By Rick Charette
Fifty-some years ago the people of Taiwan were poor, often filling up on sweet potatoes because the rice they grew was too expensive and destined for export. The government asked them to save what money they had and to limit consumption so the nation could concentrate on exports that would build up the capital base. Today the people of Taiwan are rich, with significant disposable income jingling in their pockets and a thirst for consumer delights, and there’s seemingly no limit to the number and range of businesses popping up to meet their ever-expanding world of needs. Adding to our East District feature article, we here introduce five more of the island’s best and most popular destinations for happy shopping sprees.
Taipei’s Ximending commercial district was built up as a shopping and entertainment oasis by the Japanese when they ruled Taiwan 1895-1945, and it continues in this function today, dedicated to the youth consumer. From the latest clothing fashions to Hello Kitty kitsch, and from unique local-designer jewelry to the hottest digital games to designer mobile-phone covers, it’s all found here in the dense cluster of shops. Specially recommended are the creative-design boutiques and weekend cultural-creative bazaars at The Red House, an attractive heritage complex, Japanese-built in 1908 as Taiwan’s first modern public market. Getting there: Take the MRT Bannan (Blue) Line to Ximen Station.
Located in Taipei’s Neihu District, Miramar Entertainment Park is a modern multi-level shopping and entertainment complex designed to give visitors all options needed for full-day outings. Opened in 2004, the park’s most striking and famous feature is the giant rooftop ferris wheel; there is also a carousel, which is another popular romantic rendezvous point. Among the park’s many entertainment attractions is Asia’s largest IMAX screen for commercial films. Complementing the upscale consumer items sold within, the park’s establishment has also resulted in a grand sprouting of scores of shops and boutiques in the immediate area. Getting there: Take the MRT Wenhu (Brown) Line to Jiannan Road Station.
Miramar Entertainment Park gives visitors all options needed for full-day outings
The city of Taichung’s bustling Yizhong Street, and surrounding streets and alleys, is a place where people go to see and be seen. Lined with small shops and boutiques that have prettied themselves up to lure the streams of passersby, the street is dominated by clothing and accessories outlets targeting younger consumers, but there are also myriad small restaurants, drink and snack stands, 24H bookshops, and both shops and vendor stands hawking most every consumer bauble imaginable, from colorful glasses to jewelry and even backpacker equipment. It’s been compared to Tokyo’s Shibuya district, and rightly so. Getting there: Take a bus from Taichung Railways Station to National Taichung Institute of Technology.
Kaohsiung’s massive Dream Mall is Taiwan’s biggest shopping complex, and Asia’s sixth largest. The collection of international brands (LV, Gucci, Marks & Spencer, etc.), local and regional brands, and eating options seems endless, but the big draw here – literally drawing everyone’s attention from miles away – is the slow-turning giant ferris wheel in the rooftop amusement park, so high you see past the harbor and out to sea as well as over much surrounding countryside when taking a ride. Getting there: Take a Red 12 bus from KMRT Kaisyuan Station, or walk 15 minutes.
The Xin Jue Jiang commercial district, also rendered in English as Shinkuchan, is another major Kaohsiung tourist attraction. Focused on young and young-at-heart consumers, this retail/entertainment area is focused on Wufu 2nd Rd. and Renzhi Street. There are scores of fashion and accessories boutiques, jewelry purveyors, cosmetics sellers, and street-stand businesses dedicated to helping you define your personal style. This area has become the largest in south Taiwan for imported goods, and you’ll find the best of youth fashion from Tokyo, Paris, Milan, and Hong Kong. Getting there: Take the KMRT to Central Park Station.
English & Chinese
Dream Mall 夢時代購物中心
Miramar Entertainment Park 美麗華百樂園
Renzhi Street 仁智街
Wufu 2nd Rd. 五福二路
Xin Jue Jiang 新掘江
Yizhong Street 一中街
Provided by Travel in Taiwan Bimonthly January February Issue, 2012