To love food is to love night markets. Especially in Taipei.
Sure, plenty of great food graces menus beyond the crowded markets, but much of Taipei’s culinary identity seems to thrive in the fluorescent glow of the tiny xiaochi stalls that light up the Taiwanese night. In the end, it’s a tangible pulse that’s difficult to ignore.
In fact, in the weeks leading up to our early 2011 trip, it became pretty obvious that any Taipei itinerary omitting night markets would ring embarrassingly incomplete for my wife and I. We’d never stepped a single foot into a night market anywhere in Asia, but every oracle we consulted pointed to the same conclusion: when you love travel and the food that accompanies it, Taiwanese night markets fall into that unique category of destinations you build your trip around.
What ensued after we landed was a multi-day tour of the best night markets that the city had to offer (led by our friends who had recently taken residence there). And while the food produced in those stalls was unfailingly good, I came away even more fond of the actual experience—incredible smells, beautifully interesting sights, and wall-to-wall crowds that define “controlled chaos”. It’s an addictive environment for someone like me, and getting lost in that undertow one more time is almost worth the price of airfare alone.