Red House Theater
A stone’s throw from Ximen subway station stands this Western-style red brick structure. Built in 1908, the distinctively octagonal Red House was the first and largest teahouse and playhouse in all of Taiwan. It still holds a reputation as a major cultural and creative space and hosts an array of art exhibitions and performances.
10, Chengdu Road, Wanhua, Taipei, +88 6 223 119 380
Visit one of the numerous temples and see locals burning incense and even leaving offerings. Built in 1738, Longshan Temple is the more well-known than the others but Bangka Qingshui Temple and Qing Shan Gong are also beautiful. If you’re lucky enough to be in Taipei between 20th-22nd of the tenth month of the lunar calendar, you can witness the Chin Shan King Sacrificial Ceremony which is celebrated by touring Wanhua for two nights under the purpose of eliminating evil ghosts which harbor suffering and inauspiciousness.
211, Guangzhou St, Wanhua District, Taipei, +86 2 230 25 162
Whether you’re on a mission to acquire the season’s most fashionable Korean styles or just in the mood for window shopping, Wanhua is the perfect place for retail therapy. From the more well-known brands, such as Tommy Hilfiger and GAP, to street markets and trendy sportswear shops, Wanhua has it all. Don’t forget to explore the lanes such as Lane 96 Kunming Street and admire the graffiti work around you.
Bopiliao Historic Street
Here, you can be transported into Taiwan’s past by visiting the Bopiliao historic street. Explore these well-preserved buildings which have endured the often turbulent transition from Qing Dynasty, to the Japanese Occupation, WWII and the Chinese civil war. Today the area is full of arts and crafts and exhibits preserved examples of a bygone era. This historic block lies along Lane 173, Kangding Road, beside Laosong Elementary School.
Catch A Movie
With multiple cinemas to choose from, especially along Wucheng Street, this is arguably the best spot to educate yourself a little on Taiwan’s fantastic film scene. The father of Taiwan’s New Wave Movement, Hou Hsiao Hsien, filmed Dust in the Wind here, as did Tsai Mingliang and his Rebels of the Neon God; and of course, we mustn’t forget Ang Lee‘s Father Knows Best Triology which showcases different sides of the city. Perhaps you can even pinpoint some exact filming locations.
Sun VieShoq IMAX No.87, Section 2, Wuchang Street, +886 2 2331 5256
Go For A Massage
Wanhua was historically known as Taipei’s red light district. However, prostitution has since been made illegal in Taiwan. That still doesn’t mean that the remnants of a once vibrant sex industry are always avoidable or difficult to find. With the sheer number of massage shops and beauty parlors here though there are plenty guaranteed to cater to your individual needs so go on, and relax.
Speaking of Wanhua’s past, prostitution is also reputedly the reason behind the existence of the Snake market, a.k.a Huaxi Street night market. Long-believed to hold rather potent powers, snake and turtle blood were once best sellers with the male patrons visiting the area. Now, the area is mainly for tourists but snake and turtle soups can still be sampled. The market adjoins several others , including the beautifully green and fragrant Herb Alley. Betel nuts are also on sale if you are so inclined. Crowds begin to gather from 6pm onwards.
Basketball, Baseball, Shooting
If you’re bored of the usual shopping, movie, dinner routine then it’s time for some thinking out of the box, or should that be cage? Head to the U2 theater to get your swing into gear in the baseball hitting cages. If you’re more of a basketball fan there are hoops too, and failing that, there’s even a shooting range.
9F, 70 Xining South Road, Wanhua District, Taipei, +862 2381 0760
Perhaps running around all sounds a bit much after gorging yourself on the delicious street food or touring the historical temples and district in the humid heat. Then why not cool down instead at Polar Bear Ice World? Open daily, this reasonably priced, petite rink rents out skates and protective equipment. The venue is easy to find if you leave Ximen station at Exit 6 and go up to the eighth floor of the Eslite building.
8F, 13, Chengdu Road, Wanhua, Taipei, +862 2388 8806
Chinese Folk Performance
For a truly authentic experience, listen to a traditional Chinese folk band performance. This unique and ever rarer style of music makes wandering the Longshan temple area even more atmospheric. Often on weekend evenings, just opposite Herb Alley, a makeshift stage appears, upon which these ageing musicians assemble their instruments and break into a lively performance. This dying art is truly a joy not to be missed.