20 Locals and Expats Share Their Gift Shopping Ideas in Taipei
Traveling to Taipei, but don’t know which souvenirs or presents to pick up for your loved ones back home?
Who better to ask than some locals and expats living in Taipei? Here’s what 20 locals and expats had to say when we asked, “What would you recommend travelers to Taipei bring back to their friends and family?
WHAT LOCALS RECOMMEND
"Aboriginal art, such as woven bracelets, clothes or wooden sculptures, are great presents to impress your folks. Aboriginal art is very lively, classy and unique. It also represents the diverse culture of this country."
- Irene Wu, Taiwanese local
"If I were to choose something in particular, it'd probably be tea. Alishan high mountain tea (阿里山高山茶) from Taiwan is quite famous. The taste is acceptable for most people – and tea lovers in particular will love it. As far as I know, tea can get through most countries’ customs, so you won’t need to worry about it being taken away at the airport! Plus, tea goes very well with Asian desserts like pineapple cake and mochi."
- Amy Ai-shuan Wu, Taiwanese local
"Tatung (大同) is a famous Taiwanese brand which makes electric pots (電鍋). I’d recommend these electric pots as they are very versatile. You can use it to make steamed dumplings, chicken soup, rice, and can even reheat leftovers with it. You name it – you can do it with this pot! It’s a must for people craving Chinese food!"
- Michelle Chang, Taiwanese local
"If money is no limit, I would suggest you to buy something from Franz. Franz is a Taiwanese brand which creates luxury porcelain art. It has won numerous national and international awards, and has been featured on CNN, The New York Times and so on. All of their collections are inspired by the beauty of nature and the tradition of Asian culture. These modern art works are the perfect gift for people who are particular about their home décor (or as a wedding gift for anyone tying the knot)!"
- Kate Lin, Taiwanese local
"Every time my friend comes here, he buys plenty of tooth paste rollers (擠牙膏器). He gives them to his friends and family, and everybody loves it! I think the original idea comes from Japan, but they’re easy to buy in Taiwan in small local grocery stores and Daiso. They’re cheap, useful and unique."
- Stephanie Liu, Taiwanese local
"If I were a tourist in Taipei, I'd buy some mini sky lanterns, as they symbolize hope and new beginnings. Anime or manga is also a nice idea, as Taipei is heavily influenced by Japanese anime and manga. It's easy to get some anime or manga related items here, and they're quite affordable, too. One more thing to search for is cheap and stylish clothing you can buy at most night markets in Taipei city, or even from the famous clothing warehouse, Wu Fen Pu."
- August Chen, Taiwanese local
"I once bought these fish-shaped teabags and gave them to my friends in Hong Kong. They were a huge hit! Everyone loved them and said they’re really cool, as once you make the tea, it’s as if a gold fish is swimming in your tea cup. Think of it as a mini aquarium in your cup!"
- Jerry Lai, Taiwanese local
"Kavalan Whiskey - The 2015 world's best single malt. Time Magazine even featured it in their article, "You won't believe where the best whiskey comes from". I recommend for you to get at least a bottle and enjoy every sip of Kavalan."
- Jack Chiu, Taiwanese local
"I recommend you buy some fruit jam from the Taiwanese company, Red on Tree. The fruits they use are grown here, and are only cultivated in season. Some delicious fruits they use include mango, lychee, and pineapple. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner as a snack with toast or in yoghurt."
- Carl Chou, Taiwanese local
"I would recommend going to Eslite and browsing through the countless books and magazines there. You’ll find every topic under the sun - humanities, design, art, fiction, business, languages… so you’re sure to find something for everyone no matter their interests. The Dunnan branch is Taipei’s only 24 hour book store, so that’s a fun little fact to share with your friends and family as well!"
- James Huang, Taiwanese local
WHAT EXPATS RECOMMEND
"When it comes to buying presents in Taipei, I like to go for creative and local. My go-to places are Eslite at Songshan Park, the little design shops in Huashan Creative Park, or even online on Pinkoi. They are not necessarily the most affordable places, but they are all great options for when you don't really have a clear idea of what you want to buy and need some inspiration. Some of my best finds include local honey in a bunch of different flavor infusions, DIY leather purses and handmade jewelry."
- Consuelo Martin, expat from Argentina
"My family likes to buy these really small tea sets with a miniature teapot and cups to take home as gifts. You can buy cheaper versions (250-300) in night markets and the underground malls in the MRT. If you want more expensive, high quality sets you can go to souvenir shops, malls, and some tea shops. You can get plain designs, or more ornamental ones. In India people love to display or use them for special occasions."
- Richa Arvind, expat from India
"How about some Taiwanese bamboo products? Bamboo is versatile and won’t weigh down your luggage. It’s naturally bacteria and mold resistant. You can get anything from cups and plates to toiletries. Just make sure you buy treated bamboo products so you won’t have any troubles at airport customs."
- Quyen Tran, expat from Australia
"When I bring presents home from Taiwan I go the jade market near Da'an Park. There’s an endless selection of jade jewelry you can gift to your mother, sisters, grandmothers, nieces, and aunties. For men, there’s handmade leather goods, such as belts and wallets. For my little nephew who’s so hard to buy for, I bought a palm sized wooden frog which you can make ‘chirp’ by running a wooden handle over its back."
- Krystal Keswick, expat from America
"Taiwan is synonymous with food. To bring back something a little different from your standard pineapple cake, you could try spring onion nougat crackers (蘇打餅夾牛軋糖) which have a sweet-savory flavor that is uniquely Taiwanese."
- Rebecca Keiller, expat from England
"Kinmen Kaoliang is always a great gift idea, both as something to be enjoyed by cosmopolitan spirits aficionados, and for watching your friends struggle to get it down. Kaoliang is the Mandarin word for sorghum, an important cash crop from Africa to Taiwan, and is the plant from which this famous variety of baijiu is distilled. It is certainly an acquired taste - the strongest variety clocks in at 116 proof and is not for the faint of heart. Local Taiwanese, especially fishermen and workers from the outlying islands, rave about the stuff and swear that it never leaves you with a hangover. From experience, I can tell you this isn’t the case, but it is pleasant to sip on, especially if you’re feeling nostalgic for a genuinely local Taiwanese feeling."
- Adam Hatch, expat from America
"If you want a cheaper Go Pro alternative, check out Guang Hua Plaza. You can buy an SJCAM there for around NT$2000. That’s about a third of the price of a Go Pro! You can also find a vast array of other electronic products."
- Guang-Hui Chuan, expat from Australia
"Every time I have friends come to visit, we do a search for local Taiwanese designs. On the cheap, we go to Maji Food & Deli in Huashan (hear me out now). At the back of the supermarket they have small section of ‘vintage’ Taiwanese kitchen and home products. You can pick out handmade brooms or old school scissors for a more than reasonable price. My other favorite “secret” designer gift place is VVG Thinking at Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Most people just think it’s a restaurant, but if you walk up to the second floor it’s filled with books and lifestyle products including Taiwan designed products and other knick knacks from around the world."
- Jay Gaddi, expat from Canada
"There is a Taiwanese coconut paste at Jason’s Market Place supermarket that I love. You can spread it on bread and it’s delicious! I’ve sent lots home to gift my mom and aunts. On my last visit home, I bought Taiwanese tea for my mom. It’s probably my best gift because I was at the tea store for like an hour tasting different flavors, and was shown how traditional tea is prepared. I’ve also gone to the night markets and bought genuine leather belts that they’ve made especially for me to gift my dad."
- Lawrence Croffie, expat from America
"Woodstuck is a unique local brand with nice designs and very comfortable clothing. Some of their designs stand out with some provocative ‘touches’. I brought two jumpers/sweaters home for my sisters which they wear often and think are super comfortable. However, depending on the design, it's probably best not to wear them in public or in front of guests!"
- Manuel Frick, expat from Switzerland