Night market is a market which usually start up at dusk and continue until midnight. These markets are generally dedicated to more leisurely strolling, shopping, and eating than more businesslike day markets.
Taiwanese markets started off as local markets in urban sites. They were limited to street corners in and around the temple premises. These markets just sold handicrafts and traditional medicines and were not known to be prosperous until after World War II. Starting from the 50’s till the 80’s, the market settlement spread across the city’s edges into the new sub-hubs and manufacturing areas. Now the night markets could be even found in the provincial towns. Over the years Taiwanese markets have transformed from small local gatherings to a noisy street lined up with sellers, where one could find a full range of merchandise even in the remote areas.
So to truly share my experience with the local food, culture and history. I take you on a tour of my top five night markets.
Huaxi St. Night Market
WHAT: My first pick would be Huaxi St. Night Market. It’s the first Tourist Night Market in Taiwan. With historical meaning and surroundings, Huaxi St. offers the best of Taiwan. Come here to savor the authentic Taiwanese dishes. What makes Huaxi St. market unique is the stores selling snakes. Based on the beliefs of ancient Chinese, snakes are a healthy source of food and are considered very nourishing to the human body. I went ahead with a brave heart and no mind at all to taste the traditional snake cuisines. It was astonishing to see snakes being served in soups, wine and also as a medicine at some stores. I got to witness live snakes from time to time down the street stores. Some of the snake stores even perform snake shows to attract tourists.
WHEN: Mon-Sun 16:00 – 24:00
WHERE: Huaxi St.Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan
HOW: Take MRT to Longshan Temple MRT Station directly.
Read our Guide of Taiwanese food.
Shilin Night Market
WHAT: Shilin Night Market is not only the most mainstream Taipei night market for the locals but also is a must-visit Taipei touristy attraction. Most of the shops are housed in the indoor enclosure. Shilin Night Market is Taipei’s largest and one of the most popular night markets for a wide array of authentic Taiwan eateries and fashionable clothing that one should not miss on their Taiwan travel. Although it’s a street style market but its design provides you with comfortable space to loiter around to enjoy a memorable Taiwan experience.
WHEN: Mon-Sun 11:00 am to -02:00 am
WHERE: Wenlin Road, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan
HOW: Take Taipei MRT-Danshui Line to MRT Jiantan Station
Tainan Flowers Night Market
WHAT: Unlike Taipei, Tainan night markets are open only on three days a week. Tainan market is where I experienced nonstop eating. With a wide array of Taiwan snacks like stinky tofu, grilled seafood to Korean spicy rice cake Japanese takoyaki and sushi. For me, it was indeed a food marathon. From all the hogging in massive food stalls, I went on to explore the numerous game stalls available including pinball, dart shooting, hoopla, basketball shooting and many others. Tainan offers an excellent venue for families and friends to play and shed all the calories from all the street food.
WHEN: Every Thursday, Saturday,& Sunday 18:00 to 23:30
WHERE: Sec. 3 Hainn Rd, Tainan City, Taiwan
HOW: Take a bus from Tainan Train Station to Tainan Flowers Night market
The Miaokou Night Market
WHAT: Situated near the sea, Miaokou night market is located in downtown area and is especially rich in seafood. Crab Thick Soup and Fried Noodles are a must try here. Compared to the other night markets in Taiwan, the Keelung Miaokou Night Market is relatively small. Although everything you expect to buy in the market is available here at a bargain price. It was surprising to find the streets bustling with locals buying their dailies at wee hours of the morning. So as suggested by the locals I went to pick some souvenirs for my friends and families at a bargain price.
WHEN: Mon-Sun 17:00 Pm to -03:00 Am
WHERE: Ai 4th Rd, Ren-ai, Keelung City, Taiwan
HOW: Walk east straight from Keelung railway station, following the harbor in the direction of the Keelung Harbor Bureau.
Tonghua Street Night Market
WHAT: As the night fell, the street is vividly crowded with shoppers and gourmet lovers. The neon signs that line the streets of Tonghua make it loud and attractive to the shoppers. It’s one of the busiest street markets in central Taipei. You’ll not only get to experience exotic delicacies of Taiwan but also Malaysian and Japanese. The market, in particular attracts people of all age groups. The young ones like me come here for fashionable clothing, while the families come for daily goods and delicious foods. There’s a big central islet which has various vendors, selling everything from fresh fruits to fried chicken feet and braised duck tongue for the brave hearts.
WHEN: Mon-Sun 3:00 Pm to -02:00 am
WHERE: Linjiang St. Datun District, Taipei City, Taiwan
HOW: Take Taipei MRT-Wenhu Line to MRT Liuzhangli Station
Taiwanese night markets are a Taiwanese experience celebrating the rich cultural diversity and heritage of Taiwan that is not to be missed.
Image Credits: Taiwan Tourism Bureau
Located in the Far East, the islands of Taiwan are a cornucopia of colors and one of a kind beauty. With it’s varied terrain and ecosystem, it offers an immense nature of food items. Now the problem associated with a lot of food from the Far-East is the ignorance surrounding it. Our Editor, Sudipto De loves presenting food guides from all over the planet. So, check out this guide on Taiwanese Food.
Roe is something that Bengalis can always relate to. Instead of getting like us, the Taiwanese use a different process altogether. It goes through a process salting after which it is pressed into cakes. It is a popular delicacy enjoyed with Sorghum wine. The salty Roe works in a perfect combination with the sour wine.
Shaoxing and Gaoliang Wines
While on the topic of wines, the Shaoxing wine deserves a special mention. The wine derives it’s dry, sweet taste from the excellent quality water of the Ailan plateau. This golden yellow wine is fermented from glutinous and Penglai rice along with wheat for the carbohydrate.
Now this is something that is truly original and new. Apparently the pig’s knuckle from the forefoot is deliciously succulent. In the northern part of the country, it is generally stewed in a light broth whereas it is a braised in a flavourful soy sauce in the southern part of the country.
Although the name and the smell may put most people off. But this dish has one of the most beautiful soft textures that you’ll ever try. Usually served with pickled cabbage, it is virtually like silk and melts on your mouth.
One of my favorite desserts, the Mochi was originally known as Doushu. The name Mochi was acquired later under the Japanese rule. Bengalis are lover of sweets and that is a known fact. But what people don’t know is the difference in the palates of a West Bengali and East Bengali. The former tend to prefer subtler flavours sans the sugar syrup. This is where this eccentric Japanese-American dessert drew my attention. Invented by businesswoman Frances Hasimoto, Mochi stands for pounded sticky rice. Mochi ice cream consists of this delicate piece of rice sticking around the flavourful ice cream, a perfect marriage of East and West.
The well watered cool hills of Taiwan are perfect for growing tea. The major types that are available are Wenshan Baozhong Tea, Dongding Oolong (Wulong) Tea, Pekoe Oolong (Baihao Wulong) Tea, and Tie Guanyin.
All photographs are courtesy of Discover Taiwan. Tell us about your favorite Taiwanese food and we will include it on the list too.