Haggling for a souvenir in the middle of the night is interesting. Shopping in Taiwan can be a fun experience even if you do not purchase anything. But with so many things to buy from Taiwan, you are unlikely to return empty handed. Here’s my list of things you should buy from Taiwan:
1. Camera: Check your DSLR camera. It most probably will have a “Made in Taiwan” label on it. Pick another one here at a reasonable price. Guanghwa Digital Plaza in Taipei is paradise for those looking for any type of electronic or computer gadget.
Tip: It is advisable to take time to do a little survey of prices at some of the shops and bargain to get the best price.
2. Shoes, Shoes, Shoes: My cousin Himani, who has a shoe fetish, could attain nirvana here. The shoe designs and the prices here are to die for! Simple, comfortable, fashionable, glitzy – there is an unimaginable variety available starting at NTD 180 (Rs 360 approx). Most shops offer discounts all the year round. Carry an empty suitcase to buy as many pairs you want so that you do not regret it while writing/talking about them. Blah.
Tip: Do not waste too much time bargaining. You might get just a little discount if you try really, really hard.
3. Fabric from Yongle Fabric Market: Located in Dihua Street in Taipei, this is the Taiwanese ‘Mohansingh Place’ (popular fabric complex in New Delhi). Only a better version. A top shopping destination for fashion designers, this was once the centre of Taiwan’s textile industry. The building in which it is located might be unimpressive, but the stock inside is marvelous. Play with your imagination and pick materials to design your own bag or dress. There are skilled tailors who promise to stitch jackets, dresses etc in two days.
4. Taiwan Alishan MaFeel Coffee: If you are a coffee aficionado, just buy this coffee from Taiwan. If you’re not…well, just wake up and smell the coffee, literally! The flavour beats best of the coffees I’ve had (I’m sorry, filter coffee). I just happened to pick a packet during my last-minute shopping at the airport and was wowed by its taste back home. I am not aware where else in Taiwan this might be available but if you find it and are coming back to India, please bring a packet for me! Please.
5. Treats from Miyahara: Miyahara is a unique store located in Taichung, Taiwan. Why is a chocolate and cakes store loaded with books one wonders? Sweets inside book-cover boxes provide a delightful answer. The store was once a clinic owned by a Japanese ophthalmologist in the Japanese-occupied Taiwan. In 2010, the red-brick building was bought over by Dawn Cake and transformed into an ice-cream parlour and chocolates & cake store. Traditional desserts like pineapple cakes and suncakes make for sweet gifts. Also try unique flavours of chocolate. Sadly, you can’t pack their delicious ice creams. A long waiting queue at the ice-cream parlour talks about its popularity. Make your own (sinful, calorie-rich) sundae. Absolutely worth it!
6. Night-Market Buys: If you’re in Taiwan, you have to visit the night markets. I spoke of the night markets in my previous post as well. The buzzing lanes make for a fantastic experience even if you don’t buy much. Funky phone covers, baby clothes, trendy tops, bags are some of the things you can buy from here. You can bargain a little if you are a pro at the art of negotiation. Shilin is the biggest night market in Taipei. Ximending is a pretty big market as well. I got to explore only these two but there a plenty of them all over Taiwan.
- Cabs aren’t all that expensive in Taiwan.
- Language may be a problem. We got the hotel front desk to write Taiwanese names of the markets on a piece of paper. That was very helpful.
- New Taiwan Dollar is the official currency of Taiwan (NTD); 1 NT$ = 2 INR (approx). It’s advisable to carry USD and get it converted there.
- Calling from Taiwan: Dialing code. 886 + area code + number you wish to dial.
- To buy a SIM in Taiwan, you need TWO forms of photo identification – so make sure you carry one APART from your passport if you wish to purchase one during the duration of your visit. SIM cards will generally cost around 500 NTD.
This is the second post in Taiwan Travel Diaries series. You can read about top 10 things to do in Taiwan here.