When traveling to Taiwan, you’ll likely want to get yourself some souvenirs to bring home. But what are the best things to buy in Taiwan as a gift?
There’s quite a lot that you can get. Possibly even too much stuff to fill your luggage with. So, let me help you choose what to buy.
Keep reading and you’ll find a list that I’ve put together on what souvenirs you should consider getting for someone when you’re traveling to Taiwan.
1. Chia Te Pineapple Cakes #
These are some of the best things to buy in Taiwan—it’s one of the country’s most popular sweets, pineapple cakes.
It’s also one of the most common Taiwanese souvenirs that people will recommend. However, what brand of pineapple cake is the best?
Moreover, where should you get it?
Chia Te—it’s a traditional pastry bakery in Taipei City that has been around 1975. It’s also nearby the Taipei Metro’s Nanjing Sanmin Station.
This bakery took first place at the Taipei Pineapple Cake Festival in 2006. That means Chia Te has more credibility compared to other pineapple cakes that you’ll find.
They have varying pineapple pastries that also include flavors like:
- Egg yolk
The owners claim to use no preservatives in their golden brown cakes. They also have a crumbly crust and a buttery and fruity flavor.
If you’d prefer a pineapple cake that’s firm and has chewy fillings, you’ll want to try Taipei Leechi—they’re also in Taipei.
I recommend getting the original flavor. For a box of 12 pineapple cakes, you’ll need to fork over NT$372 ($13) or NT$620 ($21) for a box of 20.
You could just order these from Amazon, but they’re significantly more expensive.
Chia Te Bakery address: No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing E Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105
Taipei Leechi address: No. 67號, Section 2, Chang’an E Rd, Zhongshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 104
2. Sun Cakes #
Taiwanese sun cakes, or Tai Yang Bing (太陽餅), are pastries that originate from Taichung, Taiwan. They’re soft and flaky and rolled into a shape that looks like the sun, hence the name.
As for taste, it’s a bit like honey mixed with maltose.
While you can find these cakes anywhere in Taiwan, I recommend getting them from Taichung. Specifically from the 23 Sun Bakery (23 太陽餅店).
It’s close to the original Chun Shui Tang restaurant—the birthplace of bubble tea—so, you can try the original pearl milk tea while you’re at it.
They charge a bit for their pastries, but not enough to shatter your wallet. 23 Sun Bakery’s cakes are worth it, though. They’ve been baking these things for over 40 years.
If you’re buying these for someone at home, buy a gift box. They’re around NT$270 ($9.50) for a box of 10.
Show this address to a taxi driver, plug it into your Uber app, or click the link and follow it on a maps app: 40343台中市西區三民路一段191號
Alternatively, you can ask around to see what the locals recommend. They’ll likely have better insight on where you should buy sun cakes.
3. Snacks Specific to a City #
Like sun cakes, most cities and towns throughout Taiwan will have popular snacks. For instance, there are A-Po iron eggs, which are a specialty that originated from Tamsui. You can find these eggs all over the place when wandering around Tamsui.
Otherwise, observe your surroundings when you’re in different places throughout Taiwan. What places seem different from others? What’s the primary theme of the area?
Flying fish is a cultural symbol in a way for Taiwan’s Orchid Island. Thus, you’ll likely find flying fish-related snacks throughout the island.
4. Jade: Some of the World’s Best #
Wealthy families will often aborn deceased relatives with jade jewelry because they believe that it’ll absorb the dead person’s blood. Due to this blood absorption, the deceased has a higher chance of banishing evil.
Taiwan produces around 1000 metric tons of this stuff each year—most of it coming from Hualien County.
But it isn’t normal jade.
Taiwan has a lot of high-quality jade. Thus, designers can slice into two-millimeter thick pieces. It’s also greener than other jade mined from other countries because of its higher chromium content.
Across from the Jian Guo Weekend Flower Market in Taipei City, you’ll find the Jianguo Jade Market. They have thousands of stalls with jade sellers hawking their wares.
You’ll find high-quality jade in different shapes, sizes, and designs. But you’ll want to make sure you have money set aside. Because good jade will cost at least $30 per kilogram.
First, you’ll want to ensure you take a class on how to identify real jade. I’m not saying the vendors have fake stuff, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Stones Shaped Like Meat #
You’ll often find meat-shaped stones on display at Taipei’s National Palace Museum. These have been around since the Qing Dynasty and have remained in Taiwan. These rocks are banded jasper with layers of white crystals and translucent flesh pink.
Due to their designs, these stones often resemble marbled steak or a hunk of pork belly.
How much do these meat-shaped stones cost? Around NT$200 ($7). Keep in mind that these are going to be heavier than other Taiwanese souvenirs, so it’ll take more of a toll on your luggage’s weight.
While you’re here, you could also get your hands on jade that’s shaped like cabbage. It’s quite a bit more expensive though, NT$22000 ($776).
National Palace Museum in Taipei address: No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111
6. Miniature Sky Lanterns #
Many know Shifen for Taiwan’s famous Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. It’s the time of the year where Taiwanese write wishes on paper lanterns and release them into the sky to the deities.
No matter the time of year, you can get your hands on a miniature version of these lanterns that you can keep at home. They also don’t cost much, only about NT$90 ($3) each. However, to find them, you’ll want to check any souvenir shop in Shifen.
If you don’t want to traverse New Taipei’s outskirts, you can search around other cities in Taiwan for these lanterns. You don’t have to buy them in Shifen.
7. Taiwanese Glove Puppets: Budaixi #
One of Taiwan’s older, and most notable, pastimes is glove puppetry. First, skilled designers craft these puppets with intricate details. Later, puppeteers will use them to tell stories through puppet operas about topics relating to popular folklore.
Some stories will involve magical beings battling it out, while others involve ancient warriors engaging in battle.
You can usually find these operas at local theaters or on TV when you’re browsing channels.
Otherwise, if you want to get your hands on a puppet to take home, you can find them at either the Puppetry Art Center of Taipei or Chang Yi Fang Puppet Creations.
Chang Yi Fang Puppet Creations address: No. 27號, Lane 47, Yongkang St, Da’an District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
8. Local Tea #
Taiwan produces over 20000 tons of tea each year and oolong, or wūlóng (烏龍) is its most famous tea. This semi-oxidized type of tea isn’t green or black—instead, it’s a separate category. It also has caffeine levels between green and black tea.
Anyway, it has a refreshing floral, fruity, and sometimes grassy flavor that’s bound to transform most people’s opinion on tea.
You can get loose-leaf oolong tea in vacuum-sealed containers, as tea bags, or inside canisters. However, you’ll need to check your airlines to see whether you can bring tea back to your home country.
Regarding American travelers, the TSA says you can bring tea back to the states.
Where should you get oolong tea in Taiwan?
I recommend trying different tea houses until you find something you love.
Or, the mountains, like Maokong mountain, often have the best tea leaves. However, some people say to check out Pinglin Old Street for variants of this tea type. While others say that Nantou has the best.
9. Keychains Shaped Like Taiwan #
These wooden (or plastic) keychains are by far the most common souvenirs you’ll find in Taiwan. Just check any gift or souvenir shop in Taiwan.
They start at NT$50 ($1.75) and are lightweight, which means that you could buy these in bulk and give some to all your friends and family back home. Or, you could snap them all to your bag.
10. Postcards #
Taiwan has some beautiful postcards. Oftentimes, you’ll find them made of wood and etches with images of local landscapes. They’re affordable, support local artists, and give you the means to carry a memory of everywhere you’ve visited without having to stuff too much weight in your luggage.
If you don’t intend on mailing these postcards, you can stamp your postcard with a souvenir stamp that correlates with where you brought your mailing card.
You can find Taiwan postcards at most souvenir or stationery shops throughout Taiwan. Or, you can get them from bookstores. However, when getting letter cards from book shops, they’ll likely just have photos of some landmark.
11. Cultural Products #
Taiwan’s a country packed with varying cultures. And with those different cultures come different souvenirs. For instance, if you want souvenirs from the Hakka people, you can get oil-paper umbrellas.
The Hakka used these during ceremonies like weddings and to shield themselves from the sun and rain. I wouldn’t recommend using these umbrellas for the same purpose. However, you, or someone you know, can use them as an ornamental or collective item.
Otherwise, you can get support for Taiwan’s indigenous tribes by buying handcrafted items like jewelry, bags, pictures, and other trinkets that represent each tribe. You can usually find these shops in different tribal areas throughout Taiwan.
12. Pottery #
When getting Taiwanese tea, why not pair it with a tea set? You can get pottery anywhere in Taiwan. However, if you want to take your gift-giving to the next level, consider taking some pottery classes and making your own tea set.
13. Merch. From Taipei 101 #
Taipei 101 is one of the world’s tallest buildings. It’s also the only building of its type. While you can find Taipei 101 merch throughout the country, you can’t find authentic items that you can only get from Taipei 101.
First off, there are postcards. Some other items include:
- Glass water bottles shaped like Taipei 101
- Building blocks that look like LEGOs—but shaped like the skyscraper
You can find souvenir shops throughout the building—whether on the basement floors or the 89th-floor observatory. These are pricey gifts, though.
FAQ: Things To Buy in Taiwan
What Product Is Taiwan Famous For?
Taiwan is famous for pineapple cakes, bubble tea, loose leaf tea, electronics, suncakes, and more.
Out of All the Things To Buy in Taiwan, What Will You Choose?
There isn’t a particular set of “best things to buy in Taiwan,” however, there are a lot of snacks and items that you can only find in the island nation.
Whether you want to bring home some pineapple cakes or rocks that look like meat, there are plenty of Taiwanese souvenirs to get during your day. Just ensure you packed light and have enough room in your luggage to fit all your new treasures.