Taipei’s Ximending Pedestrian Area attracts over 3 million locals and tourists each month.
What makes this place special enough to attract that many people? I’ve explored this place tens of times and still find intriguing and fun places and things to do.
I’m sure you’ll love this youth shopping district as much, or more than I do, once you explore it.
Read through my recommendations on things to do in Ximending. While there were many more activities to recommend, I’ve hand-picked this list based on what I felt you would enjoy the most.
Quick Facts About Ximending
Ximending (西門町), or Ximen, sits within Taipei’s Wanhua District and serves as Taipei’s young people’s shopping district. Many also call this area the “Shibuya” or “Harajuku” of Taipei. Both of these nicknames stem from youth districts in Tokyo, Japan.
What can you do in Ximending?
It’s a source of subcultures, clothing, Taiwanese and Japanese culture, street food, pubs, clubs, and various activities.
The Ximending Pedestrian Area doesn’t draw crowds until the evening, when everyone gets off work and out of their classes.
While Taipei doesn’t have much crime, I recommend securing your belongings. That way, you can deter potential pickpockets. Since you’ll find yourself moving through crowds, thieves have a perfect opportunity to snatch someone’s belongings.
Brief History of Ximending
The name of this shopping area came from its location outside Taipei’s west gate. In Mandarin Chinese, 西 (xi) means west. Whereas, 門 (men) means gate or door.
When Japan occupied the island nation, they transformed a road into a business and entertainment hub. One of the first buildings they constructed was the Red House Theater, which I’ll mention later in this post.
Over time, Ximending became an infamous theater street and a haven for scalpers. But as eastern Taipei became popular, the crowds began migrating away from the youth district.
In 1999, Taipei’s government created the Ximending Pedestrian Zone. They wanted to assess its popularity to see if it could improve the shopper’s atmosphere.
Fast forward to now.
Ximending passed its test. It remains as one of the more popular areas in Taipei City.
21 Fun Things To Do in Ximending
Though it doesn’t take long to walk across all the Ximen area, this area has no shortage of things to do.
You can spend an entire day here.
So, you’ll want to explore all my recommendations and see what you’ll want to add to your Taipei itinerary.
1. Get a Drink at the Red House
The Red House historic theater used to serve as a theater that hosted operas, among other functions.
Nowadays, it’s an area used to promote the Cultural and Creativity Industry. Many locals will sell handcrafted goods here.
Outside the theater are various gay bars. If you want to experience Taiwan’s LGBT+ culture, the Red House is where you want to go.
At night, the outdoor seating area fills with chatters and laughs. If you want to partake, you can order affordable drinks or food, depending on which bar you enter.
The Red House address: No. 10, Chengdu Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
2. Visit the Site of a Former Japanese Temple
There isn’t much to see here. But if you’re interested in seeing relics from when Japan took over Taiwan, the Nishi Honganji Square is a great place to go.
It has a large recast Buddhist bell that’s the only remnant from the temple named The Taiwanese Branch of Jodo Shinshu Honganji School that the government burnt down in 1970
Other than a seating area and a lot of well-groomed grass, you’ll find a building restored as a traditional teahouse. Also, a lot of literature lining the walls that’ll tell you about Formosa’s (Taiwan) history.
Nishi Honganji Square address: No. 174號, Section 1, Zhonghua Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
3. Watch Street Performers
No matter where you go throughout the Ximen area, you’ll find crowds circling performers presenting various stunts.
Sometimes, I’ve seen The Joker breakdancing, and others being people who painted themselves silver and act like robots.
If you’re looking for street performers who primarily play instruments, you’ll want to head toward the Xinyi shopping area.
4. Explore the Various Shops: Find Souvenirs
Ximen doesn’t have any noteworthy souvenirs that you can’t find anywhere else. But if you want to get your mitts on some trinkets while you’re exploring, I encourage you to visit the souvenir shops.
You’ll find plenty of cool-looking keychains and magnets of Taiwan’s various destinations. However, I don’t recommend buying souvenirs from those destinations. Instead, support the locals by buying from stalls that sell handmade stuff, or from vendors in the Red House Theater.
You can find plenty of great trinkets and such while visiting the places they originate.
5. Visit Tianhou Temple and Pray for Peace
With donations from immigrant merchants, builders finished the Tianhou, or Ximending Mazu, Temple in 1746, which makes it one of few major temples that are from the Qing Dynasty.
This place of worship centers around the goddess, Mazu. And if you want to pray for safety and peace, she’s the deity who you want to visit.
It’s a small temple nestled between regular buildings and apartments, but it’s a temple that you’ll want to cross off your temple exploration list.
Tianhou Temple address: No. 51號, Chengdu Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 10844
6. Eat Food Out of a Toilet Bowl
Have you ever eaten food out of a toilet bowl?
Here’s your chance. Ximending’s Modern Toilet Restaurant gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eat dishes like hot pot, spaghetti, and whatever other meats you can think of from a dish-shaped like a toilet bowl.
After you’re done with lunch or dinner, you can order soft-serve chocolate ice cream in a toilet bowl dish.
If staring at things that look like poop while you’re eating doesn’t agree with your stomach, you may want to avoid this place and eat street food.
Modern Toilet restaurant address: No. 7號, Lane 50, Xining S Rd, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
7. Explore Shinjuku Plaza
Shinjuku Plaza used to have a lot more stores. However, since COVID, this designer haven has lost many of its stores.
But if you’re looking for a place with a modern design where you can get some clothing shopping done, you’ll want to come to Shinjuku—plaza.
You’ll find varying reseller shops that sell designer bags, jewelry, shoes, and other clothes. Or, you can get your nails done at one of the various nail salons.
At the time of writing, the pandemic has almost faded in Taiwan, things are slowly transitioning to how they once were. So, maybe by the time you come to Taiwan, Shinjuku Plaza will have more shops to see.
Shinjuku Plaza address: 108, Taiwan, Taipei City, Wanhua District, Xining Rd, 72號之1
8. Chow on Some Food
In another article, I mentioned that Ximending has a night market. While it’s not officially a night market, you will find a lot of street food vendors once the sun sets.
You’ll also likely find food stalls during the day, which I also encourage you to check out.
The best food that I’ve had here is Hot-Star Large Fried Chicken. They’re a joint under KFC that vends large Taiwanese fried chicken.
If you want to take your unhealthiness to the next meal, pair your fried bird with a cup of pricey brown sugar bubble tea. You can get good pearl milk tea from a place known as Xing Fu Tang (幸福堂). I noticed they recently started selling dumplings too.
I haven’t tried their dumplings, yet, because dumplings and caffeine don’t mix well with me. But I suggest trying them if your stomach can handle the combination.
Xing Fu Tang address: No. 101號, Hanzhong St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
9. Try Traditional Taiwanese Soy Milk and Breakfast
Lots of foreigners only have good things to say about Yong He Soy MIlk, even though there are multiple locations throughout Taiwan. However, if you’re planning a trip to Ximending, Yong He is where you’ll want to go for the first meal of your day.
It’s a traditional Taiwanese breakfast joint that has:
- Great-tasting soy milk
- Fried breadsticks
- Radish cakes
- Dumplings with ginger
- Rice rolls
Meals won’t cost you much—you can usually find items under NT$100 each at the cost of not having much English support.
They have an English menu, so you can take your menu to the staff and point at what you want. When they announce your total, they’ll likely do what most Taiwanese do to foreigners, show you the total on a calculator.
You can find seating inside and out, depending on the weather.
Yong He Soy Milk address: No. 30號, Section 2, Hankou St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
10. Admire Graffiti
While making your way through Ximending, you’ll notice some “graffiti.” However, once you near American Street, or around Cinema Street, alongside the movie theaters, skateboard shops, bars, and restaurants, you’ll find good graffiti.
I love this area’s graffiti art. The artists seamlessly blended the designs with the surrounding environments. Moreover, the colors on these pieces pop, which makes them fascinating to watch while eating.
Artists based most of these designs on pop-culture references.
Shinjuku in Japan has the giant Godzilla head. However, Ximending has a Godzilla made of bricks, spray cans, a car exhaust, wires, and other miscellaneous items.
11. Stroll Through 18th Century Architecture
The Bopiliao Historical Block acted as one of the most prosperous areas in Taipei during the late Qing Dynasty period due to various merchants setting up shops in this area. It was also a major area for trading coal.
During Japan’s occupation, the government repurposed this area for better efficiency, which slowly removed the meaning from this area.
During the early 2000s, the Taipei City Government restored this Bopiliao, transforming it into a historical site. As you walk through this spot, you’ll find red brick archways, stone terrazzo flooring, and cement walls that’ll bring you back to the architecture used by various colonialists.
For instance, you’ll find architecture that has influences from modern Western, Chinese Qing Dynasty, and Japanese.
Bopiliao isn’t in the Ximen area. But it’s close to Longshan Temple, which is about an 11-minute walk from Ximending.
12. Read a Book or Get a Drink at Eslite Spectrum
Taiwan’s massive book chain, Eslite, has a massive book store that’s also mixed with a shopping mall within Ximending.
Toward the top floor, you’ll find the actual book store along with a drink shop to escape the heat. As for the books, you won’t just find books written in Chinese, but you’ll also find German, French, and English books.
If you want somewhere to binge manga, you can also do that here.
Or, you can stroll through the other floors, which have shops like Yankee Candles, clothing stores, and shops that sell other trinkets.
Eslite Spectrum Ximen Store address: No. 52, Emei St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
13. Check Out DIY Items Made by Locals
You won’t find these all the time, but once in a while, you’ll find stalls throughout Ximending with locals selling trinkets they’ve made. If you like what they have, or want to support small businesses, check out what these people offer.
You’ll usually find these booths outside Ximen Station’s Exit 1. Once you take the crowded roads into the pedestrian area, you’ll also find locals set up on the sides of the road selling things they’ve made.
14. Try One of Taiwan’s Best Craft Brews
If you’re into pricey craft beer, go to Ximending’s Driftwood. It’s an official Taihu brewery taproom with a dim and wooden interior that’ll kinda remind you of an islander bar with its thatch roofing.
Driftwood Ximending address: No. 46, Kunming St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
Related: In-depth Taiwan Travel Guide
15. Try Pork Floss or Wasabi Flavored Ice Cream
雪王冰淇淋 (Xuě wáng bīngqílín), or the Snow King, opened its doors to Taiwanese and foreigners alike in 1947. From there, Kao Jih-hsing, the owner, conjured hundreds of flavors that I never knew anyone could turn into ice cream.
As you can see in the shop’s menu, there are plenty of unique flavors you won’t around most places in the world like:
- Pork floss
- Sesame oil chicken
- Taiwan beer
Most of these flavors cost around NT$100 ($3) per scoop, which makes them a great deal compared to other ice cream shops in the area.
When I went, I tried the Osmanthus and Mochi flavors. The Mochi flavor was strong, but it counteracted the interesting salty and sugary taste of the Osmanthus ice cream.
Don’t get me wrong, both flavors tasted good, which was a surprise. However, it’s just not something that I’m used to.
Snow King has an English and Chinese menu. Moreover, the staff won’t have a difficult time figuring out what you’re saying.
The seating wasn’t cramped. If you sit alongside the wall, you can view the small business’ awards and newspaper clippings. You can read these while you’re waiting for your ice cream and eating.
You may have a hard time finding Snow King, because they don’t have an English sign. However, here’s a picture of what to look for. Once you arrive, make your way up the stairs and the staff will give you a menu.
From there, you choose your seat. Whenever you’re ready to order, make your way to the counter and tell (or show) them what ice cream you want.
Snow King address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Wuchang St, 65號2樓
16. Try Famous Beef Noodles
Taiwanese brought red braised beef noodle soup to life in 1949 after the Kuomintang (KMT) fled China during the Chinese Civil War.
Now you’ll find beef noodle shops throughout Taiwan. However, a noteworthy one resides in Ximending.
Fuhong Beef Noodles. It’s a humble restaurant that looks like any regular Taiwanese restaurant. Yet they cook up some of the best beef noodles the city has to offer.
I love thick noodles and prefer a little softer meat, which my meal had. The noodles also weren’t too soft or thick—they had an ideal texture.
Price-wise—a medium-sized bowl, which is likely all you’ll need, will cost you NT$100 ($3). It’s an amazing deal, considering the amount of food you get. You can also get a free soda with your meal.
I recommend first trying your beef noodles without any sauces. Afterward, if you want to experiment, you can add chili sauce, black or white vinegar, and other sauces to your noodles. I don’t recommend adding too much chili sauce, though. If you don’t like too much salt, you’ll want to be careful at Fuhong.
I didn’t see an English menu when I went there. But, you can say 中碗牛肉麵 (zhong wan niu rou mian), or show the staff this Chinese word. 中 (zhong) is medium. If you want a small bowl, say 小 (xiao). Or, say 大 (da) for large.
After ordering, just wait at your spot, play on your phone, and once your noodles arrive, feast.
Fuhong Beef Noodles address: No. 67-69, Luoyang St, Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108
17. Travel to the North Gate
During the Qing Dynasty, builders finished the Taipei City Walls, which were massive walls that enclosed the city.
When Japan’s colonialists took Taiwan in 1895, they destroyed the West Gate, which would have been in Ximending, along with the rest of the walls.
However, when the Republic of China (Taiwan) became a part of the country, builders rebuilt the South (Xiaonanmen) and East (Dongmen) gates. Unfortunately, the North Gate (Beimen) was the only gate to retain its original appearance.
You can take the Taipei MRT to Beimen Station, walk 11 minutes, or ride a YouBike for a few minutes to get to this gate.
There isn’t much to do in this area. However, there’s a fair number of stone slabs that’ll describe Taiwan’s history. Also, if you’re in Taiwan during the Lantern Festival, Beimen will host a 3D laser light show every 20 minutes at night.
The light show seems to not have happened the last couple years due to a certain pandemic. So hopefully, it’ll come back.
North Gate address: Section 1, Zhongxiao W Rd, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100
18. Try an Erectile Cake
Taiwan has a lot of foods that look like they’re from, or are actually from the testicular region. However, that’s a topic for another post.
Throughout the country, you’ll find penis-shaped waffles and cookies. Hell, you can even find deer penis wine.
As seen in this picture, you’ll find a couple stands in Ximending that sell these veiny snacks that have a cute, or 可愛 (ke ai), mascot.
What flavors can you try? If you’re in the mood for something chocolatey, you can choose milk or dark chocolate flavors.
If you want to ease yourself into this new food, you want to go for the tried-and-true normal flavor.
Or, if you want something that’ll give you a kick when you put it in your mouth, you can try the green tea flavor.
Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself if you buy one of these, because you won’t. Almost everyone won’t say anything.
19. Watch a Movie That You Can’t Miss
While you can see a movie anywhere, Ximen’s Cinema Street houses over 20 movie theaters, and it gives you a chance to see what movie theaters are like in other countries.
You will usually find tickets between NT$200–300, which isn’t too bad, especially compared to the states. However, foods inside movie theaters are still expensive and fattening.
20. Try One of the Hundreds of Taiwan’s Claw Machines
Taiwan has over 8000 claw machine arcades, and Ximending hosts a lot of them.
Most blocks, from what I’ve noticed, have carved out buildings with these flashy machines filled with real and counterfeit toys, trinkets, instant noodle packets, and laundry detergent. Yes, you can find interesting items that you could otherwise buy at a supermarket for a lot cheaper.
You’ll need to pay NT$10 ($0.35) for an attempt at these addicting money-sucking machines.
If you make the right choice and buy an EasyCard, you don’t have to exchange banknotes for change. Most claw machines will allow you to pay with your smart card.
21. Wander Toward Other Places in Taipei
Taipei’s a walkable city, which means you can get to most places in Taiwan’s capital city without a taxi.
I recommend taking advantage of this perk. Either walk or rent a YouBike, which is NT$10 ($0.35) per half-hour for the first several hours.
I recommend using Google Maps. The YouBike app doesn’t have the best UI—or language support—or features.
You can reach most major attractions in east, central, and western Taipei—not New Taipei.
Whether you want to save money or get exercise, here are various examples of places you can quickly reach:
- Presidential Office Building: 12-minute walk
- Longshan (Lungshan) Temple: 17 minute walk
- 2/28 Peace Park: 13-minute walk
- Shandao Temple: 13-minute ride if you rent a YouBike
If you have a day to do whatever you want, and the weather isn’t horrendous, I recommend experiencing Taipei and making your way through the city.
Be sure you check Taipei’s air quality when you decide to adventure, though. Taiwan isn’t known for having stellar air quality, which could result in a bad situation, depending on who you are.
Explore these commonly asked questions about Taipei’s Ximending Pedestrian Area.
Are Ximen and Ximending the Same?
People use Ximen and Ximending interchangeably to refer to the Ximending Pedestrian Area. However, when people mention Ximen, they may also refer to Ximen Station, a metro station on the Taipei Metro’s Green and Blue line.
How Do I Get To Ximending?
You can reach Ximending Pedestrian Area by taking the Taipei MRT’s Blue or Green Line to Ximen Station.
If you’re around the National Immigration Agency in Taipei, you can reach the Pedestrian Area by walking or renting a YouBike within 10 minutes.
Plenty of Things To Do in Ximending
It’s difficult to run out of things to do in Ximending. There’s art and movie theaters everywhere, plenty of shopping and food to keep you busy for hours, and a lot of cultures to take in.
However, if you could only spend a day max in Ximending, I recommend following all of the places and restaurants that I listed. These places will keep you busy, entertained, and intrigued during your time in Taipei.