What’s your next Asian destination? If you’re a travelling gourmand who’s not afraid of a challenge like pig’s blood cake or stinky tofu, then you’re in for a treat in Taiwan’s best street food markets. Here, locals and tourists alike take snacking seriously. There’s practically a night market gem in every major city where you’ll never run of things to see, try and eat!
Why Are Night Markets in Taiwan Popular?
Food, like music, is a universal language. The ingredients, cooking method and flavours of a dish represent what a culture is all about. And if you want to experience them all in one go, then a stop on a night market is a must. And Taiwan has one too many. But why the clamour for them?
One reason is the immense amount of food options. The night market has something for everyone, be it savoury, sweet or downright bizarre. Tourists on a budget are happy to stroll down these areas for inexpensive food as well. The best part is, the food is delicious and cheap but not inferior. Taiwanese street food showcases high quality and great value, so much so that in 2019, 24 stalls made it to the coveted Michelin Guide Taipei Bib Gourmand roster.
Night markets in Taiwan are without a doubt worth seeing. And if you somehow made it to one of its cities with so little time to spend, I’ve rounded up some of its best street food markets to make your short stay memorable and tummy satisfying. Just be prepared to walk a lot and line up for good food.
1. All-Around: Raohe Night Market, Taipei City
Raohe is one of the oldest and most popular Taipei night markets with a more authentic, less touristy vibe. One of its well-known eats is the Fuzhou black pepper bun cooked in a round clay oven. The long queue for this Michelin-worthy treat makes it hard to miss. Make sure to pair these crisp pork buns with a bowl of beef entrails soup or Chen Tung’s pork ribs cooked in medicinal herbs. These delectable hot dishes make Raohe perfect even during wintertime. Come by before sunset to avoid the too crowded small pathways.
It’s also the place to be if you want to shop and take lots of pictures. At the eastern entrance of the market, you can visit Songshan Ciyou, one of the city’s most beautiful temples. Behind it is the Rainbow Bridge, which is famous for its red steel arch that’s lit up at night. Near the area is the Wufenpu Garment Wholesale Market where you’ll find inexpensive clothing to take home or give as souvenirs. If you need a little exercise after all that eating, you can rent a YouBike to see the sights.
- Access: Songshan Station (Green Line, Exit 5)
- Operating hours: 5 pm to 12 am
2. Picturesque: Jiufen Old Street, New Taipei City
Jiufen is located in the mountains and was once a gold mining town. Today, it’s a popular destination for food travellers, especially those with a sweet tooth. Must-try desserts in this street market are mango ice, peanut ice cream roll and ice cream puff. Glutinous rice cakes from Ah Lan Hakka and Grandma Lai’s taro balls should also be in your to-eat list.
If you’ve seen Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Jiufen will remind you of the animation’s beautiful town setting. Its stunning views and landscapes make it one of the best street food markets in the country. It’s also the reason why food prices here are quite steep. However, if good food and a peaceful surrounding excite you, then add Jiufen to your itinerary. Make sure to stop by its tea houses as well and witness a professional tea brewing ceremony. Also, stay until night-time if you can to see the sunset. Jiufen is even more captivating with lit Chinese lanterns.
- Access: Zhongxiao Fuxing Station (Blue/Brown Line, Exit 2) then Bus 1062 bound for Jinguashi
- Operating hours: 7 am to 9 pm
3. Gastronomic: Ningxia Night Market, Taipei City
If you’re visiting Taiwan for the food and food alone, the Ningxia Night Market is one of the best street food markets to go to. Compared to other Taipei night markets, Ningxia is small with narrow walkways and long queues. Still, it’s not a let-down when it comes to food and snack options.
One thing you shouldn’t miss is the famous oyster omelette. Yuan Huan’s stall is highly recommended for its comfortable dining area, reasonable price and juicy oysters. For dessert, try the traditional sesame-coated mochi, which you can also enjoy in a bowl of shaved ice with condensed milk.
Ningxia is also home to a selection of Michelin-starred treats. So, if you don’t mind lining up for good food, then make sure to stop by the Liu Yu Zi stall for some deep-fried taro balls. These snacks come in original, pork floss and egg yolk-filled flavours. For something more filling, I suggest an order of Rong’s pork liver soup and zongzi (sticky rice ball) or Fang Chia’s shredded chicken on rice. After that, swing by Beer Ammo for a bottle of Belgian or local craft beer.
- Access: Shuanglian Station and Zhongshan Station
- Operating hours: 5:30 pm to 12 am
4. Largest: Fengjia (Feng Chia) Night Market, Taichung City
The Shilin Night Market is often the first thing that comes to mind when you want to visit large night markets in Taiwan. However, when it comes to stall, restaurant and shop count, Fengjia in Taichung tops the list as it houses over 15,000 of them! So, if you don’t have the time to go market hopping, then this one is more than enough for your food and shopping needs.
The largest night market in Taiwan is a food dreamland for sure. It’s famous for its grilled seafood, triple extra-large Devil’s chicken chops and sausages with sticky rice. Dafeng Stewed Pork is also a popular old restaurant to try for its pork delicacies.
Fengjia alleys also have chic boutiques and trendy mobile phones. There’s an iBike station at Fengjia Road as well, which is similar to Taipei’s YouBike system. The market is not near any MRT station, however, so you’ll likely spend a bit to get here by cab. It’s best not to drive here by car as finding a parking slot can be difficult.
- Access: Uber or bus
- Operating hours: 4 pm to 1 am (Mon); 4 pm to 2 am (Tue to Sun)
5. Relaxing: Liuhe Tourist Night Market, Kaohsiung City
If you love a good food trip but want to avoid the crowded streets, Liuhe is the perfect night market for you. It may not be as dynamic, but it’s also one of the few night markets with a good layout, ample seats, trash bins and wide pathways. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s largest port city, making Liuhe a seafood paradise. Its quail eggs with prawns, grilled or fried cuttlefish and baked clams are among the favourites. There are also stalls here where you can pick fresh seafood from the stand then sit and wait while the vendor cooks it for you.
Noodles and dumplings are also popular food choices in Liuhe. Stalls here sell low-priced xiao long bao that could give Din Tai Fung a run for its money. Cold drinks and fruit and veggie milk stands are also all over the market. So, if you come here in the summer, make sure to try the sugar cane juice and papaya milk.
- Access: Formosa Boulevard Station (Red/Orange Line, Exit 1) then find Liuhe 2nd Road
- Operating hours: 6 pm to 10 am
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