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Taipei’s markets are the lifeblood of the city, and a microcosm of Taiwanese culture. Here are 10 great markets where you can explore all the snacks, souvenirs and second dinners this city has to offer, whether you’re an early bird or night owl.
While city regulations have cut down on vendors in the past decade, these street markets remain an important part of Taipei and show no signs of disappearing from the city completely.
Opening times: Generally, night market vendors throw open their figurative doors at around 6pm. But if you want to experience the quintessential Taipei market experience in all its boisterous glory, head down after 7pm. Closing time is typically at around 11pm, or even later in the summer months.
Bringing outside food: It’s generally OK to bring a non-alcoholic drink or outside food into a night market restaurant, but try not to make a conspicuous mess.
How to barter: A bit of gentle bartering is expected, especially with vendors who have no storefront. The way to do it is to smile and ask the vendor if they can handle a “discount” or if there’s any way you can save a little money (可以優惠一點點嗎？Kěyǐ yōuhuì yī diǎn diǎn ma?). If you play it right, you can generally cut the price down 20-30%. At flea markets, you can probably get the price down even more.
This smaller, rowdy market is all about snacks, fashion and a collegiate atmosphere. Located at the axis of several universities (including the famous National Taiwan University and National Taiwan Normal University), you’ll find rows of well-priced clothing, book and art supply stores, plus a stationery emporium stuffed full of the cutest postcards, magnets and notebooks. Head down to Beef Boss (牛老大) to check out their retro noodle-slicing robot and tuck into bowl of saucy beef noodles (牛肉乾拌麵) or red braised beef tendon soup noodles (紅燒牛筋面). Make sure to also pay a visit to Haohao Wei Hong Kong Snack (好好味港式小吃) to try their freshly made Hong Kong-style pineapple buns, served warm with a pat of butter tucked inside (招牌冰火波羅油). Compared with some of the other markets on this list, Shida is a little less manic and even has a few small areas where diners can sit down, rest and eat.
Raohe Street Night Market gets a lot of attention as one of the oldest and most lauded night markets in Taipei. Clustered around the Ciyou Temple and spanning roughly 600m (2,000ft) in length, the area still gives off an old-school traditional vibe that some of the other night markets have lost in the past few years due to strict new regulations. Raohe has also gotten a lot of mentions from Michelin, sealing its reputation as a foodie favorite. For a taste of the Bib Gourmand (especially if the weather outside is damp), head to Chen Dong Medicinal Pork Rib Soup (陳董藥燉排骨攤位). The nourishing, rich elixir is stewed with Chinese herbs until the meat falls from the bones; it’s a calming balm on the stomach, especially if you’ve been eating too much fried food. Not acknowledged by Michelin but also delicious are the oyster pancakes at Li Ji (李記蚵仔煎), a culinary institution since the 1980s.
Originally a military airport when Taiwan was still under Japanese colonial rule, Nanjichang is another night market that’s not on the docket for most tourists. During your wanders, be sure to pick up a wrap from Wowang Rice Wraps (吾旺再季 潤餅捲專賣), a thin rice-flour crepe filled with a satisfying, moreish mix of veggies, shredded pork, pickled mustard greens and peanut powder.
Ningxia Night Market has a traditional atmosphere, interesting architecture (like the Chen Dexing Ancestral Hall [陳德星堂]) and lots of delicious finds; this is another market that has retained its neighbourhood vibe. Head to Fang Jia Shredded Chicken over Rice (方家雞肉飯), a restaurant that serves a deceptively simple dish comprising (you guessed it) slow-poached chicken served over rice and topped with caramelised red onion. The market is also home to some of the city’s greatest fried taro balls, which you’ll find at Liu Yu Zi (劉芋仔). Try the traditional flavour, filled with a salty egg yolk (蛋黃芋餅), and revel in the contrast of its crisp exterior and soft, fragrant centre.
Located right by the metro and close to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, this weekend-only market hosts more than 120 vendors under the expo dome, selling specialties from around Taiwan. It’s the perfect place to explore the island’s burgeoning organic, artisanal food movement, as many of the vendors specialize in just one product, or in organic vegetables and fruits. Sip on pink guava juice (紅心芭樂汁) while perusing stalls that sell things like small-batch chilli sauces, organic Pingtung peanut butter, dried fruits, pure mountain honey and special maqaw (馬告) peppercorns that taste of lemongrass. Arrive before 2pm to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the wares on offer.
Set beneath Fuhe Bridge on the Yonghe side of the river, this open-air market is full of surprises for the dedicated antique and bargain hunter. There are around 250 official vendors, but lots of hawkers sell wares on the outskirts. Trinkets include old records, cool pottery, porcelain figurines, pieces of ornate tiling and more. This flea market is also located between a traditional market and another flower market, so the shopping just goes on and on and on. Make sure to get here in the morning before 12pm, as most vendors tend to wander off for a long lunch and often don’t return.