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The Taiwanese love their street food. This place is called a 'tourist market', but there's nothing touristy about it. The great thing about it is that it's bigger than your local street food scene (usually about 5 hawker stalls or less), but it's not so big and touristy that you'll have tour groups attacking you left right and centre (like at Shi Lin Night Market). Walk along and have whatever takes your fancy. In summer it can definitely get hot and humid, so if you can, go another season. If it's unavoidable that you go in summer, just have more pao bing (shaved ice). Whatever the season, just make sure you go hungry. For shopaholics, there's also a sprinkling of clothing and accessories stalls. Language barriers are potentially a problem because most signage is in Chinese, but if you see someone else buying or see some sort of an example of what you'd like, the point-and-click strategy usually works fine.
Cheap and tasty snacks are the main draw for both local and foreign visitors to Taipei's major night markets - Shih Lin (Jiantan metro station), Rao He (across the footbridge from Songshan railway station), Liaoning Jie (near Nanjing East metro station) and Hua Hsi (north of Longshan Shi metro station). Two must-try items for all night market visitors, including those with faint-hearted palates, are the 'Supersized Chicken Chop' and the 'Pearl Milk Tea'. The 'Supersized Chicken Chop' is a huge piece of breaded, deboned chicken thigh which is deepfried till crispy and seasoned with a local mix of spices including red pepper powder. It is known by its local moniker 'Hao Da Jih Pa'. The 'Pearl Milk Tea' (known in local parlance as 'Zhen Zhu Nai Cha') is a refreshing, milky beverage of freshly brewed red tea served on ice with chewy black-colored 'pearls' made of tapioca flour. The drink comes with an upsized straw to sip the tea along with the 'pearls'.
Things you should know:
Average spending: USD3 per person (on food and drinks)
Opening hours: about 6pm to midnight.
Getting there: Easiest to take a taxi. It's to the east of Taipei's main railway station and really shouldn't take more than 20 minutes from there.
Traveller's diarrhea: take normal precautions, but in general it shouldn't be an issue.