Guanghua Digital Plaza 光華數位新天地

This archaic statue in front of Guanghua Digital Plaza really captures the 1990s personal computer aesthetic.

Guanghua Digital Plaza 光華數位新天地 is the place to go for cheap computer, camera, and phone parts and accessories in Taipei 台北. If you know your stuff there is no need to do any advance research or planning—just wander in and explore. Most vendors are small-scale operations with a limited selection of popular consumer electronics. As with most other Asian computer malls you’re more likely to get a better deal on higher floors. You will also find more obscure products and services as you ascend. There are six floors in all and the first floor is mostly just a showroom. My advice is to head for the elevator when you arrive and work from top to bottom.

Don’t expect much from the custom service at Guanghua, especially not in English. Asian computer malls are generally optimized for price, not service, and this one is no different. If you know what you want and don’t expect anyone to hold your hand you’ll make out just fine. If, however, you’re looking to purchase a big-ticket item like a laptop, maybe you’d be better off looking for a larger, more reputable chain store somewhere else in the city. You’re pretty much on your own at Guanghua. Caveat emptor!

Many of the best deals can be found inside these grungy old shops along the side streets near Guanghua Digital Plaza.

The electronics trade at Guanghua spills out into the alleyways and streets to the south. Bade Road 八德路 is plastered with laptop dealers, ink cartridge vendors, and smartphone boutiques. Youth, a local substitute for an Apple store (which, strangely, doesn’t have an official retail presence in Taiwan) can also be found here. As with the mall, the best deals can often be found in the less accessible shops along the side streets and alleyways. The selection is often better as well since most shops are larger than the booths in the mall. About half of my shopping at Guanghua has been done outside of the main building itself.

Electronics dealers in Guanghua Digital Plaza.

Over the last year of shopping in Guanghua I’ve picked up a bunch of cheap portable hard drives, a small set of computer speakers, a replacement charger for my MacBook Air, and a custom-fitted screen protector for my non-standard smartphone, all for a decent price. That last item was a real find—I had been all over Taipei in search of a new screen protector and hadn’t found anything that fit right. I own the North American version of a Samsung Galaxy Note 1 which lacks the button found on the international version sold here in Asia. As such, none of the standard screen protectors fit right. Thankfully I chanced upon a booth on the fourth floor of Guanghua that cut custom screen protectors to fit any screen. Seek and you might find.

The shrine inside Guanghua Digital Plaza. Modern electronics meets ancient tradition.

You might think that consumer electronics in Taiwan 台灣 would be remarkably cheaper than in Europe or North America—but you’d be wrong. Prices are about the same, sometimes even higher, even though a lot of this stuff is made here. The reason, as I understand it, is that bulk orders to foreign markets are heavily discounted due to volume. Maybe you’ll chance upon some extraordinary deals in the computer malls of Asia—but my experience is that I save maybe 10–15% at most. And if something goes wrong, well… consider making an offering to the gods of electronics at the shrine on the top floor before trying to make a return at a place like Guanghua directed me to this video walkthrough.