As one of Taipei’s most historic districts and the city’s oldest, Wanhua is a neighborhood rich in culture. But although it is certainly a historian’s paradise, Wanhua is also home to one of Taipei’s liveliest shopping districts, Ximen, where the younger generation spend their evenings and weekends.
Make your own Taiwanese handicrafts at the Red House Theater
Red House Theater is something of an icon in Taipei. This impressive building was built back in 1908 when the island was under Japanese rule. Originally a market and then a playhouse, it is now a cultural center where visitors can take in a show or check out local art. They also host the Red Magic Workshop, which gives visitors the unique opportunity to create their own souvenir under the instruction of a local craftsperson.
Taiwan is home to some pretty amazing religious sites, but Longshan Temple is quite possibly one of the most popular. This incredible temple survived bombings during World War II when Allied forces targeted it, assuming it was a Japanese arms dump. But its survival isn’t the most amazing thing about this place. The entire temple has been cared for by the local community for decades, with rebuilding works and renovation only made possible by the voluntary work of the local residents and donations from visitors.
Ximen is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city, and not just because it is home to an incredible range of shops. It’s also a meeting point for teenagers every weekend, where they watch free concerts and hang out on the pedestrianized streets. It’s also a great place to go shopping, as you’ll find everything from the latest fashions to anime toys and accessories.
The city’s most visited old street and one that has be restored to its former glory, Bopiliao Old Street offers visitors a chance to step back in time and see what life was like in Taipei in bygone days. Here in the old buildings, you can see items from the past and sit in an old schoolroom. You can also play some traditional children’s games in the courtyard of the museum.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at a cinema only to find that the seats are too small or that the person in front is as tall as an NBA pro. Spend a little extra at one of Wanhua’s many movie theaters, and you’ll get a massive chair that reclines and has acres of legroom. These VIP seats usually cost just a little more than regular seats and are really good value for money. Oh, and don’t worry about being able to watch the movies. The majority of foreign movies shown in Taiwan are in English with Chinese subtitles.
If there’s one thing that Taiwan does better than anyone else, it’s food. There are hundreds of dining options scattered throughout Wanhua and choosing one can seem a little daunting at first. But if you want to eat like a local, then it’s either seafood or hotpot. There’s a huge selection of hotpot restaurants in Ximen, all of which offer you the chance to eat as much as you like, with some even having bottomless buckets of Häagen Dazs ice cream for dessert.
Even if you don’t like to sing, it’s surprising how much fun a few hours at a local KTV spot can be. Rock on up to PartyWorld in Ximen, where you and a group of friends can sing to your heart’s content in the comfort of a private soundproofed room. Order food and drink from the extensive menu, and sit back on the comfy sofas safe in the knowledge that no one but your friends can hear your rendition of “My Way.”