I get ridiculously proud of myself when I score a good deal shopping. I know I shouldn’t be telling everyone that my designer dress was actually on super-clearance due to a defect in the zipper, but I can’t help it. If I bought that $80 dress for a whopping ten bucks, you can bet I’m going to tell you about it. With probably more excitement than is socially acceptable.
Shopping in Taiwan gives me similar thrills. Racks of extremely cheap clothing are everywhere, and it takes almost all my self-control to tell myself I don’t really need another sweatshirt with college logo I’ve never heard of—even if it is a super cute hoodie for only $4. Granted, a lot of the fashion here isn’t really me. I like to think I’m quite girly, but even I have to set up some barriers against all the lace and hearts and baby shades of pink that proliferate. Although as I sit here I’m donning a shirt of a baby giraffe wearing a bow tie. Not so sure what that has to say about my taste in fashion after two years of living in Asia…
It’s easy to shop in Taiwan. Markets are everywhere, and virtually all of them will have racks of clothes set out to tempt you while purchasing your bubble milk tea. Heck, there’s even a cheap jewelry/purse rack at my favorite dumpling shop! But still, there’s one place that rises above the rest. It’s the place all those other inexpensive street vendors buy their products from. It’s a place called Wufenpu.
Located in Taipei, Wufenpu consists of over 100 wholesale clothing shops. You can literally find anything here, including purses, belts, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, baby clothing, puppy clothing (seriously), jewelry and shoes.
Wufenpu is as inexpensive as it gets in Taiwan, and all of my proudest purchases have come from here. Unfortunately it’s not the easiest place to navigate, and I’ve definitely picked up some treasure-hunting tips along the way.
I know, they’re telling you the price is only $6 and that’s ridiculously cheap already. But trust me, you can get it for less, and in most cases they are expecting you to offer a counter price.
2. Be Ready To Do Some Diggin’
For every good find at Wufenpu, you’ll have to rummage through about 100 pieces of crap. I seriously have no idea why anyone would need leopard-print-faux-leather leggings or neon-orange-and-green-polka-dotted dresses, but I guess there must be a market for that sort of thing. I promise, there’s more hiding in the streets of Wufenpu than first meets the eye.
3. You Can’t Try Clothes On
This is the only thing about Wufenpu that really irritates me, although I’m sure it’s much better this way for our bank account. I don’t have one of those figures that can pull off anything, so I only make ‘safe’ purchases. This has worked fairly well for me, especially because I typically spend around $5 on each item of clothing I purchase; if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. Do know in advance, even if it’s as simple as a jacket, they won’t let you try it on over your clothing.
4. Follow the Crowds
I’m not quite up to date with the latest Korean trends, but Taiwanese people are. If you see a massive crowd of people elbowing at each other in a doorway, flinging wayward clothes over their shoulders, ignoring anything else around them, you’ve struck gold. Figure out a way to join the troops and you’ll be well on your way to scoring designer Korean labels for a fraction of the price. I’m still working at my nudging tactics.
5. Avoid Anywhere With Air-Conditioning
If they can afford air-conditioning, you can expect to pay more. Unfortunately these shops tend to be more like boutiques, with higher-quality and better-designed clothing. I unwillingly gravitate to them, and sometimes I splurge a bit if I really think I’m going to fall in love with the item later (you still can’t try anything on here). Prices will typically range from $30-$100, not bad until you remember the price tag on your other purchases.
Even if you’re not a ‘big shopper’, I still recommend Wufenpu to travelers in Taiwan. There’s just something so unique about it. The scooters buzzing down the alleyways of pedestrians; the Chinese pop-music blaring from loud speakers; the authentic Taiwanese snacks lining the perimeter—it all comes together to accessorize the already very Taiwanese accessories available for purchase. And even if you don’t buy those glittery blue leggings that come up to your head, you’ll certainly remember them for awhile.
Best way find Wufenpu: Take the Tapei MRT to Houshanpi Station. Walk straight from Exit 1 to the intersection of Zhongpo North Rd and Yongji Rd.
What’s your favorite place to bargain shop? Have you ever snagged any unforgettable deals?