Though I’ve spent the majority of my life in Hong Kong, I was born in Taipei and go back a few times a year to visit family and stuff my face with incredible Taiwanese food. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of playing pinball at Raohe Night Market in Taipei and being ecstatic after winning a few pieces of candy or a key chain (if I’m on a roll)!
I’ve been to a number of night markets around the world, and in my humble opinion they just don’t compare to night markets in Taiwan. Night markets are an inherent part of the culture and you can find them in every single city in Taiwan – read on for 6 reasons why you have to add visiting a night market to your Taiwan itinerary!
General tips for visiting Taiwan night markets
- Taiwanese night markets generally open 365 days a year, but not all stalls will open if there is heavy rain or a typhoon.
- Shops and stalls will start opening at around 5, 6 PM, but you should plan to arrive at around 7 PM when everything is set up and the atmosphere is at its peak (translation: crowded). Not a fan of crowds? Head there early or after 9 PM.
- Night markets in Taiwan are pretty much cash only, so make sure you hit up the ATM first!
- Unfortunately, there’s a lot of plastic that’s used at night markets – bring your own shopping bag and bring a metal straw if you plan on buying a drink.
- Don’t bother haggling with food hawkers as prices are fixed, but if you’re buying a lot of things from one stall you can try to ask for a small discount.
- Watch your belongings and make sure that you keep a close eye on your wallet and phone.
- Though it may be true that there are some counterfeit items at night markets in Taiwan, the crackdown on fake goods is real. Most big brands have their own shops at night markets (adidas, Nike and so on), so you know that what you’re buying is the real deal.
- Pay attention to the direction that the crowd is moving in, and don’t go against the flow!
- The toilet situation can be fairly grim, and many older toilets in Taiwan are of the squat variety. Go to the bathroom before you head to a night market, and you’ll also want to bring some tissue as most toilets won’t have any.
1. They’re not tourist traps
Night markets are popular for locals and tourists alike! You’ll see lots of families, couples and large groups of friends. Some people even bring their pets – just look at this obligatory dog photo:
Though you can expect to see the occasional crappy souvenir shop, prices are pretty standard across the board and you shouldn’t expect to be charged a premium “tourist price”.
2. There are tons of night markets to choose from
There’s something for everyone, and you’ll never run out of options – there are more than 10 night markets in Taipei alone! There are night markets that are known for out-of-this-world food stalls, and some are better known for shopping. It all depends what you’re after, or just hit up a different night market each day.
Most Taiwanese night markets are also open 365 days a year, so you don’t have to worry about missing the night market experience, though some stalls may choose not to open during rainstorms or typhoons.
3. The atmosphere is electric
I can’t quite describe the atmosphere at a Taiwan night market. It’s a feast for all of your senses! From the delicious scents of Taiwanese street food that waft through the air, to the plethora of sounds from people eating, chatting and playing games.
Visiting a night market is one of the best ways to get a taste of Taiwanese culture, and you’ll need to experience it for yourself to see what I mean! If you are traveling to Taipei, the best night market in Taipei is Raohe Night Market (I’m not biased, I swear).
Visiting Taipei and only have 2 days to spend in the city? Click here for my guide to 10 things you must do in Taipei or click here to see current rates at highly rated hotels in the city!
4. The Taiwanese street food
Taiwanese street food is some of the best in the world and makes me cry real tears of joy. My friends who are visiting Taiwan always ask me for restaurant recommendations, and I just tell them to go to the night market for dinner.
Every time I go back to Taiwan I put on a few pounds (happily), and I always count down to my next trip back. Pro tip: Have an early lunch or skip lunch altogether so you get to try a bit of everything! Taiwanese street food is always cheap and incredibly tasty.
I’ve never once gotten sick from street food in Taiwan, and don’t worry, there are tons of food options for vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians! Not only is Taiwanese street food aplenty at night markets, there are also food stalls from other cuisines ranging from Indian to Japanese, even Italian dishes.
Are you a foodie? Click here to see some of my favorite Taiwanese food dishes!
5. The shopping
You can buy everything you need at a night market, from electronics and gadgets to clothing and fun accessories. Prices are dirt cheap and some stalls are open to a (small) discount if you buy a bunch of stuff.
I’ve bought some amazing, high-quality clothes and random things like dog treats at night markets in Taiwan, I’ve even gotten my cracked iPhone screen fixed for a fraction of what Apple charges!
6. But that’s not all…there’s tons of other entertainment at night markets in Taiwan
The reason why night markets in Taiwan are so popular is because it offers EVERYTHING under the sun – not just food and shopping. There are game stalls like these basketball stands, darts, pinball, claw machines, mah jong, and more. I’m partial to throwing darts to pop balloons, unfortunately I’m not very good at it.
You can also get your fortune told by one of the many Chinese fortune tellers, or perhaps get a manicure, massage or even a facial!
Want even more Taiwan travel tips and advice? Click here!
Have you been to a night market in Taiwan? What was your favorite thing about it?
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