Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung is a real joke! And what the government has to say about it in one of its brochure is even more laughable. To promote this tourist spot, they claim:
“Liouhe Tourist Night Market is the most glamorous night market in Taiwan. Many foreign tourists visit this place, making it look like an alternative version of the United Nations.”
Ha ha ha ha ha!! Give me a break. Here’s the truth…
Last time I was at Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung, I felt like I was on Mainland China. At the entrance of the market, I counted no less than 20 tour buses… and they just kept on coming from every directions, to drop groups of 40 to 50 travellers, all of them making their way across the market like ant colonies, following guides that lead them using the weirdest looking flags or stuffed animals attached at the end of bamboo poles. Some guides even use whistles to bring back the naughty tourists who went astray.
I don’t want to sound racist or to make generalisations, but let’s just say that there is a lot of loud people at Liouhe Night Market, and quite a few who push their way around, cut in line, spit on the ground, and throw food at your feet as if the street was a trash can. There’s an advantage to all this: going to Liouhe Night Market in Kaohsiung is like taking a free trip to Mainland China without even leaving Taiwan.
Hum, it’s actually not free at all…
Of course, with all these Chinese tourists with pockets full of NTs that keep coming every night, Taiwanese street vendors at Liouhe saw the opportunity for some easy cash. Prices for pretty much everything from barbecued squid to Hello Kitty iPhone cases, from sugar cane juice to silver jewellery, are higher than at most night markets in other places around Taiwan. And the quality is pretty bad. It’s not bad, it’s actually horrible.
My mom, my wife, and I had barbecued shrimps, squid, and scallop (at three different places) and it tasted like it had been left out of the fridge for a good week. Seriously, the shrimps tasted like anything but shrimps, the squid was as hard as a rubber shoe sole, and the scallop just felt as if it had been soaked in some chemicals before being put on the fire.
Then we had sugar cane juice – which did not taste like sugar cane. And finally, I bought a glass of wheat grass juice with lemon – which was surprisingly all right.
What’s the problem with Liouhe Night Market?
The problem with Kaohsiung’s Liouhe Night Market is that the people who sell their goods or food there know that a new batch of mainlanders will arrive the day after and the day after… and they don’t care if the food is good or not. The vendors don’t have to worry about getting customers back. It actually makes total business sense for them to sell bad food, and raise prices. But it sucks for you who wants to enjoy the Taiwanese Night Market experience.
Right after my bad experience that night, I texted my friend (who is from Kaohsiung) to tell her how terrible I thought the food was there and she texted me back: “Everybody from Kaohsiung knows that Liouhe is a tourist trap for mainlanders and that everything is overpriced. No local Taiwanese go there anymore.”
Back in the days, Liouhe Night Market was a great place to spend the night in Kaohsiung. It was actually my favourite nightlife spot in town where I could drink cheap beer, eat delicious seafood for next to nothing, and just walk around until the vendors closed shops.
I guess I’ll have to find a new night market…
Getting to Liouhe Night Market
If you still want to check out Liouhe Night Market, it’s at the following MRT (KTR) station: Formosa Boulevard Station (Exit 11). It’s open from 18:00 to 01:00am.
Other Night Markets in Kaohsiung Taiwan
Rueifong Night Market
This place is where the locals go out at night to grab a bite, a drink, or to play games like darts, shoot balloons, or buy cheap clothes. It is in Taiwan’s second biggest city, but you’ll still see some stuff (and people) that seem to be coming right from the middle of the countryside.
Kaohsiung MRT Red Line, Kaohsiung Arena Station (Exit 1)
Open from 18:30 – 01:00am on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Fongshan Cingnian Night Market
With it’s hordes of teenagers and weird snacks like cold ducks brain jelly, Fongshan Cingnian Night Market reminds me of the one in Luodong, up on the island’s northeast coast. You won’t need too much cash there as things are extremely inexpensive, and the selection of clothes on sale won’t make you feel like replacing your wardrobe. It’s a cool place to spend an hour or two.
Last time I went there, I took the train all the way to Fongshan Station and just followed the signs from there. It’s a ten-minute walk to get there from the train station.
Open from Thursday to Sunday, 18:30 – 01:00am.