In Taiwan, there are numerous shopping venues, such as night markets, malls, business centres, departmental stores and hyper-markets. Taipei, the capital city is the best for shopping, as one can find almost everything from clothes to electronics.
Apart from the capital, larger cities like Kaohsiung and Taichung also have several shopping streets. Smaller townships and cities like Kuanmiao, Makung and Hualien also feature in the shopping destination.
Like most of the Asian countries, night markets are considered the best place for shopping in Taiwan as well. In larger cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung, night markets are open every night, but in smaller towns, these markets open on the fixed day only.
Clothes, jewellery, household items and toys, all can be brought from the night markets at low prices. Keelung Temple Night Market (Keelung City), Shilin Night Market (Taipei) and Huasi Street Night Market (Taipei City) are some of the famous night markets.
Some of the other night markets are Feng Chia Night Market (Taichung City), Donghai Night Market (Taichung City) and Liouhe Night Market (Kaohsiung City).
For branded shopping, tourists can check out malls that are basically stores huddled up to form a central shopping district. Taipei 101 (Taipei), Core Pacific City Mall (Taipei) and Dream Mall (Kaohsiung) are some of the famous malls for shopping.
Two major departmental stores that can be found in all the major cities of Taiwan are Shin Kong Mitsukoshi and Sogo Department Store.
Every major city in Taiwan has business circles that are lined up with small shops selling consumer goods to big stores of top brands like Cartier, DKNY and others. In Taipei, Ximending, Zhongxiao -Dunhua Shopping Area and Xinyi Planning District are shopping heavens.
In Taichung, Jingming 1st Street and Donghai Art Street house several boutique shops and art shops. Kaohsiung also has popular shopping areas like New Juejiang Commercial Area and Sanduo Commercial Area, where one can shop for cosmetics, jewellery and consumer goods at discounted rates.
Jade is the most popular buy in Taiwan. Mostly, all the cities like Taipei and Kaohsiung have special markets selling jade jewellery and gems. However, weekend Jade Market organised at Chienkuo S. Road (Taipei) is most famous for jade and curios.
Computers are other popular items in Taiwan. Guanghua Market in Taipei is considered to house some of the best shops selling desktops, peripherals and other hardware at cheap prices.
When it comes to buying souvenirs, every city in the country has some specialty like wood carvings of Sanyi and coral souvenirs and agate jewellery of Makung. Chushan is famous for its bamboo furniture, whereas Kaohsiung is known for its brass handicrafts.
Kuanmiao is renowned as the rattan centre of Taiwan, where one can find rattan mats and screens.
In Hualien, tourists can shop for marble handicrafts and jewellery. Furthermore, Oolung tea and bamboo handicrafts can be found in Chiayi. Taipei is home to some of the finest porcelain makers and one can find porcelain items in Taipei at Peitou and Yingko.
Taiwanese lingzhi is a famous herb that tourists can find in Dihua Street of Taipei. Other Chinese herbs, spices, dried food and clothes are some of the other items that can be purchased from these streets.
The most popular souvenir that can be bought from any handicraft shop in Taiwan is the Name Chop. It is a personalised seal that can be stamped on any kind of material. Wood, stone, jade and steel are some of the materials that are used for making chop.
All the markets are open from 10 am to 10 pm, from Monday to Saturday. There are several convenience stores that are open round the clock. Bargaining can only be done in the night markets and some small stores.
VAT in Taiwan is 5%. Shopping with credit card is more expensive as the seller charges an additional 8% on the bill. This fee comprises commission of the Credit Card Company and local sales tax or VAT. For getting the official receipt, one has to pay 3% - 5% extra.
Foreign nationals can claim a VAT refund at the time of departure from Taiwan. Tourists can get VAT refunded only if they shopped for at least 4726.1INR in a day from a Tax Refund Shopping (TRS)-posted store.
The refund must be claimed within 30 days from the date of purchase. For applying for VAT refund, passport and travel documents, along with the bill need to be submitted at the airport.