Up Until Dawn In Taipei's Vibrant Nightlight Scene
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Some people choose a destination based on its nightlife. Even if they have a well-rounded itinerary, an evening out can end up being the focal point of someone’s vacation. How many people have you heard call a Dublin pub crawl the highlight of their trip to Ireland or a night exploring Tokyo’s isakayas the most memorable part of a visit to Japan?
Sometimes a nightlife scene can be a letdown, either because it is one-dimensional (how many dance clubs can you go to before house music starts to get annoying?) or super-expensive (ever picked up a bar tab in Stockholm?). Most of the time, a place's after-dark scene just doesn't live up to the hype ("I could have saved an airplane ticket and done the exact same stuff at home").
The best nightlife cities have one thing in common: they become more attractive after dark. The hustle and bustle of the workday, the rush hour traffic, the heat, and the sightseers all disappear after the sun sets. What's left over is often the best of what a particular destination has to offer: food, atmosphere, street life, the local social scene and a general good-time vibe.
Everyone has a favorite party city. But if you are looking for a complete nightlife experience — one that starts at sundown and includes more than visiting nightclubs and pubs — Taipei, Taiwan is, arguably, one of the best destinations in the world.
It starts with the night markets
Taipei’s night markets are among its best attractions. These crowded evening-time extravaganzas are a treat for the senses. You can head to the Shilin Night Market to try some of the world’s best street food. Old Taipei hands will also steer you to places like the Linjiang Street Market (aka Tonghua Market). The really great thing about Taipei is that there is an almost uncountable number of smaller after-dark markets that are worth visiting. Even those that are focused on retail have a few food stalls serving up treats worth trying.
Shilin and its peers are examples of Taiwan’s vibrant street life. But you can catch a good vibe on non-market streets too. There are plenty of neon, narrow lane ways and a general joie de vivre that gives Taipei an abundance of atmosphere. Some bars, restaurants or shops even have a DJ and dancers right out on the street to get the attention of would-be patrons. This works... and it doesn't work. Some people simply hang out outside and never make it into the venue that is putting on the show.
Drinking and dancing
Taipei can hold its own against cities like Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur in terms of the number and quality of its bars, lounges and clubs. Depending on your point of reference, some of these venues can seem a bit on the pricey side. On the other hand, this is a drinker’s culture (teetotalers need not apply). After a certain hour, the scene in any restaurant, karaoke venue or local pub can turn riotous, with plenty of cheers-ing and people moving between tables, sometimes to sit with total strangers.
Yes, Taipei has nightclubs too, so you can mingle with the “beautiful people.” But the beauty of Taipei's nightlife is that you have, ideally, already had a hell of a time before you even plop down your cover charge at a glitzy disco.
Yes, you can wander around Taipei grazing on street food, drinking, mingling, and soaking in the exotic atmosphere, but there is also a practical aspect to the nightlife scene. Taipei is a very safe place, even in the dead of night. Violent crime is rare, and overall, the city has an almost Japan-like safety record. MRT trains run until midnight, but taxis are relatively cheap. And if you wait until the subway starts running again at 5 a.m., you probably won’t be the only one catching the first train after a night on the town.
Everyone has a different opinion about “the top” nightlife destinations. However, most people won’t be disappointed by the diverse, riotous nightlife of Taipei.
More by Josh Lew
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Airlines & Airports