There’s no other place that feels more like home for us than Taiwan, and Taipei has become a regular destination for us at least once a year, for the last 15 years. For us, Taipei is where we can drop in a cafe for an acoustic performance; weave through streets of independent shops that make us wonder how they can even exist on this earth; watch a well-produced Mayday concert among their home crowd; pig out on all-you-can-eat hotpot at midnight; and spend the wee hours of the morning sitting in a 24-hour bookshop chatting with a retired school teacher for 4 hours about politics and social issues.
In short, we love Taipei for the fervour of the people and the vibrancy of the arts and music scene, areas that fill our soul and remind us constantly that the impossible can be possible.
Despite having been to Taipei countless times, we can’t say that we are experts in the city, especially since our recommendations are biased due to our preferences. But we do hope if you are an arts and music lover like us, our alternative list can point you to some ‘hidden’ haunts that you might not find easily on your usual travel guide. So, Taipei can go where?
「LIVE HOUSES (Music Performance Spaces) 音樂展演空間」
(Legacy Taipei, 2014 簡單生活節 Simple Life Festival at Huashan 1941 Creative Park)
(Amba’s 5th floor cafe which features a performance space)
【女巫店 Witch House】
No. 7, Lane 56, Section 3, Xinsheng South Rd (Gongguan Area)
A cafe with a bookstore upstairs that transforms itself into a music space on certain nights. Tickets will need to be purchased for shows. The big names that have had their roots at the cafe include 蘇打綠Sodagreen, 張懸 Deserts Xuan and 陳綺貞 Cheer Chen.
【河岸留言 Riverside Music Cafe / Riverside Live House】
Music Cafe: 台北市羅斯福路三段 244 巷 2 號 B1（台電大樓旁）
B2, Lane 244, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd (Next to Tai-Power Building, Gongguan Area)
Riverside Music is another pioneer in the independent music scene. The cafe which is more like a pub that opens only from 9pm daily, hosts performances every night and has probably the most packed schedule of performances you can find in Taipei. Tickets can be purchased through their website or at the door (for big acts, they tend to be sold out really fast as the venue is not big). 五月天 Mayday is one of the acts that has performed there before ‘making it big’ in the industry.
Live House: 西門紅樓台北市西寧南路 177 號
Red House Theatre, No. 177, Xining S. Rd (Ximending Area)
Located in the historic Red House Theatre (Hong Lou) in Ximending, this is a standing-only venue that can pack in around 800 people and can only be accessed when there are shows. The live atmosphere of concerts held at the live house are more vibrant with more stage effects, but we recommend visiting both venues for a different experience. Tickets can also be purchased through their website or at the door (if still available).
【海邊的卡夫卡 Kafka by the Sea】
2nd Floor, Lane 244, Section 3, Roosevelt Rd (Gongguan Area)
Kafka Cafe sits just above Riverside Music Cafe, on the 2nd floor. With its big open windows that overlook the street, it is a place where you can not only catch performances on certain nights but also a great place to hang out at for coffee during the day. Entry to the shows are ticketed or free admission with the minimum purchase of one drink. Performance schedules and ticketing information are available on their facebook page.
【這牆 THE WALL LIVE HOUSE】
B1, No. 200, Section 4, Roosevelt Rd (Gongguan Area)
The Wall Live House has become synonymous for rock music, with its raw industrial interior and standing-only venue for 600 people. The underground venue also retails albums by independent bands and artists. Tickets can also be purchased through their website or at the door (if still available).
【Legacy 傳 音樂展演空間】
永豐 Legacy Taipei (Live House): 華山1914創意文化園區中5A館 (台北市中正區八德路一段一號)
Huashan 1914 Creative Park, Hall 5A (No. 1, Section 1, Bade Rd)
Located in the Huashan 1914 Creative Park where multiple halls surrounding the live house frequently host various arts, photography, film and other exhibitions, Legacy is a standing-only venue that holds up to 1000 people. The show technology there is top notch and watching a show there is a one-of-a kind experience. Legacy Taipei is also part of the team that organises the 簡單生活節 Simple Life Music Festival that takes place once every two years, during the first weekend of December. Tickets can be purchased from: https://www.indievox.com/event/
Legacy mini @ Amba: 台北市武昌街二段77號5樓
No. 77, Section 2, Wuchang Street, 5th floor (Ximending Area)
Amba is a hotel in Ximending that is home to a cozy but spacious cafe on the 5th floor with really delicious food, and a dedicated area for performances (capacity 80-120 people) hosted by Legacy. Even if there are no shows ongoing, we recommend dropping by for a coffee or brunch to take a peek at the performance area that is stunningly decorated with a full wall of audio speakers. Tickets can be purchased from: https://www.indievox.com/event/
【A House / 螢火蟲】
No. 18, Alley 5, Lane 107, Section 1, Fuxing South Rd
Dedicated to promoting Acapella and instrumental acts, A House is also a cafe during regular operating hours. Housed in a beautiful white brick cafe in Taipei’s hip district (東區 dong qu), A House accommodates a very small and cozy crowd of around 50 people.
「CULTURAL & CREATIVE ARTS ZONES 文創區」
(Good Cho’s many scenic spots outside the cafe, their delicious selection of bagels and thoughtfully curated local products)
【四四南村 , 好丘 Sisi Nancun, Good Cho’s】
No. 54, Songqin St, Xinyi District (Near Taipei 101)
Originally a housing complex for soldiers in the Kuomintang army after their relocation to Taiwan, today Sisi Nancun (translated as 44 South Village), is home to a museum detailing the history and culture of the village. Within the complex is also Good Cho’s, a large cafe and retail space showcasing local Taiwanese design products and local produce. The cafe hosts occasional performances and serves out delicious bagels that are freshly baked every day. Do also drop by on Sundays to visit Simple Market — an arts, craft and farmer’s market that takes place just outside Good Cho’s. https://www.facebook.com/SimpleMarket2017/
【華山1914文化創意產業園區 Huashan 1914 Creative Park】
No. 1, Section 1, Bade Rd, Zhongzheng District
Huashan 1914 is a multi-usage park and creative space that was converted from the old Taipei Winery complex. The huge former warehouses are well preserved and the perfect spaces to house exhibitions of different art genres and cultural forms, including photography, arts installations, workshops and more. It is also home to Legacy Live House (see listing above), SPOT – Taipei’s independent cinema and 離線咖啡 Offline Cafe, opened by Mayday’s bassist, Masa.
【松山文創園區 / 松菸誠品 Songshan Cultural and Creative Park / Songyan Eslite Spectrum】
No.88 Yanchang Road, Xinyi District
Previously the Songshan Tabacco Factory, this industrial village has been re-purposed into a cultural and creative park. The architectural style of the complex, considered to be ‘Japanese early Modernism’, is an art in itself. The park is home to cafes, art galleries, the Taiwan Design Museum, reddot design museum, as well as bookshops including 松菸誠品 Songyan Eslite Spectrum which has an entire floor of the mall dedicated to the retail of local Taiwanese products and even a workshop area where you can learn crafts like glass blowing.
【袖珍博物館 Miniatures Museum of Taiwan】
No. 96, Section 1, Jianguo North Rd
The Miniatures Museum is not so much of a creative zone but a great creative space that features the intricate works by miniature artisans. This place is like a hidden treasure, housing a huge collection of masterpieces that the owners have brought back to Taiwan from their trips around the world. From beautiful dollhouses, scenes of Japanese shops and streets, to Buckingham Palace, and the world’s smallest working television.
「INDEPENDENT STORES 獨立小店」
(At Ri Xing Type Foundry, you can purchase the characters for your name of your preferred typeface and size)
【日星鑄字行 Ri Xing Type Foundry】 https://www.facebook.com/rixingtypefoundry/?fref=ts
【好樣本事 VVG】 http://vvgvvg.blogspot.sg/
VVG Bistro [好樣餐廳 ]: French Bistro
VVG Something [好樣本事 ]: Book/Curios Store
VVG Thinking [好樣思維 ]: Italian Restaurant
VVG Chiffon [好樣喜歡 ]: Craft/Sewing Supplies Store and Bakery
VVG Action [好樣情事 ]: Cafe
【小日子商号 One Day Store】 https://www.facebook.com/onedaycotw/
【永康街商圈 (捷運東門站) Yongkang Street】
「LATE NIGHT HANGOUTS FOR INTROVERTS」
【台北捷運夜市地圖 Taipei Night Markets MRT Map】
【誠品敦南店 Eslite 24-hour Bookstore (Dunnan Store)】
2nd Floor, No. 245, Section 1, Dunhua South Road, Daan District
【台灣家樂福 Carrefour】 http://www.carrefour.com.tw
重慶店 (台北市 大同區重慶北路二段171號)－ 9am to 2am
Chongqing Branch (No. 171, Section 2, Chongqing North Road, Datong District
【頂好 Wellcome Supermarket】 – various locations – 24 hours
【便利店 24-hour Convenience Stores】
7-11 (Local lingo: “Seven”)
Family Mart（local lingo: “全家” Quanjia）
also（less common): Hi-Life (萊爾富) & OK超商