Night markets are an essential part of everyday Taiwanese life and culture, a place to meet, socialize, eat and shop. Almost every city and town in Taiwan has one, and in many cases multiple, night markets. There is always something for everyone, and one of the best things about them is wandering from stall to stall and picking out a xiao chi (snack) you fancy trying. One of these probably won’t be enough so move on to the next one! Find a bargain shirt or pair of shoes, even have some fun playing the carnival games! We break down the best night markets across Taiwan, including each one’s famous delicacies to help find the right one for you.
Shilin Night Market
Taipei has a string of excellent night markets to choose from but Shilin is probably the Godfather of the capital’s night markets. Located in northern Taipei, Shilin is big, tightly packed and a favorite among locals and tourists. With both indoor and outdoor stalls, meals, snacks, drinks and fashion boutiques, Shilin needs to be at the top of any visitor to Taipei’s to do list. Shilin Night Market is open everyday and must try specialities from here include, little sausage wrapped in big sausage (a pork sausage in a glutinous rice wrap), oyster omelet and fried chicken fillet.
Huaxi Street Night Market
Huaxi Street Night Market can be found next to Longshan Temple in the southwestern corner of Taipei. What sets this interesting and controversial night market apart from the others is Snake Alley. Along Snake Alley, the stores show off their collections of exotic snakes. Take a look at the restaurant menus and you can see that no part of these snakes go to waste. As with many of the delicacies along Snake Alley such as snake blood and meat, turtle blood and meat and deer penis they cater for superstition and myth. These dishes are believed to be beneficial to health and sexual virility.
A night market not for the faint of heart, controversial and heavily criticized, including from many Taiwanese themselves, Huaxi Street Night Market is not for everyone. The controversy over Snake Alley doesn’t end there, a history of being a seedy red-light district has the government urging Huaxi to continue clean up it’s act and has already begun to do so. It’s an intriguing place and maybe worth a trip, if only to take a peek, as this place may not last forever.
Keelung Miaokou Night Market
Keelung is a port city on the northern coast of Taiwan. The night market here is referred to as Keelung Night Market or Miaokou Night Market, Miaokou means “Temple Entrance”. This is because the market is attached to Dianji Temple. The temple and lanterns either side of the main market street contribute to this being one of the most visually striking night markets in the country. The stalls along the main market street are all numbered and many have English signs making it a breeze for tourists. Being a port city, seafood is particularly good here, try the crab soup and the tempura.
Luodong Night Market
Luodong Night Market is in the coastal city of Yilan, northeastern Taiwan. A particularly busy night market, Luodong tends to get more and more crowded as the night goes on. Amongst the goodies up for sale are accessories, fashion items and household products. The real stars are the local delicacies though, and the top sellers here are Herbal Mutton Soup, Spring Onion Pancakes and the brilliantly named Dragon Phoenix Rolls (made from fish, not dragon).
Fengjia Night Market
Moving into central Taiwan’s Taichung city, about an hour away from Taipei on the High Speed Rail. Taichung may only be Taiwan’s third biggest city, but it proudly boasts the country’s largest night market, Feng Chia. It takes it’s name from the nearby Feng Chia University and stretches around the campus. Famous for creativity and innovation many of Taiwan’s best loved food and drinks started out as a stall in Feng Chia. Some of the many specialities to try here include the crispy chicken wings, octopus balls and the Go-Cup, a cup of steak bites and mash, with your favorite soft drink (separated) underneath.
Tainan Flower Night Market
Tainan Flower Night Market hasn’t been around for long, having only started in 1999, but it has already grown into the biggest night market across southern Taiwan. Despite the floral name, Tainan Flower Night Market has just as much, or even more entertainment, fashion, food and drinks as any night market in Taiwan. This market is only open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays however, but if you’re there on the right days try the fried chicken, swordfish sticks and chewy sweet potato.
Ruifeng Night Market
Ruifeng Night Market is the largest of it’s kind in the southern city of Kaohsiung. Located near Kaohsiung Arena, Ruifeng is unlike most other Taiwanese night markets. It is not simply built down one stretch of road, but over an entire, rectangle shaped, city block. Ruifeng Night Market is closed Mondays and Wednesdays but attracts big crowds, particularly over the weekends. Many come to try the famous stinky tofu, dry clams and many international dishes like German currywurst and Korean spicy fried chicken.
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