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However long you plan to spend in Taiwan, there’s one experience you shouldn’t miss: the Taipei night markets.
Taiwan’s eclectic capital is home to some of the coolest night markets in the world, and you probably won’t have to go far to find one. Although there are certainly some famous ones, there are night markets all over the city of Taipei. As a quick Google Maps search will show, there are multiple night markets in every district of Taipei:
I’ve been to night markets all over the world, but nothing compares to the Taipei night markets. There’s just something about them, and I have a feeling I’d be spending a lot of time at night markets if I lived there! If you’re not already convinced here are seven reasons to consider a visit:
Why visit the night markets of Taipei
1 – The locals visit them
Unlike other destinations, where markets are mostly for tourists, the Taipei night markets are part of local life. You might spot the occasional tourist – especially at the better known markets such as Shilin – but the majority of visitors will be local Taipei residents.
As well as having a fun night out, you’ll get a glimpse into local life. Clubs and bars aren’t a huge deal in Taipei, so it’s one of the best ways to understand the city’s after dark culture.
2 – They’re full of street food
If you love street food, you’ll LOVE the Taipei night markets. Food isn’t the only thing you’ll find there, but it’s certainly a highlight.
Most of the food is dotted around in clusters, and some night markets even have dedicated food courts. You’ll still find plenty of snacks and treats on the street, though, so make sure you don’t fill up completely.
The night markets are one of the best ways to try a mix of Taiwanese food. You can grab bits and bobs as you go, and take a little look at all the things you don’t have room for. The food is just one of the many reasons why you’ll probably want to go more than once!
3 – There’s endless entertainment
Night markets aren’t just about the food in Taiwan. Sure, there’s a whole lot of food to enjoy, but that’s just the beginning. Video games, fairground favourites and claw machines are EVERYWHERE at the night markets. Enjoy a few rounds or just soak it up all watching others try to burst balloons, hook a duck and score hoops for prizes.
The fact that there’s so much entertainment means you can hang around and play a game while you work up an appetite to try more street food.
4 – You’ll learn about Taiwanese culture
The night markets are a major part of life in Taipei and they’ll give you more of an insight into Taipei life than the daytime streets will. At the night market, you’ll see Taiwan in all its colourful, carefree nature.
If you’ve ever been to Japan, there’s a good chance you’ll get flashbacks from the cartoon culture and bubbly music. But Taiwan has a very distinct character of its own that’s almost impossible to put into words – and it’s best experienced at a night market.
5 – Photography opportunities are endless
If you love street photography, Taipei will keep you entertained for weeks. And even if you don’t, you’ll likely still be grabbing your phone every few minutes.
I love cities that make me feel inspired, and I felt most inspired in Taipei at the night markets. There’s so much going on, yet not so much it’s overbearing. And that’s pretty much the perfect recipe for a bubble tea-fuelled evening of photography fun.
6 – They’re all over the city
Wherever you end up staying in Taipei, you won’t have to travel far to get to a night market. Taipei’s night markets are dotted all over the city and, even if there isn’t one super close by, it won’t be hard to get to one. The whole city is well-connected by the metro, which is clean, efficient and takes very little time.
7 – They’re great for shopping
If you’re looking for souvenirs or gifts, plan to get them at the night markets in Taipei. As well as endless entertainment and food to savour, the night markets are lined with all kinds of shops. From clothes and accessories to home-ware and Taiwanese specialities, you can find all sorts. You may even want to set aside an entire evening for shopping!
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Visiting a Taipei night market
Already convinced that visiting a night market is a good idea? Here’s how to plan your trip:
Which night market to visit
As we’ve already seen, Taipei has no shortage of night markets to choose from. So, which one should you go to first?
It can be overwhelming choosing between the night markets if you just look at a map, and you’ll probably have to put some FOMO aside if you don’t have time to visit. Instead, prioritise whatever sounds good to you. And remember – you can’t really go wrong!
If you want to visit the most famous night market in Taipei, Shilin night market should be your first stop. It was my own introduction to the Taipei night markets, and stepping into it was the moment I knew I would love Taiwan.
For the biggest night market in Taipei, head to Raohe Street. Like Shilin, Raohe is also popular with tourists and has everything from classic Taiwanese street food to endless shopping opportunities.
Whichever district of Taipei you ended up staying in, there’s bound to be a night market or two nearby. Don’t be afraid to venture to the lesser known markets – you never know what you might discover!
Check for hotels in Taipei:
Night market opening hours
Although you’ll find the same eclectic mix of treats at all of Taipei’s night markets, they all operate individually. That means opening times vary from market to market, so make sure you check before you go.
As the name “night market” implies, the markets generally opening during the evening. Some open as early as 3pm, while others don’t open the doors (or gates) until 6pm. Most of the night markets stay open until around midnight, but begin to quieten down from around 10pm. The best time to go is around 7pm – when everything’s in full swing, but you still have plenty of time to explore.
Taipei night market tours
If you prefer to have a guide telling you all the insider secrets you’d never learn by yourself, there are plenty of night market tours to choose from in Taipei. Take a private tour of a night market with a local guide, go on a food-focused adventure or take a more holistic city tour of Taipei’s nightlife scene.
Tips for visiting a night marketing in Taipei
There’s no right way or wrong way to visit the Taipei night markets, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go in prepared. Here’s what you need to know before visiting a night market in Taiwan:
Make sure you take cash: Although you can pay for many things by card in Taiwan, it’s always a good idea to carry cash. If nothing else, it’ll make paying for small, spontaneous purchases such as street food much easier. Plus, you’ll need some cash to play the games machines!
It’s always good to carry change if you can – some vendors don’t have much, especially early in the evening – but you can get small coins from the arcade coin machines if you need to.
Take your own bags: The things we do while travelling can be great for our memory bank and well being, but terrible for our planet. Plastic bags are offered freely around Taipei, so take your own and decline them when you can. Or, pick up a new bag from one of the many night market stalls!
Buy your souvenirs here: There’s nowhere better for buying souvenirs in Taiwan than the night markets. You can find everything here, from on-trend clothing to quirkier finds that you won’t get elsewhere. My personal favourite? The bubble tea cup holders you’ll see everyone carrying!
Don’t eat dinner: There’s so much street food to try at the night markets that it’s best to arrive on an empty stomach. I promise you won’t go hungry! Try the sweet potato balls with peanut powder or chocolate if you want to experience a completely new way to consume the vegetable. And if you’re feeling brave, take a bite of some stinky tofu – you won’t have to look hard to find it because you constantly smell it!
Before you go…
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