Street food! Bustling crowds! Endless goods and souvenirs! Amusement games! Vibrant and bustling, the outdoor markets of Phuket offer a fascinating feast for the senses. Here are seven lively spots to get your fix of local fare and tourist wares:
1. CHALONG TEMPLE FAIR
Up for a night of fun, colours, sights and sounds? An evening at the lively Chalong Temple Fair promises to provide all of these, and more. Set in the compounds of Wat Chalong, the temple fair is an annual event held close to the Chinese New Year period.
The fair offers an intriguing insight into the culture and lifestyles of the locals. Kickstart your exploration from the entrance at Chaofa Road West. Rows of vendors, selling a wide variety of Thai street food and wares, line the bustling street. There are also plenty of chances to catch sight of local cultural performances – keep your eyes peeled for Thai dancers, shadow puppeteers and country music singers. If you have brought along your little ones, keep them in joyful spirits with an array of amusement games, like the beautifully lit ferris wheel and giant bouncy castles.
2. PHUKET WEEKEND MARKET
Held along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket Weekend Market is a bustling affair. An endless array and diverse mix of items are sold here – you will find secondhand good stalls next to stall holders selling pirated items, local food and live animals.
The market contains a covered area and an open section; rows of secondhand and souvenir goods stalls fill up the covered section, while in the open area, you will find a jumble of goods ranging from electronics and watches, to fashion items and accessories. You will burn off a fair bit of calories exploring the maze of stalls, so replenish your energy levels with delectable local fare, like corn on the cob, grilled chicken, fishcakes, and perhaps, the occasional fried insect.
3. KARON TEMPLE MARKET
Twice a week, the sprawling compounds of Wat Karon transforms into an energetic market place drawing a sizable crowd of eager vendors and curious visitors. Starting late in the afternoon, the market attracts a significant crowd of travellers with its tourist-oriented wares. More often than not, you will set sight on stalls displaying colourful scarves, sarongs, swimwear, beachwear, Muay Thai shorts and jewellery. Poke around the throngs of stalls, and you will find a handful selling handicraft items, like knitted toys, skincare products made from natural ingredients and quirky souvenirs.
4. PHUKET INDY MARKET
Phuket Indy Market offers a feast for the senses, particularly for holidaymakers unused to the hustle and bustle of Asian outdoor markets. Filled with crazy sounds and eclectic sights, visitors to the market will have to manoeuvre their way through a maze of stalls. If you are planning to purchase items from the stalls, assume an air of a savvy shopaholic, and be prepared to haggle over prices. The grounds of the market place are large, but the stalls tend to be repetitive, selling a relatively narrow variety of items. Bring along a bottle of iced water and portable fan to keep cool in the crowds and tropical heat.
5. SOI LOR RONG MARKET
Feed your inner foodie at Soi Lor Rong Market, one of the island’s most well-known traditional food centre. Myriad stalls sell a mind-boggling array of local treats and sweets, all of which are reasonably priced.
Give your tastebuds an adventurous ride as you snack on Thai tidbits such as oh eaw, an iced dessert made with flour, bananas and a dash of seaweed, lo bah, an exotic dish of deep-fried tripe and tofu topped with sweet-and-sour sauce, and salapao, steamed Chinese buns with a variety of fillings. If you are hungry for heartier fare, make your way to the stalls located in a separate dining section dishing out portions of well-loved Thai mains.
6. KAMALA NIGHT MARKET
Also known as the Fantasea Market, Kamala Night Market enjoys a long-standing popularity, and seems to expand in size week after week as it draws an enthusiastic and eager crowd. The goods sold here are similar to what you will find in other markets; pore through the displays at the stalls and you will find a collection of bags, scarves, accessories, electronic wares and toys. Do not leave without exploring the many smells and sights at the busy food sections, and indulging in the many tropical fruits, pancakes, sushi and meat skewers sold at the various stalls.
7. MALIN PLAZA PATONG
If you are on the search for a local food and shopping paradise teeming with people, there is no better place ot head to than Malin Plaza Patong. One of the liveliest market places in Patong, Malin Plaza is home to a plethora of stalls selling goods and tasty local fare. There are an endless choices of street food stalls here, but you will need an adventurous tastebud to savour the dishes sold. Peer closely at these items, and you will come across odd sightings, like sushi pieces topped off with a whole boiled egg or preserved egg and barbecued shark meat. If exotic fare is not quite your cup of tea, go for less unusual items, like the seafood and meat skewers.
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