Most of the night markets in taipei are great fun and have something for everyone. On one night we went to " Snake Alley " market. The tour book guides state it is a cultural experience with many snake vendors showing off the old culture of using snakes for wisdom and food. We found a den of iniquity, full of badly dressed call girls and sleazy snake vendors harbouring half dead snakes in dreadful conditions. The snake restaurants were empty, not used by the locals or tourists and the half dead or drugged snakes were not a pretty sight. Some of the cages even housed plastic and rubber snakes!!!
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Snake Alley, Taipei: Then and Now - 4corners7seas
Second generation snake restaurant owner Kuo Yi-chien. CNA image. Kuo said that in its heyday, there were eight restaurants that had snake on the menu on Huaxi Street, but even at that time he said that his father's shop was the only eatery that specialized exclusively in snake meat. Nestled in Taipei's historic Wanhua District, Kuo said that the street was part of city's red light district, a gathering place for corrupt cops and gangsters and a spot for street performers. With a wistful smile, Kuo said because his father believed that he was Taiwan's foremost expert on snakes, he called the shop the "Monga Wanhua Supreme Institution," and the "Asia Venomous Snake Research Institute. Snake show in
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Given that drinking snake blood is said to boost the male libido, it makes sense for a knot of snake restaurants to have formed in a red-light district — customers could pop in for a shot of blood before visiting the ladies of the night or, often, allegedly, girls of the night — have a read of this New York Times report from These days prostitution is illegal in Taiwan and has been for a couple of decades now, so Snake Alley is no longer a red light district; however, the chance to drink snake blood or to watch people doing so kept the tourists coming and the restaurants in business. It was seedy, but in an interesting way, and I was all about trying some snake soup and having a shot of snake blood. I walked up and down the alley taking it all in, then joined a gathering crowd in front of one of the restaurants.
Snacking and walking is truly a national pastime! In , 10 Taipei night market stalls even made it onto the Taipei Michelin Bib Gourmand Selection , and that number went up to 24 in the edition. But the question we all want answered is: what is the best night market in Taipei?