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Ximending, Taipei - Taiwan
Taipei - the capital of Taiwan - a modern East Asian metropolis that never seems to sleep. Although a city, Taipei is surrounded by beautiful mountains and luscious greenery and rivers (e.g. Danshui). It is the perfect combination for sight seeing, history, shopping and relaxing. One well-known area in Taipei is a neighborhood and shopping district known for its vibrant culture and shopping would be Ximending.
Ximending is Taipei ’s equivalent of Signapore’s Orchard road, just a lot livelier and bigger than its island counterpart. It has been called the "Harajuku of Taipei" and the "Shibuya of Taipei". It is the inspiration for most of Taiwan 's fashion, subculture, and Japanese culture. It is also one of the top 10 attractions Taipei. So whenever you have a chance to be in Taipei, do check out Ximending, a hip and happening place.
Ximending consists of places that shopaholics and those looking for a vibrant city (night) culture can look forward to, bring you a step closer to the lives of the locals - cinemas, restaurants, small eateries, shops and clubs and usually frequented by young people; giving that youthful vibe. Majority of the people who frequent this place have a unique sense of style, from the fabulous to the weird. It is a fascinating and fun place to be for people watching and a little shopping. Small shops and large stores are peppered throughout the area with some interesting wares and some entertaining salespeople touting their products in the most entertaining ways; there is not one corner that is quiet.
It is relatively easy to get to get to Ximending. It is but a train ride on the MRT (subway) to the Taipei MRT Ximen Station (Banqiao Line and Xiaonanmen Line). According to Wikipedia, Ximending attracts an average of over 3 million shoppers per month. The name Ximending (西門町) is derived from the Chinese characters Xi (西 - West ) men (門 - Gate) with ding (町) carrying the meaning neighborhood in Japanese) The Xi (西 - West ) men (門 - Gate) was built during the Qing dynasty, in 1882.
One of the prominent historic icons would be the Red Theater House (紅樓劇場), which was built in 1908. It is an iconic and prominent building from the Japanese era which used to be a public market. From 1945, it then converted into a theater (source). There is even a retro looking police station next to the Red House Theater (紅樓劇場).
While the prices in Ximending might be a litter pricier than other parts of Taipei (as compared to the night markets and wufenpu), it is still reasonable enough and cheaper than if you were to shop for branded stuff along Zhongxiao East Road, Taipei's main boulevard.
Although Wikipedia mentions that Ximending is comparable to Shilin Night Market and the Eastern District to be areas with the highest crime rates, I believe it is not a safety concern. It is common in any high density area that crime would be higher because for the offenders more people just means more “prey”; you just need to be alert and careful (cautious) as you would anywhere else.