Table of Contents
- A Little Background
- Dihua Street Shops
- Dadaocheng Points of Cultural Interest
- Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市
- Dadaocheng Wharf 大稻埕碼頭 & Pier No. 5 大稻埕河岸特區
- Places Mentioned
A Little Background
Located alongside the Tamsui River in Taipei’s Datong District, Dadaocheng (大稻埕, also known by the Taiwanese “Twatutia”) has everything a traveller could possibly want, from history to local culture, delicious food, a wharf (love those), trendy pier and plenty of shopping. Dadaocheng’s commercial past had made it into the unique cultural enclave it is today – one in which we can catch a glimpse of old Taipei in its maritime glory.
During the late 19th into the 20th century, a newly built Tamsui Harbor made the area a bustling international center for the trade of tea, fabric, Chinese medicine and local goods. Running through the middle of Dadaocheng is Dihua Street: Taipei’s oldest commercial street and the heart of the neighborhood. Lining it are narrow buildings displaying the western and neo-baroque architectural styles of the 20th century. A walk down Dihua Street will sweep you up in the currents of time, transporting you to centuries past. It becomes easy, here, to image what life may have been like before.
Dihua Street Shops 迪化街
The storefronts have been maintained, and many among them once housed legendary businesses. Traditional shops abound here, making this the place to go if you are in the market for bulk dried goods, traditional herbs, fabrics or teas. As a place that is alive and ever-changing, it has also welcomed a flourishing collection of new businesses. The historic spaces they occupy have been beautifully renovated to uncover a modern artistic cultural aesthetic. This contrast between tradition and innovation heightens the excitement of exploring the neighborhood, adding variety and a layer of suspense to each new discovery as well as a long-term perspective on Taipei’s development. The shops themselves are intriguing in their layout and design, extremely narrow but also deceptively deep – there is much more here than meets the eye.
There are countless places calling out for you to linger a while longer, and given how few hours there are in a day, it is imperative that one choose wisely. Pictured below are a few of the places I decided to spend more time, just to show you the tip of the iceberg. First is ArtYard, a ceramics shop selling handcrafted wares. I’ve heard they have a lovely tea shop on the second floor, but I haven’t been! Instead I got lost in the depths of the shop, only to find a small and alluring courtyard in the back joining it to another business – LeZinc Café and Bar, where my friend Annie and I stopped to relax with a glass of wine (a welcome respite for our feet and a luxurious gift to myself as I’ve had no luck finding a place in Keelung to enjoy a glass of wine, including the bars! If you know of one, hit me up!).
On another trip with my husband, we wound up at (or I was magnetically pulled into) 大華行 – 竹木造咖 Grandma’s Kitchen, with all kinds of bamboo and wooden creations. If I could have everything in our house made out of bamboo, Luke knows, I would, so for me this place was an absolute dream.
After our long day of walking we stopped at the historic ASW Tea House for some life-giving tea, and the delight of watching the world go by down below as dusk twinkled in, bringing with it the magical glow of street lights.
Dadaocheng Points of Cultural Interest
There are many landmarks worth mentioning in Dadaocheng (too many for this post!). However allow me to share a few key spots to stop at as you stroll down Dihua Street! The Dadaocheng Theater is the place to find traditional Chinese opera, puppet theater and art exhibitions. Housed within the same building is the sprawling Yongle Market, the largest fabric market in Taiwan. It’s fun to take a gander inside where there are plenty of stalls also selling clothing, coffee or food.A popular temple, the Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple, sits at the corner of Dihua Street and Yongchang Street. People come here to visit the City God but also to pay tribute to the Matchmaker, deity of love and marriage, who makes this an oft-visited spot for couples and singles alike. Further down Dihua Street is Museum 207. An old house that was once the Guanghetang Medicine Shop (廣和堂藥舖), it has been reborn as a museum with rotating exhibitions dedicated to local history and culture.
It is worth noting that the first riots of 1947’s 228 incident took place in Dadaocheng. The incident would lead to long years of slaughter at the hands of the Kuomintang, turning into an era of martial law known as the “White Terror”. It all began here, with the first group of protestors. Their footsteps can be retraced through the neighborhood today, from the old Tobacco and Liquor Monopoly Bureau, where they sought justice, to the Police Station, which they vandalized after the police attempted to stop them. Dadaocheng is a keeper of many stories, this historically pivotal one among them.
Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市
In case you get hungry for some yummy snacks, the Ningxia Night Market is just a short walk east of Dihua Street. The Liu Yu Zai fried taro balls (劉芋仔芋餅), with or without salted egg yolk, are particularly prized, and the line for this one gets long. Annie, who also lives in Keelung, told me that when she used to study in Taipei she would go out of her way to come here specifically for this treat before heading home. That’s how you know it’s good! That and their Michelin listing. There’s also another Michelin-listed stall at the Ningxia market, Fang Chia, specializing in shredded chicken rice (方家雞肉飯). For more of a scoop on what to enjoy at the Ningxia Market (and others!), check out Nick Kembel’s comprehensive article, 17 Best Night Markets in Taipei.
Dadaocheng Wharf 大稻埕碼頭 & Pier No. 5 大稻埕河岸特區
This is where it can get a bit confusing – I’ve seen this area referred to interchangeably as “Dadaocheng Wharf”, “Dadaocheng Dock”, “Daodaocheng Pier Plaza” and “Yanping Riverside Park” – it’s not really important what you call it as these names all designate the same stretch along the riverfront. Dadaocheng Wharf is a ferry pier, where you can catch the ferry across the Tamsui River to Zhongxiao Wharf. While such services are unfortunately only available on the weekends (fare is $15 NT and there are multiple runs throughout the day, you can buy tickets in person), there are also other boat rental services available for around $300 NT per person (sunset boat trip anyone?). At Yanping Riverside Park, to the south, it becomes more green and there are sports facilities for public use (bicycle paths, tennis & basketball courts). You can rent bikes here to take a scenic cycle along the river path.
Between the two lies Pier No. 5, a collection of restaurants, cafés and bars housed in shipping containers, with market stalls selling local artisan goods and live music. Most of the containers have seating on the top level, an inviting place to kick back after a long day’s work to admire the pier’s city and river views. There is plenty of ground-level seating as well. Pier No. 5 has been an up and coming spot for several years, and let me tell you it has arrived. I stopped for a beer and a little barbecue, and got to chatting with the bartender. He told me that it gets insanely busy after 7 pm, so if you want to avoid the crowds (and secure one of the coveted container-top tables), show up before then. 5-7pm proved to be the perfect window for me, a restful stop in which I got to watch the sun go down and the twinkle lights come on.
Places Mentioned in This Post
10 AM – 7 PM
No. 67號, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Le Zinc 洛 Café & Bar
Sun & Mon: 12 PM – 7 PM
Tues-Thurs: 12 PM – 12 AM
Fri & Sat: 12 PM – 1 AM
No. 34, Lane 362, Minsheng West Road, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
大華行 – 竹木造咖 Grandma’s Kitchen
10 AM – 7 PM
No. 161號, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Yongle Fabric Market 永樂布業商場
Mon – Sat: 10 AM – 6 PM
No. 1號, Minle St, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Dadaocheng Theater 大稻埕戲苑
See website for showings.
103, Taipei City, Datong District, Section 1, Dihua St, 21號8.9樓
Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple 台北霞海城隍廟
According to Google Maps, the Temple is open every day specifically from 6:16 AM – 7:47 PM.
No. 61, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
ASW Tea House
Mon & Tues: 11 AM – 7 PM
Wed-Sun: 11 AM – 7 PM &
7:30 – 12:30 AM
103, Taipei City, Datong District, Section 1, Dihua St, 34號2樓
Museum 207, 迪化207博物館
Mon & Wed – Fri: 10 AM – 5 PM
Sat & Sun: 10 AM – 5:30 PM
No. 207號, Section 1, Dihua St, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Pier 5 大稻埕河岸特區
Mon – Fri: 4 PM – 12 AM
Sat & Sun: 12 PM – 12 AM
Dadaocheng Wharf, Datong District, Taipei City, 103
Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市
Open every day
5 PM – 1 AM
Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, 103