Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > China & Southeast Asia >
Jan 19, 2009 11:17 PM

Taipei Layover - 23 hours

Hi Travelers and Hounds, I need a bit of help.
I have an extended layover from 7:30 at night until 8:25 in the morning on a Friday in early February (china airlines from Tokyo to Hanoi)

My brother recommended Shi Lin night market (general internet consensus agrees) and it seems to be a good option. We'll be limited to a taxi back to the airport around 4 or 5AM and I'm wondering if Shi Lin is the best option.

Should I stick with it or find something closer to the airport? We'll avoid Din Tai Fung as there are a few of them here in Tokyo, but any other rec is greatly welcomed!

Also, is this budget accurate for two people?

Fast train to Taipei Main station
local train
3-10 beers/non-alcoholic drinks
4 hours of eating
Taxi back to airport
5200 TND

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. First of all, DTF is not the same in Taipei. It is where it all started.

    I really wonder why Shi Lin enjoys such a fame? Because of the "Bizarre Food" episode? Anyway, you can go to wikipedia and there is a list of night markets in Taiwan. Everyone of them is pretty good. I am not sure if 23 hours is enough logistically - but I would consider Keelung temple night market a pretty good experience. Or even the temple market in Sinchu (much closer than Taipei from the airport). Shi Da night market (in Taipei) is pretty interesting too. There should be taxi in Tapei all 24 hours. btw, I suggest you try a breakfast place. Among Chinese, this is definitely the most famous Taiwanese specialty (Yong He doe Jiang). One of the many choices:

    4 Replies
    1. re: shengtang

      That place looks great, and open 24hrs as well!

      Do you think I'll be fine at any of the night markets? This will be my first experience with Taiwanese food, so I'm pretty sure everything will be wonderful, even if it's not the best version.

      1. re: lost squirrel

        I don't know why I wrote '23 hours'... it's really only 13hrs.

        Is that enough to see a night market and get breakfast or should I focus on one?

      2. re: shengtang

        I think Keelung is too out of the way and transport back is definitely a problem. Shi Lin is the one lots of tourists go to, and has been for many years. Shi Da is also OK but I would also look at Tong Hua /Ling Jiang St mkt. This is the one I normally go to.

        The Yong He Dou Jiang on Fu Xing South Road is great...need to go to the one at the street corner. Or you can follow the link above and actually go to Yong He.

        The original DTF in Taipei is still the best - the one on Yung Kang St. But with your schedule you're better off hitting the night markets. And there is enough time to hit both night market and breakfast, as long as you have enough stomach space...

        1. re: Peech

          13 hours? Now we are talking about a different ball game! The arrival is 7:30 PM and after the immigration, etc, Yeah ... DTF is entirely beyond possibility for you. :-( . So is Keelung. Since now it's more of a "one shot only" situation, I would (myself) just hit a night market in Taipei. "Dou Jiang" places are the great - because they almost all open 24 hours, not just the one shown above. but from a choice standpoint (again, one shot for the most choices), night market beats it. Plus, it's very likely you will find a Dou Jiang place in/around the night market anyway.

      3. Shilin Night Market is the best choice for new visitors as it's the most convenient. It's right off the MRT(Jiantan stop, the one BEFORE Shilin stop). Being the largest doesn't hurt, though I find the layout overly confusing.

        My go-to night market when I lived in Taipei was Tong Hua, as well. Decent food selection and it was pretty much one long straight street. Unfortunately, to get there you had to take a bus or a cab.

        I spent over a year studying at Shida, but I always found the Shida night market kind of small with an inferior food selection.

        While Shilin is open pretty late, I don't think it goes much past 1am.

        If you want to keep eating after that, I'd recommend the porridge places on Fuxing South Road. I always find that area very Taiwanese and a great place to go if you like porridge. Basically there is this row of restaurants along the street which all serve porridge all night. It's buffet style so you just go through the line and pick out little plates of what you want. Fried fish, stewed meat, stir fried veggies, pickles, what have you. You're charged by the number and size of plates you get and then you're given a big tub of porridge(the Taiwanese kind with sweet potato in it) to eat it with. It's best with a large group as you can try more dishes. Very popular on the weekends with kids grabbing a bite to eat after clubbing.

        As Peech mentioned, there's a Yong He Dou Jiang(traditional Taiwanese breakfast place like the one in shengtang's link) on Fuxing South Road. And it's right next to the porridge places, I think.

        6 Replies
        1. re: huaqiao

          Thanks huaqiao, I think we should be able to make it to the market before 11pm for sure, flight arrives at 7:30pm.

          I think the plan so far is to try the night market, eat what looks good. Walk around and digest, and see if we can make it to a 24hr breakfast joint before getting in a cab back to the airport. Wish us luck!

          1. re: lost squirrel

            Since you only have a couple hours to indulge, you probably want to have a plan of attack ready when you go. Let me break down the food scene at Shilin down for you. Word of warning: last time I was there was 4 years ago so things might have changed since.

            There are 2 general targets for food at Shilin:

            1.) The food building. Directly across from Jiantan station, it's a huge building full only of food vendors. This was constructed like 6 years back to move a lot of the food vendors out of the market. It's a little more organized and cleaner than what the center of the market used to be like, but it's still quite a mess. I always found the ventilation lacking and this place becomes a swamp during the summers.

            Think of it as a messier version of a Singaporean hawker center except without the forced diversity of items. There's a bit of seating in front of each stand, there are a lot of stands selling the same or similar things, and the food here is more substantial than the snack-ish stuff in the night market itself. You'll find stuff here like the oyster omlettes, thick cuttlefish soup, fried rice, and what not.

            I don't generally hit up the food building on my trips to Shilin as I go mainly for the snacks and such in the night market itself.

            2.) Stuff in the market. There are food stands scattered through the market. There is a bigger concentration near the edges of the market, but you'll see lots of stuff just wandering around. Some of them have a few chairs to sit in, but with how crowded the market gets, a lot of stuff is more walk-and-eat.

            Some of the stuff gets pretty messy to eat so bring some tissues!!! Or stop by a 7-11 when you get there to pick some up. Some stuff like the crab in sa tsa sauce is really just too messy to attempt while walking around.

            I'd recommend trying the fried bao which is pretty popular. I love the sausage on a stick with different flavors. They score the sausage and then put different toppings on it. I love the minced garlic. Just the smell of a sausage sizzling on the grill covered in minced garlic makes my mouth water. Get some fresh cut fruit from a stand. I don't know what's in season right now, but the amazingly sweet fruit is always something I associate with Taiwan.

            I could go on, but I'm sure you'll find some stuff that looks good when you get there. If you can't speak mandarin, just point to what the person in front of you is getting.

            Good luck and happy eating!

            1. re: huaqiao

              lost squirrel, have you been Shilin by now? I'd love to hear your story - somehow the layover eating trip is always exciting to me!

              1. re: shengtang

                Not yet, I leave tomorrow afternoon.
                I'll be sure to take lots of pics and throw them up on flickr.

                Taipei for 1 night, followed by a mass of eating and drinking in Vietnam for 4 days. I can't wait!

                1. re: lost squirrel

                  I'm back, we managed to get to the station rather easily and headed straight for the market.
                  A few highlights were some dumplings, the fried chicken and oyster omelettes.
                  Stinky tofu was well, stinky. It was just fun wandering the market area. We knew we were getting a taxi back to the airport so after we had our fill, we wandered aimlessly for awhile and it was pretty great overall!

                  1. re: lost squirrel

                    Glad you had a good time. Lots more food adventures to be had in Taiwan if you can spare the time in the future. :)

                    You've inspired me to plan on longer layovers between my flights now when I fly internationally. Usually I'm trying to minimize travel time so I can get as much time as possible at my destination. That and I hate messing with immigration and security. But a quick sampling of the local food on a layover does sound pretty fun.