Taipei Night Markets

The street food night markets of Taiwan are a fabulous way to eat. Grazing your way around a lively, friendly, food festival is a great way to spend an evening. In Taipei, we were able to visit five different venues but there are many more located all over the city. Visiting at 6pm means you won’t need to queue too long but some stalls will only just be setting up. Our Taiwanese Airbnb-mates would usually go at 10.30pm.

Shilin night market (Jiantan or Shilin metro line 2) – this was the first night market we visited and we loved the vibrancy. There are many shops as well as food stalls so a good place to spend an evening. We were told that Shilin is for tourists and luckily my entry visa states that I am one! There was also a market next door where teenagers played fairground games and queued for giant battered chicken pieces. Its good for people watching. We tried octopus balls, chicken popcorn, and pork buns baked in a tandoor.

Raohe night market  (either Yongchun metro line 5 / Songshan metro line 3) – I believe this is the oldest night market and is a pedestrianised lane. Some of the stalls have small tables and stools where you can perch. There was a great variety of food choices and we tried pork buns, fried dumplings, okonomyaki, and spicy sausage wrapped greens. A special mention needs to be made about the xiaolongbao stall where we watched three young guys make the delicious dumplings before we tried them. We like xiaolongbao a lot and so we have tried them a lot. These were very, very good. For the combination of food variety and fun, this was our favourite market.

Wuxing Street (Taipei 101 metro line 2) – different to Shilin and Raohe as its mainly a street with many cafes and restaurants which also has a few street stalls. It’s not pedestrianised, so don’t wander down the middle of the road! We ate really good fried pork dumplings which were really juicy. We went here late and some of the cafes were closing.

Ningxia night market (Zhongshan metro line 2/3) – small but diverse, with a row of stalls on a pedestrianised street. We tried Bitter tea (kucha), exploding chicken roll, sweet potato balls which seem to be available everywhere and vermicelli with oysters. I got the feeling this was a very “authentic” market.

Liaoning night market (SongJiang Nanjing metro line 4) – similar to Wuxing street as it is mainly restaurants with a few stalls but it’s a whole road of eateries which includes very good fish restaurants.

We love eating good food and loved our experience exploring the vibrant street food markets of Taipei.

16.12.16 Taipei – Beitou & Xiangshan

Taipei is such a fabulous city that today we plan to bathe in thermal springs and see the sunset from a mountain.

We MRT to Beitou, then catch a spur line to Xinbeitou and as we leave the carriage the smell of sulphur assaults our nostrils. On the way to the thermal pool we visit an aboriginal cultural centre which is very informative. There are examples of different indigenous costumes, historical artefacts and artworks with explanations in English.

We continue up to the pool, which is just some warm water with steam coming off, but is, for some reason, entrancing. The colour is beautiful and people armed with selfie sticks snap away. There is a man beating a drum and chanting which adds to the atmosphere.

We then head to a thermal spa where its cheaper to hire a private room for an hour than pay for two people to have unlimited time. We opt for a room which also has a cold pool and having experienced onsens in Japan, we know the drill. Strip, shower and dive in. We are thankful for the cold pool. We relax and before you can say ‘it ain’t half hot mum’ the phone rings and our hour is over. We emerge red faced and sweating.

After some ordinary noodles we travel the red MRT line to its eastern terminus at Xiangshan. There are English signs for elephant mountain which we follow and begin climbing the stone steps to the summit. Its the second time today we are red faced and sweating. Near the top we come across loads of teenagers photographing each other on top of a boulder. We carry on upwards until we find a quiet viewing spot. Weary legs are rested and we watch the sky turn orange and the sun fade to red. In front of us Taipei looks wonderful. Initially misty in the orange glow, as dusk settles it slowly lights up, until a modern metropolis sparkles. We’re hypnotized by the artificial beauty and I think of the cityscapes in the movie Blade Runner.

Liaoning night market provides us with the dumplings we crave and the layout is a bit different to Shilin and Raohe night markets where small stalls provide food. Here its restaurants.

We spend the evening writing Xmas postcards to everyone in blighty. They’re on their way folks!