After a long day of touring the sites in and around Taipei, you may be tempted to simply rush back to your hotel room, grab a quick bite at a local convenience store, and crawl under the covers for a few hours of rest.
If youâ€™re really hungry, and adventurous, youâ€™ll want to stay out a little while longer to explore one of the most interesting parts of the city â€“ the midnight snack markets.
Taipeiâ€™s Night Markets
The city of Taipei doesnâ€™t have just one snack market, which is perfect for people looking to sample a wide variety of cuisines. There are actually four main markets open during the evening hours, each filled with food vendors offering a wide variety of delicious delicacies. You can choose from the Hauxi Street, Linjiang Street, Raohe Street, or Shihlin.
Each market has its own history and each has a lot to offer both locals and tourist. The wide variety of food-market vendors line the streets, but after youâ€™re done shopping youâ€™ll enjoy browsing some of the other stalls as well â€“ especially if you enjoy shopping for clothing and accessories at reasonable prices. You may even find a decent looking piece of jade while youâ€™re there.
The Hauxi Street Night Market
The Hauxi Street Night Market is located not far from the Longshan Temple MRT station, making it incredibly easy to access. The market, as it originally developed, had a reputation as one of the most active red-light districts in the city, but in 2001 the city finally banned prostitution. It has since developed into a very interesting and profitable tourist attraction.
One of the most popular sections of the Hauxi Street Market is the area known as Snake Alley. Here youâ€™ll see a wide variety of gastronomic delights as theyâ€™re being created. Donâ€™t be surprised if you see a cobra skinned so that his blood can be drained into a glass of rice wine or honey. In Taiwan, this combination is considered an interesting aphrodisiac.
There are plenty of other foods, most of which a little less questionable than serpent blood or deer penis stew, you might want to try. The Dan Zi noodles from Tianan Tan Tsu Noodles are incredible, as are the goose dishes from Hauxxi Street Boned Goose.
The Linjiang Street Night Market
The next market to explore is the Linjiang Street Market. This particular market is different from the others in that it is actually open all day long. During the day you will find vendors selling produce, clothing, accessories, and even pets. At night, Linjiang transforms into a snack-market amazing enough to compete with the others.
Located near the Taipei World Trade Center, this market is also sometimes referred to as the Tonghua Street Night Market. It sits on a site that was once a small, underground center for shopping. The shopping center continued to grow until it was eventually forced to the street.
While shopping this market youâ€™ll have the opportunity to try fried tofu, soups, dumplings, and steamed sandwiches. The most popular dish here, however, is the incredible grilled pork sausage. This type of sausage is more densely packed and sweeter than sausages youâ€™re used to finding in the west.
The Raohe Street Market
While most of the other markets in Taipei started out as hot destinations for locals, the Raohe Street market was designed with tourists in mind. Located in front of the Songshan Train Station, this particular market features more than 500 shops, snack stalls, and restaurants.
Formally known as Xikou Street, the Raohe Stret Market is usually bustling with activity but is not quite as crowded as the Shihlin Market. This market is particularly well known for two distinct dishes â€“ Allah Din Indian Chicken is one and stinky tofu is the other. The Allah Din Indian Kitchen serves Indian and Turkish cuisine, but is some of the best in Asia. Stinky tofu has a reputation for smelling horrible but tasting wonderful â€“ if you can get past the smell enough to give it a taste.
The Shihlin Market
Before you leave Taiwan, make sure you take a trip to the Shihlin Market, the last of the four main night markets in the city. It is considered the largest night market in the city and some people think itâ€™s the best in the world in terms of food.
Set on the shore of the Keelung River, the Shihlin Market was once a produce market by day. When it lost popularity as a wholesale produce point it slowly evolved into a night market full of food vendors.
The variety of foods youâ€™ll find here is astounding. Make sure you try a fried spring onion pancake, some bubble milk tea, or some shaved ice with sweet beans. Youâ€™ll be surprised at how satisfying some of Taiwanâ€™s local cuisine can really be.
While these are the four main markets in Taipei, there are other night markets throughout the city as well. Ask a concierge at any of the hotels in Taipei to direct you towards the one closest to where you are staying. Youâ€™ll be glad you gave the local vendors a try!