I used to drop by Zhongxiao Xinsheng to get a techie fix at Guang Hua. Right off the MRT exit you’ll understand why this station is the tech mecca of Taipei. You’ll probably catch people with boxes of printer or LCD monitors walking past you. And the number of tech ads sprawled on walls are enough to remind you of where you are.
But tech isn’t the only thing that’s vibrant and must-see in Zhongxiao Xinsheng. There are other creative nooks and crannies here that doesn’t necessarily have to amount to buying a gadget. If for some reason you’re in Taipei, and already saw its popular tourist spots, check out Zhongxiao Xinsheng and the places you can explore here too. It’s a side trip that you can add to your Taipei itinerary if you want to see how modern Taipei is and its own brand of creativity.
Every time I want to check out a new smartphone or camera, I go to Syntrend. It reminds me of Akihabara’s Yodobashi where you can experience the gadget and even use its functionalities before making a splurge.
This themed mall has just been opened a few years back and also hosts several tech events in one of its floors. Each floor was creatively named according to human senses such as Hear, Taste, See, which all correspond to the function of the products you’ll see on that floor.
While you can’t exactly haggle for prices here just as you can with its older neighbor Guang Hua Digital Plaza, it’s a good place to see the latest gadgets and gizmos. It’s like an immersive mall where you can play with the latest tech minus the obligation of purchasing one. Touch, btw, is my favorite floor where you’ll find Canon and Nikon, among other camera brands, with actual cameras that you can test-drive on subjects.
Huashan Creative Park
I’m still trying to figure out if this is indeed the ultimate hipster place of Taipei, but this is probably the best example of Taiwanese gentrification. It’s a park made up of what once were brick warehouses used as a winery during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan.
These days, Huashan is a popular events place in Taipei. Those warehouses host different types of exhibit during the whole year. Tickets can be bought outside of the warehouse.
Even if you don’t get to check out any exhibit during your visit, walking around the park or creative area is also a visual treat in itself. There are also shops hosted in some of the warehouses, that showcase the local art scene of Taiwan while some are turned into restaurants and cafes.
On weekends, street performers also entertain folks visiting the area.
Ever wondered what a house that’s fitted inside with nothing but IKEA looked like? Wonder no more as you step foot inside the IKEA House in Taipei. This spot is just a few walks away from Huashan Creative Park–if you’re coming out of the park just turn right and walk straight. IKEA House will show up on the right side.
Essentially, IKEA House is a restaurant cafe where you can buy the same food as you’d find in IKEAs in Taiwan. But the difference is that you can bring your food with you at any of the three floors in the house to dine where you please. It’s an effective way of enticing people to buy IKEA furnishings, though there’s no warehouse nor furniture that can be purchased from there, you can easily grab some IKEA food and accessories within the house.
Hello Kitty Cafe
To be honest, I’ve never really gone in on one of these cafes here in Taipei. One, I’m not a Hello Kitty fan, and two, I heard they’re quite expensive. But if you’re a fan and wouldn’t mind experiencing this themed cafe, there’s also one near Huashan Creative Park. To get here from Huashan Creative Park, just cross Jinshan road then turn left. Straight ahead, you’ll find it also on the right side.
Zhongxiao Xinsheng is a downtown area in Taipei that’s a worthwhile visit fresh off the MRT station. To get to these places mentioned above via MRT, just take exit 1 and everything here’s a good walk away from each other. It’s a highly recommended side trip where you can get to experience how to enjoy Taipei like a local.