Taipei has a well-deserved reputation as one of the best places to eat in the world. Many visitors arrive with an empty stomach and plans to fill it up as quickly as possible — plans that rarely go unfulfilled. But traveling with children presents a challenge: will they enjoy eating strange food in strange places? Thankfully, Taipei’s many food choices present few problems for children. In fact, they may even end up eating more than their parents!
There is an endless variety of locations to eat at around the city: food stalls, restaurants, cafes, dumpling bars, food courts, and more. They are all great, but by far the best places to eat are at Taipei’s fabulous night markets. The best part about these open-air food bazaars is that they have a huge variety of different dishes on offer. Many cost only about $1, which makes this a great way to try a variety of items. They also have a friendly atmosphere, and provide a superb way to interact with the locals.
Parents are sometimes worried how toddlers and young children will cope at a night market, but the fears are usually unfounded. They are perfect for kids. The food is quick and easy, and the kids can see the food so it’s easy for them to choose. Night markets are all full of locals, so tourists rarely feel unsafe.
The only downside is a lack of seating, so having a stroller on hand is a very good idea. English isn’t widely spoken, but with sign language and smiles, it’s easy enough to get by. It might not always be clear what exactly you’re ordering, but nine times out of ten it will taste great.
There are a lot of night markets in Taipei. Here are our top three to try if you have kids in tow.
Shida Night Market
Shida night market is a smaller, more local night market with a huge variety of great food to try. There are also many clothing shops to browse while eating. If the kids get thirsty or need a break, small restaurants and cafes are a great way to sit in comfort while watching the activity outside.
Shida Night Market is easily accessible via the metro at the Taipower Building station. We recommend arriving any time after 5:30pm.
Raohe Night Market
Raohe Night Market is Taipei’s oldest and is definitely one of the best. It is situated on one big, long street that is packed full of food stalls, and has a friendly and relaxed vibe. There’s an endless variety of food to try, and kids love running about trying it all.
This night market is located about 15-minute walk from Houshanpi metro station, and taxis are readily available. We recommend arriving after 6pm.
Shilin Night Market
Shilin Night Market is the largest and most famous night market in Taipei, and — according to some — the best place in the city to eat. With a large food section and a larger general goods section, it takes newbies a while to figure it out, but it soon becomes clear. Kids will love the activity and energy here — scooters and bikes whiz by (be careful!) and there is shouting, yelling and laughing in all directions. The market is quite spread out, so look at a map before you go to get a rough idea of the layout to avoid walking (or carrying tired kids) more than is necessary. Arrive early, as it gets quite busy as the night goes on. There’s also an area with a roof, which is good to know if it starts raining. Shilin Night Market is located next to Jiantan metro station.