Taiwan certainly has its very own version of 'cute culture'. Here are some amongst many cute attractions that you might love.
1. Visit the Hello Kitty Sweets Cafe
This is like a pink fantasy in itself. Everything from the front door, window display, booths, food itself and restrooms has been tailored into the Hello Kitty theme. I personally know girls who have made this restaurant a priority on their Taiwan itinerary!
Granted, this is more of a chick attraction than anything else. Almost everything on the menu has a Hello Kitty face on it: the Kitty Sweets Burger, Hello Kitty cupcakes, Hello Kitty coffee art; and did I mention the cakes and sweeties look just too cute to eat?
There's even a gift shop selling original kitty goods and stationery at reasonable prices. Now if you're a kitty fan, who could resist!
Where: Daan District, Taipei City
Address: No. 90, Section 1, Dà'Än Rd, Daan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 106
2. Ride the Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel at Dream Mall
Occupying 50,000 square meters, Dream Mall is the largest shopping complex in Taiwan. Outside the complex is the Hello Kitty Ferris Wheel, a famous feature of Dream Mall itself.
For starters, this is probably the only ferris wheel in Asia that allows both an ocean and city view. But this isn't the main draw. Not even the neon lights from the Ferris wheel that continuously change colors after dark.
Rather, each car features a different Sanrio character: My Melody, Hello Kitty, Keropi etc. And there are even plushies inside the cars you get to squeeze during your ride in case you get scared. Yes, granted it's another cutesey chick attraction and one which children also might love.
Where: Qianzhen District, Kaohsiung City
3. Visit the 'Modern Toilet Restaurant'
This is a sure sign that the Taiwanese love a sense of humour. The Modern Toilet Restaurant started off selling a big pile of chocolate ice cream sold in containers shaped like a squat toilet - which became a great success.
The tables are designed to look like sinks and customers sit on covered toilets. Now, things have gotten more graphic where one can literally 'eat out of a toilet bowl' (see picture) and you can try ordering curry for better effect.
Where: Wanhua District, Taipei City
4. Visit the Miniatures Museum of Taipei
Bigger is better? Well, not in this case. Founded by a local married couple with a penchant for small things, the Miniatures Museum of Taipei is a small, private museum tucked away in the basement of a large office building.
Among the items on display are the dolls in period regalia, living rooms, cake shops and dress shop. However, the jewel of the collection has to be the Rose Mansion, which took almost four years to complete.
There is even a gift shop (small, naturally) which serves real ice-cream. Now if that isn't cute, I don't know what is.
Where: Zhongshan District, Taipei City
5. Visit Lavender Cottage in Taichung
Located in the Sinshe district of Taichung city, Lavender Cottage is the fruit of the labour of two ladies who had decided to pursue their fantasy after years of hard work in the corporate sector.
After perusing the grounds, taking pictures amid the naturally grown herbs (lavender, verbena, lemongrass, rose, mint etc.) and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the oh-so-cute Lavender cottage with beautiful lavender-themed bedrooms, kitchen, washroom etc., settle down at the al fresco restaurant with a fresh lavender ice-cream.
And when the lavender is just about coming out of your ears, the two outdoor gift shops filled with an array of soaps, creams, shower gels, pot pouri etc. will take your breath away. That's if they don't burn a hole in your pocket first.
**Tip: Visit around March - April to see the flowers in full bloom.
Where: Sinshe, Taichung
Address: No.20, Zhongxing St., Xinshe Dist., Taichung City 426, Taiwan