Night markets, perhaps the most well-liked and recognisable aspect of Taiwanese culture. The first night market sprang up in Chinese streets during the Song dynasty. Fast forward to the 20th century, where the precursors of the famous Taiwanese night markets started as local markets operating in urban areas. By the 21st century, night markets are a well-established feature of the Taiwanese night life. And what a sight they are!
Bustling with activity, Taiwanese night markets entice all 5 senses. There is plenty to eat and see. Streetside performances are not uncommon, with skilled musicians and dancers filling the night’s air with music and entertainment. Vibrant lights and colours excite the eyes from every direction, with flashy signs advertising the many stalls. The bright lights of the markets chase the dark of the night away, making it seem as if it was day. The mouth-watering smell of a thousand foods hits the nostrils, with Taiwanese 小吃(snacks) such as oyster omelettes and grilled Taiwanese sausages. The skill of Taiwanese gastronomy is apparent when one savours the crispiness of deep fried chicken breast and grilled prawns.
Anything can be found at these emporiums at a cheap price. Streetside vendors ply their wares, selling clothes, gadgets, phone covers, toys – and more. Stroll through the night markets and experience Taiwanese culture at its best.
Several night markets reached prominence, branching out over multiple streets and comprising of thousands of stalls. For example, the Feng Chia Night Market in Taichung City, possibly the biggest night market in Taiwan. Located in Situn District, Taichung, it sprawls across Wunhua Road, Fusing Road and Feng Chia Road. 15000 shops, stalls and restaurants call the night market their home. The latest in fashion, electronic devices, accessories and numerous small eats can be found in the depths of the night market. Feng Chia Night Market is also the birthplace of several famous snacks now widespread across the island. Deep fried chicken ribs, cheese potatoes and Japanese style chicken ribs are several examples. Feng Chia Night Market will certainly be an eye-opener to anyone foreign to the Taiwanese night markets.
Another famous night market would be the Shilin Night Market. The market was first established in 1899, and is regarded as the father of all Taiwanese night markets. It is the largest and most famous night market in Taipei. What attracts the hordes to Shilin is its many eateries. Sizzling chunks of beef is laid to roast right in front of the customer at the many steakhouses. Shilin’s oyster omelettes are the most famous in Taiwan. Deep-fried chicken breasts, spring onion pancakes, hot pot, oyster omelettes, fresh squid, pork or fish thick soups all await the night market’s visitors. Savoury and sweet dishes alike await to tantalise your tastebuds. Shilin Night Market is every epicurean’s wet dream.
If the Shilin Night Market is the Shangri-la for cuisine lovers, Ximending is the shopper’s paradise. Ximending has been called the “Harajuku of Taiwan”. Ximending is the centre of Taiwanese fashion and youth culture. Ximending has large department stores, catering to every fashion sense. Hats, shirts, dresses, scarves and more all can be found in the flashy and air-conditioned shopping malls. In the side alleys of the district, there are stalls selling yet more clothes and fashion articles, along with the small eats typical of the Taiwanese night market. Ximending is the shopper’s haven.
Taiwanese Night Markets are the colourful and energetic night life of Taiwan. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to go on a stimulating night market hop! Taiwan Free and Easy does tailor tours depending on your wants, do give us a call and email if you want to try out this experience.