Da'an, a center of shopping, higher education, and one of the city's great green escapes. It is one of the most well-connected districts of Taipei from a transportation point of view, with six of the city's MRT lines running through it, and plans for two more lines that will also have stations within the Da'an area at varying stages of completion. This makes it one of the easiest and cheapest districts in terms of getting around, as public transportation is rarely more than a block or two away no matter where you might be. Conversely, this also makes it one of Taipei's most expensive areas to live in, with rents and housing prices perpetually on the rise.
Many of the highlights of Da'an can be found within a 15 to 20 minute walk of each other. One of these is the night market located in the lanes and alleys off of Shida Road. Here you'll find many restaurants and quirky cafes, along with boutique clothing shops and specialty stores. Unfortunately, many shops have been forced to close in recent years due to a change in government regulation towards area businesses. But many market mainstays soldier on. If night markets are what you're after, there is also Tonghua Night Market in the area's eastern end. It's on the smaller side, by night market standards, but no less lively. During the day, it also doubles as something of a farmer's market, where you can get good deals on fresh produces, seafood, and other foods.
Just north of the Shida Night Market is Yongkang Street, a favorite stop for foodies that runs perpendicular to Xinyi Road, a main city thoroughfare. There you'll find local and international cuisine, including some of the best shaved ice around—a great treat during the sweltering Taipei summer.
On foot from Yongkang Street, Da'an Forest Park is only about 10 minutes away, but there are buses running along Xinyi that stop by the park's northern side, and a recently opened Da'an Park MRT station beside the park as well, if you don't feel like walking. This is the largest bit of green space in the whole of the city—Taipei's version of Central Park, if you will.
The park occupies an area of 26 hectares, and includes an ecological pond where you'll find a few different varieties of water fowl, along with turtles and various other wildlife you can observe from a walkway around its expanse. Just south of the pond is an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and other performances. There is also a children's playground and basketball courts toward the north end, and gazebos scattered throughout the grounds for visitors to relax under. There is also plenty of open space that can be used for sports such as soccer, and during the day you'll often find retirees in the midst of some semi-serious games of croquet or boccie ball. An illuminated path circumnavigating the park is a favorite for joggers and walkers looking for a more bucolic place for their nighttime jog or stroll.
Da'an is also home to the main campus of National Taiwan University, the most prestigious institute of higher learning in the country. Four other universities are also situated in the area, making Da'an something of a hub for higher education in Taipei. The high density of students in the area, especially around the Shida neighborhood, makes it an ideal place to find cheap food. There are also quite a few bars and pubs in the area, though some have been forced to move lately due to the same change in government regulation that forced the Shida Night Market businesses to pull up stakes. The Shida neighborhood is also home to a large foreign student population, with many studying Chinese in area schools.
As for shopping, Da'an rivals the glitzy Xinyi area in that regard. There's a branch of the Sogo Department store on Zhongxiao East Road, right next to the Zhongxiao-Fuxing MRT station. Zhongxiao East Road in general is one of the city's hottest areas for shopping, with the street itself and its many alleys and offshoots lined with upscale shops, especially around the intersection with Dunhua South Road. Da'an is also home to a branch of the Breeze Center shopping mall, which has its own multiplex theater.