Taiwan is known for its delicious street food and drinks, you can try anything from beef noodle soup to its flavoured teas like bubble tea. The Taiwanese have an amazing variety and what better way to try all of these different types of food and drinks than a visit to the colourful night markets. Here are some of the best night markets to visit in Taiwan.
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The concept of the night market traces its roots back to the medieval Chinese Tang dynasty. Night markets (or night bazaars) are street markets that are typically open-air markets. You can generally stroll around leisurely, eating, drinking and shopping.
Highlights of street food in Taiwan
Luodong Night Market – Yilan 羅東夜市
Located in Luodong Township, Yilan County, and only 0.2 miles from the main Station is the Luodong Night Market. It is considered to be one of the biggest and most crowded night markets in Taiwan. It is a great place for food lovers, as there were loads of food stalls and so many choices around every corner.
⇒ Other places to explore in Taiwan – What to do on Green Island Taiwan
The best part is that it is feasible to get here if you are staying in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. There are various transportation methods that can be used like cars, bus, train or even taxi. If you come by car there is a multi-story car park near the Luodong Night Market’s entrance to accommodate the crowds. If you take a bus, for example, it is around an hour, it really depends on your budget.
It has everything from local food/snacks, drinks, fashion shops and even games to keep the children entertained. Some of the local popular dishes to try at Luodong night market are milkfish soup, mutton soup, spring onion pancake or even smoked duck.
- Location: 265, Taiwan, Yilan County, Luodong Township, Xingdong Road
- Opening hrs – 3pm – 12am
Tip for visiting Luodong
- There is a free city bus, which runs every 30 minutes or so around Luodong. However, the route maps are only in Chinese.
Day option with cooking lessons – Morning Market Yilan with Leo
If you are wanting to explore a market during the day and want to learn about authentic Taiwanese food, then I highly recommended doing the Morning Market Yilan tour with Leo. You get to learn a lot about Taiwanese food while at the same time, meet lots of local vendors.
This was one of my favourite tours while I was in Yilan county and Leo and his wife were amazing hosts and I even got to meet their newest member, who was adorable.
Dongdamen (also known as Dongdaemun) Night Market – Hualien 東大門夜市
The Dongdamen ( also known as Dongdaemun) Night Market is a night market in Hualien City. In English Dongdamen means east gate and due to the location of the night market being on the eastern edge of Hualien City.
Apart from the usual stalls of food and drinks, there was an undercover area with lots of tables and some entertainment where you were able to sit down and enjoy your food. I also saw lots of toilets but like most markets, there were large lines to use them. I loved this market a lot and it reminded me of Christmas markets in Europe with its big arch gates.
Here is where I also learnt that cocktails don’t necessarily have alcohol in them, it just means mixed drinks with fruit. Why don’t you try some of the cool and creative teas to cool down your evening, like the mango tea. If it is food that you are looking for, how about the fried chicken or the succulent pork sausages.
- Location: No. 50, Zhongshan Road, Hualien City, Hualien County, Taiwan 970
- Opening hrs – 6pm – 12am
- It was really really busy here and I could see that there was not much parking available. I also didn’t see cash machines, so best to get it out before you go.
Hualien City Old Railroad Pedestrian or Old Railroad Pedestrian Zone
Sometimes called Hualien City old railroad pedestrian or old railroad pedestrian zone. This is not really a night market but an great area that has stalls and shops along it, as well as nice restaurants and bars. It is located on the tracks at the western edge of Hualien City’s downtown triangular shopping district.
Hualien City’s Old Railroad was a section of the old Hualien line, which once passed through the city. However, when a new line was put in place the route was changed out of the city. The old railway area became empty space, so it was changed into a pedestrian zone. The area has lots of small souvenir and handicraft shops, which are great for visitors, especially if you are in town seeing Taroko Gorge.
You can also visit this place during the day but I think it is better in the afternoon, especially when the bars and restaurants open and the trees are all lit up. One of the things to try in the restaurants while here is fish ball soup.
If you are looking for a drink there were a few pubs in the area that definitely look worth a visit. However, they didn’t open until after 7pm.
Kenting Night Market 垦丁大街
After a day of enjoying water sports or exploring the beautiful Kenting coast, head down to the vibrant Kenting Night Market for some fun and to enjoy some must-try street food. The main difference with this one than all the others is that it is along the main street and it definitely has the relaxed beach vibe.
Apart from your traditional stalls that sold things like grilled squid, I noticed here that they had a few western stalls too that sold things like Pizza. Kenting night market was also a good spot if you like seafood and enjoy going to bars, as there was plenty of choices.
- Location: 946, Taiwan, Pingtung County, Hengchun Township, 墾丁路海濱巷5號
- Opening hrs – 3pm – 12am.
Where to have a drink afterwards
If you like cocktails especially Gin based and are looking for somewhere for a drink after the Night Market, then head to the Hidden Star which is on the main street where the Night Market is held.
Garden Night Market – Tanian 花園夜市
The Tainan Flower Night Market (or also known as The Hua Yuan Ye Shi) is a tourism night market based in Tainan city. There is plenty of car parking in the area as the night market is on a large plot of land that is right next to a parking lot. Not only was there a large selection of food and drinks to try there are also craft stalls and electrical stalls.
Tainan is renowned for its Beef soup, which was invented in the 1980’s, you can have it on its own or with noodles. You definitely have to give it a try, especially if you like red meat. If you don’t like meat and you are feeling daring enough, then how about the stinky tofu?
- Location: No. 533號, Section 3, Hai’an Road, North District, Tainan City, Taiwan 704
- Opening hrs – 5pm – 12am (Closed Fridays, Mondays & Tuesdays)
What to try at the Night Markets
There are so many yummy options for local food and drinks to try that it’s often difficult for people to choose what to have. Below is some Taiwanese cuisine to try at the night markets:
Bubble tea (also known as pearl milk tea, bubble milk tea, or boba) is a very sweet Taiwanese tea-based drink. It is a concoction of milk powder, ice cubes, sugarcane syrup, and boiled tapioca balls. Don’t worry if don’t try it at the market because the drink is so popular that you can literally try it everywhere.
Gua Bao (also known as Pork belly bun)
One of my favourites was Gua Bao (also known as Pork belly bun). It is a super soft bun filled with cuts of local meat, sour fried mustard green and fresh coriander leaves. Gua means cut-open bun in Taiwanese.
If you can handle the smell and you are feeling adventurous then you have to try the very popular Stinky tofu. It is a Chinese form of fermented tofu that has a very strong odour. It is so strong that you can even smell it a couple of stalls away. Personally I couldn’t try it but I hear (from more than one local) that if you can get past the smell Stinky tofu tastes really amazing.
One of the most famous street foods in Taiwan is an oyster omelette (also known as a Teochew omelette). If you don’t want to try one, watch how they make so many at one time as it is really interesting.
Tips and Information before visiting a night market in Taiwan
- Most places take cash and not bank cards, best to get some money out before you go.
- The currency used within Taiwan is the Taiwanese dollar
- Night markets get very busy in Taiwan, so if you don’t have a local sim card to make a call, arrange a meeting point if you get lost.
- There is usually very limited parking, so I suggest taking a taxi or local transport.
- Carry a water bottle to keep you hydrated, especially during the humid months.
⇒ I used Lonely Planet Taiwan (Travel Guide) Paperback, as a reference while travelling around the country for a month.
Basic Mandarin phrases you might find useful
The main languages spoken in Taiwan especially at the night markets are Chinese and Taiwanese. Mostly the older generation will speak Taiwanese while the younger generation prefers to speak Chinese. English is not frequently used by the locals.
The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese and I learnt some basic Chinese words when I was there. It is amazing how far a few basic words and a smile can get you. Here are some useful Mandarin phrases that you may find useful:
- Hello = ni hau 你好
- Yes = shr 是
- No = bu shr 不是
- Please = ching 請
- Thank you = shie shie 謝謝
- Excuse me = duei bu chi 對不起
- You’re welcome = bu yung shie 不客氣
- Where is the bathroom? = xǐshǒujiān zài nǎli 洗手间在哪里 (Literally means Restroom/Bathroom/Toilet At Where?)
Download google translate to help with saying longer sentences while at the night markets in Taiwan. It helped me a lot especially when I was on my own and not with a guide.
Other places to visit in Asia
If you are interested in discovering other places in Asia, feel free to read my following articles. All are great options for travelling with a group of friends or family.
- Best things to do in Bohol Philippines – The Philippines
- Hints and tips for tackling Everest Base Camp – Himalayas Nepal
- Ultimate three day itinerary – Armenia Georgia
- A brief encounter with the city of Bandar Seri Begawan – Brunei
Thank you for reading this article ‘Best Night Markets to visit in Taiwan’. I hope it helped you to decide what night markets to visit while in Taiwan.
Who loves night markets or even Taiwanese food? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
How about some other amazing Adventures around Taiwan in advance.
Disclaimer: Even though I was there with the Taiwan Tourism UK. All views are my own and based on my own experience.