What to Eat at Kenting Night Market in Kenting National Park

Looking up a road at night, with crowds of pedestrians on either side and some people crossing the road, a few cars driving toward us, and night market stalls and signs on either side

Kenting Night Market (墾丁夜市 or kending yeshi) is unique in many ways.

This is the only major night market inside a national park in Taiwan and the only one with beach holiday vibes. You won’t find any famous Michelin-rated foods at this one. But you’ll definitely find more cocktail stalls with blasting electronic music than at any of Taiwan’s other famous night markets.

Kenting Night Market is decidedly playful and laid back. There are some fun foods on offer, and there’s nowhere else in Taiwan where you can go night market strolling in your swimsuit and no one will bat an eye.

In this article, we’ll dive into Kenting Night Market, including how to get there, where to stay to best enjoy it, the best food stalls, and some other important things to do know. For more general information about the national park, see my Kenting travelers’ guide.

Kenting Night Market Introduction

Dozens of people browsing night market food stalls along the side of the highway, with lots of signs above the stalls
Typical weeknight crowds at Kenting Night Market

Kenting National Park in Pingtung county is the first modern national park in Taiwan. Its popularity skyrocketed in the 1990s and 2000s, especially in association with Spring Scream music festival on April long weekend and a few movies that were filmed there.

Due to the music festival, Kenting became the spring break party capital of Taiwan. Even though Spring Scream no longer takes place, the local government still runs a free music festival there and the night market retains a bit of a seaside party town vibe.

A topless Taiwanese male cocktail bartender shaking a cocktail and a night market stall with lots of liquor bottles on the counter in front of him
The only night market in Taiwan where you can find sexy shirtless cocktail vendors

Kenting Night Market runs along either side of the highway in Kenting village, which Taiwanese called 墾丁大街 (kending da jie or Kenting Main Street).

This is the main community in Kenting National Park, with the highest concentration of restaurants and hotels, although there are also sizeable collections at Nanwan (South Bay) to the west and Sail Rock Beach to the east.

A sandal store with huge model wearing bikini in the window
Sandal store in Kenting Night Market

The night market and highway are just a few blocks up from the eastern half of Kenting Main Beach, the longest beach in the national park. Although the beach is lovely, you technically aren’t allowed to swim at it (unlike Nanwan and Sail Rock Beach).

The night market stretches for one kilometer, taking 15 minutes to walk from one end to the other (if you don’t stop anywhere). Besides the food stalls, there are many international restaurants, shops, and convenience stores on the street.

A food stall with lots of items on display, and a staff member to the right grabbing some food with tongs and wearing an apron that looks like a sexy man's body in thong
Aprons to match the vibe

I only spotted a couple trash bins at the far western end of the night market – a standard situation at most night markets in the country.

At the far eastern end of the night market, just before the stairs down to Xiaowan beach, there are several bar trucks with seating and chill music, so consider to walk from west to east and then finish your evening with a stiff drink or two at one of them.

Xiaowan beach has a small beach bar, which is rare in Taiwan. And unlike Kenting Main Beach, you’re allowed to swim at Xiaowan.

A Taiwanese blue truck converted into a small reggae bar, with a Red Bull neon sign in the window and reggae bar sign at the top
Reggae bar in Kenting Night Market

Kenting is noticeably busier on weekends in spring and summer, and especially on long weekends. April long weekend remains the busiest weekend of the year in Kenting. Because Kenting is tropical, it’s still warm enough to swim on fine days in winter, yet there are no crowds.

The busiest I’ve ever seen Kenting Night Market was an April long weekend at the peak of Kenting’s popularity in the late 2000s.

In the evening, the night market crowds became so dense that they took over the whole highway, so that cars and buses had to sneak their way through without hitting anyone (see image below)!

A super crowded street in Kenting Night Market
Kenting Night Market on a super busy long weekend

How to Get to Kenting Night Market

A bus stopped beside a small bus station
Kenting Express shuttle bus in Fangliao

Kenting village and Kenting Night Market are a 1.5 hour drive from Kaohsiung city. The drive can take up to 3 hours at peak traffic times.

By public transportation, the best way is to ride the High Speed Rail (buy discount HSR tickets here) to Zuoying then take the Kenting Express shuttle bus from Zuoying High Speed Rail station. You can also ride the regular (TRA) train from other destinations in Taiwan to Fangliao, and then hop on the Kenting Express from there.

The Kenting Express will make several stops in Kenting Night Market. If you’re spending the night, check which bus stop is closest to your hotel.

Kenting stop is at the start (western end) of the night market. Kenting Police Substation stop is roughly in the middle of the night market. Kenting Elementary School and Kenting Activity Center stops are at the eastern end of the night market.

Get off at Xiaowan, a small beach just east of Kenting Main Beach, if you’re staying at Caesar Park or Howard Resort, which are both just a short walk from the eastern end of the night market.

Where to Stay at Kenting Night Market

A bed in a hotel room with a balcony window showing view of the sea
Sea view from my room at Kenting Moon Bay Hotel

Many visitors to Kenting National Park choose Kenting village as a base. Often, their main reason to do that is so they can enjoy the night market in the evening. Other beaches like Nanwan and Sail Rock have much more limited dining options.

For a budget stay, try Kenting Space Capsule (see on Booking / Agoda), which has cool space-themed rooms and capsules. It’s right next to the night market.

I had a great stay at Kenting Moon Bay Hotel – 月彎灣渡假旅店 (see on Booking / Agoda), which is on a quiet street between the night market and Kenting Main Beach. I had a sea view from my small balcony.

The best resort options with pools are Caesar Park Kenting (see on Booking / Agoda), which is the better of the two, or Howard Beach Resort Kenting (see on Booking / Agoda). Both of them have a private path to Xiaowan.

For the most luxurious resorts in the area, see my guide to the best luxury hotels in Taiwan.

What to Eat at Kenting Night Market

Compared to other famous night markets in Taiwan, there aren’t so many “super famous” or absolutely must-eat food stalls at Kenting Night Market.

A better approach to this night market is to start out with a cocktail from one of the bar stalls (there are at least a dozen of them). Then just walk along either side of the highway and choose whatever looks tastiest.

I’m going to introduce some of the more well-known food stalls and my peraonal favorites. We’ll be starting from the western end and moving east through the night market, finishing with the bar trucks at the far eastern end. We’ll be hopping back and forth between both sides of the highway as we go.

Thailand Milk Tea

A yellow and blue Thai tuk tuk which has been concerted into an iced tea night market stall, with poster showing the menu on the side
Thai iced teas sold from a tuk tuk

Thai iced tea sold from an actual tuk tuk has become a common sight at night markets in Taiwan, especially night markets in Tainan. This tuk tuk iced tea stall is one of the first vendors at the western end of Kenting Night Market.

Besides the usual Thai milk tea, there’s also Thai lemon tea, Thai green tea, rose milk tea, and more. The menu has English, including for sugar and ice levels. The stall‘s Mandarin name 泰好喝 (tai hao he ) is a play on words, as it sounds like “very good to drink”, but the character for Thai (泰 or tai) replaces the character “very” (太 or tai).

The stall is here on the south side of the road, just a few steps away from the large Arch of Kenting National Park, marking the road up to Kenting National Forest Recreation Area.

Deep Fried Milk

A vertical stick pierced through three deep fried balls, with more unbattered sticks of milk cubes in rows behind it waiting to be deep fried
Deep fried milk

Deep fried milk (炸牛奶) is one of the most common foods at Kenting Night Market. I saw at least 3 or 4 stalls selling it, mainly at the western end of the night market, such as here, and the eastern end, such as here.

So what exactly is deep fried milk? It’s more like a cube of creamy paste that is battered and deep fried, not liquid milk that is somehow deep fried. These are tasty little bites – perfect if you want a sweet snack that won’t fill your tummy. Watch for ones that include or boba (pearls).

Baoji Grilled Oysters

Three plates of huge oysters (one on each plate) on a bright red table, with a mug of draft Taiwan beer
Giant milk oysters with draft beer

If you want to enjoy some fresh seafood without sitting down to a full meal at one of the Taiwanese restaurants, then I recommend Baoji Grilled Oysters (寶記烤生蠔) here on the south side of the street. This seafood stall has a few tables on the street.

The specialty here is milk oysters (生奶生蠔). They ain’t cheap, at TWD 200 a piece (or 3 for the price of 2), but they are huge, fresh, and delicious. You can choose raw or grilled – I tried both and preferred raw. The stall also has draft beer and other fresh seafoods, like sashimi, clams, giant shrimps, smaller oysters, and more.

I saw a few similar stalls selling virtually the same items on the north side of the street. I enjoyed some sashimi and more beer at one of them (see pic) below, but it didn’t seem to have a name – the sign just said “fresh oysters” (生蠔) in Mandarin.

A small plate of tuna sashimi and mug of draft Taiwan beer on a red table
Sashimi and draft beer

Mingshi Takoyaki

A paper box with six takoyaki balls smothered in yellow sauce and fish flakes, with vertical wooden boards in background listing menu items in Mandarin
Takoyaki with honey mustard sauce and bonito flakes

You can never go wrong with takoyaki (章魚小丸子), or Japanese deep fried balls of batter with octopus and toppings.

Mingshi Takoyaki (明石章魚燒小丸子), which is here on the north side of the highway, has the usual but also some more fun flavor toppings, such as Thai (泰式), honey mustard (蜂蜜芥末), Thousand Island (千島), and spicy Mexican (辣墨西哥).

The flavors are written on vertical wooden boards but in Mandarin only.

A Bu’s Rainbow Sweet Potato Balls

A hand holding a small white paper bag filled with colorful deep fried balls that look like pokeballs
Pokeball sweet potato balls at Kenting Night Market

I was shocked when I first saw the crazily colored sweet potato balls at A Bu’s (阿部玖肆彩色地瓜球). Hello food dye! Despite the colors, they taste just like normal sweet potato balls – crispy and light, and best eaten right away.

There are several cute color options available, meant to be themed on Pokeball, cartoon characters, and so on – fun if you’re visiting with kids! But when I visited, you couldn’t choose a specific one – you just had to take what was available.

There are various powder topping options, like plum, salt & pepper, lemon, and more. This is a chain shop with other locations in Taiwan. The Kenting one isn’t marked on GoogleMaps, but I found around the above and below entries, on the southern side of the street.

A food stall sign showing a variety of sweet potato balls in colors that match famous cartoon characters
Crazy sweet potato ball designs

Kenting Crispy Soup Dumplings

Looking down at a white paper plate with with 8 soup dumplings in it covered in cheese pwder and black sesame seeds
Crispy soup dumplings with cheese powder

If you’re only going to try one or two stalls in the night market, Kenting Crispy Soup Dumplings (墾丁脆皮湯包) would be a good contender.

The soup dumplings here are steamed first then grilled to make a thin, crispy layer connecting them. An order of 8 comes with interesting topping choices like cheese powder (起司), seaweed (海苔), or wasabi (芥末).

A group of people shot behind as the stand around waiting for their orders at a dumpling food stall in a night market
The Crispy Soup Dumpling stall tends to be busy

For fun, try GoogleTranslating the poster on the stall (visible in above photo) – it’s a Mandarin poem written by the stall owner, basically about how his wife is always right. Ordering might seem a little chaotic, but just persist and they’ll help you out!

GoogleMaps puts the stall here on the north side of the road, but when I last visited, it was on the south side of the road in front of 7-Eleven and the Singaporean restaurant.

Thai Banana Pancakes

A night market stall with yellow sign and menu saying banana pancakes in Mandarin, a row of banana statues on top of the stall who are sticking out their banana ends in a phallic way, and a person bend over behind the stall making one pancake on the grill
Can’t miss these guys!

Anyone who has done the Banana Pancake Trail (AKA gone backpacking in Southeast Asia) will recognize this traveler’s favorite.

Although these are definitely Thai and not Taiwanese (see my comparison of Thailand and Taiwan here), they have become popular in recent years at night markets in southern Taiwan.

It’s hard to miss this stall, thanks to its row of phallic banana statues. Although I can’t find an entry for it on GoogleMaps, it was right next to the soup dumpling place (previous entry) when I last visited.

Yi Pin Lu Wei

A food stall with red signs, Mandarin name in yellow, various food items on display, and a couple staff working behind it
Popular braised foods stall

One of the most popular vendors among locals in Kenting is Yi Pin Lu Wei (一品滷味) here on the south side of the highway next to the Singaporean restaurant and 7-Eleven.

Lu wei refers to a variety of meats, veggies, tofu, etc. which are braised in a fragrant broth then dressed up before being served. You can add noodles and make it into a full meal, with the option to make it spicy or not.

There are a few tables inside. Because it’s quite popular among locals, the wait can be long.

A Sheng’s Shitou Township Grilled Pearl Corn

Two entire cobs of corn on sticks, grilling over a barbecue, with sauce rubbed on them
Don’t miss this delicious grilled corn!

One of the most famous food stalls at Kenting Night Market is A Sheng’s Shitou Township Grilled Pearl Corn (阿勝石頭鄉烤珍珠玉米). This grilled corn stall has been going strong for decades. It’s here on the north side of the street.

To break down the name for you: A Sheng is the owner (“A” is a title word in Taiwanese), Shitou Township is a place in Tainan, and pearl corn is a type of chewy, white corn ideal for grilling. While grilling it, the vendor scrubs shacha (Taiwanese satay) sauce on it, which caramelizes on the surface.

To order here, simply choose one of the corn cobs on display and you’ll pay by weight. You’ll have the option for spicy or not. The final result is truly delicious – you’ll need to wait several minutes for it to cool down before eating. A 20% discount is offered if you check in on Facebook.

A food vendor wearing red shirt, grilling some corn on the cobs, and with a red and white sign above him
A Sheng himself

Doodoo Bear Crepes

Plastic models of two large crepes on a night market food stall, one with banana, chocolate, and sprinkles, and the other with corn and vegetables
Photogenic crepes

If you like ridiculous but Instagrammable foods, then try the giant crepes at Doodoo Bear Crepes (嘟嘟熊可麗餅). You’ll find this stall here on the north side of the road, roughly in the middle of the night market.

This isn’t my thing so I can’t vouch for the quality, but they’ve got sweet options (like Nutella and banana with sprinkles) or savoury ones (like pork floss and seaweed). As for the “DooDoo Bear” – it has no special meaning, it just sounds cute in Chinese.

Flying Fish Egg Sausages

Vertical image of a night market food stall, with Mandarin sign and logo of a flying fish, sausages being grilled, and one customer standing in front waiting for one
Note the fish with wings

There are a few stalls in Kenting Night Market selling this southern Taiwanese specialty, sausages with flying fish roe inside (魚卵打洞香腸). Flying fish are especially associated with Orchid Island, which lies east off the coast from Kenting.

The sausages are basically normal Taiwanese sausages, which tend to be a little sweet, but the fish roe will add a bit of popping texture to them. I spotted them here and at a few other stalls in the night market.

Cocktail Stalls

A hand holding up a turquoise colored cocktai in plastic cup with straw and dome lid, with the back of a cocktail stall in a night market in the background
Cocktails to go throughout the night market

You won’t have any trouble finding a boozy drink in Kenting Night Market. It might seem like every third stall is a cocktail vendor. Most have fun names like “Get Drunk” and blast techno music to entice passersby.

Depending on how much of a drinker you are, you may find some of the cocktails not that strong. Take advantage of deals like 2 for 1 to maximize your buzz. The cocktails are served in plastic cups with lids, convenient for carrying around.

If you’re looking for the sexy guy cocktail stall (see photo above and top of the article), you’ll find it right in front of Havaianas sandal store here – you can’t miss the large bikini model statue in the window.

One stall, My Drunk Mental Hospital (My醉精神病院, here), even serves drinks in hospital IV bags!

Bar Trucks at the Eastern End

A turquoise colored cocktail on a wooden bar attached to a blue truck, with various reggae and Bob Marley decorations, and a food vendor grilling food in front of the truck
Alex Reggae Bar

Besides the cocktail stalls spread throughout the night market, there are several food trucks and bars at the quieter, far eastern end of Kenting Night Market, just before the stairs down to Xiaowan Beach Bar.

This end of the night market is far more chill. Half a dozen food trucks and bars provide seating and play calmer music like reggae, setting a more Southeast Asian beach town vibe. There are no shops here, so it’s darker at night.

A few options to consider are Story Bar (the enthusiastic owner has a mohawk), Tipsy Bar (watch for the rows of Coronas on the side of the truck), and Alex Reggae Bar here.

A small truck with side flipped up, row of Corona beers lit up on the side, and a taiwanese man behind serving drinks
Tipsy Bar

I especially liked the cocktails at The Original Truck Bar here. They are pricey but special and strong, with fun names like “Fu**ing Mojito (only when I’ve got a fu**ing time)” and “If you Never Try How You’ve Ever Know”. The starfruit mojito with sugar cane I tried was excellent.

For food, this truck does wood fired pizzas.

A yellow cocktail mug with sugar cane stick sitting on top of the glass, and a yellow candle beside it on the table
Starfruit mojito with sugar cane

Xiaowan Beach Bar

Looking down a set of stairs lit up at night, going down to a bar on the beach with umbrellas
Stairs down to Xiaowan Beach Bar

The small Beach Bar (小灣酒吧) on Xiaowan Beach is one of the few beach bars in all of Taiwan. There’s a pretty typical menu of cocktails, draft beers (Taihu is the best), and bar snacks.

While the beach is mainly used by Caesar Park and Howard Beach Resort guests, it is public and anyone can swim here. Come here for an afternoon or sunset drink, or after dark for a more romantic vibe.

Restaurants in Kenting Night Market

A Thai restaurant with tall, temple like roof lit up at night and night market stalls beside it
A Thai restaurant in Kenting Night Market

If you want to sit down for a meal, there are dozens of regular restaurants along the night market.

The food options here are quite international, including Singaporean, Indonesian, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Italian, and Tex Mex. There are also several quick fry (Taiwanese seafood) restaurants.

For fresh seafood in Kenting National Park, head to the collection of seafood restaurants here at Houbihu Harbor (後壁湖). Most have minimum orders, so you have to sit down and have a whole meal.

A table with various seafoods on display like sea urchins, clams, and more
Seafoods on display at a quick fry restaurant in the night market

Hengchun Night Market

A pink vegetarian wrap with veggie meat, pink yogurt sauce, on a white plate with cherry blossoms
Vegetarian dragon fruit wrap in Hengchun

There’s another night market in Hengchun, which is the larger town you’ll pass through just before entering Kenting National Park. Hengchun Night Marker (恆春夜市) is more like a typical Taiwanese night market and is held on weekends only.

Near the night market on Hengchun Old Street, I recommend this vegetarian restaurant in Hengchun, which has some special dragon fruit veggie meat wraps (see my vegetarian guide to night markets in Taiwan), and this popular green onion cake stall, both which are open every day.

Rows of pedestrians on either side of the highway in Kenting Night Market
Manageable crowds on a weeknight in Kenting
A row of banana men statues sticking out their bananas, with a lady wearing a yellow face mask just behind them
In case you wanted a closer look.
A stall with whole deep fried squids on display
Whole fried squid
A big wooden tub filled with small clams, and a row of cute characters inside clam shells as decorations on the table in front of it
Cute small clams
A row of shops in a night market with pedestrians going by.
Typical scene on Kenting Main Street

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