The 5 Best Night Markets in Taipei

February 26th, 2016, by Bill in eating out, StreetFood, Taiwan.

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Taipei is inarguably one of the top street food cities in the world. Taiwan is known as the land of snacks: they have literally invented and re-invented genre after genre of snack food over the years. From pearl tea to fried chicken, the Taiwanese are all about inventing and perfecting the ultimate snack foods. Think Chinese-influenced foods created with the ingenuity and dedication to perfection that (you would think) only the Japanese would bring. While Taipei isn’t quite as famous with local Taiwanese as Tainan for their snack culture, they’ve got it covered and will most likely be your first stop in Taiwan. The sheer volume of street food options available alone are enough but, matched with the quality and price of the food available on the streets, it’s pretty much unbeatable. The catch with Taipei street food though, is that almost all of it is nocturnal. You can find some stalls during the day but 99% of the street food options don’t come out until late afternoon and evening when the night markets begin to spring to life.

Obviously this list is not the end-all-be-all. We’ve spent a lot of time in Taiwan but we aren’t locals and our tastes vary but we believe this list is a great combination of local and tourist favorites that are worth checking out. Our Taiwanese friends may disagree with this list or the order of preference, but these are our favorites.

If you’re looking for more info about visiting Taipei, check out our guide.

5. Ningxia Night Market

The No-Frills Food Market With Games

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Ningxia is many locals’ favorite night market. It’s a concise, one-lane row of nothing but food stalls pcaked tightly together with a few game stands at one end just for good measure. It’s a little bit small and a bit claustrophobic on the one-lane row of stands but it’s a nice manageable collection of food and you can work through it in under an hour even cruising slowly. No clothing stalls, no cellphone accessories, just snacks on snacks on snacks.

Must try: pork soup, fry stand.
Get there: The closest MRT stop is Zhongshan on the green line. Alternatively, there is a Youbike station on the circle intersection at the southern end of Ningxia Rd.
Hours: 5:30pm to 12:00am midnight.

4. Tonghua Night Market

The Highly Underrated, Easy-Access Locals Spot

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Despite being the closest market to Taipei 101, probably the most touristed landmark in the city, Tonghua remains more of a market for local Taiwanese. You can find pretty much everything here and it’s a great easy-access market in the city center. Look for the pan-fried buns (sheng jian bao) and the peanut brittle, sorbet, and cilantro “burrito” for dessert.

Must try: pan-fried buns, sorbet and peanut brittle dessert “burrito”.
Get there: Take the MRT Red Line to Xinyi Anhe stop and head south toward Linjiang St.
Hours: 5:00pm to 2:00am

3. Shilin Night Market

The Grandaddy

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I don’t care what none of y’all say, I still love her.

We have had a number of friends tell us that Shilin is “too touristy” and not worth visiting anymore. Trust us when we say that if you’re never been, it is definitely worth checking out. Yes, Shilin is touristy by Taipei night market standards, but no it is not like going to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square instead of Le Bernardin for dinner. It’s more like… you’ve never ever tasted anything but Top Ramen and you’ve heard Ippudo is cool. All your New York friends insist Ippudo is played out and way too crowded and insist you skip it for their favorite new underground spot. Remember the first time you tried Ippudo? It flipped the script. Yeah you waited for two hours but it was totally worth it and you could taste pork fat on your lips for three days even though there was a fat Midwestern family sitting next to talking about how the noodles at the Spaghetti Factory were better.

Shilin is the largest and most touristed night market in Taipei. Your local friends can insist all they want that Shilin is just filled with tourists and not worth seeing anymore but seriously? It’s like 15 fucking blocks of a maze of stalls filled with food, crazy t-shirts, cell phone cases for phones that don’t even exist yet, and enough penis cake stalls to seriously delight your snapchat following. This is the grandaddy. Yes it’s touristy but yes it is most certainly worth seeing if you’ve never been. The trick, learned from our local friends, is to cruise through the market and get your fill, but be sure to check out the restaurants that surround the market. The streets around Shilin have some of the best food around, including dessert shops. There’s also a basement area inside the actual market called the Shilin Night Market Food Court that has some great stalls. If you haven’t ever had Hot Star fried chicken, there are two stalls. You can find it in other places around the city now but it’s still fun to have it at the original spot. Be ready for a chicken schnitzel the size of your face seasoned with a delicious mix of spices and fried to perfectly crispy you’ll want to eat two. But don’t – there’s so much else to try here.

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Must try: oyster omelette, black pepper buns; Hot Star large fried chicken; penis cakes; and the traditional Taiwanese dessert shops just outside of the market.
Get there: Take the MRT Red line to the Jiantan stop. Follow your nose (or the crowd) from there.
Hours: 5:00pm to 12:00am midnight.

2. Keelung Night Market

The Seafood Haven

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While not actually in Taipei city center, this is one of our favorite markets in the area and if you can manage to get out to the seaside town of Keelung, you’re in luck. This market isn’t quite as large as Shilin but it’s still much larger than a lot of other night markets in central Taipei and boasts some of the freshest seafood around. Being near the water, seafood is definitely the focus in this market but there are plenty of non-seafood options to go around as well. Matched with a much more local crowd than some of the bigger markets closer to Taipei center, this makes Keelung a great night market option that ticks all the boxes.

Must try: bbq squid on a stick; crab soup and oil rice; and yellow flower soup.
Get there: The bus will take you about an hour or try to find a friend to drive. Uber? It might be worth it if you can convince your driver to hang with you at the market. Maybe you can barter bbq squid for a ride.
Hours: Technically 24 hours but 4:30pm to 11pm are prime hours when everything should be open.

1. Raohe Night Market

The Perfect Mix

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Raohe hits all the marks: it’s the perfect size to explore in its entirety in one trip, it’s not too touristy, the bulk of the stands are food, it has the perfect mix of different dishes to try, and it’s super easy to get to within central Taipei. Look out for the mutant sausage inception: a sticky rice sausage used as a bun for yes, ANOTHER sausage stuffed into it.

Must try: chicken skin sausages, sausage in a sausage, simple grilled king oyster mushrooms, watermelon juice in a cup the size of your head, and black pepper buns.
Get there: Take the green line to the Songshan stop at the end of the line. Walk north a block and you’ll smell the market.
Hours: 4:00pm to 1:00am.

Bill (3 Posts)

Bill is a photographer and designer originally from Ohio, currently living in Sydney. His travels are almost exclusively driven by food and coffee. Find him on Instagram @bill.


Bill





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