An Epic Night Out in Taipei

 

Taipei and its nightlife often gets overlooked for the debauchery of Bangkok, the glitz of Hong Kong and the sheer size of Tokyo. But while Taiwan’s capital may have less in terms of quantity, the quality of its bars, dance clubs and live music venues has plenty to offer visitors. An unforgettable night out starts off at one of the city’s famous night markets and then moves to catching local and well-known DJs and bands in bars and cafes across the city before dancing away the wee hours in upscale clubs.

[Also see our travel article “Cities With The World’s Best Nightlife“]

Taipei is a vibrant and exciting city. Just look at its skyline! Photo credit Chris.

Taipei is a vibrant and exciting city. Just look at its skyline! Photo credit Chris.

Street Food and International Wines

An epic night requires reserves of energy, so start off by loading up on protein and carbs at Raohe Night Market, which maintains a chilled out atmosphere despite the crowds. Fill up on fried meat, pepper meat buns, pork rib soup, guava and fresh fruit juice in between dropping cash on clothes and shoes. Those who require a drink with dinner should head over to Brown Sugar Live & Restaurant, a nightclub that serves Western and fusion dishes and a vast selection of wine. Mood lighting and live music every night add to the sultry vibe.

The Raohe Street Night Market is one of Taipei's many night markets. Photo credit LWY.

The Raohe Street Night Market is one of Taipei’s many night markets. Photo credit LWY.

Rock Out to Live Music

[Also see our “Travel Guide to Taipei and its Attractions“]

Live music gets a fiery accompaniment at Orange Music Café. On Friday nights, the founder’s sister entertains the crowd on the rooftop with a fire dance while the DJ spins chill-out trance in the background. The scenic view from Orange’s roof enhances the dreamy décor and indie and alternative acts that pass through here.

For a grittier experience, rock club Velvet Underground is happy to abide. Cheap drinks are its siren song, but drinkers stay for the quality music from locals and foreigners five nights a week. Customers can bop along to the music on the dance floor or watch the acts while grubbing on Mexican food. The cool underground vibe is exaggerated by the fact that it’s actually below street level, in the basement of a department store.

Riverside is Taipei’s rock epicenter. The café helped launch some of Taiwan’s biggest acts, and customers can enjoy performances every single night from touring acts or the beloved in-house band.

Artistic Drinks and Scavenger Hunts

It may be best to search for hidden bar Ounce while still relatively sober. The entrance is inside a coffee shop, but from there, it’s time to let the Sherlock-esque instincts reign. Once inside, patrons can admire the seriousness with which the bartenders approach their trade, and the beautiful, handcrafted cocktails that follow.

Ounce, with locations in Taipei and NYC, puts the glamour back into drinking. Photo via their official site.

Ounce, with locations in Taipei and NYC, puts the glamour back into drinking. Photo via their official site.

Not to be outdone, Marsalis Bar has an award-winning bartender on staff. The back-lit bar complements the classic-meets-modern interior design and the beautiful people who meet the dress code.

Time to Dance, Dance, Dance

Lesbian club Taboo offers a discount on the cover charge to those who dress up, and even better, the cover includes all drinks! The dance floor gets packed as the hours fly by, but those in need of a quick rest can spread out in the booths that line the perimeter.

A fun crowd and good music make Taboo a great place to dance. Photo via their official site.

A fun crowd and good music make Taboo a great place to dance. Photo via their official site.

Spark is relatively laid-back even though it caters to flawless, young locals and expats in the lower level of sky-high building Taipei 101. The price list reflects the prestigious location more than the vibe, but this is one of the city’s best options for upscale partying. The DJ keeps hip hop, R’n’B and electronica going all night long, and, unlike Taboo, there’s usually space to spread out on the dance floor.

See all the articles, top ten lists and guides in our Taiwan travel section.

See some of Taipei’s nightlife hot spots on the map:

 

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Maureen is a Hong Kong-based writer and editor who spent several years teaching EFL and traveling around the world. Getting lost while traveling is her main hobby. Find her on Google+.