Travelogue: Night Markets of Taiwan

Taiwan’s night markets are world famous – there are many night markets and bazaars around the world, but as famous as in Taiwan. Just as how France equates wine and England equates crappy weather, Taiwan equates night markets. So I had to visit two of the most famous of Taipei – Shilin (士林) night market and Miaokou (廟口) night market located at Keelung (基隆).
Night Market - Keelung night market 1

The name night market itself is somewhat of a misnomer – translated more directly, it means night city. And it really is a city. For the larger night markets, you’ve got several blocks, filled with street cart vendors cooking and selling treats out of a mobile cart, restaurants serving all sorts of meals, clothing stores selling cheap attire, vendors selling miscellaneous wares, and carnies running various boots.

Shilin is the most famous night market in Taipei, but I honestly found it somewhat lacking – too much of a tourist destination, and hence full of tourists. The food was undoubtedly good, but there wasn’t enough variety. Too much of the night market was taken by clothing and tchotchke vendors.

In comparison, Keelung has been so far my favorite night market. It’s quite a bit smaller than Shilin, but it’s almost 100% food – there’s one small part of the market with clothing and knickknack vendors, but the rest of the space is dedicated to all sorts of food – especially seafood! King crab legs, deep fried soft shell crab, tiny bite sized crabs, everything. As the night market was right next to a harbor, there were a couple cool works of art.

Baby chicks… or ducks?
Night Market - baby chick statue

Some sort of a dragon…. pig?
Night Market - ugly dragon statue

Lately, there’s been a giant inflatable rubber ducky that’s been displayed in many of Taiwan’s ports, becoming somewhat of a major attraction. A smaller model has been deployed in Keelung, advertising that the real duck would be visiting in December.
Night Market - Keelung small rubber ducky

Cold noodles:
Night Market - cold noodles

Jumbo wieners:
Night Market - jumbo weiners

Giant chicken steaks, world famous in Taiwan:
Night Market - giant chicken steak

Fun-shaped Taiyaki:
Night Market - fun shaped taiyaki

Amazing shaved ice, world famous in Taiwan:
Night Market - mango shaved ice portrait Night Market - mango shaved ice

I think their secret is that their shaved ice, isn’t actually water-ice, but instead milk-ice, and so is a lot tastier:
Night Market - shaved ice secret

Night Market - takoyaki 1 Night Market - takoyaki 2

Some kind of flavored… icy… dessert?
Night Market - ice desert

Fun and Games:
– Goldfish scooping! I think this might have originated in Japan, but it’s also popular in Taiwan. For a little more than dollar, you get a couple of paper scoops, and try to catch the fish before your paper net breaks. I caught one (1) fish with two scoops! I rock!

There are also goldfish scooping alternatives – such as this shrimp catching alternative. You’ve got to hook the shrimp before the paper tying your hook to your line breaks!
Night Market - shrimp scooping

– Crane games seem particularly popular too, with many having duck-themed loot:
Night Market - crane games

– There’s also many types of novelty shops, like this one selling all sorts of jigsaw puzzles:
Night Market - jigsaw puzzles

It reminded me of a two week period about a year ago, where I went through a phase of being crazy interested in jigsaw puzzles. In those two weeks, I spent almost every single waking moment finishing three jigsaw puzzles – a 1000 piece work on the Great Wave off Kanagawa (a nightmare, the entire piece was shades of blue and white), a 1000 piece Japanese garden shaped into a fan, and my opus magnum, a 3000 piece monstrosity based on a 1665 world map. I look back fondly at those two weeks, immersed in nothing but my jigsaw puzzles.

And then, when I decided to embark on my world tour, I decided to save my jigsaw puzzles and take them home to Virginia. But in a weird twist of fate, the puzzles ended up on top of the car, unsecured, and the puzzles disappeared as we drove off. Thankfully, we were just driving around the neighborhood, and so the jigsaw puzzles were salvaged – damaged, but salvaged. I hope that they’re doing okay, back home in Virginia. One day, once I’m back home, I’ll reclaim the posters, and frame them on my wall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *