During my weekend escape to Taipei, my local Taiwanese friend took me to a market in the Yuanshan area called the “Maji Maji Square”. I have to say, as a Hong Konger, I know Taipei pretty well, but to my surprise, this market that my friend took me to, I haven’t even heard of it before, and it’s been there since the end of 2013. Better yet, this place is like a playground for adults!
A little bit of the background information about the area, Yuanshan is home to a popular children’s theme park, and has been very popular with parents bringing their kids for a family day. With the opening of “Maji Maji Square” (By the way, “Maji” means buddies/good friends in Taiwanese), adults now have a place to spend a few happy hours too. Located in the Taipei Expo Park’s Yuanshan Park Area (this was one of the exhibition ground for the World Flower Expo a couple of years ago), the square is designed as a fun and causal gathering spot for friends – an adult version of a children’s playground! The square is like a mix of a flea market and shopping complex, a place filled with culture, music, food, and agricultural products!
“Maji Maji Square” is about a close 5 minutes walk from the Yuanshan MRT station, and upon entering the market, visitors immediately notice the slow pace and laid back, casual foreign-style atmosphere. The market uses a variety of recycled materials, using wooden pallets for the walls of restaurants, old cargo containers to house small eateries, and discarded military tents and iron frames to create sunshades and display racks. The design is eco-friendly yet still chic and stylish. Adjacent to the market is a carousel, adding to the atmosphere of youthful play.
The whole venue is split into 6 main parts – Maji Food & Deli, Maji Food Court, Maji Market, Maji Specialty Shops, Triangle, and the Maji Foreign Cuisine corner. Let me take you on a tour for each of the section.
Maji Food & Deli
On the right hand side of the entrance, there are two stores that simply should not be missed. The Good Cho’s bagel store, and the Maji Food & Deli Supermarket. Good Cho’s bagel is well known for its variety of bagels using fresh locally sourced ingredients, while Maji & Deli is a gourmet supermarket with artisan local and imported foods and products, frozen goods and deli section. Inside the supermarket, you will be able to find local brands from all over Taiwan, and is probably one of the best place to buy special MIT (Made in Taiwan) products for souvenirs. I spent nearly 2 hours here, and there are a list of products that I would highly recommend you to purchase. This will be written in my next blog entry, so stay tune!
Upon entering “Maji Maji Square”, the first thing that comes into view are the rows of little food stores on the left, with a mass seating area in the middle. Whether you are after some traditional Taiwanese beef noodles and stinky tofu, or Korean kimchi rice roll, or even Indian curry chicken, you will definitely be able to something that suit your taste here. Better yet, most of the dishes on offer here ranges from NT$50 – NT$200, so you are looking to fill your tummy at a very affordable price!
My favourite part of the whole market is probably the “Maji Market” – locally designed goods in refurbished cute warehouse containers! This section is right in the middle of the whole venue, and a colorful carousel is also located here, bringing back some childhood memories. These little stores ranges from selling local fashion designer labels, to Taiwan sourced nuts and dried fruits, or unique home decorations, and even a bicycle repair warehouse! It’s really is a mix of different interests, and walking thru the market is like uncovering some unpolished gems, and you are the one to discover the beauty of it!
Maji Specialty Stores
This section contains a few stores ranging from recycle fashion, to arts and crafts DIY, and organic MIT skin care etc. I didn’t have much time to browse thru all the stores, but one particular store did caught my eyes, and it’s the “Happiness Gift Shop”. I was initially attracted by the camping setting which they have set up across their store, and their super cute illustrated bunny signage made me want to go into the store and discover what they have on offer. They sell lots of arts and crafts products and home decorations, and upon entering the store, you can already feel that the shop owner has used a lot of time and effort to decorate this place, making it feel very warm and welcoming.
This is the open are towards the back of the whole venue, and this is where the live performance happens over the weekend. Unfortunately the night I visited was a rainy night, so there weren’t much audiences, but I’m sure during a good day, this place must be packed with music and cultural lovers!
Foreign Cuisine Restaurants
There are a total of 9 different restaurants in “Maji Maji Square”, ranging from British pub food, Argentina Food, Mediterranean Food, Japanese cuisine to Spanish paella etc. My friend and I tried out the Spanish restaurant named “La Querida”, not only the food was delicious, but the owner was extremely friendly too! Read more about the review of the restaurant in my next blog entry 🙂
In conclusion, if you are in Taipei over the weekend, this place is highly recommended and should not be missed! I don’t think you will be able to find something quite similar to this anywhere else in Taiwan or even Asia!
NOTE: The market is open 7 days a week, but most of the live performances and special events are on the weekends, be sure to check out their official page for more details!