Ximending and Xinyi | Taipei
These two districts are must-visits for those passionate about shopping, fashion and youth culture. Ximending lies in Taipei’s southwest, while Xinyi sprawls over a good part of the city’s east, but thanks to the capital’s efficient public transport it’s possible to get from one to the other in just a quarter of an hour.
Ximending emerged as an entertainment district in the first decade of the 20th century, and gets its name (‘west gate district’) because at that time it was just outside the city walls’ west gate. The gate and the walls were demolished to make room for development soon after the Japanese took charge but the name has stuck. At the heart of Ximending lies Red House, an octagonal brick landmark built as a theatre in 1908, but now full of of art stores and boutiques. Elsewhere on Ximending’s pedestrianised streets, visitors will find cinemas, tattoo parlours, shops which sell nothing but Japanese-language clothing and cosmetics magazines, plus a great many delicious yet inexpensive eating options.
Three decades ago, much of Xinyi was given over to growing vegetables. The capital’s booming economy has since transformed the district into a zone of swish apartment buildings and swanky department stores, as well as up-market drinking and dining spots. Taipei 101 is by far the best known attraction, of course, but there are several other malls, among them Breeze Songgao. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Xinyi Place has expanded to four buildings, while the flagship Eslite Bookstore (open until 2 am on Fridays and Saturdays) has 8,000 m2 of reading material in Chinese and English.