TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan’s Lunar New Year is two weeks away, with the first day of the Lunar New Year falling on Feb. 4, and preceding the holiday, many Taiwanese flock to the Dihua Lunar New Year Market in Datong district of Taipei City, purchasing New Year decorations, Chinese medicines, or traditional snacks.
This year, the Lunar New Year Market kicked off on Jan. 19 and will last for two weeks, until Feb. 3.
Before you visit Dihua, here are five things you need to know about this marketplace and its relationship with Lunar New Year:
- It was once known as ‘Taiwan Wall Street’
The Dihua Street is 800 meters long and located in Datong district of New Taipei City. The street rose to prominence after Tamsui Harbor opened in 1860.
In the late 19th century, it became a major trading hub in the bustling Dadaocheng (大稻埕) river-port community. Yanping North Road (延平北路) and Guide Street (貴德街) were at the center of commercial activity in the district, while tea and cloth were the main items traded.
Thanks to the thriving economy, many businessmen appeared during this colorful and memorable time. Foreigners began entering into the trade in 1867, and five British firms had been established at Dadaocheng by 1872. At that time, Dihua street was so prosperous as to be known as ‘Taiwan Wall Street’.
Photo: flickr Smoking Cat
- It is one of the historical legacies
However, with modern shopping malls and department stores established, Dihua street gradually declined. In the late 1960s, the east district started to replace Dadaocheng as the heart of Taipei.
To attract more visitors, the government began to promote the redevelopment of the neighborhood in 1977, planning to widen the street. The project irritated cultural preservation groups, as it would cause the destruction of some historic buildings.
After a long discussion, the government decided to stick to the plan, but transformed Dihua district into a historic area. Also, Dihua Lunar New Year Market emerged as a way to strike a balance between economic development and cultural conservation.
- LNY celebrations first took place there in 1996
The first well-organized Dihua Lunar New Year Market took place in 1996. In addition to the Chinese medicines and the clothes, the marketplace offers a variety of Lunar New Year goods, such as red envelopes, fireworks, decorations, snacks, and small arts.
Henceforth, thousands of visitors flock to the area every year, where stalls sell wooden crafts, Chinese medicines, traditional snacks, crops, dried foods, fabrics, incense, teas, and New Year decorations.
The vendor is selling Chinese medicines. (flickr Michael Rehfeldt)
- It attracts over 1 million people each year
According to government estimates, the market attracts over 1 million visitors each year. Moreover, it topped the survey of ‘Taiwanese’ favorite Lunar New Year Markets, as conducted by PIXNET in 2014, with 40.9% of Taiwanese netizens having voted for it.
Traditional snacks. (flickr sam tao)
- It is more than just a ‘Market’
Nowadays, the Internet and the convenience stores have made it much easier for many people to buy New Year goods. However, visitors swarm into Dihua street every year as the market is not just a simple market.
Aside from plenty of New Year decorations, visitors may also see piles of food stuffs and bags of goods displayed; some bags are even more than 2 meters high. Furthermore, the vendors use megaphones or simply yell out loudly to attract people’s attention. Visitors are able to try some free samples and to be bathed in a holiday atmosphere there.
Visitors are able to be bathed in a holiday atmosphere at Dihua LNY Market. (flickr Michael Rehfeldt)
The 2019 Dihua Lunar New Year Market
- Nat'l Hwy 1→Exit at the Taipei Interchange→Sec. 3, Chongqing N. Rd. to Sec. 2, Chongqing N. Rd.→Nanjing W. Rd.→Sec. 1, Dihua St.
- Nat'l Hwy 3→Exit at the Zhonghe Interchange→Prov. Hwy 64→County Hwy 106A→Prov. Hwy 3→Huajiang Bridge→HuanHe Expressway→Nanjing W. Rd.→Sec. 1, Dihua St.
- Take MRT Songshan-Xindian Line to Beimen Station. From there, take Bus 250, 304 Chongqing Line, 639, or 660 to Yanping 1 (Nanjing).
- Take MRT Tamsui-Xinyi Line to Shuanglian Station. From there, take Minsheng Metro Bus to Nanjing West Road Entrance.
- Take MRT Zhonghe-Xinlu Line to Daqiaotou Station. From there, take Bus No. 9 to Nanjing West Road Entrance (Nijkou (“buttons”) Street).