Shilin Night Market | Taipei, Taiwan | Photo Essay

Shilin Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan

Shilin Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan
Shilin Night Market in Taipei, Taiwan

The smell of exotic putrid delicacies.  Unimaginable gridlock.  Neon flashing before my eyes.  I’m in my element.

The Shilin Night Market located in Taipei, Taiwan is one of the most formidable markets I’ve ever visited in Asia.  Encompassing two distinct sections it is home to over 500 plus food stalls.  Aside from small eateries one can witness movie theatres, karaoke bars, video arcades and a host of other shops lined up along the side streets and alleys.  Between 8 and 11 PM the market is saturated with a surplus of bodies all inching for space that seemingly doesn’t exist.  Many businesses continue operating well past midnight.

I was simply mesmerized by sheer size of the market and the number of human bodies barraging through its crowded alleyways.  The following photo essay is an attempt to replicate what it is like to be part of the hoard that gathers there each and every night:

Photo Essay: Shilin Night Market

A close-up shot of people sampling some local delicacies.

A close-up shot of people sampling some local delicacies.

A candid shot of a Taiwanese lady with a distinct face.

A candid shot of a Taiwanese lady with a distinct face.

A young Taiwanese vendor dressed in funky attire tries to peddle shoes on the curb.

A young Taiwanese vendor dressed in funky attire tries to peddle shoes on the curb.

Various local delicacies (including meat and tofu) are spread out over a grill.

Various local delicacies (including meat and tofu) are spread out over a grill.

A vendor brushes the stinky tofu (臭豆腐) that lays skewered on the grill.

A vendor brushes the stinky tofu (臭豆腐) that lays skewered on the grill.

A shot of the crowd passing through the Shilin Night Market.

A shot of the crowd passing through the Shilin Night Market.

A candid shot of a Taiwanese lady.

A candid shot of a Taiwanese lady.

A Taiwanese lady holding her dog smiles in this photo.

A Taiwanese lady holding her dog smiles in this photo.

An illuminated pumpkin is on display at food stall.

An illuminated pumpkin is on display at food stall.

*As a travel photography tip, one should consider using a fast lens for night photography on the street. A lens I personally recommend is the 50mm 1.8. The wide aperture allows one to take shots that are sharp when shot wide open with an ISO of either 800 or 1600.

A Taiwanese vendor arranges hot cakes that are sold to the crowds passing by.

A Taiwanese vendor arranges hot cakes that are sold to the crowds passing by.

A child holds onto her mothers back as she is being carried around the market.

A child holds onto her mothers back as she is being carried around the market.

A couple embraces with a hug as they wander the along the crowded Shilin Night Market.

A couple embraces with a hug as they wander the along the crowded Shilin Night Market.

A trendy young couple embraces in a vacant section of the market.

A trendy young couple embraces in a vacant section of the market.

A homeless Taiwanese man extends his arm out for donations in a dimly lit section just outside the market.

A homeless Taiwanese man extends his arm out for donations in a dimly lit section just outside the market.

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  13. says: Erin

    You definitely captured the essence of our Shilin Night Market chaos. The first thing I learned after a few short weeks living in Taipei, avoid Shilin on the weekends as it was easily as bad if not worse than your photos (if it’s even possible to fit that many more people in lol). There are local night markets I like much more, but Shilin does sorta define the Taiwanese street food experience. It’s always on the list when friends come visit from out of town. And, I never thought I’d get used to the wretched smell of stinky tofu, but after three years, it’s strangely comforting. However, I will be the first to attest, all stinky tofu is not alike, and I’ve had some that left the group gagging the taste was so pungent.

  14. says: Sarah

    I’ve actually been to that market, but what great pictures you’ve taken! It is a bit overwhelming (and the tofu does stink) but it’s such a cool must-do Taiwan experience.

  15. says: Crystal

    I really enjoy going to this night market..Very exciting and enjoy buying because its too cheap..Thanks for sharing some photo I miss this place..

  16. says: Jackson Cory

    Wow! Are there any place to move? Really excellent photos of shilin night market and sample of street food. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Jackson,

      There wasn’t a lot of space to move. Actually along some of the back alleys there was a little more room but it was more or less packed. I suppose to avoid the crowds it’s best to go during the weekdays.

  17. says: Edwin

    Those delicacies looks so yummy! If I were at that night market, I will make sure that I will sample each item.

  18. says: Barbara

    Exceptional photos! And I MUST add, let’s not forget that Taiwan is it’s own country in its own right! 🙂

    (I’m the white American woman who says so.)