By Madel Tham, Culture Editor
With the tempting aroma of local delicacies. the cute small little items you just want to bring them home, and the variety of clothes you can get, the night market culture in Taiwan is a thrill. The best part? It’s all at an affordable rate!
Finger-licking good; local delights!
Excuse my lack of vocabulary and adjectives that force me to use KFC’s trademark quote – it’s the closest motto I can think of for local delights. The variety is endless; from finger food like fried squid and smelly tofu, to sit-in meals at the various stalls that sell food like Hot Pot, noodles and broth. At the end of the day, do not forget to top it all off with a dessert like Mango Ice, or a delicious crepe.
Personally, I try not to eat a full meal when beginning my food-tasting frenzy. You can choose to have a small bowl of noodles just in case you think you won’t feel satisfied with those finger foods, but otherwise use the ‘eat-as-you-walk’ method. The variety you get is amazing — try everything you can.
Most of the time you do find duplicate stalls or several stalls selling the same thing. Generally, one of the stalls will have an overwhelming response; if you don’t mind the queue, it is likely because of it the good service and long history in the area. Trust the locals, they know better! However, if you don’t want to queue (sometimes these queues can take up to half-an-hour or more) you can try the taste at other stalls; it won’t be too far off. You can always google to find out which stalls are popular hits before you go to the actual area.
These roadside stalls at the night market not only sell food, but a range of accessories, such as earrings and necklaces. There is also handphone straps, bags and other little items. Take your time choosing these accessories; each stall have unique styles and prices that sell handmade items.
Do not buy in huge bulk at one stall; take a trip down the lane for a first look, or you can opt to buy one to two that intrigue you at a stall. The prices are fairly affordable even for the locals, and if you ever think that it isn’t, haggle a price with the stall owner; they generally would give you a discount! It is important to note that haggling is only allowed for roadside stalls. Most of the time the shops along the road do not accept haggling.
Our favorites: Clothes, and shoes!
With a plethora of styles for you to choose from: vintage, boyfriend, prep, classy, Lolita, casual, and more, you are bound to find something that you like. Note however, Taiwan is a seasonal country; If you go there during winter, it’s hard to find summer clothing, and vice versa. Do take note of this, especially if you live in non-seasonal places.
And how can we forget about the shoes? Taiwanese love boots, especially those styled from places like Japan or Korea. If you ever go there during the fall/winter season, be sure to get a pair back home as a victory purchase! Pictured are boy-ish boots that were recently a hit in Taiwan.
At the end of the day
Night markets are a must-visit to anyone who is going Taiwan for a trip; it’s a booming culture over there, with large support from the locals themselves. It’s a truely fun experience, whether you’re there with your family or friends.
Madel Tham has been to Taiwan for five times within the last eight years for family and school trips. All photos taken by Tham.