Taiwan might be better known for its bustling cities, tasty night markets, and geographically diverse landscapes, but it is also a really great place to go shopping. In this guide, I’ll share the very best things to buy in Taiwan. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one back home, you’ll be spoiled for choice because there are loads of great souvenirs in Taiwan.
Taiwan Souvenirs: 8 Best Things to Buy in Taiwan
Taiwan is famous for its tea, and it’s probably one of the most popular things to buy in Taiwan.
Most tea varieties grow at high altitudes, with some farms sitting more than 2000m above sea level. There are heaps of varieties of tea in Taiwan, and each one is unique in flavor. Some of the most common types include black tea and green tea, but Taiwan’s most iconic locally produced tea remains high mountain oolong tea.
You can easily buy decent tea at any local grocer or tea house, but for the really good stuff, head to the mystical mountains of Alishan National Forest near Chiayi. The area is famous for producing the finest oolong tea in Taiwan, and finding a tea merchant offering tea tastings and gift sets couldn’t be easier. Oolong teas vary in price, with premium products fetching astronomical prices. Therefore, if you want the real deal, make sure to budget accordingly.
Taiwan’s most precious gemstone, jade, makes for a great gift for that special someone in your life.
Markets all over Taiwan sell jade products in all shapes, sizes, and forms. Whether you’re looking for jewelry, gemstones, ornaments, or trinkets, you’ll have no trouble finding a variety of high-quality jade products practically anywhere in Taiwan.
However, if you’re planning to spend a few days in Taipei, the Jianguo Holiday Flower and Jade Market (Google maps) is a great place to browse and shop for souvenirs. Just a heads up – the market is huge, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes! Oh, and don’t forget to haggle!
If you know someone with a sweet tooth, pineapple cake is the perfect Taiwan souvenir gift.
These scrumptious pastries are among the most famous delights in Taiwan and a huge must-try. The bite-size cake is soft and crumbly on the outside and filled with a sweet, yet tangy, gooey pineapple jam on the inside. You can buy pineapple cake all over Taiwan, from convenience stores to supermarkets to bakeries and specialty stores. For the best pineapple cakes, though, try Sunnyhills or Chia Te. Both have stores in Taipei and sell the most beautiful gift box sets imaginable.
If you’re looking for an authentic Taiwanese souvenir to bring back home, you can’t go wrong with pottery. There are dozens of pottery stores all over Taiwan full of beautifully decorated items – from carefully crafted teapot sets and ornaments to dishes, mugs, and more.
If you’re looking for premium ceramic items, Yingge District, just outside Taipei City, is revered as the pottery capital of Taiwan. As a result, it’s one of the best places to shop for souvenirs, join a DIY pottery class or learn a bit more about the history of ceramics at the Ceramics Museum. The best part? Yingge is easily accessed on a day trip from Taipei in less than 40 minutes by local train.
Taiwan’s unique climate offers the perfect conditions to produce a wide range of alcoholic beverages. Everything from beer to authentic aboriginal millet wines to the world-famous Kavalan Whiskey is brewed here.
At the Kavalan Distillery (Google maps) in Yilan County, you can join a tour to learn a little more about whiskey and pick up the perfect souvenir for the whiskey drinker in your life. For those looking for something with a bit more kick, pick up a bottle of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor – a smooth, but potent concoction that is a firm favorite among aboriginals in Taiwan. A small bottle only costs a couple of US dollars, and almost every convenience store, supermarket, or liquor store across Taiwan sells it.
Personalized Name Stamps
Personalized name stamps are among the most unique things to buy in Taiwan. It makes for an extra special gift or a great memento to remind you of your time in Taiwan.
The stamps come in all shapes and sizes, with some even made from precious stones like jade. Names are usually carved out in Chinese characters, but most shopkeepers can help you translate English names into Chinese. Don’t forget to buy an inkstone!
Insider tip: Personalized name stamps can be pricey, so if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, name stickers are a great choice. The stickers take minutes to make, and there are hundreds of different cute templates to choose from. The best part is that it’s relatively easy to find a vendor at almost any Taiwanese night market, day market, or more touristy areas.
Mini Sky Lanterns
Taiwan is well-known for its annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. And if you happen to pop by any of the quaint towns dotted along the historic Pingxi Rail line, you’re bound to get a chance to decorate your very own sky lantern before sending it up into the sky. While you probably won’t be able to take your lantern home with you, you can easily buy a cute mini lantern as a souvenir. Both Shifen and Pingxi have hoards of shops selling these tiny decorative ornaments at reasonable prices.
If you can take meat products home with you, jerky is another great Taiwanese souvenir snack to share with friends and family.
Taiwanese jerky is truly unique, and I really only recommend it for more adventurous foodies. Instead of being salty, most of the jerky here is quite sweet. But thankfully, spicy and even Kaoliang-flavored jerky is also available.
Most vendors sell pork jerky, but it’s also possible to find beef and chicken varieties with a bit of effort. For the best dried meat products, pop into Bee Cheng Hiang. It’s actually a Singaporean chain store, but it’s very famous in Taiwan, and you can find stores practically everywhere.
There you have it – a whole bunch of great things to buy in Taiwan! While deciding what to buy in Taiwan can seem daunting, this guide on Taiwan’s best souvenirs should give you a good starting point!
About the author:
Mariza is a South African who has lived in Taiwan for more than a decade. She shares in-depth travel guides and stacks of insider tips on traveling in Taiwan and further afield on her blog, Hoponworld.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.