Ximending is a historical neighborhood and shopping district in west Taipei. Originally built by the Japanese as an entertainment district, it later became the first designated pedestrian zone in Taiwan. Here you can find night market like food choices, historical sights, and endless shopping options. It is definitely worth a stop on your trip to Taipei.
The land that Ximen Shopping District stands on was once part of Basay tribal land. The Basay people had lived on the land for thousands of years before the first Chinese settlers.
Sections of the area indicate that there was settlements here during the Dutch rule in the 1600s.
The name Ximending refers to the neighborhood just outside the west gate of Taipei City. Before the Japanese colonization of Taiwan, this area was wilderness connecting Taipei with Bangka. The Japanese decided to develop it into an entertainment area around the turn of the 20th century. The walls of Taipei were later torn down in 1905.
One historical building here is the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場) which was built in 1908. Originally the building was a department store, but after 1945 the building was transformed into a theater. After a fire in the year 2000, it was renovated and turned into a museum with shops and theater with more modern equipment.
In the year 2000, Ximending was designated as a pedestrian zone, the first in Taiwan. Because if its popularity, the area is also known for more crime and illicit activities.
Currently the area sees over 300 shoppers per month. The area is also especially popular with young people because there are many high schools and cram schools nearby.
How to get there:
By Car/Scooter: From Taipei Main Station, go east on Zhongxiao East Road until you reach Zhonghua Road and take a left. Take another right on Chengdu Road and you are there. There is some scooter parking on the street, but if you are driving a car I suggest parking at Carrefour and walking over.
By MRT: Take the green line to Ximen Station. The shopping district can be found at exit 6.
Please see below:
Pingxi Old Street has the second largest old street in Pingxi district, and is full of delicious food, souvenirs, and opportunities to light off sky lanterns. From Pingxi station you can walk down to the historic streets in the small town, and take selfies with the train tracks and bridges that cross the two rivers passing through the town. It is definitely a must see stop along the Pingxi Railway.
Pingxi station was completed in 1929 to transport coal out of the area. Currently it has an average of 844 passengers per day.
Pingxi is the third busiest stop on the Pingxi Railway after Shifen and Jingtong.
Pingxi is also a popular spot for setting off Sky Lanterns. The practice of lighting off sky lanterns in Taiwan began in Shifen, when during the Qing Dynasty local villagers would flee into the mountains during raids from bandits. Once the bandits had left, the remaining villagers sent sky lanterns into the air to let the fleeing villagers know that it was safe to come down from the mountains.
The people of Pingxi send off sky lanterns as a symbol of peace, and celebrate every year during Lantern Festival (元宵節), a Chinese holiday.
Setting off sky lanterns as a tourist attraction began in the 1990's and you can find people lighting off lanterns every day from Pingxi.
You can also enjoy the mining hamlet feel of the town, which has characteristic sloping streets and bridges, that all have views of the passing trains.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Ruifang Station, and then switch to the Pingxi Railway line. Get off at Pingxi Station, and then walk west down the tracks and you have arrived!
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 east toward Pinglin, then get off the main highway once you reach Shifen. Then turn right and go west on county road 106 until you reach the Pingxi Village. After that, you can park your scooter on the street, or if you have a car there is a parking lot nearby that charges 100 NT per stay.
Please see below:
Shilin Night Market (aka Shihlin Night Market) is the largest night market in Taipei and also one of the most popular. Full of delicious street food, small hole in the wall restaurants, souvenirs, and clothes, it is a great destination to experience Taiwan's night market culture.
Shihlin Night market lies next to Jiantan MRT station, surrounded by Wenlin Road (文林路), Jihe Road (基河路), and small alleyways Xiaobei Street (小北街), and Xiaoxi Street (小西街), forming a giant triangle making it the biggest night market in Taipei City by area.
Shihlin may have the most food stalls and restaurants of any night market in Taiwan, and is often regarded as the best or one of the favorite night markets in Taiwan by both locals and tourists alike.
The night market features multiple alleyways as well as an underground food court and underground parking garage.
Located next to Mingchuan University, Soochow University, China Culture University, and Shih Chien University, it has a constant supply of hungry university students visiting every day.
Shilin Market was first established in 1909 near the Matzu Cicheng Temple, which now lies at the center of the night market. Before that is was a resting stop for cargo on the way to Dadaocheng.
In 1998, Shilin Market was named as a historical monument. After that from 1999-2011, the market underwent multiple renovations, and relocated to a temporary structure near Jiantan MRT station, until renovations were completed in 2012.
Around 4 PM until 12 Midnight, every day.
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the Red Line to Jiantan Station and then take exit 1 north out of the station. The night market is right across the road.
By Scooter: Take Zhongshan North Road out of Taipei and wind around Yuanshan Hotel into Shilin. You can park on the right side of the road next to Jiantan Station.
By Car: Take Zhongshan North Road out of Taipei and wind around Yuanshan Hotel into Shilin. There are many parking garages around the night market.
Map: Please see below:
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.