Taipei plus surrounding areas (New Taipei City & Keelung) has more than 30 night markets. They are hugely popular among locals, and also the #1 top attraction for visitors to Taiwan according to the numbers. They are so popular that they can be really crowded and not enjoyable for the uninitiated, so here some tips to maximize your experience.
Please see my full post on the best night markets in Taipei for a much more detailed version of what follows.
Choose the Best Time to Visit
- Usually stalls start setting up around 4, get going around 5, and close around midnight.
- Going right at the beginning is best because they aren't too crowded yet and food is at it's freshest.
- Avoid 7-10 pm, especially on weekends, if you don't like crowds and long lines.
- Summer in Taiwan is extremely hot and humid, even in the evening, so avoid summer if you have trouble with heat.
- Some stalls don't open on Mondays. Other weekdays are the best time to go.
Choose the Best Taipei Night Market for You
- There's no single best one. They are all good and fairly similar, but do have some differences, such as different famous stalls, different feel, and unique snacks.
- Shilin Night Market is the biggest, most famous, and most crowded. It is popular among local teens, and has the most foreign tourists (still mostly locals go there though). Come here for the full-on night market experience. Air conditioned underground food court is great.
- Raohe, Ningxia, and Tonghua (Linjiang street) night markets are next in popularity. Raohe has a really cool temple at the entrance, Ningxia is a little smaller and more manageable but still has really good food, and Tonghua is close to ritzy Taipei 101 area but features traditional dishes that haven't changed for decades.
- Huaxi Night Market used to be famous for slaughtering and serving snakes, but fortunately that is over now. It's in a seedy (but still safe, this is Taiwan) neighborhood, so it has a crusty, old-timey kind of vibe and is an iconic Taipei attraction.
- Shida used to be very popular, but has totally died down since the government closed most of it up to due complaints from residents. It's still a popular student area with lots of restaurants, cafes, and trendy clothing shops.
- Keelung's Miaokou Night Market, specializing in seafood, is worth the 45-minute train ride, and is my favorite in Taiwan. Anthony Bourdain went there!
- If you don't want to see any other tourists, head to one of the night markets in New Taipei City, such as Lehua, Nanya, or Sanhe.
- Don't wear a backpack, and do wear good shoes.
- Dress light in hot weather. Short shorts, skirts, tank tops all OK in Taiwan.
- "Famous" food stalls usually have long lines, but you can often find similar "copycat" stalls nearby selling almost the same thing with no line.
- Vegans/vegetarians can try stinky tofu, shaved ice desserts (hold the sweetened condensed milk vegans), baked yams, deep fried mushrooms, fresh juices, and more.
Stinky tofu, the most infamous night market snack: