Department Store Shopping in Taipei!

January 17, 2010 in Taiwan, Travel by pacejmiller

I’ve been wanting to post this one for a while.

Taipei is a bit of a shopping paradise for a few reasons: (1) they have lots of huge department stores which multiple levels; (2) a lot of them are in close proximity to each other; (3) Taiwanese people love to import or rip off foreign stuff, especially from Japan (and now Korea); and (4) the prices are generally a fraction of their overseas counterparts (more so Western countries than Asian ones).

As far as I understand it, there are two big chains which dominate the market: SOGO and Shinkong Mitsukoshi.  I believe they have relatively similar things, but have a slightly different feel to each other.  Official websites here and here.

If you have limited time and you would like to visit some (or several) of these department stores, I would recommend visiting two areas in Taipei: the Zhongxiao Fuxing district and the Xinyi District.

(Read on about the shopping districts by clicking on ‘More…’!)

Zhongxiao Fuxing

The Blue circle is the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT Station. The purple is the original Zhongxiao store, the blue/green is the new Fuxing store, and the yellow is the smaller Dunhua store. Source: SOGO Website

Super easy to get to – just take the blue line MRT to the Zhongxiao Fuxing stop, and there are exits to two different SOGO malls, which happen to be diagonally across the road from each other.

The original one is called the Zhongxiao branch (exit 4), and it’s the one with the white exterior.  It has 12 levels and everything from Japanese supermarkets to cosmetics to clothing for all ages and purposes to toys to kitchenware to electronics to books and CDs.

The new one is the Fuxing branch (exit 2), and it has a bluish/greenish facade.  Though some of the stuff is similar, this one sells the more ‘high end’ stuff, and there are several counters and stores for the really expensive branded items.

The new Fuxing SOGO (thanks to Google Maps Streetview)

I understand there is actually a third SOGO mall nearby, the Dunhua branch, which is a lot smaller and only has 5 levels.  To get there, you need to either walk down Zhongxiao East Road until you get to Duhua South Road, but you’re better off taking the MRT to the Zhongxiao Dunhua stop (just one more stop down).

If you do happen to go to the Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT Station, you might as well take a look at Ming Yao Department Store (no relation to Yao Ming), which is just outside exit 3 and is a more ‘local’ department store, though a lot of the goods are similar (but potentially cheaper).  On the other hand, if you want to seek more high end stuff, there’s also the B2 By Breeze, which is just at exit 2.

The original Breeze Center is back near the Zhongxiao Fuxing MRT stop (where the two main SOGOs are) – but you have to walk a bit.  Take exit 5 and go straight down, all the way, for about 5-10 minutes, and you can’t miss it – thanks to the massive Gucci store.  There’s a cinema and an Ooyota (Japanese cuisine) inside there too, very nice.

The stylish Breeze Center (Google Maps Streetview)

Xinyi District

The Xinyi district is the new hotspot for shoppers.  Take the MRT on the blue line to Taipei City Hall (which is only 3 stops from Zhongxiao Fuxing) and when you come out of exit 3, all you’ll see are building after building of malls owned by Shinkong Mitsukoshi.  According to their website, the place is known as Xinyi New Life Square.

 

The bustling Xinyi New Life Square has massive shopping malls on all sides

The place is massive, and the various malls on either side of a long pedestrian strip are distinguished only by reference number.  The malls have some of the same stuff, but the majority of products between malls are different – some higher end (like Chanel, Gucci, Prada etc), and some down at the more affordable end.  You really need to look around a bit to get a feel for what type of mall it is, and it’s probably best to make a note of which one you’re in, because it’s very easy to get them confused!  I’m not sure exactly how many malls there are in Xinyi New Life Square, but there are at least 4 or 5, and if you really want to look around, each one could take a whole afternoon.

Just one of the many Shinkong Mitsuikoshi malls in the Xinyi district

There is also a new super deluxe mall in the area, and it’s called Bellavita.  Apparently the daughter or wife of some super rich tycoon wanted something to do, so they thought why not open a multi-million dollar shopping mall?  This is where the most expensive things are to be found, so lots of visitors but few purchasers.  And there are actually 2 Joel Robuchon restaurants inside – L’Atelier and a cafe called Salon – I’m going to review the Salon one shortly.  There were still some empty spots with shops being fitted out, so it’s literally brand new.

The Christmas (Ball) Tree inside Bellavita

The Xinyi area is also known, of course, for Taipei 101, the (former?) tallest building in the world, which also has plenty of shops in the retailing part of it, as well as a big cinema complex owned by Vieshow.  My favourite, though, is the Eslite book-store building nearby, which, apart from the ground level, is ALL books!  I loved spending an afternoon there sifting through the various floors of books while my wife went shopping at Xinyi New Life Square.

If you do go to Taipei, you must check the Xinyi district out because it is amazing.

Others

The Zhongxiao Fuxing and the Xinyi districts are where it’s most happening, but there are a few other places which aren’t too bad.

One is Taipei Main Station, which has a Shinkong Mitsukoshi building of their own there, as well as a few other places specifically for electronics (I’ll have to review this place later too!).

The other is just a station away, at Zhongshan MRT Station (on the red line).  There are a few department stores there too, including Shinkong Mitsukoshi and also a DFS (duty free) a short walk away.  Of course, there are also plenty of cheap variety stores in the area too (as reviewed in this post).

Here is the full list of shopping malls in Taipei thanks to Wikipedia.