Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
Shilin Night Market (aka Shihlin Night Market) is the largest night market in Taipei and also one of the most popular. Full of delicious street food, small hole in the wall restaurants, souvenirs, and clothes, it is a great destination to experience Taiwan's night market culture.
Shihlin Night market lies next to Jiantan MRT station, surrounded by Wenlin Road (文林路), Jihe Road (基河路), and small alleyways Xiaobei Street (小北街), and Xiaoxi Street (小西街), forming a giant triangle making it the biggest night market in Taipei City by area.
Shihlin may have the most food stalls and restaurants of any night market in Taiwan, and is often regarded as the best or one of the favorite night markets in Taiwan by both locals and tourists alike.
The night market features multiple alleyways as well as an underground food court and underground parking garage.
Located next to Mingchuan University, Soochow University, China Culture University, and Shih Chien University, it has a constant supply of hungry university students visiting every day.
Shilin Market was first established in 1909 near the Matzu Cicheng Temple, which now lies at the center of the night market. Before that is was a resting stop for cargo on the way to Dadaocheng.
In 1998, Shilin Market was named as a historical monument. After that from 1999-2011, the market underwent multiple renovations, and relocated to a temporary structure near Jiantan MRT station, until renovations were completed in 2012.
Around 4 PM until 12 Midnight, every day.
How to get there:
By MRT: Take the Red Line to Jiantan Station and then take exit 1 north out of the station. The night market is right across the road.
By Scooter: Take Zhongshan North Road out of Taipei and wind around Yuanshan Hotel into Shilin. You can park on the right side of the road next to Jiantan Station.
By Car: Take Zhongshan North Road out of Taipei and wind around Yuanshan Hotel into Shilin. There are many parking garages around the night market.
Map: Please see below:
Please note that the following is a view of Shihlin Night Market in the eyes of an average poor and unrefined foreigner.
I have been to Shihlin Night Market close to a dozen times. I have travelled there by MRT, car, taxi, and scooter, and usually this takes me into or near Jiantan Station. Do not get off at Shihlin Station!
Jiantan Station has a beautiful Chinese-esque suspension bridge hanging over the top of it (holding up the roof).
Pictured above is the corner of Shihlin Night Market. The night market extends to everything beyond this corner for 2-3 city blocks on either side, making a giant night market triangle.
Even if you come early in the day before the sun comes down, there will already be crowds of people lining up at the street stalls.
Fried Chicken Steak 鷄排
One of the most popular treats in the market is Fried Chicken Steak (鷄排), a Taiwanese delicacy, which at around 5:00 had over 20 people waiting in line for it. The most popular Chicken Steak stalls are on the outer perimeter.
Around the per miter you can find tons of different food, from steak cubes to fried shellfish and squid, to fruit stands.
Also like any Taiwanese street market, there are games to play and toy prizes to be won.
Around the back side of the night market to the left is where is gets really crowded and the food stalls are packed together.
You will see some stairs leading underground which will take you to an underground food court. And you thought there was tons of food above ground!
Oyster Omelette 蚵仔煎
Underground we visited Zhingchenghao Oyster Omlette (忠誠號蚵仔煎, or as everyone calls it by its Taiwanese name "Ou ah zen").
The underground is usually packed there, and you will be lucky to find a seat. It's a very popular place, and instead of waiting around we went above ground to look for grub.
We tried another Oyster Omelette Place called Shilin Shiquan Pork Chop (士林十全排骨).
Here you can see the Oyster Omelette ingredients laid out before your eyes. It includes a red sauce which is usually made of ketchup or hot sauce and soy sauce. A typical omelette will have a gluttonous flour base, fried with greens, eggs, and your choice of oyster or shrimp.
This oyster omelette was not bad, for Taipei. Taipei oyster omelettes are almost always too soft and gooey for my taste. The best oyster omelettes I have had are in Kaohsiung, where they make them extra crispy.
The average price for an Oyster Omelette is 60 NT. There was a place a few years ago that sold them for only 40 NT, but they have since raised their prices.
Fried Rice 炒飯
Fried rice is also another Taiwanese staple, simply made and delicious. I recommend getting the beef or lamb fried rice which is much more flavorful than having it plain.
Papaya Milk 木瓜牛奶
There is nothing better than to wash down a salty plate of omelette or rice with a sweet cup of fruit milk.
This lady's stand near Cicheng temple sells them for a steal - 35 NT.
Shihlin night market can be a bit confusing, with multiple entrances and alleyways. Just go get lost and discover something new!
Near the Cicheng Temple, the streets get really narrow and it gets harder and harder to move, but you can take your time looking at all of the delicious food along the way.
The view of the street right in front of Cicheng Temple, which lies at the center of the night market.
Shilin Cicheng Temple 士林慈誠宮
Cicheng Temple is the heart of the night market, and was the original starting place for Shilin Market in 1909. It was originally built by Fujian settlers in 1796 for the goddess Matzu, who looks over fisherman at sea. Since then it has been rebuilt and renovated several times.
A lady selling fried squid and octopus balls in front of Cicheng Temple.
A crowded street in front of the temple selling everything from sausages, to watermelon juice, to ice cream.
Taipeitong Cell Phone Accessories Supermarket 台配通手機配件超市
Another place I like to visit near the Cicheng temple is Taipeitong Cell Phone Accessories Supermarket 台配通手機配件超市, which sells cheap accessories like covers, charging cords, and cordless fans. I often find myself coming back to night markets to buy charging cords which can go from 65 NT per piece, which then break quickly and it is an endless vicious cycle. But I did buy a cordless rechargeable fan here for my daughter for 200 NT that we have used for almost two years.
Iron-Free Dress Shirts 免燙襯衫
Also near the temple is a great Iron-Free Dress Shirts 免燙襯衫 store. If your job requires business formal, this is the cheapest place anywhere in Taiwan to buy dress shirts (200 NT per shirt). These shirts are made of polyester and can be washed in a washing machine, which makes them even more practical, although sizes and quality of fabric can vary (you get what you pay for).
Golden Pig King Suckling Pork Rolls 金豬王烤乳豬卷
Also near the temple you will find Golden Pig King Suckling Pork Rolls 金豬王烤乳豬卷 which always feature an entire fried pig on display. Sorry to vegetarians, Jews, Muslims, and everyone else that is disgusted by seeing an animal's head.
Taiwan Souvenirs 台灣紀念品
At the front of the night market and in the main central street Dadong Road (大東路) are many souvenir shops that are perfect for tourist shopping. You can buy things like pineapple cakes, taro and red bean cakes, mango cakes, and many other Taiwan confections.
Also, there are plenty of places that sell trinkets such as little Buddhas, jade bracelets, Taiwan related ornaments, magnets, key-chains, etc. This is what makes Shihlin Night Market a perfect one stop shop for foreign tourists.
You will notice a lot of side streets and alleyways poking off from the main market streets. Not only do they allow you to travel around the packed parts of the market faster, but you can always find something new and special to discover inside them.
The biggest street inside the market, Dadong Road 大東路 (pictured above) is full of things to buy and not so much things to eat. You can find Addidas, Nike, NET, Gotcha, Hang Ten, and about two dozen other branded and non-branded clothing stores along this street.
Taiwan T-Shirts 台灣T-恤
Along Dadong Road there are multiple shops that sell Taiwan themed T-shirts, perfect for the tourist who likes buying this kind of thing for their kin back home.
More T-shirt selections to choose from.
Cheap Clothes in General 一般便宜的衣服
Cheap is the name of the game when it comes to selling clothes at Shihlin Night market, and like my examples above, there are dozens and dozens of other cheap clothing shops in this market that mainly cater to the local poor university students nearby.
Besides clothing, there are other wearable items and bags on sale for cheap. Many of these are imported wholesale from China.
Now that you have gotten full and shopped till you dropped, you can now cross the busy street back to Jiantan Station or wherever you parked your car.
Fun fact: the Shihlin night market can get so crowded sometimes that it becomes a fire hazard, and the police will enact a rule that you can't cross back to the night market if you just came from there.
Right to the left of the night market, you can spot the new Taipei Performing Arts Center (TPAC), that resembles the death star from Star Wars. It might be finished by the time you read this blog. It was built on top of the temporary Shihlin Night Market while the current night market was being renovated.
Jiantan station is beautiful.
Thanks for reading, stay tuned for more of our blogs about sights in Taipei!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.