Taipei: Exploring Night Markets

I have heard many friends raving about their trip after coming back from Taiwan: about the friendliness of the people, their night markets, amazing street food and beautiful natural sceneries. Nothing quite like it when I get to experience all that first hand.

The cuisine in Taiwan is predominantly Chinese cuisine. Their night markets are lively and vibrant, with many different varieties of snacks, street foods available. Visiting night market and trying the street food as much as a human possibly can was my agenda of the trip. I basically spend my time walking and exploring food while I was in Taipei. The prices were a lot more affordable than other major cities in the region.

One observation I made was some of the night markets has their own unique food – that you can only find there; I tried barbecued chicken wings (stuffed with fried rice) and I can’t find it elsewhere. You will find the usual food options almost everywhere: stinky tofu, grilled corn with spices, oyster omelette. It is worth visiting multiple night markets because you can’t possible try all the food in one visit, so strategize your stomach well.

Some of the markets that you should visit, would be

  • Shilin Night Market 士林夜市, the largest and most famous night market. If you are in Taipei, you need visit there.
  • Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市
  • Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市

You can find out more details from ‘English in Taiwan‘ website where I got the information on how to get there.

Ningxia Night Market Toyshop
Toy Stall

Fried chicken wings
Fried Food Stall

Ningxia Night Market - Grilled Seafood Stall
Grilled Seafood Stall

Beef Cube Barbecue
Barbecuing Beef Cubes

And of course, desserts are a must-eat item when you are walking around in night markets!

Ningxia Night Market
Ningxia Night Market

Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market

Ningxia Night Market - Roasted Peanut
Roasted Peanut Stall

While there are so many options for breakfast, you still try their local breakfast options. Language barrier was a massive problem for me: in many cases the menu are in Chinese. (Well, in a way, I can interpret this as I come to the right places). In some cases, I prevailed and was granted with awesome food.

Savoury Soymilk with fried fritter
Salty Soymilk with fried fritter

Flat bread with fried egg omelette
Flat bread with omelette

Egg Prata Taiwanese Style
Egg Prata Taiwanese Style

When I was taking a break from all the night markets, I decided to explore the temples. Longshan temple was within walking distance from the place that I was staying, so I made a visit there. It was a well-maintained temple, crowded with temple goers and tourists alike but still tranquil enough. I am always fascinated by the influence of Chinese culture: like, the migration of Strait Chinese; how they brought their own cuisine and adapted into the local cultures. I would always try to visit chinatowns (and the temples). It sounds very much anthropology but deeply fascinating.

Mengjia Longshan Temple
Mengjia Longshan Temple
People paying their respect at the temple
People paying their respect at the temple

Of course, I had to visit Taipei 101 building. For me, it is a bit hard to justify paying the entrance fee, the view was nice but not spectacular. Although I have to say that it is pretty cool to feel the building is shaking from the strong wind. (and learned how they designed the building to deal with typhoons and earthquakes)

View from Taipei 101 building
View from Taipei 101 building

Taipei just get busier as the night approaches. The night markets are teeming with people, the streets are full of cars and motorbikes. I went over to Xinmending in the evening (as it was pretty close by from the temple).

Busy street at Ximending
Busy street at Ximending
Busy street at Ximending
Busy street at Xinmending

I will be visiting Taiwan again, for there are so much more to see. I went to Juifen and Pingxi for day trips, so it reduced the time I had in Taipei but these day trips were pretty much the highlights of the trip. Being in winter, you have the excuse to stop every now and then to snack and Taiwan is the perfect place for that.

The hospitality of the people there was amazing; I can attest to the claims that the people there are friendly. I spent a few days in Hong Kong before going to Taipei, so I can feel a sharp contrast between the two. One of my dreams is to visit the ‘four tigers of Asia’ as they called it in the 1990s: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai. Maybe one day I will visit Shanghai, the remaining tiger.

There are many daytrip options if you are bored in Taipei, you can read more of them here.

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