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Tainan is not only the ancient capital but also today still considered the food capital of Taiwan. One of the best things to do in Tainan is to eat, and the best way to experience Tainan-style Taiwanese street foods is through its night markets.
Night markets in Tainan are different than in other major cities in Taiwan. Taipei’s night markets are usually regular streets closed off to traffic at night. At night markets in Kaohsiung, most people drive right up to the stalls in scooters. Taichung night markets are a mix of all types. But Tainan’s night markets are mostly held in large, empty parking lots, where stalls set up temporarily at night, but there are no shopfronts.
Another difference is that, because of Tainan city rules, most night markets in Tainan are located outside of the city center (there used to be one in the city center called Minzu Road Night Market, but it was closed in 1983).
Yet another unique feature of Tainan’s night markets is that each one only takes place on only one or a few days of the week. Many of the vendors hop between night markets nightly, so you’ll see a lot of the same stalls at different markets. What this means is that the night market you choose depends more on the day, and perhaps your location in the city, rather than the night market itself.
To remember which night market is when, there’s a well-known local Tainan saying “大大武花大花花” (Da-Da-Wu-Hua-Da-Hua-Hua). It means Monday, Tuesday and Friday are for 大 (Ta-Tung Night Market), Wednesday is for 武 (Wusheng Night Market), and Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday are for 花 (Garden Night Market).
Below I’ll introduce the five major night markets in Tainan, including some of the most famous stalls at each one. I got this information by reading Taiwanese bloggers’ reviews, plus double checking them in person, as some famous stalls from the past have now closed. At the end, I’ve also included more than 10 other local night markets in parts of Tainan city further away from the center.
At Tainan’s night markets, the stalls generally start setting up around 5-6 PM, get their busiest from around 7-10 PM, and close around midnight or 1 AM.
The Big-5 Tainan Night Markets
The below are considered the five main markets of central Tainan city and are the most accessible to travelers. At the end, I’ve included a section of other night markets in further away districts of Tainan City (a large region that used to be called Tainan County).
Garden Night Market
Garden Night Market (花園夜市, also called Tainan Flower Night Market) is located north of the Tainan city center in North District. With approximately 400 stalls, it is the largest night market in Tainan, and one of the most famous in all of Taiwan, along with Keelung Night Market, Feng Chia Night Market, Liuhe Night Market, and Shilin Night Market. The night market is held every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Garden Market was first opened in 1999, closed in 2003, then reopened in 2005. After that, it grew into the largest in the city, reaching its present size around 2013. At one point, the night market famously become the most “checked into” place on Facebook in Taiwan, and #12 in the entire world.
Because of its size, Garden Night Market is known for its sheer variety of foods. When I last visited, I counted 11 rows of stalls, each packed with food vendors and crowds of people. The rows in the western half of the market were mainly products, clothing, and games (there were even stray pets to adopt!) The eastern rows were dedicated to food.
The scooter parking is at the southern end, but a taxi will likely drop you off on Hewei Road, which runs along the north end of the market.
Famous Food Stalls/What to Eat
- Hyun’s Souffle Pancakes (炫の日式舒芙蕾鬆餅專賣): French-style souffle with various toppings like oreo, caramel, white chocolate flakes, and pearls.
- 3 Ah Brothers Oyster Omelets (阿三哥蚵仔煎): Oyster omelets, including an uncommon option (in other parts of Taiwan): crab meat. You can also get them with oyster, shrimp, and/or cuttlefish. You can also find this stall at Wusheng Market
- Tuk Tuk Cha Cha Thai Tea (龜龜毛毛泰國奶茶): Thai iced tea served from a real Thai tuk-tuk.
- 無敵BANANA: Authentic Thai-style banana pancakes, with the choice of sweetened condensed milk, chocolate syrup, brown sugar syrup or honey. Super crispy on the edges, and soft and gooey in the middle. Same stall spotted at Wusheng Night Market and Ta-Tung Night Market.
- Middle Eastern Shwarma (中東口味沙威瑪): A very popular shwarma stall.
- Real Squid Flavor Crispy Fried Squid (真魷味酥炸魷魚) Whole deep fried squids, always popular.
- Two Master Brothers (二師兄) Popular lu wei (滷味 or braised foods) stall.
I also noted stalls selling Korean Tteokbokki with melted cheese, boozy cocktails, deep fried century eggs, candied sweet potato, crayfish, eel noodles (a famous Tainan specialty), Japanese okonomiyaki, mochi, 15NT sticks of swordfish, and much more.
In the past, there was even a stall at Garden Night Market selling fried crickets (炸蟋蟀), but I didn’t see it on my recent visit.
Getting to Garden Night Market
Take bus #3 from Tainan Train Station (North Station) stop (南火車站(北站)) and get off at B&Q Warehouse Costco stop (特力屋、好市多) OR take bus #7 from Tainan Train Station (South Station) stop (南火車站(南站)) and get off at Flower Night Market (Hewei Road) (花園夜市(和緯路)).
You could also simply hop in cab, or walk there from Tainan Park (20 minutes).
Ta-Tung Night Market
Ta-Tung Night Market (大東夜市, also spelled Dadong Night Market) is Tainan East District’s answer to Garden Night market. It is nearly as large and popular, with 300-350 food stalls (just my guess), and in my opinion has a similar setup and feel to Garden. Ta-Tung first opened in 2000, and has grown steadily in popularity since.
Ta-Tung runs every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday (it used to be just Tues/Fri, but then added Mondays because there was no other competing night market). This is the only major night market in Tainan’s city center that lies east of the railway line, in an emerging neighborhood, and attracting crowds from the many neighborhoods lying to the east.
A typical visit starts at the main entrance at the northwestern corner, where there’s also a scooter parking lot. The western side is all food, and eastern side is more products and games. I counted 10 rows of stalls in total.
Famous Food Stalls/What to Eat
- Taiwan Sweet Potato Balls (台灣地瓜球) A super popular deep fried sweet potato ball stall right at the northwestern entrance to the night market. The balls are chewy and best eaten right away while warm. A small bag is only NT 20, or 3 bags for 50.
- Aboriginal Slate BBQ Meats (原住民石板烤肉): Meats cooked on a hot stone slate on a truck at the southwestern corner of the market.
- Classical Green Onion Pancakes (古早蔥油餅): Very large green onion cakes served from a blue truck.
- Outousang Mulberry Garlic Dried Tofu (歐とう桑蒜香烏龍豆干) Dried tofu (think of it more as stewed than “dry”) served with garlic, dried white radish, green onions, and chilis. I scarfed mine down!
- Chenji Spicy Duck Blood (陳記麻辣鴨血): Very popular duck blood chunks served in spicy soup with fish balls.
- Tuk Tuk Qiqiang Thai Iced Tea (嘟嘟琪強泰式奶茶): Another Tuk Tuk iced tea stall. Also seen at Wusheng Night Market.
- Amei Ma Milk Tea (阿美嬤紅茶牛奶): Milk tea or lemon black tea served in a cute plastic bag with straw. The stall was first started by the current vendor’s grandmother.
- Korean Sugar Cakes (收藏糖餅 저장호떡) Korean donuts that are soft with brown sugar sauce inside, crispy on the outside, and coated with sugar and cinnamon.
I was also tempted by peanut brittle and cilantro ice cream wraps, Indian pani puri, deep fried sandwiches (a specialty invented at Keelung Night Market), shwarma, Korean soju and other liquors, rainbow colored sweet potato balls, laksa, Spanish mackerel stew (土魠魚羹, a classic Tainan dish), oden, and BBQ oysters during my visit.
Getting to Ta-Tung Night Market
You can take bus R1 from Tainan Train Station (North Station) stop (南火車站(北站)) and get off at Longshan Temple Stop (龍山寺) or bus #3 from Tainan Train Station (South Station) stop (南火車站(南站)) and get off at Longshan Temple Stop (龍山寺).
On foot, it would be a 30-minute walk from Tainan Confucius Temple or 20-minute from Wufei Temple, the furthest south sights you are likely to visit in Tainan. I simply grabbed a taxi to get there. (For more information on these temples, see my guide to Tainan’s most interesting temples!)
Wusheng Night Market
Wusheng Night Market is Tainan’s third most popular night market, with around 250 stalls. First opened in 1984, it is Tainan’s oldest still-running night market, and its parking lot set-up style has essentially been mimicked by all the others. It used to be the city’s most popular, but has been taken over by Garden and Ta-Tung over time.
Wusheng still draws in a good crowd, though, and many vendors there also appear at Garden or Ta-Tung, so I didn’t find a huge difference between the three night markets.
Wusheng is located in West Central District, the same district where most of Tainan’s most famous sights and attractions are located, though it’s in the far northwestern corner of the district. Still, 15-minutes’ walk from Shennong Street, it is probably the closest night market to the city center if you’re planning to arrive on foot.
Chances are you’ll arrive at the northeastern tip of the night market like I did, at the intersection of Guanxian street and Wusheng Lane 6. There’s scooter parking at the northwestern end, and in total I counted 6 rows of stalls here, with the product stalls and games (including archery and a bouncy castle for kids) beside the parking lot.
Famous Food Stalls/What to Eat
- Tuk Tuk Qiqiang Thai Iced Tea (嘟嘟琪強泰式奶茶): As seen at Ta-Tung Night Market
- Three A Brothers (阿三哥): Oyster omelets, with oyster, shimp, cuttlefish, and/or crab meat, as seen at Garden Night Market.
- French Crepe House (可麗屋法式脆餅) Very popular French-style crepes.
- Big Shanghai Fried Chicken (大上海香酥雞) Famous for their big chunks of fried chicken and other deep fried foods. There’s also a popular Small Shanghai (小上海) doing the same thing (don’t ask me which came first, the Small or Big stall…)
- Small Sausage in a Big Sausage (大腸包小腸) Popular sausage wrapped in rice sausage stall.
- Dongshan Duck Head (東山鴨頭) Popular lu wei (滷味 or braised foods) stall.
- Sulimai Shwarma (速立邁沙威瑪): Another popular shwarma stalls.
- 無敵BANANA: Thai-style banana pancakes, as seen at Garden and Ta-Tung.
I also spotted NT 15 swordfish sticks, NT 12 sushi, and NT 10 tianbula, oden, Yilan-style deep fried green onion cakes, Chiayi-style deep fried oyster balls, gourmet hot dogs, stinky tofu with duck blood, and much more.
Getting to Wusheng Night Market
Wusheng is the easiest one to reach on foot relative to the main sights/attractions of central Tainan, especially from Shennong Street (about 15 minutes).
Otherwise, you can take bus #3 from Tainan Train Station (North Station) stop (南火車站(北站)) and get off at Wenxian Junior High School stop (文賢國中).
Xiaobei Chenggong (and New Xiaobei Chenggong) Night Markets
Xiaobei Chenggong Night Market (小北觀光夜市, literally “Small North Success Night Market”, but often abbreviated as Xiaobei Night Market) and the nearby New Xiaobei Chenggong Night Market (小北新成功夜市) are a pair of night markets operating in North District.
Because of the similar names, these two night markets can easily be confused. I didn’t even realize there were two until I asked a taxi driver to take me to Xiaobei, and he dropped me off at NEW Xiaobei, and it didn’t look anything like I expected.
Xiaobei Night Market is different than the others in Tainan. It is comparatively small and covered, with permanent sit-down restaurants rather than food stalls, and most are open every day of the week.
It reminded me a lot of Huaxi Night Market in Taipei (near Longshan Temple, the most famous of Taipei’s temples) in that it serves very traditional dishes, often with herbal ingredients, that appeal to older generations, including some controversial ones like snake meat soup.
Meanwhile, New Xiaobei Chenggong Night Market (小北新成功夜市) is a typical Tainan Night Market, similar to but smaller than the others, located two blocks (4 minute walk) north of Xiaobei Night Market. It was established in 1986 by the owners of Wusheng Night Market, following the latter’s success, and used to also be quite popular, especially when a major department store called 東帝士百貨 used to stand beside it.
Because “New” Xiaobei features the usual snacks (and because of my confusion upon arrival), I didn’t explore it much and won’t give food recommendations for it below. It only runs on Tuesdays and Fridays, so some say that it “competes” with Ta-Tung on those two days, though it definitely isn’t as popular.
Famous Restaurants/What to Eat (Xiaobei Chenggong Night Market only)
- Old Liu’s Fried Snails (老李螺肉) A popular sit-down restaurant at the northern end whose main specialty is fried snails, but there are many other dishes
- Sticky Rice Pudding (筒仔米糕) Serving traditional Taiwanese sticky rice pudding (筒仔米糕 or tongzai migao). Look for the pink sign.
- Guo Family Eel Noodles (郭家莊鱔魚意麵): A famous Tainan specialty
- Snake Meat Soup (蛇肉湯) There are three restaurants here serving this controversial specialty, whose popularity has dropped in recent decades.
- Shanghao Swordfish Stew (上好旗魚焿) Similar to squid stew seen throughout Taiwan, but made with cooked swordfish paste.
How to Get to Xiaobei Night Market
Take the Shingnan Blue Line from Tainan Train Station (North Station) stop (南火車站(北站)) and get off at Jiancheng Market (建成市場). From there, you’ll have to walk five minutes.
You can also walk to Xiaobei Night Market from Tainan Park in about 13 minutes.
Xin Yong Hua Night Market
The newest major night market in Tainan is Xin Yong Hua Night Market (新永華夜市) in Anping District, a historic coastal district that is home to many popular sights and attractions, including the famous Anping Treehouse, Anping Old Fort, and Anping Old Street.
Originally called Yonghua Night Market, named after Yonghua Road, the market closed in 2014. It then reopened a few times, most recently in 2019 as Xin (New) Yonghua Night Market, with lots of fanfare and a widely attended opening night. The market is now along Huaping Road, while Yonghua Road is actually a few blocks to the north.
Xin Yonghua Night Market is similar to Garden, Ta-Tung, and Wusheng, but on a much smaller scale and far less crowded. Therefore, it is suitable for night market newbies or anyone who doesn’t like the crowds of other Taiwanese night markets. However, because of its smaller scale, there are fewer choices of foods, and most are typical Taiwanese classics rather than creative fare.
The night market runs on Thursdays and Saturdays only. Interestingly, Taiwanese bloggers have pointed out that the Hua (華) in the name is a different tone that the Hua (花) in Garden Night Market, but in ancient Chinese, they had the same tone. Therefore, Xin Yonghua Night Market could arguably be included in the 大大武花大花花 saying (when spoken), as it takes place on two of the same days as Garden Night Market.
Famous Restaurants/What to Eat
- Gold Village Big Squid and Chicken Cartilage (金村 香噴三角骨 爆炸大魷魚): This seemed to be the most popular food stall among locals in the whole night market. They do deep fried squid and chicken (yes, the chewy cartilage parts).
Mainly you can expect typical classic street foods like oyster omelets, stinky tofu, braised pork rice (lurou fan), deep fried foods, green onion cakes and sweet potato balls.
It wasn’t necessarily popular, but I enjoyed the Thai seafood cakes from Luxury Seafood (豪華海鮮) and the iced herbal tea truck at the back of the market.
How to get to Xin Yonghua Night Market
Despite being located in Anping district, which has many famous attractions, the night market is actually a little far from those attractions. It’s about a 35-minute walk from Anping Fort or Old Street to the night market. Public transportation doesn’t help much, so I suggest going by taxi if you don’t care to walk that far.
From the city center, you can take bus #5 from Tainan Train Station (South Station) stop (南火車站(南站)) and get off at Huaping Road Intersection stop (華平路口).
Other Local Night Markets in Tainan City
The following night markets are located further away from the Tainan city center. They are still technically in Tainan City, but keep in mind that this “city” occupies a huge area that used to called Tainan County.
For regular travelers in Taiwan, it doesn’t make sense to journey out to these, but if you are staying longer in Tainan, live there, or happen to find yourself in any of these districts for whatever reason, then I’ve listed the main ones below that you can consider visiting.
- Fuhua Night Market (復華夜市), Yongda Night Market (永大夜市), and Yan Xing Night Market (鹽行夜市) in Yongkang District
- Xin Hua Night Market (新化正新夜市) in Xinhua District
- Xin Shi Night Market (新市夜市) in Xinshi District
- Anxi Night Market (安西夜市) in Jiali District
- Madou Night Market (麻豆夜市) in Madou District
- Xuejia Night Market (學甲天仁工商夜市) in Xuejia District
- Yanshui Night Market (鹽水夜市) in Yanshui District, famous for the Yanshui Fireworks Festival
- Renhe Road Night Market (仁和路夜市) in East District
- Guiren Guozhong Night Market (歸仁國中夜市) in Guiren District
- De Nan Night Market (德南夜市) and Zhong Cuo Night Market (鍾厝夜市) in Rende District
Well, that sums up my guide to the best night markets in Tainan! For more interesting and off-the-beaten track Tainan sights, see my guides to Cigu Salt Mountain, Sicao Green Tunnel, and Guanziling Mud Hot Spring!