Taiwan is known for its night markets specializing in street food, but at Taipei's Shida Night Market, the focus is on trendy fashion and cute accessories. Even for a non-shopper such as myself, I easily spent two nights exploring and window shopping the back alleys and bustling pedestrian-only thoroughfare. I couldn't get enough of the energy and colorful stalls of Shida Night Market!
The small, yet super-packed Shida Night Market mainly attracts students from nearby National Taiwan Normal University, though it's not uncommon to see families and foreigners trolling the stalls for inexpensive clothing, accessories, and gifts. Many people come out just to enjoy the vibrant and at times, chaotic atmosphere, making Shida Night Market a great place for people watching.
What surprised me the most about Shida Night Market is how upmarket it was. Once home to mom and pops stores, several roads have made way for cute boutique shops and hip restaurants to mark the rapidly gentrifying and diversifying neighborhood. For better or for worse, Taipei is changing and Shida Night Market is a prime example of how the traditional culture of night markets is evolving with the times.
Of course, let's not forget Shida Night Market is still a
Taiwanese market at heart. Food stalls can still be found dotted along
the streets, most of which can be found serving up traditional Taiwanese
fare such as fish balls, fried chicken, oyster pancakes, and even stinky tofu. To cater to the growing popularity of Western cuisine with university students, Shida Night
Market also offers coffee shops, burrito stalls, thin-crust pizza,
and even a burger joint serving up local microbrews.
Out of Taipei's many famed night markets, Shida Night Market is definitely my favorite. Although it can be stressful at times to maneuver your way through the streets, it's an insightful look into changing urban life in Taipei, as well as a great spot to do some shopping for unique gifts for friends as well as yourself!
To get to Shida Night Market, take the MRT Xindian Line to the Taipower Building Station or the Guting Station.
Insider tip: For those who still want to experience the nostalgia of old-time markets, head early in the morning to nearby Longquan Market where neighborhood residents still buy their groceries and household items.
© Connie Hum 2012