If you only have a few days in Taipei City in Taiwan, then one of the must visit places would be Shilin Nightmarket located in the northern part of Taipei. It is probably the biggest and most famous nightmarket in Taipei. It has a history of over 100 years, and everything from shoes, accessories, to herbal tea and of course…the fabulous greasy but tasty street food can be found here at Shilin Nightmarket. Sampling the food at Shilin Nightmarket alone, you probably will have a good taste of the famous street snacks of Taiwan! If you haven’t come to Shilin Nightmarket, then you most definitely haven’t really experienced Taipei City at its best!
My wife and I took the opportunity to visit Shilin Nightmarket on the very first night of our trip to Taipei, and it was indeed a great start to our trip! To reach Shilin Nightmarket, you take the MRT metro train to Jiantan station, and from there you exit the station at exit number 1, and you will see signs pointing you to Shilin Nightmarket about 100 meters away.
Jiantan MRT station, uniquely recognizable with its suspension cables supporting its roof.
Location map of Shilin Nightmarket, highlighted in red box.
The night was rainy and steamy from the humidity, but that did not stop the crowds from coming! The streets were packed with people, hungry for snacks, and busy shopping on a Friday night. Motorcyles were buzzing away within the packed streets itself, so watch out for traffic! We decided to completely skip our dinner, and just focus on sampling the street snacks instead…what a brilliant idea.
Streets packed with people. Rain is a small issue, just bring an umbrella!
Motorcyles squeezing by people, so watch out.
My wife and I decided to wander in one of the alleyways first. You will notice that every corner, street, alleyway and shop houses come alive with vendors selling their goods. There were many signature drink stalls selling fresh fruit juice, and bubble tea. We tried the fresh mulberry juice. Quite sour with a touch of sweetness, and really refreshing.
My wife with the mulberry juice.
By now, with a fresh juice in hand to help lubricate the greasy food, we were ready to start street snacking! I was feeling quite adventurous, and saw a stand that was selling the nasty bits. If you are into duck tongue, liver, hearts, kidneys, you name it…then this is the place to be. How they cook them in Taiwan is similar to other parts of South China: steam or boil them, and lightly braised with soy sauce and doused in sesame oil or chillie oil, and garnished with a healthy serving of pickled vegetables. It was delicious! (warning: graphic pics ahead…don’t say I didn’t warn ya!)
The stall selling the nasty bits.
Duck liver on a stick…yum!
Duck tongue on a stick… chewey with bones, but yum!
Duck heart on a stick (actually I’m not really sure what it was…but it was good anyways)…yum!
As the tasty nasty bits settled into my stomach, my wife wanted real food, so we spotted the most amazing stalls ever sitting side by side to each other. The first was a stall selling barbeque pork strips and bacon wrapped in green scallions. It was charcoal roasted, and was simply amazing! And the best part was that it only costed 10 NT (Taiwan Dollars) per piece! That equates to about 40 Singapore Cents!!! The next stall was selling cheese potatoes. You may ask what on earth that may entail? Well let me describe it to you. It is a whole fried potato with a slit in the middle, and topped with pineapple bits, corn, processed turkey bits, mayo, pepper, and drenched in bright orange liquid cheese! It’s about 50 to 80 NT (Taiwan Dollars) depending on the flavour you choose. All I can say was that it eats like a meal, and was just awesome!
The barbeque pork and cheese potato stalls.
The barbeque pork and bacon wrapped green scallions!
The cheese potato!
After the cheese potato, it started to hit us like a brick, with all the blood rushing to our stomachs! Our stomachs felt like it was on fire with massive heart burn…haha! So we found some bitter herbal teas at the many herbal teashops to cool us down. After that intermission that is where we spotted the chicken chops! It was basically a large fried piece of chicken chops and you had a choice of spices that they sprinkled over the chops. We chose the chilli flavour spice. My opinion is that without the chilli spice, it would have probably tasted amazing, but I think ours had alittle too much spice, which kind of just felt like eating a big block of MSG. So just something you may want to take note when selecting your spice.
The chicken chop stall we visited (there were others as well, but this was the first one we saw).
The chicken chop stall also sells stinky tofu, and other fried goodness.
The chicken chop.
After that, we were pretty much stuffed, eventhough we were still tempted with all the other food stalls lingering around. So we just spent the next 2 hours walking thru the rest of the market to burn off what we ate. And 2 hours later which is about 11:30pm at night, the streets were still super packed! All I can say about Shilin Nightmarket is that is was AWESOME!
Food stalls were everywhere!
Strolling around the nightmarket, looking at the clothes and accessories.
Strolling around the nightmarket, looking at the shoes.
At 11:30pm at night, the streets were still jam packed!
Visitor Information to Shilin Nightmarket:
Getting There: Take the MRT to Jiantan MRT station, and head out at Exit 1
Opening Hours: Daily, 5:00pm to midnight
What were some of the unique night markets you visited? Please share your experiences in the comments below! Cheers!