People come to Taiwan to shop, although unlike in Hong Kong, there are no big bargains here. Taiwan’s progressive and stable economy makes its citizens some of the wealthiest in Southeast Asia, and so they have money to spend on shopping.
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Shopping in Kaohsiung involves modern shopping malls and department stores selling the latest electronic gadgets, computer hardware, and designer clothes.
One of the most popular malls is the high-rise Star Place that is known for its uniquely lighted concave façade. It does not look like other structures, especially at night, and it doesn’t look like a mall at all. The mall designer said he created a structure that has a “made in heaven effect”. Shoppers come here mostly for designer fashion items.
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There is definitely no bargaining or haggling at Star Place, as well as at any other shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. All prices are fixed.
Another Kaohsiung supermall is Dream Mall, the biggest shopping center in Taiwan and East Asia. Its building is shaped like a whale with an amusement park on its roof. The most intriguing rooftop ride is the 50-meter-diameter Sanrio Ferris wheel called “Kaohsiung Eye”. Dream Mall opened in May 12, 2007 but other than the rooftop park, it is pretty much similar with the other supermalls in Asia. It contains restaurants, movie theaters, a gym, supermarket, entertainment facilities, a food court, and a variety of stores selling clothes, shoes, fashion accessories, electronics, furniture, kitchenware, home appliances, and so on.
For tourists who are keener in gaining cultural experience by visiting traditional markets than shopping in modern western-type department stores, there are a number of traditional markets that allow a little bargaining. Outdoor markets sell handicrafts, souvenir items and plenty of bamboo crafts. The smell of bamboo is so strong in certain areas in the city where local artisans carve and weave bamboo products. The best bamboo crafts – hats and basic household items – are found at the Bamboo Street Market on Wu Fu 4th Road.
Real shopping happens in the local markets, one of which is Hsinhsing Market on Chungcheng Road near the Central Post Office and Kaohsiung Railway Station. This area is the city’s oldest shopping district. Locals come to Hsinhsing beginning in the morning until late at night to buy inexpensive clothes, accessories, jewelry, and so on. Nearby is the Liuhe Night Market, which is why it makes sense to shop during the day in Hsinhsing, and then simply walk to Liuhe as it gets darker. This is what most Kaohsiung residents do.
Liuhe Night Market gets overcrowded as people come for its many exciting food stalls. All kinds of street foods, dishes and international cuisine are sold here, and a bestseller in this warm and humid city is shaved ice. Also popular are salty dumplings, seafood, rice congee, the interesting peanut-in-rice balls, and the very intriguing eel spaghetti. Much like in Hsinhsing, Liuhe has an array of shops selling clothes, shoes, and jewelry, to name a few. There are also game areas and fortunetellers.
The most popular jewelry is Jade, that semi-transparent green stone, and the best ones are sold at the Jade Market on Zihli road near the main Kaohsiung Railway Station area.
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The most popular jade items are amulets, rings, and carved sculptures, among others. Most open markets accept credit cards, but it is best to have cash all the time when shopping in Kaohsiung.