While visiting Taipei, Taiwan, I went to the Jade Market with a local guide. The market is located across from a flower market and below an overpass, which keeps it protected from changes in the weather. Within the market there is booth after booth and row after row of treasures for anyone with a sense of adventure (or an adventurous bargain hunter). Some vendors have their items stacked neatly in rows, and others have piles of jewelry ready to be pawed through. Take your pick!
You can do some serious jewelry shopping here, with everything from pearl necklaces and earrings (both fresh water and salt water) and tiger’s eye to lapis lazuli, as well as the aforementioned jade. Even though I don’t speak Chinese, I was able to get some incredible buys. My local guide was able to provide communication between myself and the vendors. I felt this was a real opportunity to experience the market from a local point of view. But even without someone to translate, you can understand what’s going on because the vendors use pocket calculators to let you know the price of an item. Some of them can speak (and understand) English. And really, the prices were so reasonable that I didn’t bother to bargain anyway.
Some of the best buys were for bracelets. I basically started putting them on my arm as I purchased them, until eventually I had my entire forearm filled up! Then I started looking at pendants and pins. You can find great gifts to take home to your family and friends for a reasonable amount of money here. I found fifteen jade bracelets to take back as gifts for coworkers, and I was given little gold bags for each of them. The perfect touch, I thought.
When you’re ready for a break from shopping, there are food booths around the perimeter of the market. There are also some tables and chairs where you can sit and rest. After that you should be ready for more bargain hunting.