One of my favorite parts of Taipei has to be the Ximending (西門町 / xi men ding) area, located in Wanhua District (萬華區 / wan hua qu).

Before going, I knew it to be the queerest area of the city as well as the “Harajuku of Taipei”—thanks Wikipedia.

I expected lots of young people walking around, being themselves. I wasn’t prepared just for how future-forward the area would feel, especially since this was after experience much of the Taiwan countryside.

Right when you exit Ximen Station (西門站 / xi men zhan), you’ll find yourself in the middle of what feels like New York’s Time Square.

Huge digital displays and signs vie for your attention above, while some of the top brands around the world beckon you to come in from below.

The whole area is sensory overload with bright signs and people walking around everywhere.

From what I’ve experienced, Ximending seems to fork off into two directions southwest and northwest.

To the southwest, The Red House (西門紅樓 / xi men hong lou) sits at the center of the gay part of Taipei. There are dozens of bars and shops here catering to locals and tourists alike looking for a nice drink.

I didn’t take this offer, but it does sound tempting, no? All you can drink alcohol for 600 NTD?!

On the northwest side, Japan meets Taiwan with dozens of anime shops selling manga, stuffed animals, and figurines. Here, you’ll also find a variety of restaurants that are open late. Many trendy eateries are also starting to open up shop here, boasting huge lines in the process.

Not a fan of bitter melon, but I do love that you can have a shop solely dedicated to a fruit and have a loyal following to boot.

If simply because of how different this area feels, I would recommend you visit. It is a future-forward area that seems to be ever-evolving. It has a fun vibe and a lot of great shops / eateries to check out. It’s also a convenient stop along the blue and green MRT lines.

西門町 (Ximending)