Zhudong Market

Located in Zhudong Township, Hsinchu County, Zhudong Market is the largest traditional Hakka market in Taiwan. Zhudong Market is recognized as a market that has nice food, good bargains, great convenience and enormous fun. Everyone enters the market empty-handed, but when they come out, they can’t hide the smile on their face as they return home with "trophies." Even travel agencies, sensing a lot a good business opportunity, have launched the one day tour of Zhudong Market in recent years to let everyone see the unique Hakka charm of Zhudong Market featuring both traditional and modern elements.

Zhudong Market
Image: Hakka TV)

In the 1990s, the Zhudong Market, which has a history of more than sixty years, gradually replaced the surrounding small markets of Zhudong and became the goods distribution and trading center of the eight townships of Hsinchu. Today there are more than 500 stalls in the market, which is filled with various types of Hakka-specific agricultural specialties. The products are dazzling, such as Hakka
’s unique old preserved vegetables including “fu cai (福菜)” and dried yardlong beans, bantiao (rice noodles), steamed red rice cakes, minced vegetable cakes, herbal tea, rice cakes, round glutinous dumplings, wormwood dumplings, braised duck with red lees and other colorful food that have impressed tourists who have never been in contact with local Hakka cuisine. In addition, the "Hakka spirit" is fully displayed in the market. "Fair scales" are placed in the center of the market for consumers to check and see if they have been given a fair price for their products and even lodge a complaint if they think a stall owner was cheating. This shows everyone the Hakka people's persistence in being honest and fair traders.

Various types of Hakka rice cakes
竹東浪漫好時光Facebook page)

After the changing of the times, Zhudong Market has transformed itself into an indispensable livelihood market for Hsinchu people. With the continuous efforts of the local community, nowadays, Zhudong Market, in addition to organizing a market management association, provides tourists and vendors with a cleaner shopping space and also provides regular cultural performances, becoming not only a popular shopping site but also a well-known art and cultural mecca. For example, the market provides musical performances, artist curations, as well as local chefs’ cooking lessons and other activities. During the inaugural Romantic Route 3 Arts Festival, the curatorial team of invited soundscape artists to perform at the market. Through various interactive activities, visitors to the market can make “fu cai” (Hakka traditional preserved vegetables) and touch the paintings on the walls through simulations to smell the scent of Hakka ingredients, hear the hawking of Hakka vendors, and then learn more about the culinary culture of the Hakka people.

Vegetable vendor

(Photo: 竹東浪漫好時光Facebook page)

If you want to get a glimpse of Hakka culture, a trip to Zhudong Market is definitely a great experience, because Zhudong Market is the daily life center of the Hakka people in Hsinchu on the Taiwan Romantic Route 3. Despite the changes in time and consumer habits and tastes, Zhudong Market still retains its fundamentals—traditional Hakka food. The wonderful flavors and memories of the old days are infused with new local artistic and cultural energy, inviting visitors to enter Zhudong Market and making them feel as if they are entering an irresistible Hakka market party.