (Keep in mind you can probably get cheaper Yarnball and Xiu Xiu goods when they appear at designers markets, or at Yarnball's store.)
Multiple locations (I have only been to the one on Yong Kang Street):
Yong Kang: 106, Taiwan, Taipei City, Da'an District, Yongkang St, 1號 (map)
Xinyi: No. 14, Lane 553, Section 4, Zhongxiao E Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Ximen: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Lane 114, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, 11號 (map)
Indie Designers Markets: Simple Market (簡單市集) or Red House Creative Market (西門紅樓創意市集)
Simple Market: This Sunday-only market features stalls selling clothes, accessories, desserts, jewelry, stationery, and various home goods. Vendors change from week to week, so if you want to keep track of a vendor you really like, make note of their Pinkoi shop or Facebook page. I'd always pair visiting Simple Market with popping into Good Cho's and relaxing on the neighboring lawn for its great view of Taipei 101.
Simple Market's schedule is subject to change. Check out this calendar for the full schedule.
Red House Creative Market: This weekend market is considerable larger than Simple Market's. I prefer the more relaxed environment of Simple Market, but Red House may be more convenient for those who want to visit Ximending. You can view the vendor list for the current weekend at redhousetaipei.blogspot.com.
108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Chengdu Rd, 10號 (map)
Bike At Night Along Xindian River, Followed By Taiwanese Breakfast
I've already written about why this is one of my favorite activities in Taipei, and I say that at someone who had little interest in biking before moving to Taipei. Even without rewarding myself with fatty Taiwanese foodstuffs afterwards, I'd still love biking at night. But the food helps.
There are many ways to enter the bike path, but I like to start at Hakka Cultural Park: No. 2, Section 3, Tingzhou Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (map)
Bike Through Dinosaur Park Under Huazhong Bridge (新北市恐龍公園) And Take Cheesy Photos
Guys...I cannot fully express the depths of my sorrow from not knowing about New Taipei City Dinosaur Park when I lived in Taipei. It. Looks. Amazing. Trompe-l'œil murals! Derpy dinosaur sculptures! WHAT MORE COULD A GIRL WANT?! These are the photos I was meant to take. Don't make my mistake. Go on and live the dream.
Huazhong Bridge, Yonghe District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 234 (map)
Play Games at Tom's World Arcade (湯姆熊歡樂世界明曜加盟店)
- The key to making air hockey more fun is to add a bajillion tiny pucks. You can see the fun written on Karen's face! Or horror. But I think it's fun.
When I was a kid, arcades were all over Taiwan. These days, you can choose between Tom's World and...that's about it. I don't care if it's meant for kids and not 30-year-olds, I LOVE IT. An afternoon playing arcade games while being attacked by flashy colors and bleepy sound effects is an afternoon well spent in my book. Also, cheap. You get a lot of tokens for your money.
Take a Day Trip to Jiufen (九份)
The one time I visited Jiufen, aka the famed mountain village that inspired Spirited Away, I got carsick during the ride over, puked in a red plastic bag, and arrived in Jiufen feeling like all my organs were blindly wriggling towards my mouth in a fruitless, misery-inducing attempt to escape. Despite that setback, I did eventually have a good time in Jiufen, after my appetite returned, which took way too long, which means I missed out on eating a lot, aka one of the biggest reasons to visit Jiufen. Hence why I need to return sans stomach failure.
For information on how to get to Jiufen, visit guidetotaipei.com
Hike Up Xiangshan (象山, Elephant Mountain)
Hiking up Xiangshan is less "hiking", more "walking up a long-ass staircase." The whole path is paved with stone tiles. Of course, walking up a ton of stairs is still tiring. At the very least, make sure you get to the spot flanked by large boulders (as seen in the photo above) that you can climb up on for an awesome view of Taipei 101, especially if you time it so the sky is all pretty and such.
110, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, Alley 22, Lane 150, Section 5, Xinyi Rd, 41號 (map)
Walk Around Chiang-kai Shek and/or Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall at Night
Walking around the grounds of Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and their adjoining gardens at night is quite peaceful and enjoyable. There are hardly any other people around, aside from the groups of young Taiwanese men and women practicing their dance routines. For me, the dance groups add to the appeal.
Chiang-kai Shek Memorial Hall (aka Taiwan Democracy Memorial Park): No. 21, Zhongshan S Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100 (map)
Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall: No. 505, Section 4, Ren'ai Rd, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110 (map)
Hang Out In a Tiny Park
One of the most charming things about Taipei is its abundance of tiny neighborhood parks featuring benches, playground equipment, exercise aids, and, if you're lucky, whimsical art (like this park with goat sculptures). The main downside to hanging out in these parks is the main downside to hanging out anywhere in Taipei where you're exposed to nature: mosquitoes might treat you like an all-you-can-eat buffet, except they dine for free while you pay with blood and swollen flesh.
There are parks all over the place! You will find them.
Check Out 7-Eleven
You can do all kinds of useful things at 7-Eleven, but I squander most of those services to just buy drinks, snacks, soft serve, and capsule toys. Depending on what limited-edition products they're offering as part of their sticker reward system it might be worth collecting stickers, although I've never been enticed enough to do so. I can't say the same about one of my friends whom, during 7-Eleven's Hello Kitty / DC Comics promotion, had accumulated a sizable collection of Superhero Hello Kitty mugs.
Visit Maokong (貓空)
Maokong, a village nestled in the mountains at the southeast edge of Taipei City, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Taipei...and I've never been there. :( It's famous for its teahouses, scenic views overlooking Taipei, and nature trails. Plus, you get to ride a gondola to get to the top.
Transfer to the Maokong Gondola at Taipei Zoo Station (map)
Visit the Miniatures Museum of Taiwan (袖珍博物館)
It's a museum full of tiny buildings and rooms and people and etc!!! I can't say much else about it because I've never been there before. Judging from this blog's photo-filled review, it's quite adorable and worth a visit, as far as quirky museums go.
Visit the 2/28 Memorial Plaque
I've been to both the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum and the National 228 Memorial Museum, but I've never sought out the location of the accidental killing that sparked the February 28 Incident/Massacre. I had never learned about the February 28 Incident until I moved to Taipei in 2014, which I find insane considering it's a major, absolutely brutal part of Taiwanese history. My interest grew this year after I read Green Island, a historical novel by Shawna Yang Ryan about the repercussions of the incident on one family spanning three generations. If you don't know anything about the February 28 Incident, get a crash course by watching this video from Taiwan Bar on YouTube or reading the Wikipedia page.
No. 183, Nanjing W Rd, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103 (map)
Visit Songshan Cultural Park (松山文創園區) or Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區)
Songshan Cultural Park is a former tobacco factory turned into a cultural complex home to multiple exhibition spaces, two design museums, a weekend designers market, a ginormous Eslite Spectrum, and more. I might visit to see a specific exhibition or just to roam around, eventually making my way to Eslite Spectrum. It's also close to Xixi Cafe, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the department store-dense part of Xinyi.
Like Songshan Cultural Park, Huashan 1914 Creative Park is an old factory (a wine factory in this case) repurposed into a site for cultural activities—temporary exhibition spaces, shops, cafes, an arthouse movie theater, a concert venue, and more.
Roam Around Danshui (淡水)
I've been to Danshui a few times, mostly to eat stuff and roam around the night market, but there's plenty I have yet to see there, like Fort San Dominigo, the Fisherman's Wharf, or the famed view of the sunset over Danshui River.
Danshui metro station at the northern end of the Red Line (map)
Get a Haircut From Aline at William Beauty Salon (日式威廉髮藝)
During my ten months in Taipei, I regularly got my hair cut by Aline at the William Beauty Salon by Guting station. Despite the language barrier, Aline is the hairdresser I've chatted with the most in my whole life. Besides that she's exceptionally sweet, it was easy to talk to her because she was eager to improve her English and eager to help me improve my shitty Chinese. The last time I got a haircut with Aline in 2015, the price was just NT$300 (haircut prices in Taipei range from NT$100 to thousands of NT). Even though tipping isn't the norm, I'd say tip her well and help her achieve her goal of opening her own hair salon in the future.
2F, No. 15, Section 1, Heping E Rd, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Visit This Cute Reading Nook
This cozy lil' reading nook facing a Candybird mural is tucked away on a nameless (as far as Google Maps is telling me), narrow block between Lane 33 Lishui Street and Chazhou Street behind NTNU. I've never actually sat there and read anything of substance, but I used to like passing it on the way to Yong Kang Street from school.
No. 13-2, Lane 33, Lishui St, Da'an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106 (map)
Collect Souvenir Stamps
Souvenir stamps are my favorite mementos to collect in Taiwan. And they're FREEEE! Just provide your own notebook. Tourist information centers, metro station, museums, and any place that caters to tourists should have stamps. Shops and cafes occasionally have 'em, too.