Taiwanese Food Guide: 57 Things to Eat in Taiwan and Where to Try Them

Taiwanese Food Guide: 57 Things to Eat in Taiwan and Where to Try Them

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This post has been almost four years in the making.

When we first went to Taiwan in 2014, it was a spur of the moment trip. We spent just three days in Taipei thinking it would be enough time to spend in a city we didn’t know much about and never really planned on visiting. But those three days changed us. We weren’t expecting to fall in love with Taiwan, but we did. Madly. So much so that we now want to move there. We fell in love with Taipei, we fell in love with its warm people, we fell in love with the vibe, and of course, we fell in love with the food.

After spending just three days in Taiwan, the most I could include in my first Taiwanese food post was a paltry nine dishes. Knowing the wealth of street food and night markets in Taiwan, I understood it was a pathetic list. It’s lack of depth has been eating at me ever since and I’ve been dying to come back to Taiwan to explore more of the country and come up with a better, more comprehensive list. Nearly four years later, this is that list.

We spent a full two weeks eating our way through Taiwan and it’s many night markets. We visited Taichung, Sun Moon Lake, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Hualien, Tamsui, Jiufen, and Taipei. We tried as many dishes as we could and in the process reconfirmed what we had learned almost four years ago – Taiwan is an enchanting country with a rich, vibrant, and storied food culture. If you travel for food like we do and are wondering what dishes you can find in Taiwan, then I hope this guide can help you plan your trip.

NOTE: Under each listing in this guide are suggestions on where to try that dish. I’ll be coming up with multiple posts with more information on each of these restaurants and night markets. It’ll take me several weeks so if there’s anything you’d like to know now, then please post a question in the comments. I usually respond right away. Happy traveleating!

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Candied fruit

1. Ah-gei

Ah-gei is a specialty of Tamsui in New Taipei City. It’s a dish we actively sought out when we spent a day there. Little did we know that we’d randomly walk into the place that invented it!

Ah-gei consists of fried tofu skin stuffed with cooked green bean noodles and sealed with surimi, a fish paste mixture commonly sold in the Tamsui District. It was invented by the Original Ah-Gei shop in 1965 where they’ve kept the recipe unchanged for over 50 years. Still considered by many to be the best and most authentic, what sets them apart is that they combine surimi with a carrot mixture and cook the stuffed tofu in stewed ground pork to make it even more flavorful.

We had the ah-gei pictured below at Three Sisters Ah-Gei, which is just a few doors down from the Original Ah-Gei shop. Personally, we couldn’t really tell the difference between the two and enjoyed both equally. Along with Wenhua Ah-Gei, these three shops – which are practically next to each other in the same alley – are said to offer the best ah-gei in town. A must-try when in Tamsui.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Original Ah-Gei, Three Sisters Ah-Gei, Wenhua Ah-Gei (Tamsui)
What We Paid: NTD 35 per order

2. Baobing

Yes, this mound of golden mango goodness was every bit as delicious as it looks. Baobing is a shaved ice dessert topped with condensed milk and a variety of ingredients like fruit, ice cream, taro, azuki beans, sweet potato chunks, peanuts, and grass jelly. In Taiwan, because of the quality of their fruit, one of the most popular flavors is mango.

Gao Xiong Po Po Shaved Ice in Kaohsiung serves a mean mango baobing. It’s topped with mango syrup, mango ice cream, and fist-sized hunks of sweet nectar-y mango. We had this after walking around in the hot Kaohsiung sun and it blew our minds. It was so naturally sweet and delicious! Looking at this list now, if there were just one dish I could have again, then it would be this mango baobing. It’s so damn good.

We didn’t try it but there’s a variation of baobing called xue hua bing. It’s basically the same thing but instead of crushed bits of ice, it’s made with sheets of frozen condensed milk. Something like Korean bingsu I guess.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Gao Xiong Po Po Shaved Ice (Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 100 per order

3. Baozi

Baozi are basically mantou or Chinese steamed buns filled with a variety of ingredients like meat and vegetables. They can be savory or sweet and are typically eaten for breakfast or as snacks. There are many varieties of baozi that differ in preparation and fillings, some of the most popular being xiao long bao and sheng jian bao, among others.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

You can find different types of baozi throughout Taiwan. We enjoyed these soupy pork and green onion buns at the often recommended Gongzheng Baozi eatery in Hualien. Served with a homemade garlic dip, they’re filling and cheap, just NTD 50 for a basket of ten. We came here after a full lunch at Mr. Goose so I didn’t think we could get through all ten, but we did rather easily. They weren’t as soup-filled as we were expecting but they were very tasty. That garlic dip is delicious!
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Gongzheng Baozi (Hualien)
What We Paid: NTD 50 for a basket of 10 baozi

4. Beef Noodle Soup

Beef noodle soup is arguably the most beloved comfort dish in Taiwan. It consists of red-braised beef slow-cooked in soy sauce, beef broth, vegetables, and Chinese wheat noodles. So important is beef noodle soup that it’s often regarded as Taiwan’s national dish. In fact, a beef noodle festival is held in Taipei every year where chefs and restaurants compete for the title of “best beef noodles” in Taiwan.

You can find beef noodle soup anywhere in the country but two highly regarded places are Tao-Yuan Street Beef Noodle Shop in Taipei and Gang Yuan Beef Noodles in Kaohsiung. Both were excellent, though the latter may have been slightly better as their noodles seemed springier in texture. Regardless, both restaurants are must-visits and hugely popular so be prepared for a wait. The bowls pictured below are from Gang Yuan Beef Noodles where you can choose between a wet and dry version.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Tao-Yuan Street Beef Noodle Shop (Taipei), Gang Yuan Beef Noodles (Kaohsiung)
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 200 per bowl

5. Braised Pork Knuckles

I’ve eaten lu rou fan (braised pork rice) at several restaurants in Taiwan, and braised pork knuckles was often on the menu. Not surprising I guess since they’re similar in taste and preparation. Both are slow cooked for hours until fork tender, with the main difference being the pig parts used. Instead of pork hocks, lu rou fan uses pork belly. I like both dishes though I may prefer braised pork knuckles because of its gelatinous texture.

We had this delicious plate of braised pork knuckles at Fu Ding Wang in Taichung. They’re known for their braised pork knuckles and lu rou fan so we ordered both. So should you.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Fu Ding Wang (Taichung)
Expect to Pay: About NTD 80 per order of braised pork knuckles

6. Braised Pork Rice (Lu Rou Fan)

This is one of Taiwan’s most beloved comfort dishes, perhaps second only to beef noodle soup. It’s a dish of minced pork belly that’s been stir-fried and slow cooked in soy sauce until fall-apart tender. It’s then served atop a bowl of steamed rice, often with a side of hardboiled egg that’s been simmered in the same soy sauce mixture.

I’m a rice person so I preferred lu rou fan over beef noodle soup. We had it at Fu Ding Wang in Taichung and the ultra popular Jin Feng in Taipei. Both were fantastic. Sweet and savory with a thick sauce, the bits of pork belly are so tender they practically disintegrate in your mouth. It’s a comforting dish indeed and something I could see myself eating everyday.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Jin Feng (Taipei), Fu Ding Wang (Taichung)
What We Paid: NTD 30 (small), NTD 40 (medium), NTD 50 (large)

7. Bubble Tea (Boba)

Also known as boba or pearl milk tea, bubble tea is a massively popular Taiwanese drink that’s become well-known in many parts of the world as well. You see it everywhere in Taiwan. In fact, you’ll even see stores selling bubble tea holders so you can walk around looking lit with a cup of boba slung over your shoulders.

Looking at the menus of bubble tea stands, you’ll find a head-spinning number of bubble tea varieties. Some are made with milk, some with fruit juice. You can get it either hot or cold and with any number of add-ons like tapioca pearls, pudding, and fruit jellies. You can even specify your desired level of sweetness. The choices seem endless so to keep things simple, I always go with the original which is pearl milk tea. It’s black tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls. That’s it. Apparently, it’s still the most popular and with good reason. It’s refreshing and delicious.

I was under the impression that Chun Shui Tang, a tea house originally from Taichung, was the inventor of bubble tea. We had it at their original store in Taichung (pictured up top). But as it turns out, Hanlin teahouse from Tainan may have a claim to that title as well. We may never know which teahouse truly invented bubble tea, but one thing’s for sure, it’s something you need to have at least once on every return trip to Taiwan. It’s about as Taiwanese as Taipei 101.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Chun Shui Tang (Taichung, nationwide), Hanlin Tea House (Tainan, nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 75 (small), NTD 140 (large)

8. Bubble Tea Toast

This is perhaps one of the oddest dishes on this list. Available at one Ruifeng Night Market stall in Kaohsiung, bubble tea toast is basically boba in grilled sandwich form!

A sweet milk tea spread is slathered over two slices of white bread and filled with a generous helping of tapioca pearls before being toasted and sealed in a sandwich maker. Like a peanut ice cream roll with cilantro or a Filipino ice cream sandwich, it sort of blurs the line between a savory snack and a dessert. Confusing to some, I didn’t mind it at all but Ren hated it. 😆
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ruifeng Night Market (Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 60 per sandwich

9. Coffee Nougat Biscuit

We learned about this bite-sized biscuit while on a Kkday tour of Jiufen. Our tour guide hyped it up as a delicious snack that even her son loved. Thinking how she may be getting paid to take us there, I wouldn’t have believed her had I not tasted it myself. I’m not usually fond of snacks like this, but these coffee nougat biscuits from the Saint Peter shop are damn delicious. They’re chewy and not too sweet with a robust coffee flavor.

Thankfully, you don’t have to go all the way to Jiufen to get a box. We chanced upon a branch in the Ximending area of Taipei. Based on their Facebook page, it looks like they have other branches as well, including one in Tamsui.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Saint Peter shop (Taipei, Jiufen, Tamsui)
What We Paid: NTD 500 for two boxes

10. Coffin Bread

When I was doing research for our trip, I came across this intriguing sounding dish described as a “night market specialty of Tainan and Taipei since the 1940s”. Coffin bread is basically a thick hunk of fried bread that’s been hollowed out and filled with a creamy chicken, seafood, or vegetable chowder. As you can see below, it really does resemble a coffin.

The one we had along Anping Old Street in Tainan was made with chicken and it reminded me of chicken pot pie or chicken ala king served in a crunchy, bread-y vessel. It was hearty and satisfying.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Anping Old Street, Flower Night Market (Tainan)
What We Paid: NTD 25 (small), NTD 40 (big)

11. Crispy Almond Pork Paper

Crispy almond pork paper, or pork paper for short, is a snack made with pork and almonds hammered out into thin, paper-like sheets. Crisp and delicate, it tastes like a savory and sweet potato crisp. It’s a delicious and highly addictive snack. So addictive in fact, that Ren went through an entire pack in just one sitting!

We bought four packs in Tamsui but you can get these throughout Taiwan – at night markets, souvenir snack shops, even at the airport. People will recommend pineapple cakes or sun cakes, but if I were to bring back just one souvenir food item from Taiwan, then this would be it. It’s so tasty and easy to eat that it really is quite addictive.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Nationwide
What We Paid: NTD 150 per pack, NTD 500 for four packs

12. Danzai Noodles

Danzai noodles are a specialty of Tainan. It consists of chewy wheat-based noodles in a meat and seafood broth topped with long-simmered pork and a ceremonial piece of shrimp. Also known as “slack-season noodle soup,” it was created by southern Taiwanese fishermen over 130 years ago. They’d carry wooden poles (danzai) with suspended pots over their shoulders, peddling noodles instead of fresh seafood during the off- or “slack” season.

We tried it at Du Hsiao Yueh, a restaurant in Tainan that’s been specializing in this dish since 1895. That’s over 123 years! They offer a wet and dry version, both of which were very good. You can’t tell from this picture but the bowls of danzai noodles are fairly small. Even Ren with her miniscule appetite wanted more. As it turns out, this is the normal serving size for danzai noodles since they’re considered more of a snack than an entree.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Du Hsiao Yueh (Tainan, Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 50 per bowl

13. Deep-Fried Battered Seafood

You’ll find stalls selling deep-fried battered seafood in virtually every night market in Taiwan. It’s delicious and easy to eat, even while walking. They make them with different types of seafood like shrimp and crab, but my favorite by far is the squid. You can get it topped with a variety of seasonings but I always got mine with lime salt. It’s crunchy, salty, a little sour, and still tender, in spite of the squid’s size.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 50 for a cup

14. DIY Grilled Shrimp

This was one of the most fun meals we’ve had in Taiwan. There’s a popular pastime here called urban shrimping. People would cast fishing lines into concrete indoor pools filled with live freshwater shrimp. Any shrimp you catch you would then skewer, salt, and grill yourself on the premises. It’s just grilled shrimp with salt but catching them yourself is half the fun.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: ChuenCheng 春城釣蝦場 (Taipei)
What We Paid: Minimum NTD 350 for one hour of shrimping

15. Duck

Peking duck, roast duck, crispy fried duck. I don’t think I’ve ever met a duck I didn’t like. It’s always juicy and way more flavorful than chicken.

I learned about this duck specialty restaurant in Kaohsiung called Duck (Ya Rou) Zhen when I chanced upon an article from the Singapore Michelin Guide. In it, Chef Lanshu Chen of Le Mout describes her favorite places to eat in Tainan and Kaohsiung, proclaiming Ya Rou Zhen as her go-to place for duck. There she orders sliced duck with some rice and a bowl of duck innards soup. Being the head chef of one of the world’s best restaurants, she clearly knows what she’s talking about so I followed her lead, dish for dish, and it was awesome.

Tender, juicy, and smokey with a nice layer of fat beneath the skin, the sliced duck was delicious. Even then, what stole the show was the innards soup. Swimming with duck parts like intestine, liver, and gizzard, it was clean and flavorful with that wonderful gummy texture characteristic of offal. Serious yum!
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Duck Zhen (Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 200 for an order of sliced duck, innards soup, vegetables, rice, and drinks.

16. Fish Balls (Skewered)

Fish balls are a staple street food in many Asian countries and Taiwan is no exception. I did some research and in Taiwan, it looks like they often use milkfish as the main ingredient. Sold at many night markets, the fish balls are left stewing in sauce before being skewered and served. At this particular Ruifeng Night Market stall in Kaohsiung, they offered fish balls simmering in three different sauces, one of which was a robust spicy curry. Be sure to try that one.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 20 per stick of three fish balls

17. Fish or Meat Ball Soup

Aside from skewered curry fish balls, you’ll often find them in soup as well. Throughout Taiwan we found stalls and restaurants offering fish balls, squid balls, and meat balls bobbing up and down in bowls of clear soup. Pictured below is a bowl of fish ball soup from the Original Ah-Gei Shop in Tamsui. The oblong-shaped fish balls are made daily and boast a springy texture. Being next to the ocean, Tamsui is known for their fish balls so be sure to try a bowl there. Neighborhood rival Three Sisters Ah-Gei makes a mean fish ball soup as well.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

In Jiufen, you’ll find many restaurants offering these bowls of combination meat ball soup. I don’t know what they’re made of but they come in different sizes and shades of earthy colors. They appear to be a mix of fish, pork, squid, and vegetable. They’re hearty and fun to eat.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: The Original Ah-Gei Shop, Three Sisters Ah-Gei (Tamsui), Jiufen
What We Paid: NTD 35 per bowl (fish ball soup, Tamsui), NTD 65 per bowl (combination meat ball soup, Jiufen)

18. Flame-Torched Beef

This is one of my favorite things to eat at Taiwanese night markets. Tender cubes of beef are cooked over a grill before being torched and sprinkled with your choice of seasoning like salt, pepper, teriyaki, or cumin. It’s simple but oh so good. The torching of the beef makes for a good show too.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Shilin and Raohe night markets (Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 60 (small), NTD 100 (big)

19. Fried Chicken Chop

This is one of the most iconic dishes at Taiwanese night markets. Led by the uber popular Hot Star, chicken cutlets the size of your face are dredged in flour and deep-fried to golden perfection. Like many deep-fried dishes, you’ll be given your choice of seasoning like salt and pepper, chili pepper, sweet and sour, or teriyaki.

You’ll find many stalls offering fried chicken chops at night markets but the Hot Star brand is the most well-known. In spite of its hefty size, the chicken meat is surprisingly tender.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Hot Star (Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 70 per large fried chicken chop

20. Glutinous Rice Cake

This is one of the most interesting things we’ve eaten so far in Taiwan. It’s a Hakka glutinous rice cake that comes with a variety of fillings like sweet red bean, salted vegetable, and preserved turnip. Hakka cuisine is the cooking style of the Hakka people who are originally from China.

Several stalls sell these glutinous rice cakes in Jiufen, but none are more popular than Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake. They’re easy to spot. Just look for the stall with the longest queue. It’s one of, if not the most famous stall in Jiufen.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

I think the one we got contained preserved turnip. It was an odd and overpowering flavor which took me by surprise at first. Because of the glutinous rice casing, I was expecting to find something sweet inside, like a mildly flavored dessert. Instead, I got a pungent and salty vegetable flavor! It’s an acquired taste for sure that I can see growing on you over time. After all, there’s a reason why this stall is so popular and often described as a must-visit in Jiufen.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake (Jiufen)
What We Paid: NTD 10 per piece

21. Goose

We’ve had roast goose a few times in Hong Kong, but this was the first time we’ve ever tried it steamed. I actually liked it better! Steamed goose is a specialty of the popular Mr Goose restaurant in Hualien.

Goose is less fatty and unctuous when it’s steamed. It tastes cleaner, like Hainanese chicken, but it’s still gamey and flavorful. We tried ordering the goose thigh and leg but our server recommended we get the goose and chicken platter instead. I guess the contrast in flavor and texture between the goose and chicken makes for a more balanced experience. It’s served with finely julienned ginger and a soy sauce, basil, and goose fat dipping sauce to really bring out the flavor of the meat.

If you dine at Mr Goose, then be sure to try the deep-fried fish eggs with mayonnaise as well. Pictured below at the back, it goes very well with the goose.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Mr Goose (Hualien)
What We Paid: NTD 535 for a platter of steamed goose and chicken, deep-fried fish eggs, noodles with meat sauce, and two beers

22. Grilled Seafood

Grilled seafood is a common sight at Taiwanese night markets. At every night market, it seemed there was at least one stall grilling a selection of seafood like abalone, scallops, sea snails, shrimp, and oysters over a barbecue. Pictured below are some abalone and sea snails seducing me at Fengjia Night Market in Taichung. If you like abalone, then you’re going to love Taiwan. It seems to be in abundant supply and for relatively cheap too.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
Expect to Pay: Between NTD 100-200 per order, depending on the seafood

23. Gua Bao (Cua Pao)

Like lu rou fan and beef noodle soup, the gua bao or cua pao is one of the most popular Taiwanese dishes. Often referred to as a “Taiwanese hamburger”, it’s basically a type of sandwich made with braised pork belly sandwiched between two halves of a Chinese steamed bun (baozi). It’s typically dressed with pickled mustard greens, coriander, and ground peanuts.

Pictured below is a gua bao we enjoyed at Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien. You gotta love those thick hunks of pork belly! They’re so fall-apart tender they practically dissolve in your mouth. If you’ve never had a Chinese steamed bun before, it has a unique texture, soft and pillowy, like a cloud made of dough.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Part of the reason why gua bao is called a Taiwanese hamburger is because of its versatility. Pork belly may be the traditional ingredient but today, it’s made with a variety of fillings like fried chicken, fish, eggs, and stewed beef. The ground pork gua bao pictured below was from a shop on the ground floor of our hotel in Taichung. Our room came with free breakfast so we were lucky to have this everyday during our stay. It was delicious and one of my favorite things to eat in our two weeks in Taiwan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Lan Jia Gua Bao (Taipei), Sheng Qiao Gua Bao (Taichung)
What We Paid: NTD 65 per gua bao

24. Hot Pot

Hot Pot is a core Taiwanese dish and something you should try on your first trip to Taiwan. Popular in East Asian countries like China and Japan, hot pot is a soup containing a variety of ingredients like thinly sliced meat, seafood, leaf vegetables, noodles, tofu, and various fish and meat balls. A simmering pot of soup stock is left on a burner at the table while diners place the raw ingredients into the pot to cook.

I was wondering how hot pot differed between countries and it seems the main difference is in the dipping sauce. For Japanese hot pot or shabu-shabu, it typically contains ponzu (citrus-based sauce) and goma (sesame sauce). The dipping sauce for mainland Chinese hot pot depends on the region. In Taiwan, where hot pot is also referred to as shabu-shabu because of the Japanese influence, the dipping sauce is often made with shacha sauce and raw egg yolk.

Based on the recommendation of a Taiwanese friend, we had this fantastic hot pot at Orange Shabu Shabu House in Taipei. He called it the best hot pot in the city, and he may be right. It was phenomenal and the best hot pot we’ve ever tasted anywhere.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Orange Shabu Shabu House (Taipei), Ding Wang Hot Pot (Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung)
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 1,500 for two people

25. Ice Cream Puff

Some dishes you plan for, others take you completely by surprise. That was the case with these ice cream puffs from Misty Cake in Jiufen. We didn’t even know they existed but once we saw tourist after tourist smashing their faces into them, we had to do it too.

Misty cake has many cakes and pastries on display, but this ice creams puff is what caught our eye. The recipe is simple – take two scoops of ice cream and sandwich them between two halves of a large flaky puff pastry. In ours, we chose raspberry and dark chocolate. Indulge! You’re on vacation.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Misty Cake (Jiufen)
What We Paid: About NTD 250 for a large puff pastry with two scoops of ice cream

26. Iron Eggs

Like ah-gei, iron eggs are a specialty of Tamsui. They’re chicken, pigeon, or quail eggs that have been repeatedly stewed in a tea, soy sauce, and spice mixture before being air-dried. The process shrinks the eggs, turns them a dark brown color (almost black), and makes them chewier and more concentrated in flavor.

You’ll find them in vacuum-sealed packs like this throughout Tamsui. At the store we bought them from, they were offering the eggs in spicy and non-spicy versions. I’m not sure if other shops have their own spin on the flavor. It’s a fun and tasty snack that’s easy to eat while walking around Tamsui.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Tamsui
What We Paid: NTD 25 for the smallest pack

27. King Trumpet Mushrooms

We saw many night market stalls throughout Taiwan selling these hunks of juicy deep-fried mushrooms. They’re made using king trumpet mushrooms (Pleurotus eryngii) which are the largest type of oyster mushroom. Like the deep-fried squid, they’re chopped, battered, and deep-fried before being sprinkled with a seasoning of your choice.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
Expect to Pay: About NTD 50 per cup

28. Lu Wei

Lu wei or Taiwanese braised food is a distant cousin of hot pot. Commonly eaten as a snack, it involves braising a variety of ingredients in broth, then adding spices and sauces to the cooked food.

You’ll find many roadside stalls offering lu wei at night markets. Pictured below is a lu wei stand at Zhongxiao Road Night Market in Taichung. With a basket in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other, customers pick what they want from a selection of braised meats, vegetables, and noodles, before handing it over to be diced up and heated in a hot soup.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

The lu wei was served in a plastic bag along with a bamboo skewer. It was a little hard to eat standing up so we went inside a convenience store so we could sit and enjoy it with cold beers.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: Around NTD 200 for one bag

29. Mee Sua

This was our last meal in Taiwan and thankfully, it was also one of the best. I’m not really a noodle person so I wouldn’t normally be excited about something like this, but the braised intestine mee sua at the ultra famous Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodles in Ximending is incredibly delicious.

Mee sua is a type of thin wheat-flour noodle similar to vermicelli. I read that Taiwanese mee sua typically contains oysters, but Ay-Chung makes them with the most tender bits of pork intestine. They were so soft they tasted like baby squid! The mee sua is silky smooth and the gravy had this wonderful smokey flavor. Apparently, Ay-Chung makes their soup base with bonito flakes hence the smokiness. Seriously, this was so good I couldn’t stop eating it. For even more flavor, you can add chili oil, garlic, and black vinegar if you like.

Ay-Chung is extremely popular so expect a long line. Not to worry though, it moves quickly. This bowl of mee sua is definitely worth the wait.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ay-Chung Flour Rice Noodles (Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 40 (small), NTD 70 (big)

30. Miyahara Ice Cream

Miyahara in Taichung is famous for its pineapple cakes and Harry-Potter-like interior. But it’s also beloved for its ice cream, which can be bought from a little shop on the left side of the building. There you’ll find exotic flavors like Uganda 80% Smoked Chocolate and Sri Lankan Black Tea. If ice cream isn’t enough, then you can have it topped with delectable goodies like cheesecake, pineapple tarts, and almond crisps.

The ice cream at Miyahara is a bit pricey, but it’s a fun and Instagrammable treat you can enjoy at the riverside park next to the shop. Personally, I find that ice cream in Taiwan isn’t as creamy as it is in other countries like the US or Japan. The dairy is less evident and it tastes like something between ice cream and sorbet.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Miyahara Ice Cream (Taichung)
What We Paid: NTD 90 (single), NTD 160 (double), NTD 225 (triple)

31. Mochi

Mochi may be Japanese in origin but it’s become a popular snack in Taiwan as well. There’s even a mochi museum in Nantou City! Mochi is a soft, marshmallow-like glutinous rice cake that’s pounded into a paste before being molded into the desired shape. It can contain sweet or salty ingredients, but the most traditional types are filled with red bean paste and rolled in peanut powder.

Interestingly, there’s a Hakka version of mochi which is much simpler than the Japanese variety. Known as tauchi, it doesn’t have a filling and consists of plain handmade mochi covered in peanut or black sesame powder.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Mochis in a glass case” by Dru Kelly, used under CC BY-ND 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

We came across this interesting grilled version of mochi at Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien. A frozen block of mochi is placed on a grill where it puffs up repeatedly before being flattened out with a spatula and topped with peanut powder and your choice of sauce.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Nationwide
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 30 for a box of six

32. Nougat

Ren loves nougat and luckily for her, there’s a lot of it here. So popular is peanut nougat in Taiwan that there’s even a museum in New Taipei City dedicated to this chewy confection. You can find shops selling nougat everywhere but we bought a box of these berry-laden beauties from a specialty shop near the Anping Tree House in Tainan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Nationwide
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 250-300 per box

33. Oyster Omelette

Oyster omelette is a specialty in many Asian countries and Taiwan is no exception. It’s a night market staple and something you should try on your first visit here. As its name suggests, it’s a pan-fried omelette mixed with starch and fresh oysters, and served with a mild sweet and sour tomato sauce.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

We had this at Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung, but you can find an oyster omelette vendor at practically every night market in Taiwan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 60 per omelette

34. Papaya Milk

Papaya milk is exactly what it sounds like, a refreshing drink made with ripe papaya and fresh milk. We tried it at this famous Liouhe Night Market stall in Kaohsiung. I don’t know the stall’s name but you’ll know it from all the pictures of celebrity customers plastered on their cart. The papaya milk is smooth and creamy, and not too sweet. Delicious.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Liouhe Night Market (Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 60 per cup

35. Peanut Ice Cream Roll

In Taiwan, we encountered a few dishes that blurred the line between dessert and savory snack. This peanut ice cream roll was one of them.

To make it, peanut shavings are spread out over traditional popiah skin and topped with two or three scoops of ice cream. I’m not sure exactly what flavor of ice cream it was, but it tasted neutral and not too sweet, like vanilla. Some places may add coriander before rolling it all up like a burrito. Like boba toast, it’s an odd combination that somehow works. We had the peanut ice cream roll pictured below from a stall at Dongdamen Night Market in Hualien.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

If you’re visiting Jiufen, then there’s no stall more famous for this unusual treat than Ah Zhu Peanut Ice Cream. It wasn’t loaded with as much ice cream as the one we had at Dongdamen Night Market, but it was still really good. Oddly enough, I wasn’t all that excited to try peanut ice cream roll before our trip but it’s one of the dishes I remember most. It’s surprisingly delicious.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ah Zhu Peanut Ice Cream (Jiufen)
What We Paid: NTD 40 per roll

36. Pepper Bun

A pepper bun or hu jiao bing is a type of baked bun popular at Taiwanese night markets. It consists of a crunchy, flaky outer dough shell topped with sesame seeds and containing a filling of peppery marinated pork with loads of scallions. Interestingly, it’s cooked in a cylindrical clay oven similar to an Indian tandoori oven. Baked at high heat over charcoal, the buns are stuck to the sides of the oven and scraped off with a blunt knife or spatula when ready.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Here’s a pork bun we had at Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung. The dough is delicious. It’s thin and crisp, almost cracker-like in texture when freshly made. As you can see, it’s a good-sized bun packed with lots of pork and green onions. You can find pork buns at many night markets but a great place to try it is at Raohe Night Market in Taipei. Just look for the pepper bun stall with the longest line.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Raohe Night Market (Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 50 per bun

37. Penis Waffle

This is the most scandalous dish on this list for obvious reasons. Shaped like a 7″ phallus with veins, it contains a variety of fillings like red bean and peanut, sometimes even a whole sausage. It’s then skewered by the testicles and dipped in your choice of sauce like chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and green bean. It’s a tasty snack that’s quite a mouthful.

We had a freshly made matcha-glazed penis waffle at Shilin Night Market when we first visited Taipei in 2014. However, recent research seems to indicate that the stand offering these penis waffles – A Piece of Gayke – is no longer around. We did see pre-made versions sold in boxes so keep your eye out for those if you want to try it. We saw them in Ximending and it looks like they’re sold in many shops at Shilin Night Market as well.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ximending, Shilin Night Market (Taipei)
Expect to Pay: Around NTD 60 per waffle

38. Pig’s Blood Cake

Pig’s blood pudding on a stick is a popular street food snack that you can find at many Taiwanese night markets. It’s made with pork blood and sticky rice which is steamed or fried before being covered in a sweet soy sauce and coated in peanut flour and coriander.

We have congealed pig or chicken blood in our native Philippines (called betamax) but this Taiwanese version is texturally different. The sticky rice makes it more firm and chewy, similar to mochi. It’s really good. We had this at Raohe Night Market but you can find pig’s blood cake pretty much anywhere in Taiwan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 25 (small), NTD 35 (big)

39. Pineapple Cake

A box of pineapple cakes is one of the most popular souvenir food items you can bring back from Taiwan. As its name suggests, it’s a soft and sweet traditional pastry made with butter, flour, eggs, sugar, and pineapple jam.

Apart from being delicious, a big reason why it’s so popular as a gift item is because the pineapple is considered an auspicious symbol. In Taiwanese Hokkien, the word for pineapple is ong lai, which sounds similar to a phrase meaning “incoming fortune”.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Taiwan: Pineapple Cakes” by sstrieu, used under CC BY-ND 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom

You’ll find boxes of pineapple cakes sold everywhere in Taiwan, including the airport, but one of the most famous shops is Miyahara. This place has become a tourist attraction in Taichung, equally popular for its library-like interior as it is for its pineapple cakes and other pastries. Isn’t their packaging pretty?
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Miyahara (Taichung)
What We Paid: NTD 450-500 per box

40. Pork Sausages

I caught these two ladies checking out my sausage in Jiufen. Sausages in different shapes and sizes are among the most common sights at Taiwanese night markets (or any market for that matter). We saw Kurobuta sausages, pearl sausages (pictured below), sausages encased in tofu skin, even sausages sandwiched in a glutinous rice “bun”. Pork is the most common but I remember seeing one stall in Jiufen selling sausages made with fish roe, squid, and wild boar!
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: Around NTD 35 per sausage

41. Quail Eggs with Shrimp

I’m a sucker for quail eggs so I often get it whenever I see it. It makes for a tasty and easy-to-eat snack. On more than one occasion, I was seduced by night market vendors preparing these quail eggs with shrimp in grills that resembled takoyaki makers. They’d turn them to cook using tiny forks before adding a seasoning or sauce of your choice. Simple but delicious.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 30 for 6-8 quail eggs

42. Red Bean Wheel Cakes

A wheel cake is the Taiwanese version of Japanese imagawayaki, a pancake-like dessert made with a variety of fillings. They’re traditionally made with sweet azuki red bean paste, but today you’ll find a wide range of fillings like chocolate, vanilla custard, peanut butter, fruit, and matcha. There are plenty of savory fillings as well like corn, egg, tuna, curry, meat, and vegetable. We saw plenty of wheel cake vendors throughout Taiwan, at night markets and along sidewalks with heavy foot traffic.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Nationwide
Expect to Pay: NTD 15 per cake

43. Scallion Pancakes

This was one of my favorite things to eat in Taiwan. Known locally as chong zhua bing, it consists of a pan-fried piece of dough with loads of green onion layered inside. Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, you can get your scallion pancake with egg or without.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

How beautiful do all those green onions look? Scallion pancake stalls are ubiquitous in Taiwan. We had this at the Shuishe Visitor Center at Sun Moon Lake. For such a simple snack, it tastes mighty good! Be sure to get it with egg as it adds richness and moisture to the pancake.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (natiowide)
What We Paid: NTD 40 (without egg), NTD 50 (with egg)

44. Shanxi Cuisine

This was one of the best surprises from our trip. Shanxi or Shan food is the cuisine from Shanxi Province in China, just west of Beijing. It’s famous for its noodles, fried flatbreads, and sour flavors. Among the cuisine’s most popular ingredients are lamb and cumin, two of Ren’s favorite things in the world. I knew she’d love this place, and she did. What I didn’t know was how much I’d love it too. It turned out to be one of the best meals we had in our two weeks in Taiwan.

Shao Shao Ke in Taipei is a popular restaurant known for serving good Shanxi cuisine. Pictured below is the tastiest plate of deep-fried lamb skewers made with cumin. Don’t let appearances fool you. I know it looks dry and tough, but it’s actually quite tender and juicy. It has a light crispy coating and a potent cumin flavor. We’ve never had lamb like this before and it bowled us over. Be sure to get the deep-fried mozzarella scones as well. They’re to die for.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Shao Shao Ke (Taipei)
What We Paid: NTD 704 for a dinner for two

45. Sheng Jian Bao

This is one of my favorite types of baozi. A Shanghainese specialty that’s also popular in Taiwan, sheng jian bao is a pork-filled bun that’s fried in a shallow pan until the bottom turns brown and crunchy. Any meat-filled baozi is tasty enough, but the crunchiness from the pan-frying makes it even better.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

We enjoyed this sheng jian bao after a long day of biking on Cijin Island in Kaohsiung. As you can see, it’s bursting with pork and green onions. We bought this from a street vendor but I think you can find sheng jian bao pretty much anywhere in Taiwan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Nationwide
What We Paid: Around NTD 30 per bun

46. Sour & Spicy Noodles

We saw this interesting bowl of noodles at Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung. It consisted of thick, translucent, and slippery udon-like noodles in a sour and spicy broth with plenty of scallions, peanuts, and a few slices of pork. We had no idea what it was and my Taiwanese friend couldn’t really explain it to me in English either. All he said was that it’s name in Chinese literally translates to “sour and spicy noodles”. I couldn’t find much information about it online but I believe it may be a Hakka dish. In any case, you may want to try it if you visit Liouhe Night Market. It’s a delicious bowl of noodle soup that’s different from others we tried in Taiwan.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Liouhe Night Market (Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 70 per bowl

47. Steamed Taro Cake

These steamed taro cakes are also sold by the Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake stall in Jiufen. It isn’t as popular or as interesting as the glutinous rice cake, but it’s also pretty good, just a little mushy from the taro filling.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Ah Lan Hakka Glutinous Rice Cake (Jiufen)
What We Paid: NTD 10 per piece

48. Stinky Tofu

Stinky tofu is one of Taiwan’s most notorious dishes. It’s notorious because it truly does stink as much as its name suggests. I still remember the first time I tasted it in San Francisco. You could smell it from a block away, a stench that reminds me for some reason of cat poo. Ren can’t stand the smell at all.

As foul as it smells, stinky tofu is an important part of Taiwanese food culture. Often at night markets, it attracts the longest lines because locals love the way it tastes in spite of the stench. Without question, it’s an acquired taste which I’m sadly yet to acquire.

Stinky tofu is brined in a mixture of fermented milk, vegetables, and meat for as long as several months. Once the fermentation process is complete, it can be eaten cold, steamed, stewed, or deep-fried with a side of pickled mustard greens. The last is the most common preparation and the only one I’ve tried. You can find stinky tofu at every night market though a good place to try it in Taipei is at a restaurant called Dai’s House of Unique Stink. From what I’ve read, they’ve had to move shop seven times since opening because of the awful stench. Enjoy.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide), Dai’s House of Unique Stink (Taipei)
Expect to Pay: About NTD 70 per order

49. Stuffed Chicken Wings

These pregnant-looking chicken wings are stuffed with fried rice. The wings are deboned and filled with fried rice before being barbecued or fried. We tried both and we preferred the barbecued version. It was smokey and more flavorful. You can find these at pretty much any night market.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
What We Paid: NTD 60 per wing

50. Sun Cake

Known locally as taiyang bing, a sun cake is a popular Taiwanese pastry that originated in Taichung. It has a flaky crust and a maltose filling, and is usually eaten with Chinese tea. Like pineapple cakes, it’s one of the most popular souvenir food items you can bring back from Taiwan. Miyahara in Taichung offers them as well.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Miyahara (Taichung)
What We Paid: NTD 280 per box

51. Taiwanese Breakfast

Having a traditional Taiwanese breakfast at least once is a must-do in Taiwan. It’s heavy on carbs and eggs, and is usually washed down with a glass of hot soybean milk. Examples of typical Taiwanese breakfast dishes include twisted crullers (you tiao), baked wheat cake (shao bing), hot soybean milk (dou jiang), leek pie (jiu cai he zi), turnip cake (luo buo gao), and baozi (steamed buns).

Pictured below is the twisted cruller and bowl of hot soybean milk I had at the ultra popular Fuhang Soy Milk in Taipei. When I say ultra popular, I really do mean ULTRA popular. The line to this Taiwanese breakfast food court snakes around the block so come as early as you can.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

I had this hearty Taiwanese breakfast good enough for two at Second Market in Taichung. The lines that form here aren’t as bad as Fuhang Soy Milk but it’s an exceedingly popular place for breakfast as well.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Fuhang Soy Milk (Taipei), Second Market (Taichung)
What We Paid: About NTD 50-100 depending on your order

52. Tanghulu

You’ll see these glossy sticks of red candied fruit everywhere. Known as tanghulu, this candied snack originated in China and involves dipping skewers of fruit in sugar syrup to form a hardened candy coating. You’ll find at least one stall selling tanghulu at virtually every night market in Taiwan. The most commonly used fruits seem to be strawberry and cherry tomatoes stuffed with a sliver of dried plum.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Night markets (nationwide)
Expect to Pay: NTD 20 per stick

53. Taro Balls

Google “what to eat jiufen” and taro balls from this shop will show up on nearly very list. Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls is one of the most popular eateries in Jiufen. You can easily find the shop from the long line of patrons waiting to enjoy their taro ball soup, which you can have either hot or cold. We chose the hot and it was swimming with chewy handmade taro balls, sweet potato balls, green tea balls, and kidney beans.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls (Jiufen)
What We Paid: NTD 50 per bowl

54. Tower Ice Cream

Like ah-gei and iron eggs, tower ice cream is associated with the Tamsui district in New Taipei City. It’s basically a light saber of soft serve ice cream piled high in a cone. You can get one flavor or a combination of two. Being Asian, we got taro and mango.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Tamsui
What We Paid: NTD 35

55. Wu Pao Chun Bakery Bread

Nothing makes Ren happier than freshly baked breads, so when I kept seeing this Taiwanese-French bakery pop up on must-eat lists in Taiwan, I knew we had to go. The bakery has branches in Taipei and Kaohsiung and is named after Wu Pao-chun, a Taiwanese baker renowned for his sourdough bread. He’s won several baking competitions in Europe and was awarded the title of Master Baker in the bread category of the 2010 Bakery Masters competition in Paris.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

There are many mouthwatering loaves of bread here to choose from, though perhaps none more famous than this Taiwan Litchi Rose Champion Bread which was the champion at the Bakery Masters in 2010. It’s made with mullet wine, lychee, walnuts, and rose petals. Another renowned loaf is his Taiwan Longan with Red Wine Bread which won second place at the Coupe Louise Lesaffre in 2008. It’s made with red wine, longan, and walnuts.

We bought the litchi rose bread along with many others at their Kaohsiung branch and enjoyed it with coffee at a Starbucks next door. Everything was sensational.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Wu Pao Chun Bakery (Taipei, Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 360 for each of the champion breads

56. Wuyuzi (Dried Cured Mullet Roe)

Wuyuzi is salted mullet roe. It’s made by salt curing the roe sac of mullet over a couple of weeks. The process dries out and intensifies the flavor of the roe while preserving it. Also known as karasumi, it’s similar to Korean myeongnan, Japanese mentaiko, or Mediterranean bottarga.

We saw a lot of wuyuzi drying out on tables like this in Kaohsiung, but I read it’s a specialty of Donggang Township in west-central Pingtung County. You may want to go there if you’re interested in trying the best.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

We didn’t buy any wuyuzi but I read it’s softer than bottarga and consumed in a similar way. It’s a salty, fishy treat that you can slice or grate and mix with pasta or rice. Pictured below is a steamed bun (baozi) with wuyuzi and strips of nori from Wu Pao Chun Bakery. Delicious!
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Dihua Street, specialty shops (Taipei)
Expect to Pay: At least NTD 1,000 per 100 g

57. Xiao Long Bao

Xiao long bao is one of the most well-known types of baozi, or Chinese steamed buns. It gets its name from the bamboo basket where its steamed, the xiaolong, and is traditionally filled with pork and a solid meat aspic that melts into soup when heated.

The xiao long bao is originally from Shanghai, though many people feel that the best examples can be found right here in Taiwan, at Din Tai Fung. Made with the thinnest of wrappers, every Din Tai Fung xiao long bao has 18 pleats apiece and weighs exactly 21 grams before steaming. Aside from the traditional pork, you can even get them mixed with crab roe and truffle. Divine.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

To keep from burning yourself, you’re meant to pierce the skin of the dumpling and slurp out the soup first before eating the whole thing. Otherwise, you may burn the inside of your mouth from the hot soup.
Things to Eat in Taiwan

Where to Try it: Din Tai Fung (Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung)
What We Paid: NTD 170 (5 pcs), NTD 340 (10 pcs)

Conclusion

57 dishes is way better than 9 but it’s still a ways off from painting a complete picture of Taiwanese food culture. In our two weeks there, we learned just how much Taiwanese people love to eat. This is evidenced by the many night markets you’ll find in every city throughout the country. We visited one new night market almost every night we were there, and had we wanted to, we probably could have visited two. That’s how many they have here. If you enjoy traveleating as much as we do, then you’re going to love Taiwan.

I didn’t include it in this list but sushi and Japanese restaurants are a common sight in Taiwan. This was expected because of the Japanese influence. They’re even have many of my beloved kaiten-zushi restaurants! I considered adding sushi and unagi to this list because of their popularity in Taiwan, but I decided to keep it to dishes that have evolved to become fully or at least partially Taiwanese.

In any case, I hope you enjoyed going through this guide as much as we did doing research for it. As always, it’s a work-in-progress that will only grow with every return visit to Taiwan.

For more food tips, check out our guide on 12 Night Markets and Food Streets to Visit in Taiwan

12 Night Markets and Food Streets to Visit in Taiwan

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There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Andy at 7:01 am

    Oh guys.. Just spent several hours on your website, specially this page. Totally love the way you’re made this up. Pictures give a great preview and your descriptions already got me hungry. ^^ Being in Taiwan for several times I totally love the food and everything around it there. Most of the times it travelled Taiwan for business reasons, next week I’ll go there back again. This time with additional two weeks of vacation to travel Taiwan from North to south to really explore the country and its lovely people. Your guide (not only this Food page) helped me quite a lot in my preparation for that trip. Just wanted to thank you for providing those Information to others. For my Point I can tell, that you took a part of having an enjoyable trip with my friend for our two weeks in Taiwan. Thank you a lot!

  2. JB Macatulad at 7:28 am

    So happy you found our guides useful Andy! Taiwan is such a great country. Good food with the nicest people, and easy to explore too. I hope you’re making your way to Hualien as well? It’s so beautiful there. Have a wonderful time! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Living in Taiwan: A Subjective Review | Discover Discomfort
  4. Andrea Le at 4:05 pm

    Thank you JB & Renee a lot! I love this website so much. I’m gonna spend more than 2 months doing a summer internship in Taiwan (Kaohsiung specifically) so your information helps me a lot, especially this post! It makes me look forward to this summer even more <3

  5. JB & Renée Macatulad at 7:59 pm

    That’s awesome Andrea! So happy to hear that our content helped you plan your trip. Have a wonderful time in Taiwan! We love that country. 🙂

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