New Trends in Taipei’s Oldest Commercial District

Facades from as far back as 1850 are one of the main attractions at Taipei's Dihua Street.

Follow Us   Facebook Icon Instagram Icon


Every city has a historic district—a testament to local culture—that thrives in conjunction with neighboring financial districts. Dihua Street, built in the 1850s, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Taipei City, and was originally the city’s center of commerce and the principal port for goods: grains, tea leaves and fabric, entering and leaving the city. Locals and cultural preservation specialists have since fought fiercely for the district’s survival throughout decades of development and urban renewal, and have succeeded spectacularly. Today, Dihua Street’s historic architecture along with its sheer number of things to do is why we’ve included it as one of our recommended top 5 old streets in Taiwan.  

An open-air shop selling a variety of traditional goods such as Chinese herbs, spices and dried food, and bamboo and wooden crafts.
With lots of traditional shops, Dihua Street is a great place to get an authentic and meaningful souvenir from Taiwan.

A walk down Dihua Street is like taking a stroll through a time machine. Time reverses as you start examining the store facades. From red-bricked Hokkien (Fujian) style buildings, to Qing dynasty wooden doorways, and finally the mix of Western and Baroque structures left behind from the Japanese colonial era, the street is a delightful time capsule. Many of the storefronts on Dihua Street have specialized in one product for decades: some sell only tea, others trade in Chinese medicinal herbs and incense, and yet others sell woven bamboo products and textiles. 

The facade of the old pharmacy-turned-cultural-center, A.S. Watson and Co on Dihua Street.
The old A.S. Watson and Co. pharmacy building stood empty for nearly a decade before it was reimagined as one of the ArtYards.
Facades from as far back as 1850 are one of the main attractions at Taipei's Dihua Street.

In addition to vintage legacy shops, Dihua Street is also sprinkled with younger boutiques focusing on the culture and design industries. The design brand incubator The Great ArtYard, works to connect small local design studios and small brands with heritage spaces on Dihua Street. ArtYard 82, located in a baroque-styled Japanese-era house that was formerly the birthplace of one of Taiwan’s most famous textile companies, is one such space. The first floor accommodates a boutique selling local crafts, design-oriented goods and tea, while the second floor houses the vintage tea room, Ing Lok Tshun Tea House.

The history of another space, ArtYard 67, spans over 100 years. Originally a successful tea shop, the building then changed hands and sold Chinese medicine, after that it was occupied by a pediatrician, then a bank manager, and the last owner was a paper distributor. Today, the first floor houses the arts and crafts store “Hakka-blue”, which promotes high-end ceramics, and the second floor houses the vintage tea room South St. Delight. 

Brewing tea in one of Dihua Streets many tea houses.

The area is filled with many more exemplary tea houses, coffee shops, and design boutiques, so much so that it easily warrants an entire day of exploration. Be sure to check out one of Taipei’s best small temples, the century-old Taipei Xiahai City God Temple before heading home. Interestingly, the area does tend to rest earlier than Taipei’s other districts, and becomes quiet around late afternoon, early evening, perhaps a testament to its historic essence.

After exploring Taipei’s historic district, be sure to check out the nearby tofu-capital, Shenkeng Old Street, and the ceramic-oriented Yingge Old Street.

Share this article


More Stories

Subscribe for everything Taiwan

Take in the Taiwan slow living​

error: Content is protected !!