Taipei comes alive at night.
This is something you’ll realize after spending a day in this wonderful Asian city. The streets that were slow and sleepy in the morning bustle in activity as darkness blankets the sky. People pour out of their homes, schools, and offices to meet up with good friends or family, eat out, do quick shopping runs, or simply take a leisurely evening stroll.
Their favorite spots? Night markets.
From the mouth-watering scent of xiaochi snacks hanging in the air, to the colorful lights that illuminate the streets to life and the loud banter between vendors and market-goers, Taipei’s night market scene gives you an authentic taste of Taiwanese night life and food culture you won’t experience anywhere else in the city.
Here, we give you the lowdown on eight of Taipei’s best-known night markets — how to get there, the best eats, and what makes each of them unique.
Gongguan Night Market
Gongguan Night Market exudes a distinct youthful vibe, thanks to its proximity to National Taiwan University. Spread across the side streets between Roosevelt Road and Dingzhou Road, it is Taipei’s largest night market in the South District. A go-to hangout place for students, it boasts an array of local and international restaurants and is a hot spot for book sellers. Don’t expect to find many English titles, though.
The star of Gongguan Night Market’s food scene is the guabao — succulent slices of stewed pork stuffed in a soft white steamed bun. Feel free to choose from five different cuts of pork, ranging from lean to fatty.
How to get there: Take MRT Line 3 (Songshan-Xindian) to MRT Gongguan Station Exit 1. You will find the market right outside exit.
Huaxi Night Market
Not for the faint-hearted foodie, Huaxi Night Market is famous for its snake meat cuisine. Serpentine specialties are so popular in the area that the entire stretch of the market is also known as “Snake Alley.” Walk down the lane, and you will catch glimpses of caged snakes in restaurants, waiting for their turn to be the next meal of adventurous diners.
Over half a century in operation, Huaxi Night Market takes pride in its multi-generational food vendors and retailers. Here, you will also find a wide selection of traditional Chinese herbs and medicines, massage shops, and health spas.
Just because this night market is best known for its snake dishes, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have other sumptuous bites to offer. Huaxi Night Market is also heavy on seafood! Scour the lanes of food stalls for a variety of seafood snacks and dishes, but make sure to have a taste of the squid soup sold at the entrance of the market. It will complete your gastro adventure on Huaxi Street.
How to get there: Take MRT Line 5 (Bannan) to MRT Longshan Temple Station. The market is right outside Exit 1.
Linjiang Street Tourist Night Market
Also known as Tonghua Night Market, Linjiang Street Night Market can be found between Keelung Road and Dihua Street. It is the closest night market to the famous Taipei 101, but is considered by many as one of the city’s most underrated night markets. Perfect for anyone who wants to visit a night market in the heart of Taipei that’s not heavily crowded by tourists, it features over a hundred stalls that sell snacks, toys, clothes, and fashion accessories.
Must-try: Masa Spring Roll & Taiwanese Sausage with Sticky Rice
The masa spring roll is made popular and interesting by its three main ingredients: Scoops of ice cream, peanut brittle shavings, and cilantro. Hold on to your judgment until you actually have a taste of this treat. The flavors blend together surprisingly well, you’d find yourself lining up for more.
If you’re not in the mood for dessert, give Linjiang Night Market’s Taiwanese Sausage with Sticky Rice a try. This power combo wins in aroma, taste and textures. Go ahead and mix and match it with an assortment of condiments for a burst of flavors.
How to get there: Take MRT Line 2 (Tamsui-Xinyi) to MRT Xinyi Anhe Station, Exit 4. The market is some 9 minutes away.
Nanjichang Night Market
Nanjichang Night Market isn’t exactly just a night market. It is a community-based market open throughout the day, but becomes busier as the night falls. Tucked away from the attention of foreign travelers, this former military airport-turned-market is less touristy and has pretty much kept the warm Taiwanese marketplace atmosphere throughout the years.
Okay, you can get dumpling pretty much anywhere in Taipei, but nothing quite beats those made the traditional way like how Nanjichang Night Market’s food vendors do it. Hand-rolled dumpling wraps are generously stuffed with savory fillings and boiled before serving to customers, who are in for an exciting explosion of flavors and textures.
How to get there: Take MRT Line 5 (Bannan) to MRT Longshan Temple Station Exit 2. Walk Hoping West Road, Section 3, and turn right at Zhonghua Road, Section 2. Nanjichang Night Market is a 17-minute walk away.