Taipei’s rich tapestry of night markets draw thousands of people every night with hawkers selling a huge variety of wares: the most famous draw is the xiaochi snacks of stinky tofu or sweet treats.
The city is well known for its range of exuberant night markets, the most famous of which is the Shilin Night Market in the Shilin District.
From about 6pm, the streets begin to grow busy with tourists, groups of young people and families, ready to shop and eat until well past midnight.
Night markets, as well as being a social hub for both locals and visitors after dark, play an important role in preserving the traditional cuisine of the Taiwanese people.
Although night markets sell a huge variety of produce, from clothes to consumer goods and tourist memorabilia, they are famous for the huge variety of delicious traditional food and treats they offer.
Each market has its own speciality of “xiaochi” (which literally translates as “small eats” or finger food) ranging from “stinky tofu” (the stinkier the better), oyster omelettes or chicken shawarma kebabs.
Many markets and their speciality dishes are such an important part of Taiwanese culture that they are the first stop on any visitor tour to give tourists a feel of an authentic Taiwanese meal.
As well as promoting traditional food and recipes, night markets such as Danshui also continue the market traditions of carnival games.
Children (and the young at heart) have the opportunity to test their skill and luck at traditional amusements such as shooting marbles or balloons or trying to catch fish in a barrel.
For a few Taiwanese dollars, the evening can be spent playing simple games and eating a range of hot snacks now as it could have been for generations as night markets remain a fundamental part of Taiwan’s culture and tradition.