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Taiwan Shopping Items

Where to Shop and What to Buy in Taiwan

Most travelers who have gotten back from a holiday in Taiwan will usually express just how overwhelmed they are with the variety of things they can buy during their vacation. With numerous shopping malls, commercial outlets and night markets in Taiwan, you will quickly find yourself spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the best things to buy in Taiwan.

It would be wise to arm yourself with knowledge about the New Taiwan Dollar (NT dollar) currency before shopping. 100 NT dollars is approximately US$3.50 or £2 pounds.

At the night markets, food and souvenirs are the hottest buys. A simple bowl of noodles will only set you back NT$35 or NT$40 but even if you paid more for a meal with high priced ingredients such as fresh seafood, it will still be worth the price due to its freshness. Local fruits can be bought here and would make an excellent accompaniment to any meal but if you are not able to bring fresh fruits back home, you may opt to buy candied fruits - these last for a longer time and will make good gifts.

If you want to bring home something more exquisite, you can select a few pieces of jade for yourself. Crystals are also a fine choice and travelers normally purchase crystal bracelets and earrings for loved ones back home. Pottery and ceramic also make great decoration pieces and the hand-painted pieces are a delight to behold.

Best Taiwan Purchases

Taiwan offers just about anything your heart desires, so it is perfectly understandable that you would be eager to get your hands on a truckload of items upon your arrival. However, this short shopping guide should let you in on what are the hottest buys in Taiwan so that you can be sure to purchase only the best this island has to offer.

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Cakes and Pastries

Got a sweet tooth? Why not purchase some of Taiwan’s best cakes and pastries? Some of the best cakes include the Taiwanese Sun Cakes or tai yang bing. The Sun Cakes are delicate pastries that taste sweet, crispy and yet very fulfilling. Mung Bean Cakes are the ideal desserts for vegetarians, whereas Pineapple Cakes are a firm favourite with kids and adults alike.

  • Location: Cakes, pastries and biscuits can be found every corner in Taiwan but the famous Kinmen Peanut Brittle is found mainly in the island of Kinmen.

Candied Fruits

Candied fruits are actually fruits such as mangoes, plums, dates, pineapples or other types of fruits that have been preserved beforehand. The sweet, sour and salty taste will appeal to just about anyone looking to amuse their taste buds. Candied fruits are usually sold by weight or pre-packed - you will be most delighted to see dozens of types of fruits in all sorts of colors being displayed!

  • Location: You can typically find candied fruits at all night markets, shopping malls and roadside shops.

Computer and Electronic Peripherals

If you are looking for a certain type of computer or gadget, you will most likely find them in Taiwan. However, some electronic items may not be very much cheaper than the ones back home, so you may want to focus on items like mobile phones or cheap MP3 players that are not available anywhere else. There are lots of electronic chain stores in Taipei that stocks the items you need so be sure to visit them during your shopping spree.

  • Location: Any shopping centre or IT electronics store

Dried Seafood

You may not be able to bring back fresh seafood from Taiwan upon your return from the charming island nation, but you can still savour the delectable taste when you purchase dried seafood from one of the many Taiwan markets. Seafood such as fish, shrimp and sea cucumber are dried and packed neatly then sold in various places around the island. Most are affordably priced too so you can be sure to grab a good deal before you leave Taiwan.

  • Location: Markets, shopping centres, roadside stalls

Glass

Glass art is very popular in Taiwan, and exquisite handicraft made from mouth-blown glass would make great gifts. Though pricey, these are worth every penny due to their delicate beauty and stunning quality. Buying several pieces will set you back hundreds and even thousands of dollars so be sure to pack them securely before leaving the country.

  • Location: Look out for superb creators of glass handicrafts such as Tittot - this brand boasts of numerous counters and stores all over the world. The Tittot Glass Art Museum in Taipei feature glass-blowing demonstrations that will be a delight to witness.

Handicraft

There is a myriad of things to buy as souvenirs for loved ones back home. From hand-painted paper fans, paintings, wood carvings, Chinese opera face masks, tea sets and hand puppets, you will definitely be spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping for gifts.

  • Location: Chinese Handicraft Mart is a popular place to purchase handicraft. You can find it at No.1, Xuzhou Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City.

Inkstones

Carved inkstones of all shapes and sizes can be bought in Taiwan. Along with inkstones, you can purcase personalized name stamps for you and your loved ones. They are excellent gifts because they last for a long time, and can be used to stamp your name on most surfaces.

  • Location: Major handicraft stores

Jade

Contrary to popular thoughts, jade can be an affordable precious stone if you know where to purchase them. Jade rings, jade stones and jade carvings can be bought all over Taiwan but you are advised to check the authenticity to avoid being fleeced. For this reason you should only shop at reputable stores.

  • Location: The Jianguo Jade Market is THE place to shop for jade, be it pricey or affordable. A jade bracelet or lucky jade charm is just the gift to bring home to a loved one.

Paper Umbrellas and Lanterns

Paper umbrellas and lanterns are such affordable gifts that travelers often purchase these in large quantities before they leave Taiwan. It may not seem like much, but these items actually make great gifts due to their exquisite beauty as most are hand-painted and crafted. Lanterns of all shapes, sizes and colours can be packed flat and stowed away in luggages for safe keeping.

  • Location: Hakka town of Meinong for umbrellas and Lugang town for paper lanterns

Pottery and Porcelain

Pottery is considered a great gift for those who are visiting Taiwan, and why won’t it be, considering how pretty the handicraft is. In fact, there are lots of pottery museums and workshops in Taiwan, mostly in the outskirts and countrysides for you to visit. Travelers may purchase earthen pottery or simple, plain-coloured ceramic pieces that have been hand-painted carefully by artisans.

  • Location: Pottery can be bought almost anywhere in Taiwan but if you want a great piece of ceramic tea pot, you should head towards Yingge - there are plenty of pottery workshops there for you visit.

Shao Xing and Gao Liang Wines

The Shao Xing and Gao Liang wines are some of the best spirits that can be bought in Taiwan. Travelers from far and wide take a break from shopping in the bigger countries in order to visit Nantou County - the Shao Xing and Gao Liang wines are much-loved thanks to an important ingredient in the spirits which is fresh, clear spring water. The wines are packed in exquisite bottles and packaging and would make great gifts. Some say that the wines are used in cooking and will bring out the flavours of your meal.

  • Location: Puli Township, Nantou County

Taiwanese Sausages

Visit a night market in Taiwan and one of the first few stalls you stumble into may just be one that sells Taiwanese sausages. These sausages are not like the ones you’d find between hot dog buns. On the contrary, Taiwanese sausages are made from fatty pork and lard, and are usually sweet, spicy and savoury. You can find them sold in sticks, but if you want to bring some home, you can purchase frozen packs of sausages.

  • Location: Just about anywhere, really. Try supermarkets or a local wholesaler for a wide selection

Tea

The tea drinking culture in Taiwan is very much popular, so if you fancy the various types of teas in Taiwan including its famous Oolong Tea, you can purchase pre-packed tea bags or packs in order to brew them at home. Each type of Taiwanese tea is unique and boasts of their own flavours and characteristics - some are bitter while the rest are mildly intoxicating.

  • Location: Tea can be bought from most tea merchants and stores in Taiwan but one of the best, and perhaps priciest, is the Oolong tea from Alishan which is light-bodied and yet memorable.

Traditional Clothes and Fashionable Bags

A lot of travelers are enamoured by the exquisite cheongsam or qipao in Taiwan, so if you are one of them, you may want to purchase several pairs for yourself before going home. Some are strictly traditional looking, while others are more contemporary in design. Whatever styles they come in, you can be sure that most are made by skilled tailors committed to infuse traditional beauty with quality. Yongsheng cloth bags are also great buys for ladies who want to collect the most fashionable bags for their wardrobe.

  • Location: Yongshen cloth bags can be bought in Tainan and elsewhere in major cities

Wood Carvings

Wood carvings may be a bit tedious to lug around as gifts in your luggage bags but you may opt to purchase a small or medium sized carving like a beautiful wooden jewellery box, for example. The Sanyi town in Miaoli County is where you should head towards to witness great wood carving artisans at work.

  • Location: Sanyi town in Miaoli County
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