One of the most popular sweets available throughout the island is the humble pineapple cake. It’s a buttery pastry with a deliciously sweet pineapple paste at its center. These usually come in airtight packaging so taking them home on the plane is no trouble at all.
Mini Sky Lanterns
You may have heard of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, but you probably didn’t realize that you can buy these wonderful little miniature sky lanterns as souvenirs. Handcrafted and set within see-through containers, they make a nice little ornamental gift for someone’s mantelpiece.
The world’s best jade
Of course, you can buy jade all around the world, but Taiwan is well-known as a place to find some the finest jade on the planet. The jade market in Taipei offers an incredible range of pieces in all shapes and sizes but expect to pay premium prices for high-quality pieces.
The teas of Taiwan’s mountain regions are among the most sought after in the world so if you have a tea connoisseur in the family then you surely have to take home a box of leaves. Look out for Oolong; it’s the most popular, and with good reason.
Taiwan’s many indigenous tribes produce a wide variety of products in their local villages and sell them in many of the souvenir shops across the island. These include items such as bags, pictures, and many many handcrafted pieces of jewelry. These items will all have a distinct style in keeping with each tribe’s traditional colors and clothing.
Alcohol is big business in Taiwan, but there’s not much chance that you’ll be able to squeeze too many of the trendy craft beers into your case. However, you can buy small bottles of plum wine or rice wine at liquor stores everywhere. Just make sure you check the alcohol content as some of them are incredibly strong.
While postcards aren’t usually the type of souvenir you buy and keep, these Taiwanese postcards are quite different. Made from wood and etched with local landscapes or just cute pictures, these are the kind of postcards that will last a lifetime and look quite cool on the fridge door at home.
Taiwanese peanut nougat
They do things differently here in Taiwan so don’t expect the typical nougat you find in candy bars in the west. Taiwanese nougat is often quite hard and chewy and full of peanuts. Some will also have sesame too while others may have pieces of brown sugar. Nougat is the most traditional of treats in Taiwan and expect to find boxes of it everywhere especially during festivals.
The sun cake is a flaky pastry that traditionally has a sweet and sticky filling. These days though you can get many different flavors such as dried pork and even green tea. In truth though, the originals are still the best.
A carved wooden penis
Not the souvenir for everyone but the fact is that phallic symbols are quite prevalent in Taiwan particularly in local aboriginal culture. So when visiting a tribe’s village or marketplace don’t be surprised to see stalls stacked with wooden penises that are supposed to bring luck and fortune to the owner.