Taipei’s Yongchun Market is as traditional as it gets when it comes to shopping for food in Taiwan. (All photos: Sean Marc Lee/VSCO)
Before day breaks, Taipei’s Yongchun Market is already bustling. In this haphazard maze of stalls, piles of eye-catching dragonfruit and huge Taiwanese avocados sit side by side as mushrooms are dispensed in red-and-white striped plastic bags.
Nearby, a huge metal grill continually heats two-foot-wide onion pancakes into crispy perfection as sellers rhythmically chop fillings with ease.
This place has been an essential part of Taiwanese life for as long as anyone can remember. While the rising popularity of supermarket chains and an increase in work hours over the past decade have led to a decrease in the number of shoppers, those who do come, come for the always-fresh ingredients.
Traditional markets in Taiwan are known as wet markets – and Yongchun certainly lives up to the name. The term refers to the frequent hosing down of the market floor, which spends most of its time covered in detritus from the day’s trading. Think discarded onion peels and offal trodden into unyielding concrete and you’re getting close.
Nestled in the heart of the shiny Xinyi District, the market is just minutes away from the world’s third tallest inhabited building, Taipei 101. In the surrounding area, modern commerce dominates in department stores and movie theatres. One imagines that the aging vendors at the market must occasionally smirk at the soaring developments – after all, they were here before Gucci and Prada.
Today, they continue in the shadow of shopping complexes as housewives bicker over the price of their onions. It remains a place full of life, because come hell or high fashion, everyone’s got to eat.
Marriott Hotels explored Yongchun Market as part of a collaboration with VSCO’s photographers to create city guides for Paris; Berlin; Cairo; Taipei; and Portland, Ore. Check out: A Full Guide on How to Travel Brilliantly in Taipei.
Where to Find Yongchun Market
• Hours: 7 a.m.-8 p.m.
• Address: 294 SongShan Rd, Xinyi District