The Secret of Dadaocheng

Transportation

Dadaocheng is an old community very close to the Taipei Main Station. In addition to the 3 MRT stations nearby, there are many bus routes that go through the area. You should not have any trouble getting here by public transportation. If you happen to drive, there are 3 underground parking lots, with one in Dadaocheng and the others on Tacheng Street and Chaoyang Street respectively.

We don’t recommend driving during the New Year shopping season. Coming from other cities, you can walk along the pedestrian arcades on Tacheng Street from Taipei Main Station. The walk is about three-kilometer distance. If you take the MRT, you can get there from Airport Station A1 exit or north of Taipei Main Station.

An Innovative Blend of Old and New

You can see an array of fabric stores along the way. Coming from the crowded Taipei Main Station, you will soon be in a community full of vintage houses and cultural spirit!

The shift in street views from metropolitan to almost rural is surprisingly unique.

Heading north along Tacheng Street, you will be led to Nan-jing West Road, where a home decoration shop renovated from a vintage house marks the entrance to Dihua Street.

There are Watson and Company and Yong-la Plaza. Watson is a historic site, renovated to become a tea house and cafe. The first floor displays artifacts available for purchases.

Upstairs on the second floor, there is a cafe. You can have a cup of coffee here while enjoying the frontal view of Yong-la Plaza through the window. It’s quite a relaxing delight!

Yong-la Plaza is a fabric market full of unique local dishes and fabric shops. Feel free to experience those local dishes next to the plaza. In the crowded little alley, there are three food stands.

One specializes in Braised Pork Rice, another sells Swordfish Vermicelli, and the last one sells Fried Spanish Mackerel Chowder originated from Tainan.

The Swordfish Vermicelli usually sells out in a flash, be sure to come earlier to give it a try. Dihua Street is the distribution hub for Chinese herbal medicine. Walking past pedestrian arcades, you can smell rich Chinese medicine. This is also a trade center for dried food and groceries.

ArtYard 32 (Xiaoyicheng)

After several years of renovations, Watson’s Pharmacy is currently leased to the Xiaoyicheng. Xiaoyicheng intends to sell small crafts in Dadaocheng. There are eight brands in it, including Taiwanese products, tea, Bookstore, cloth design, Coffee on the second floor, and art exhibition space/theater on the third floor.

There are some activities here from time to time. I have participated in some with my friends

There are a lot of temples in Taiwan, and Dihua Street is no exception. Xiahai City God Temple is one of the most famous ones in Taiwan.

Xiahai City God Temple

Xiahai City God Temple (霞海城隍廟), a religious center of the area, dates back to the 1850s and is one of the oldest temples in Taiwan. Despite its smallness, the temple is always packed with worshippers wishing for marriages or relationships.

Worshippers will offer paper money, wedding candy and flowers to the wife of the City God. Besides, offerings such as red dates and Chinese wolfberries are also provided by worshippers who want to get married soon. After the worship, the red dates and wolfberries are left at the temple to make Ping-An tea (blessed tea), which also means wishing for good relationships. Those who successively find a partner usually thank the Love God with an engagement cake.

Dihua Street

Walking on Dihua Street, you will find yourself surrounded by Baroque-style buildings constructed during the Japanese colonial era. These buildings were renovated in order to restore their lost luster after the decline of Dadaocheng.

This is the earliest westernized community in Taiwan. There’s also the very first western-style restaurant Bolero around the corner. The European spirit is palpable here in this community.

At Di-hua Street entrance, there is a tourist information center. Free maps are there for you to grab. There are various books written about the history and recent development of Dadaocheng.

Despite the European touches, the area is full of local essence.

For instance, there is a fresh juice stand on the corner of a Baroque-style building. The menu is displayed in 3 languages: Chinese, English and Japanese.

Folk ArtYard (Minyicheng) and ArtYard 82 (Heyicheng)

Located next to the Xiahai City God Temple on Dihua Street, the Minyicheng is a century-old three-entry street house with the theme of folk arts.

It sells pottery, porcelain and some traditional goods.

Across the Minyicheng is Heyicheng, which is the beginning of Taiwan’s textile industry.

Up until the 1960s in the mid 20th century, the textile industry had a long period of prosperity. Similar to Liverpool, Britain and Malacca, Malaysia, the buildings became dilapidated after the community passed its prime and lost its momentum.

The community seems to have frozen in time and stayed in the past.

You can find myriads of snacks imported from Japan and America or food ingredients. Indigenous mullet roe, pineapple jellies and even imported cubilose are available, making the area feel like an enlarged version of a supermarket in Chinatown!

Dadaocheng Wharf Market

The last place is Dadaocheng Wharf Market located in the vicinity of Tam-sui River, Dadaocheng Wharf used to be a main shipping port for Taipei City. Di-hua Street and Yanping North Road run parallelly to Tam-sui River. Along with Dadaocheng wharf, they make up the Dadaocheng area.

It was the most affluent commercial trading center in Taiwan during the Qing dynasty. Today, it still functions as the distribution hub for dried food and groceries, attracting huge crowds during the New Year shopping season every year.

During the Age of Discovery in the late 19th century, Dadaocheng was the prime financial trade center in Taiwan. Goods, such as tea and camphor, were exported worldwide from here.

The top five foreign firms at that time all had offices here for tea exportation. This area was also the distribution place for Chinese herbal medicine.

You can enjoy the riverbank scenery while drinking tea and chatting with your friends. If you come in the morning, you can watch the sunrise. If you come in the evening, you can watch the beautiful sunset. In August, my dad and I used to have a bike ride here and we bathed ourselves in the fantastic sunset. It is worth taking pictures.

Here I’ll recommend two shops. One is a grocery store selling products or handicrafts that feature Taiwan in the old days, such as Taiwan’s characteristic eggplant bags and bamboo steamers, as well as various traditional tableware.

ArtYard 167 (Xueyicheng)

Near by the grocery store is ArtYard 167 (Xueyicheng). ArtYard 167 was founded in 2014 as an exhibition venue, hall and workshop. The building is an antique one-hall-and-three-floor Taiwanese-style street house. Lectures, forums, courses, etc. are usually held here, and its space can also be used for exhibitions, performances, gatherings, and workshops.

A group of young people came to rebuild this community from Dihua Street to Yanping North Road 5 years ago. Art stores, cafes and various small stores can be found. Similar to Malacca, some of them were renovated from traditional longhouses.

Dihua 207 Museum

The Dihua 207 Museum is located at No. 207, Section 1, Dihua Street, Taipei City. The house was built in 1962, sold by the original owner in 2006, and changed hands several times. In 2009, the Taipei City Government listed it as a historical building for its architectural and historical preservation value.

Next, we are going to the store that sells some Chinese pastries.

Hoshing 1947 sells 70-year-old Chinese pastries. Every time you return to Dihua Street, there is always a swarm of people. It is also a popular check-in delicacy on IG. This old Shanghai Hoshing pastry shop in Nanmen Market is now passed to its third generation. It is a small shop, but it depicts the old scenery and traditional taste of that era.

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