Taiwan Photo Diary | Taipei Night MarketsMonday, October 19, 2015
Taiwan is pretty notorious for having some of the BEST night markets in the world. Even the Korean dramas that I follow can attest to that. I first found out about Taiwan’s famous Shilin Night Market from an episode of Roommates when Korean pop stars spent an entire day exploring their 500+ stalls. A few short weeks later Anthony Bourdain did a Layover in Taipei featuring Shilin and I was instantly SOLD.From Shilin’s gargantuan footprint to Raohe’s modest 2-alley row to the old world town of Jiufen, there’s no telling what you might find in these markets! But where the nose goes, I follow!
Raohe Night Market
Raohe street tourist night market may be one of the smallest of the dozen or so littered throughout Taipei but it is also famed as one of the best for street food. You enter through a one-way alley, follow the herd, make a U-turn as you finish the alternate one-way alley, and find yourself right back at the entrance. What you encounter on those two small walkways is nothing short of spectacular...Everything from deep fried squid skewers to ribs in herbal soup, to bbq'd mushrooms and stinky tofu, to my favorite of the bunch peppery meat buns, there's something savory and something sweet for everyone. We spent almost 3 hours here taste testing vendor after vendor and needless to say, we were happily stuffed by the time we arrived back at the entrance.
Jiufen Old Street
I've been reading about Jiufen for ages, most noted for the Old World feel of their cobblestoned streets, the meandering alleys, and thousands of vendors lined up just waiting to hock their goods at passerbys. Spend one hour here and you can easily get lost with every which way to turn. I love that there's a solid mix of modern boutiques alongside traditional Taiwanese garb, standard noodle restaurants next door to exotic snake tastings, and of course can't forget why we ever venture anywhere: The food!
Asia also has a very European sensibility where shops start poppin' off well after midnight.
So while we didn't get the "full" experience of Jiufen since we visited during the day, the town alone left such a lasting impression I'm sure to come back on a future Taipei visit to experience a sky full of lighted red lanterns! A total MUST see!
Shilin Night Market
I'm going to start right off by saying, Shilin Night Market was a total disappointment and EPIC FAIL. Where the old world charm of Jiufen had me mesmerized and the yummy eats of Raohe had me completely satiated, the massive size of Shilin along with the rudeness of all accompanying vendors turned me off so much I half wished I went back to Raohe if just for the people.
There's games, there's food, there's shops, there's merchandise, albeit well organized but in hindsight a total MESS! Come for the gift and apparel shopping, bypass all the ordinary street eats, and you'll be fine. NOTHING special I felt, and a complete waste of our time.
Bourdain shoulda layed-over at Raohe instead, just sayin'.
Just a few Taipei posts left for the week as I've saved the BEST for last!
Come back to see what MY FAVORITE discovery was in ALL of Taiwan!
You won't wanna miss it!