Tales of Taiwan: Strictly Shopping

UNLIKE its Asian contemporaries Hong Kong and Singapore, Taipei City is not much recognized as a shopping haven among global travelers.

But even if shopping is not its major tourist draw, the capital of Taiwan managed to show Traveling Journo Ph that it could also give everyone a much-needed retail fix—especially when it comes to affordability and novelty.

One just simply had to go to the right places. And this author was lucky to discover these shopping gems by pure fate.


During TJPh’s solo travel in Taiwan summer of 2016, I opted to stay at an affordable Airbnb accommodation for the first time, which fortunately turned out to be a fantastic experience. Well it also meant another thing: that I was traveling on a “tight budget.”

So everything had to be affordable even the pasalubong for loved ones awaiting my return. Well, there are fast fashion stores like H&M and Uniqlo offering great deals but I couldn’t buy from there for everyone.

 The Y Mall runs along the Yellow Line of Taipei’s MRT
What did I do then to solve this dilemma? Walked. I’m a natural walker so in one of my wanderings from my Airbnb apartment to the nearest Beimen MRT station, I found myself in an underground alley filled with all kinds of bargains imaginable. Think Divisoria finds my dear friends and readers! Called the Y Mall, it runs along the Yellow Line of the MRT and before I knew it, I was already at the Main Station.

A heaven for geeks and collectors
But boy, just look at all the awesome shops I encountered. They carried trendy clothing, shoes and accessories, collectibles for geeks, wholesale souvenir items, tech gadgets and accessories, and so much more.

Pasalubong galore! Get your souvenir in wholesale so it’s cheaper
There were also spaces meant for dining. What caught my eyes were the Maid Cafés. There’s a whole strip for it!

This café's beautiful maidens are awaiting your visit
 Although in another district, I also made sure to search—and it was a difficult one, getting lost in the process—for an Eslite Bookstore. Its main store in Taipei is famous for its 24 hours of operation seven days a week.

An Eslite Bookstore is found underground


Then there was Ximending, the hip and upbeat district frequented by fashionable young people thanks to its eclectic mix of retail stores from local brands to international ones.

Taipei’s Ximending is likened to Tokyo’s Shibuya because of their similar hip vibe
But it was at the outskirt of the neon-lighted alleys that I found my haven. Particularly, inside the Red House, a theater repurposed into retail destination housing the works of Taipei’s young artisans slash entrepreneurs.

Inside the Red House, get to meet Taipei’s young artisans slash entrepreneurs
I just loved everything that I saw. In the meantime, I could only admire them because, as expected, the items were priced high especially the hand-crafted ones.

Artisanal pieces of jewelry that speak of modernity and minimalism
Fashionable and quirky finds
These super cool and unique keychains
are meticulously made by her hands
A different take on beverage bottles—something that will delight collectors
But my ultimate, personal favorite among the bunch was the brand New Noise selling novelty items inspired from or featuring the guitar’s pick. So cool!

A warm smile from Wei-Ling Chang, the artist behind New Noise
Will definitely revisit Y Mall and Ximending on my return to Taipei—hopefully this year!



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