Markets offer great insights into a country’s culture, and in Taiwan the night markets are a mandatory stop for observing local life. Sometimes spanning entire city blocks, the markets are an amusement park of sorts—complete with a midway of mahjong and basketball games—where friends and families gather at colorful communal tables to feast on gastronomic discoveries from a clutter of stalls. Whether you’re at one of the nine markets in Taipei (such as the famous Shilin market or the more intimate Ningxia market) or visiting the big Da Dong market in Tainan, you won’t go hungry!
From savory pork on a stick and crispy chicken chop (chicken that is fried and then grilled) to sweet, custard-filled wheel cake and sugar cane lemonade, market fare surprises and delights. Distinctively Taiwanese grab-and-go snacks include stinky tofu (which tastes exactly as it sounds) and the surprisingly appealing pig’s blood cake—a hearty dessert-on-a-stick consisting of rice and pig’s blood dipped in a pork soy broth and coated with peanut flour. A cultural immersion at its finest, the markets and the surrounding scooter-filled chaos will create a memory of Taiwan that will stay with you forever.
AFAR Ambassador Natalie Taylor traveled to Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.