Especially important is returning for the family reunion dinner which takes place on New Year’s Eve. Train tickets get booked weeks in advance.
There is one place you will find busy in Taipei leading up to The Lunar New Year and that’s Dihua Street, home to the city’s biggest New Year’s market.
For two weeks every year prior to the Lunar New Year, this street, which normally sells speciality foods, traditional Chinese medicine, tea, and other goods becomes a pedestrian only market loaded with sellers of tasty foods and snacks that are consumed in great quantities during the holidays.
Crowds descend on Dihua Street where aggressive sellers ply you free samples of peanuts, dried squid, candies, and other treats in order to get your business.
It’s a beautifully preserved relic from Taipei’s past. It’s one of the city’s most atmospheric neighborhoods.
It was first established in the 1850’s as an important trade center. Many of the Qing Dynasty buildings have been meticulously preserved along with Japanese and Westerner buildings on the narrow one way street. In it’s heyday tea, Chinese medicine, fabrics, and incense were all exported here with goods loaded right onto boats close by on the Danshui River.
With roads and railway extensions built by the Japanese colonists in the late 1800’s Dihua Street became less important as a trade center.
Today it’s still a commercial district specializing in Chinese medicine, speciality groceries, it’s nickname is “Grocery Street”, and other household goods as well as upscale cafes and restaurants.
The fun begins everyday on Dihua Street in the morning and continues throughout the day wrapping up late at night. If you happen to be in Taipei within two weeks of the Lunar New Year it’s worth paying a visit, just for the sheer array of free food you’ll get to sample.
Join me for a tour of one of the great markets of Taiwan, in this episode of Far East Adventure Travel.
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