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The Hualien Night Market is one of the highlights of Hualien city and should be on your must-visit list when you’re in the city. It is the largest night market in Hualien County and is the perfect to end a day in Hualien City.
If you’re looking for information on how to get from Taipei to Hualien, check out this post. It is an in-depth article that covers every transportation method between the two cities.
Technically the name of the night market is Dongdamen Night Market, but I will be referring to the market both as Dongdamen Night Market and Hualien Night Market.
The names are synonymous, and I’m referring to the same market. Sometimes it just flows better to use one name over the other.
This post will give you all the information you need in order to experience everything the Hualien Night Market has to offer! It is your one-stop guide to the Hualien Night Market.
How to Get to the Hualien Night Market
The most popular tourist attraction in Hualien is Taroko National Park, so most people will be heading to Dongdamen Night Market once they get off the Taroko bus.
The market is about a thirty minute walk from the train station, which is where the bus will drop you off on your way home from Taroko.
The Hualien Night Market is located at the corner of Zhingshan Road and Beibin Street. It is in the eastern part of the city near the ocean.
Getting from the Train Station to Dongdamen Night Market
There are three ways you can get from the train station to the night market.
You can easily walk from the train station to the Hualien Night Market.
The walk takes approximately 30-35 minutes depending on how quickly you walk. You simply walk straight down Zhongshan Road until you hit the market. It is literally a straight shot from the train station.
You just need to make sure you’re on Zhongshan Road and then keep walking towards the water until you hit the market. Once you’re close to the market, you won’t be able to miss it. There are bright lights that will lead you straight to the Hualien Night Market.
The second option is to take a taxi from the train station to Dongdamen Night Market. After spending a long day hiking in Taroko National Park, this is a very appealing option!
There is a taxi stand right at the train station. If you’re walking towards the train station from where the bus drops you off, it will be on the left-hand side of the building near the bathrooms.
A taxi will take approximately 8 minutes to get from the train station to the night market and should only cost you approximately $NT100 or $3.30USD.
That is a pretty good deal and will help your feet relax for a little while longer after a long day of walking through Taroko.
Most taxi drivers will know where to take you if you say “Dongdamen Market”, but it is good practice to have the name of the market written in Chinese characters just in case your driver doesn’t speak English.
The last option is to take the bus from the train station to the market. I don’t recommend this option. The buses from the train station to the market don’t run very often and take quite a while to get from the station to the market.
It is often quicker to walk and is always more convenient to take a taxi.
Bus 1139 travels from the train station to the market. Get on the bus and ride it until the Dongdamen Market stop and get off. From there it is only about a 100m walk to the night market.
The bus runs fairly frequently during the day, but the frequency heavily decreases in the evening when the Hualien Night Market is open. It runs once every 10 minutes during the day and once every 60-90 minutes during the evening.
Once you get on the bus, it is only about a 25 minute ride until you get to the station, so it can be convenient if you get to the bus station when a bus is due to leave.
On the flip side, if you get to the bus station right after one bus just left, you will be waiting a long time for the next bus to arrive.
This is why I have a difficult time recommending the bus as a transportation method.
Hours of Operation
The Hualien Night Market is open every day from 6pm to 12am. Things don’t get rolling until 7pm or 8pm, so not everything will be open if you arrive right at 6pm.
On the flip side, arriving early will allow you to get the most popular food without having to wait in a long queue. Most food stalls are open right at 6pm, and it is the carnival games that are a little slower in opening.
How Long do You Need at the Hualien Night Market?
This is a difficult question to answer because it depends on how much you want to do at the market and how much you want to eat.
You need a minimum of one hour at Dongdamen Night Market in order to try a few different street foods and walk around the entire market. You can easily spend three or four hours at the market as well.
It just depends on how much you want to do, how late you want to stay up, and how much energy you have after a long day of sightseeing in Hualien City or hiking in Taroko National Park.
I personally think two hours is the perfect amount of time. It allows you to stroll through the market without feeling rushed, eat a number of different types of street food, and take in the atmosphere and Hualien culture.
What to Eat at Dongdamen Night Market
The food is the real star of the Hualien Night Market. In fact, I thought it had the best food of any night market I visited in Taiwan. I know that is a big statement, but the food was incredible!
There is a wide range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, so there are options for every diet!
There are over 400 vendors, so you won’t be able to try it all, but there are a number of items that you should try to eat while your’e at the Hualien Night Market.
Corn on the Cob
This may sound like a weird one to start with, but the corn on the cob in Taiwan is amazing! I’ve never had anything like it.
It is delicious and salty and perfect. The corn at the Hualien Night Market is a bit unique compared to corn on the cob at other night markets in Taiwan. You’re able to choose between three different toppings to put on it!
There are two non-vegetarian toppings and one vegetarian topping. I’m not entirely sure what is in the toppings, but they they are incredible!
Corn on the cob is a pretty light snack, so it won’t fill you up, which is very nice. It is the perfect palate cleanser to eat between heavier snacks as it won’t weigh you down but still tastes delicious.
You can get a variety of different noodle dishes throughout the market. Most contain meat and are a local favourite.
You can’t go wrong picking up some noodles while wandering through the market. They are inexpensive, delicious and filling.
There are a number of different stalls selling noodles so take some time to walk around the market before you decide what noodles you want to eat.
This is a hugely popular street food in Taiwan. It is a bit intimidating because it smells horrible. Trust me when I say you can smell stinky tofu from a long ways away!
If you’re able to ignore the smell while you’re eating it, it is delicious, and you’ll probably enjoy it.
You can get stinky tofu either grilled or fried. Both options are great, so what version you should get depends on your personal preference. Of course the fried version is less healthy, but a great treat once in a while!
You can get a variety of different types of wontons at the Hualien Night Market. There are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions of wontons at various different stalls in the market.
You can get your wontons served just as dumplings or in a soup. Both versions are delicious.
I had the best wontons I’ve ever had in my life at the Hualien Night Market and would highly recommend them to anybody visiting!
Tea and Juice
It wouldn’t be a post about a night market in Taiwan if I didn’t mention all the different teas and juices you can get!
These are hugely popular items in any market in Taiwan, and the Dongdamen market is no exception.
You can get both the famous bubble tea and iced tea at the market. The vendors make it to your specifications, so you get your perfect cup of tea each time you order!
You need to know what percentage of sugar you want in your tea and how much ice you want. There is a lot of different information on what is best and how you should order your tea in Taiwan.
My preference is 50 sugar and regular ice if I’m walking around in the heat and less ice if I’m drinking it indoors.
You’ll have to experiment and figure out how you like your tea. It is part of the fun!
You won’t be able to walk too far into the market without seeing someone selling freshly squeezed juice. There are a variety of different fruits you can choose from, and you can even ask the vendor to combine different fruits.
The juice is squeezed right in front of you, and it is free of a lot of the junk they put in typical North American juice.
It is a delicious and refreshing treat. The queues to get juice are often very long so be prepared to wait at least ten minutes. It is so worth it though!
This is a hugely popular street food among tourist. It is an east meets west dish that is perfect for people who aren’t too adventurous with food but still want to try local street food.
You choose either braised pork, soy-stewed pork, or chicken as your protein and choose either black pepper, mushroom, or honey mustard sauce. Your choices are served on a bao bun topped with cucumbers, onions, and noodles.
There is often a long queue to get a Taiwan hamburger, so it is a good stall to hit first if you get to the market earlier in the evening.
The Logistics of Eating at the Market
As you know, there are a lot of different food stalls at the Hualien Night Market, and if you’ve never been to a night market, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to order your first food.
Where do you eat it? Do you have to walk and eat at the same time? What do you do with the garbage?
Well worry not!
The Hualien Night Market is fairly unique because you order your food at the front of the stall and then are showed into the stall itself to find there is a seating area inside eat stall where you can sit and eat.
This isn’t the case for every night market in Taiwan. Many night markets have tables in the middle of the street where people can eat, but that isn’t the case in Hualien.
I like that you’re able to eat inside the stalls themselves. It allows for more privacy, and you don’t feel rushed while you’re eating. It also allows you to get out of the hustle and bustle of the market and relax while eating.
Other Things to do at the Hualien Night Market
The primary draw of the Hualien Night Market is, of course, the amazing street food, but there are a few other things you can do while at the market.
Play Carnival Games
It is pretty common to have a carnival games at night markets in Taiwan, and there are a ton at the Dongdamen Night Market!
You can throw darts to try to break balloons, try to throw balls into barrels, and a number of other classic carnival games.
These are run by locals and are by no means as elaborate or formal as carnival games you would find at theme parks around the world. But they are still a lot of fun and a great way to break up your time at the night market and rest between eating.
The games are inexpensive, and the prices are small but cute. You’ll need to pay with cash so be sure you have some money in your pocket!
Children Can Ride a Carousal
This is one of the more bizarre activities you can do at the Hualien Night Market. There is a small carousal that children are able to ride near the entrance of the night market.
It is about a quarter of the way up from the entrance on the right-hand side of the market. Nobody seemed to be using it when I was there, but you definitely can if your children want to go for a spin!
Watch the Light Show
There is a small light show that goes on during the night market. It isn’t directly inside the market but is just adjacent to the right.
Remember the bright lights I was telling you would help lead you to the market if you were walking? Well, this is it!
When I was there, there was a giant flower filled with screens in each petal and in the middle. The flower lit up and different patterns went across the flower.
It was pretty cool, and you should definitely spend five minutes watching it. It was a popular thing to do, and there were a lot of locals and tourists watching the flower light up and change patterns.
Can You Purchase Souvenirs at the Market?
No. Unfortunately there isn’t anywhere to purchase souvenirs at the Hualien Night Market. This market is solely dedicated to food (and a few carnival games).
You’ll have to do your souvenirs shopping somewhere else in Taiwan. But I have to warn you there aren’t as many souvenirs stores as you would think in Taiwan, so if you see something you like, purchase it when you see it!
Hotels Near the Hualien Night Market
I don’t recommend staying near the Hualien Night Market. Taroko National Park is the most popular tourist attraction in Hualien, and the night market is quite a ways away from the train station where you catch the bus to the park.
I recommend staying near the train station, so you can easily catch the bus to Taroko in the morning. These are a few great hotels near the train station:
If you want to stay near the Hualien Night Market, I would recommend staying at one of these hotels:
As you can tell, there is a lot to see and do at the Hualien Night Market! It is such a fun place, and you should make it a priority to visit while in Hualien City.
You’ll be exhausted after a day in Taroko, but you won’t regret heading to the market to refuel and eat tons of delicious street food. Plus the food is inexpensive, so you can have a lot of food without breaking the budget!
You can be adventurous and try traditional Taiwanese food like stinky tofu or try foods like a Taiwan hamburger that is closer to food you’re comfortable with. No matter what food you’re interested in trying, there will be something for you to indulge in!