As with most touristy areas in Taiwan, Yingge Township is defined by its Old Street and the stores that line it.
For those not familiar with the concept of an Old Street, think of a “main street” that’s the olden day equivalent of a mall. Whatever that particular area is well-known for, you’re bound to find plenty of it for sale at the Old Street.
If the area isn’t known for anything in particular, then you’ll probably find it still has an Old Street, but that it serves more as a
place to dump Chinese tourists for a few hours general nightmarket.
In the case of Yingge, the self-proclaimed pottery capital of Taiwan, the Old Street (also known as “pottery street”) pretty much functions as a central hub of activity revolving around the local ceramics industry.
Back in the day you had over eight hundred pottery makers playing their wares for a living around the Old Street, whereas today it’s somewhere between one to two hundred and a bit more organised.
Despite the area being marketed as “renovated”, as you walk up from Yingge train station the first thing you see is your typical array of dirty old Taiwanese buildings:
Don’t let this initial sight put you off though, as it does get a bit better making your way around the street.
The basic layout of Yingge’s Old Street is a small oval, marked by the tiled surface:
I think technically during the weekend the tiled areas are a no motor zone, but (surprise surprise) you do see the odd car or scooter slowly creeping along trying to get somewhere.
The pottery shops that line Yingge’s Old Street are a bit of a mixed bag, offering plenty of variety.
There’s your uh… “Ikea” style stalls, where you can pick up your kitchen basics:
Then you’ve got your mid-range porcelain type stuff (“Oriental Luxuries”):
And then of course your upmarket “artsy” type stores:
Pretty much whatever your price range or whatever you’re looking for pottery wise, Yingge’s Old Street has you covered.
Apparently some of the stores have DIY workshops too, which are walk-in affairs (obviously weekends will be more busy). Not too sure on the prices though as we were mostly there just to have a look around (I didn’t need any pottery products at the time).
Yingge Township’s Old Street is definitely worth the trip if you’re into pottery (or art in general). Personally I’m not an art person so I’d only really make the trip down if I needed something. I’ve recently started growing citronella to keep the mosquitos away so I might go looking for a nice looking pot at some point.
Pro tip for the guys, most girls seem to love this kind of stuff so you can easily spend a whole day browsing the Old Street (there’s a nearby pottery museum too), with plenty of cafes to eat lunch at and enjoy a coffee.
Some of the Old Street pottery shops also go to a bit of an effort to attract patrons which adds to the experience. We saw Black Spongebob Squarepants while we were there and a trip into the “Tunnel Kiln” was a bit of an eerie experience.
Yinge Township is located just southwest of Taipei City and is easily accessible via train on the TRA (Yingge Station).
Alternatively you can do what we did and just bike down from Taipei, which is about an hour or so ride each way along the Dahan River.