7 Best Night Markets To Visit in Taipei
[ TAIWAN ] Taipei is one of the top travelling destinations for Singaporeans. This vibrant city offers tourists a vast array of beautiful landscapes for sightseeing, as well as, numerous scrumptious delicacies. Night markets are well embedded in the lives of Taiwanese locals. Taipei is well-known for their night markets, which open all over the city in the evening, selling a huge range of clothes and household goods, but their main attraction is the street food.
It’s always very difficult to decide on what to eat as you’ll be spoilt for choice at night markets. With so many night markets in Taipei city, it’s amazing how I remember every one of them. There are similarities yet enough differences to set one apart from the other. Here’s a list of the bigger-scale and more popular night markets in Taipei city and the street snacks that they are famous for.
Tonghua Night Market
Address: Linjiang Street, Da-an District, Taipei 106
Opening hours: 6pm to 2am daily
Despite being smacked in the middle of a residential area, this night market can get very crowded. It is the closest night market to Taipei 101 so, if you’re on a budget trip and decide to skip the expensive restaurants in Taipei 101 after a scenic tour above the tower, take an evening stroll over to Tonghua night market to satisfy your rumbling tummy. We noticed different age groups of visitors and realized that the young crowd comes here for trendy clothing while the older generation comes here to purchase their daily necessities. This night market is also packed with gourmet lovers. Hungry night owls rejoice as this night market is one of the very few that opens till the wee hours.
Among the mouthwatering dishes sold here, one can find甜不辣 (Taiwanese Tempura), oyster omelette, beef noodles, barbecued sausages, fried chicken feet, braised duck tongue and just about anything else you may be hungering for. This night market left a very deep impression on us as the stall vendors are all extremely friendly and approachable. They shared some historical and cultural background on Taiwan and its food and kept introducing local flavours which they insist we should try. They even cracked jokes and invited us to capture more shots while they pose with their ingredients, while in the midst of preparing the food. Having eaten your fill, do take a walk further down to Wenchang Street to browse the stylish Chinese and Western style furniture shops.
Gongguan Night Market
Address: Section 3, Luosifu Road, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am daily
This is the biggest night market in the South District of Taipei city. Located in a business district makes this night market very distinct. There are clothing and accessory stores, bookstores, tea houses and even a movie theatre. Being close to the National Taiwan University, prices are very reasonable here as most of the customers are students.
Street vendors here offer tourists one of the best “大腸包小腸 (Small Sausage in Big Sausage)”, “葱蛋餅 (Scallion Egg Pancake)” and “Cuttlefish Vermicelli with Thick Soup”. The most popular drink in the Gongguan area is the “青蛙撞奶 (Frog Hits Milk) Bubble Milk Tea”, containing special ingredients such as dark brown sugar, tapioca and fresh milk.
Feeling a little more daring? Go for “小李豬血糕 (Little Li’s Pig’s Blood Cake)”. Its pig’s blood cakes are made fresh daily and cooked in a steamer for more than three hours until they are fragrantly chewy and soft. As the cakes are covered with their secret sauce and sweet peanut powder, the bloody taste is not too overwhelming, unlike when you eat pork liver. We like the rich flavour of this pig’s blood cake.
The street snacks here can get so popular that you may need to wait in line for half an hour. Looking for an environment that’s less crowded to accommodate a bigger group, you can head to the nearby restaurants. Most restaurants are in South-East Asian styles such as Thai-style, Malaysian style, Indonesian style, Myanmar style etc.
Shilin Night Market
Address: No. 101, Jihe Road, Shilin District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 5pm to 1am daily
Imagine thrice the size of Singapore’s Bugis Street, Shilin night market is one of the major popular attractions that tourists flock to when in Taipei. The sights, scents and bargains are enough for a second or third visit – you can never get enough! The maze of alleyways is filled with a variety of local, traditional and international merchandise that attract both locals and foreigners. Many of the food vendors are famous for their local flavours and are only available here. Visitors get to enjoy a plethora of local fare ranging from stir-fried squids, oyster omelette and huge chicken cutlet to shaved ice desserts, oyster mee sua and much more at very affordable prices.
We recommend 王子起司馬鈴薯 (Prince Cheese Potato) and 牛魔王 pasta and steak. The former consists of fried potato drenched in truckloads of cheese and covered with generous amounts of your desired toppings while the latter offers delectable beef steak served on a hotplate, accompanied by pasta, a sunny-side-up egg and a mushroom soup bread bowl. We learnt from the servers that potato is firstly, mashed and molded into an ellipsoid shape before a hardboiled egg is stuffed in. Next, this mixture of mashed potato and hardboiled egg is dipped and battered in breadcrumbs before it is fried. After which, this fried potato is dissected, stuffed and covered with your desired choice of ingredients. Simply heavenly!
Showcasing Taiwan’s culture with its vivid colours, along with friendly stall vendors and numerous scrumptious food and cheap clothes, Shilin night market is a place to head to for shopping, eating, browsing and just soaking up the atmosphere as you share the night market with Taipei locals.
Raohe Street Night Market
Address: Raohe Street and Sec. 4, Bade Road and Fuyuan Street, Taipei City
Opening hours: 5pm to 12am daily
Located a stone’s throw away from 五分埔 (WuFenPu), Taipei’s largest wholesale market for clothes and accessories, many locals and tourists have a habit to visit this night market after an exhausting afternoon of shopping spree. It is easy to locate this night market due to the magnificent landmark beside it – Ciyou temple (慈佑宮). This temple is hard to miss, especially when it’s beautifully illuminated at night. Although it only spans 600 meters along the path of Raohe Street, this night market has a lot to offer. Bargaining for something you like makes an exciting shopping experience here! The most outstanding delicacies are their pepper meat buns (福州世祖胡椒饼), 玉子烧 (omelette with toppings), pork ribs herbal stew (陈董药炖排骨) and spicy stinky tofu (下港名彭臭豆腐).
Indulging in too much heaty food would cause you to fall sick easily but fret not, grab a cup of traditional winter melon tea! Besides quenching your thirst, it is also a healthier alternative to Taipei’s popular bubble milk tea. Winter melon tea helps reduce the heaty-ness in your body.
The best advantage of this night market is that Songshan train station is just across the road, which makes it very convenient for visitors. This might probably be the reason why Raohe night market is always bustling with activities, providing a lively and energetic atmosphere.
Huaxi Street Night Market
Address: Intersection of Guangzhou Street and Huaxi Street, Wanhua District, Taipei City
Opening hours: 4pm to 12am daily
According to a street vendor, since the success of the movie, “艋舺” (Monga) in 2010, with well-known Taiwanese actor 阮經天 as the main lead, Huaxi Street Night Market has attracted larger crowds. This famous street has appeared in a very vital scene in the movie. Taiwanese locals flock to this particular night market for tonic food and commodities while tourists patronize this night market for its gourmet snacks and their especially famous seafood.
The real draw to this night market are the Chinese herbal cuisine cooked with snakes, foot massage shops, as well as, health-oriented spa. It’s no wonder this night market has been nicknamed, ‘Snake Alley’. As with all night markets in Taipei, there were way too many food stalls. We were so lost in our choices of food and approached the locals for recommendations, which lead us to conclude that Taiwanese here go gaga over their special pork rib noodles, Scholar’s pancakes, “Eight Treasures Iced Dessert”, salted egg dumpling and fried pepper crabs. After a sinful indulgence in street snacks, it’s a good idea to relax and unwind at one of their massage parlors or health-oriented spas.
Ningxia Night Market
Address: Ningxia Road, Datong District, Taipei City, Taiwan 103
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am daily
Ningxia night market might not be spacious and big-scale yet its nostalgic ambience charms visitors, both locals and tourists alike. Forget shopping as this night market focuses on providing the best street snacks, hence having the highest concentration of all the best snacks from the old days. We learnt a little historical background of this night market from one of the stall vendors. During the Japanese occupation, this area was a park where food stands were abundant inside. However, this park was rebuilt into water storage when WWI broke out, which saw the end of food-related activities here. After the war, the market excelled and expanded but due to fire and urban renewal in later years, the old night market has to be replaced and is currently what we know as Ningxia night market.
There is only one narrow lane, flanked by stalls on both sides. Expect to squeeze with the crowd to get to your desired stall. These stalls have been running for over 50 years, providing visitors with scrumptious street food such as Taiwanese oden, sesame oil chicken, fresh and juicy oysters, 小籠包, shaved iced desserts and many other traditional local fare waiting for you to discover. Have your first round of finger food before moving on to tackle and challenge your friends and families over old school games, after which you will have a little more stomach capacity to try more food! We like that this night market is not so commercialized, which enabled us to better experience Taiwanese local culture and activities.
Lehua Night Market
Address: Yongping Road, Yonghe District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 234
Opening hours: 6pm to 12am daily
This wouldn’t make it to the top three must-go night markets that tourists frequent as it’s located quite far away from the city centre hence and is a night market for locals. We were awed by how clean and well-maintained this night market was. Besides, the neon lights of clothing shops and snack stands make the night seem as bright as daytime. Due to the diversity of street food served here, locals can always return for different food. As tourists, we always find it difficult to select the best snack stand. There are snacks that are more special here such as our favourite, the Marlin fish paste on stick (旗鱼串). The vendor fried Marlin fish paste with a slice of hard-boiled egg filling inside before serving it with sweet chili sauce, salt and pepper. We fell in love with the mix of textures with every bite – soft and chewy inside while crispy outside.
Furthermore, you have the choice of savouring other delightful snacks like the braised meat vermicelli and salted egg taro snacks. Lehua also offers exotic food from around the world – Turkish Döner Kebab, Thai green papaya salad, Japanese sushi and many other kinds of foreign specialties. This is a night market for kids as there are a couple of stores selling cute and cartoony goods. Finally, what’s better than ending your night at a KTV? There’s one directly at the entrance of Lehua night market.
Night markets are places that tourists will never skip whenever we travel to Taiwan. Great bargains at very affordable prices? Check! Wide range of irresistibly delectable local fare and street snacks? Check! Experience the local culture and night life, hanging out with Taiwanese locals? Check! We can’t think of a reason not to hit the night markets. Calories don’t count when you’re overseas and having good food will put you in a good mood. Complete your trip by heading to at least one night market when you visit Taiwan! Have a blast!
Photos & text by Alexis Toh Mu Qin, a fellow food writer for Miss Tam Chiak. Follow her at @tmooq on instagram for her latest food hunt.