Central Shopping District
Central Shopping District
Just outside of Tainan Railway Station is the heart of Tainan’s commercial district. The bulk of shops and eateries run between Beimen Road (北門路) and Zhongshan Road (Jhongshan 中山路), fanning south in a triangular shape and ending at Qingnian Road (Cingnian 青年路). Minzu Road (民族路) bisects this area, putting it at the heart of this shopping district.
This shopping district is anchored by two large department stores. The small and modern Focus Department Store, and the huge and ugly Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store are side-by-side on Zhongshan Road. The Mitsukoshi department store also has a rear entrance on Minzu Road where its parking facilities reek havoc on Minzu traffic. Both department stores offer name-brand clothing at high prices, but they’re of the few places where you can buy recognizable brands.
In addition to the department stores, Zhongshan Road has some mid-ranged clothing stores such as NET that offer fairly neutral styles at reasonable price and quality. These stores are somewhat comparable to the Gap or H&M, which have yet to land on planet Taiwan. Across from the department stores is an open food market called South Park. It’s generally filled with teenagers and college students getting a bite to eat and socializing in a mall-type atmosphere. There are often live performances here on the weekends.
Beimen Road is a go-to place for budget clothing and accessories, as well as its numerous 3C stores. I’m assuming the three Cs in 3C are computers, cameras, and consumer electronics because those things together with small appliances pretty much sum up what you’ll find at 3C stores. There are several stores, big and small, lining this street. At the smaller shops you can get good deals on computer components, as well as software that has both boots and legs. Computer repair is also available. All these 3C stores are smashed together with stores catering mostly to students: night-market-quality clothing, CD shops for Asian pop music, comic books, etc. It’s all so jam-packed on the east side of the street that it may as well be a night market. There’s a Caves Books with English books available on Beimen near the train station.
Along Minzu Road and all throughout the back lanes enclosed by Zhongshan, Beimen and Qingnian are dozens of boutique clothing shops. Many of the men’s shops cater to teenager and young-urban styles. There are women’s shops for all ages, but many foreigners have a hard time finding styles and sizes that are to their liking. Sometimes it is better just to stick to the department stores. On the weekends, it’s not uncommon to see young Taiwanese dressed up in cosplay wandering these lanes. There are a few toy stores in this area selling anime figures that closely match those cosplay costumes. Some of the figures are quite expensive and not at all for children.
Of course, shops, cafes and restaurants continue to spread beyond this triangle and throughout the city, but this is the thickest concentration in the central part of the city. Directly on the other side of the train station near NCKU is the Far Eastern Department Store. There is also an outlet of the Far Easter Department Store that also houses Vieshow Cinema just up Minzu Road, two blocks west of Zhongshan.
When shopping at clothing stores in Taiwan, don’t be afraid to bargain. Even at department stores, you can almost always get at least 10% off your purchase.