There are few experiences more Taiwanese than visiting a Night Market, and Taipei is renowned for having some of the best night markets in the world. I’m going to go ahead and vouch for that ranking. The markets are a way of life in Taiwan, and when you visit one you’ll be eating alongside many locals. This differs from a lot of other markets around the world that are mainly catered to tourists.
I’ve compiled a guide of the best of the best of Taipei’s Night Markets – six in total.
Please keep in mind that these are my opinions, and will probably vary from person to person. I think the best advice to anyone visiting Taipei is to visit as many markets as time will allow, and decide for yourself which is your favorite. And be sure to show up with an empty stomach.
1. Tonghua Night Market
Starting off with one of my favorites, the Tonghua Street Market is actually located on Linjiang Street, and is therefore sometimes called the Lingjiang Street Market. I’ve also heard it referred to the Xinyi Anhe Market which I assume came about because of the market’s proximity to the Xinyi Anhe MRT Station.
This market has more of a local feel with less tourists as some of the other markets, which is why it earns a top spot as one of my favorites. This market is located closest to the contemporary Taipei 101, so Tonghua adds a bit of authenticity and true Taiwanese culture to the otherwise trendy Xinyi area. I lived very close to this market, so it was a Godsend to just pop by and pick up various things I needed easily and cheaply.
The fried chicken lady (pictured below) was one of the best in Taipei, and on the busier nights there was an amazing stall selling cuban sandwiches that you will not want to miss. Yes, I said cuban sandwiches. Trust me on this one.
Tonghua Night Market is accessible via the Xinye Anhe or Liuzhangli MRT stations.
2. Raohe Street Night Market
Song Shan Fu De (Land God Temple) sits at the entrance of this market and sets the scene straight away. This is one of the more popular markets, but for some reason, I just wasn’t that into it. It’s extremely narrow and a little claustrophobic. During peak times when it’s most crowded, it can make it hard to escape the smell of the stinky tofu!
Raohe is the location of the famed Taiwanese Pepper Buns (or Hujiao bing). You can’t miss the stall – it’ll be the one right at the entrance with the huge line (and there’s ALWAYS a line). I bit the bullet and waited in line, and although I’m happy to have tried the Pepper Buns, it’s not something I would wait in line for again (but in all fairness I’m extremely stingy with what I will and will not wait in line for). Although I know Pepper Buns differ from xiao long bao, it did seem to me as if it was a glorified and burnt version of the famed dumplings. They’re prepared in an oven similar to a tandoor, and come out burnt on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Pepper buns before going into the oven
Aside from my aversions to it, the Raohe Street Night Market is one of the most popular in Taipei and I can see why. It’s close proximity to the MRT station and the Rainbow Bridge/Keelung River make it easily accessible, and there are also lots of Western options to satiate any craving. I particularly love the Watermelon juice stall at the Raohe Night Market.
Raohe Night Market is accessible via the Songshan MRT station.
3. ShiDa Night Market
ShiDa Night Market is located close to the National Taiwan University and therefore draws a younger and more international crowd. It’s where you’re most likely to find international chain restaurants and the most English-speakers of any other market. There’s also lots of tween shops selling colorful Hello Kitty-type merchandise. In this sense, I’d compare ShiDa Night Market to Takeshita Street in Tokyo, with it’s Harajuku girls. The surrounding Gongguan area is one of the trendiest in Taipei and is loaded with eclectic bars and restaurants, making this area absolutely worth a stop.
Ladies, be careful at this one! This market is compromised mainly of small boutique clothing shops from young Taiwanese designers trying to make a name for themselves. The shoes, bags and clothes are very, very cute and very, very reasonably priced and very, very well made. Even with the feasible price tags, ShiDa Night Market has the potential to be a dangerous place for your wallet.
ShiDa Niht Market is accessible via the Taipower Building or Gongguan MRT stations.
4. Lehua Night Market
If you’re staying in New Taipei City, the Lehua Night Market is for you.
Waegook Tom took me (and a few couchsurfers) to this market, and props to him because it was easily one of my favorites. He knew all of the specialties, and even the best flavors to try at each of the best food stalls. This market is a really solid choice in the New Taipei City area.
I returned with Expat Edna and with a bigger appetite, and we ate all of the things including fresh AF summer rolls, fried dumplings, sailfish and mango shaved ice.
Lehua Night Market is accessible via the Dingxi MRT station.
5. Ningxia Night Market
I’ve heard this market referred to as the oldest market in Taipei, but don’t know the the definitude of that claim.
While most other night markets have games and sell lots of clothing and trinkets like phone cases, Ningxia Night Market consists 95% of food stalls. I like that about Ningxia – it’s straight to the point. It also has a plentiful selection of seafood – a lot more than I noticed at any of the other night markets. This night market claims a special spot in my heart for pure food selection.
Ningxia Night Market is accessible via the Zhongshan or Shuanglian MRT stations.
6. Shilin Night Market
This is the largest and most well known in Taipei, and also probably the most touristy. It does get quite crowded, and locals pretty much steer clear of this market. But in my opinion, any visit to Taipei would be incomplete without checking out the Shilin Night Market.
I like to think of myself as having a really good sense of direction, but all that was shot to shit at this market. It’s a total maze of interwoven alleys with literally hundreds of stalls hawking basically anthing you can think of. A suitcase? Huge selection. Taiwan souvenirs? Anything you can think of. Cakes in the shape of penises? Yep, they’ve got that too.
There’s an underground food court that some advise to pass on, but I don’t agree. If you want easy access to basically every Taiwanese specialty under the sun, it’s a great place to start. Shilin is the largest market in the Taipei area and has every night market specialty on offer including sausage wrapped in glutinous rice, oyster omelette, shaved ice, almond tea, candied tomatoes, stinky tofu, vermicelli noodles, xiao long bao, fruit juices and smoothies…and the list goes on.
Shilin Night Market is accessible via the Jiantian MRT station.
There you have it. While there are still more markets to explore in the Taipei and New Taipei areas, these are the most notable. That’s not to say that you won’t find a little gem of your own if you do some wandering (perfectly safe in Taipei), so feel free to explore.