The Walking Street Market, Lard Yai
With its charmingly picturesque setting among the beautiful, mostly restored, Sino-Portuguese shophouses that line the street, the Phuket Walking Street Market, is a must-see destination, especially so at night when everything is brightly illuminated and shows off the buildings in their best light. There is a huge range of local food delicacies on offer, plenty of clothing stalls, locally made handicrafts and jewellery and much else besides. Lard Yaiis the local name, short for Talaad Yai, Big Market, and indeed there is a great deal to interest the casual visitor, and even if you’re not in the mood to buy, there are many great coffee shops, bars, pubs and restaurants to while away the hours as you take in the lively atmosphere.
Open Sunday, 5-9pm, Thalang Road, Phuket Town
The beautiful Sino-Portuguese shophouses set the scene
Chillva Night Market, food galore
The very distinctive Chillva Market on Yaowarat Road, with its upcycled shipping containers that house a number of shops, boasts a fine selection of great food, occasional live music and a flea market, which though more popular with the locals than tourists is nevertheless a great place to find quality made T-shirts and traditional, locally made beauty products, as well as clothes, shoes and jewellery and electronic goods, all very reasonably priced. You can take a break and enjoy a drink at one of the bars and pubs or coffee shops and indulge your sweet tooth in any number of ice-cream shops. It’s a great place to soak up the local vibe and relax after a busy day frolicking at the beach.
Best time to visit - Thursday-Saturday, 5-11pm, Yaowarat Road, Phuket Town
Try some fired caterpillar larvae, one of Chillva Market’s specialities
Phuket’s Indy Market for the trendy traveller and clued-in locals
Phuket Indy Market is a very popular destination for young Thais and features artists’ and artisans’ booths, stalls selling everything from jeans to handbags (made from Water Hyacinth) as well as some really interesting handmade souvenirs and jewellery. As with most of the markets in Phuket there are tasty local dishes to sample and plenty of liquid refreshments and the chance to listen to local live bands.
Thursdays and Fridays, 4-10pm, Limelight Avenue, Dibuk Road, Phuket Town.
The night-time buzz at Malin Plaza
One of Patong’s most lively and entertaining markets, Malin Plaza has a very extensive range of products for sale and great selection of local food on offer. Mostly aimed at the tourist crowd and selling everything from T-shirts and computer accessories to flip-flops and swimwear, there are also some excellent authentically Thai products on display, such as carvings and silk fabrics and souvenirs. The food is both local and international, very fresh and relatively inexpensive, and the street vendors are always friendly and smiling.
Every day, 2pm-Midnight, Prachanukhro Road, Patong Beach
After a day spent swimming and sunbathing take a stroll to the Karon Temple Market for some really fresh and tasty food, a huge array of excellent Thai desserts as well as an abundance of tropical fruit to stock up on. It’s also great if you are on the lookout for cheap T-shirts and beachwear. Here you’ll find the vendors very friendly and accommodating, who will be only too pleased to let you practise your Thai language and bargaining skills on them.
Tuesdays, 4-11pm and Fridays, 4-9pm, Karon Temple, Patak Road
Kathu Vintage Market … in time
Despite its name, Kathu Vintage Market has little in the way of old stuff on display, if at all. There may be a note of optimism in the name that suggests that in the future things from the past may appear. But, there is plenty of delicious, decently priced food available and several bars housed in former containers and on occasion bands perform live shows. For the truly adventurous foodie there is a wide array of edible insects and worms to try.
Monday, Tuesday, Friday and weekends, 5-11pm.
Phuket Weekend Market, the choice is endless
The huge Phuket Weekend Market, known locally as the Naka Market, is Phuket’s answer to Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market, selling everything and anything, from electronic goods and souvenirs to old clothes and exotic fruits. The prices are low and the street food available is extensive and cheap but of excellent quality. It is usually very crowded and popular with the locals so seating is at a premium. Pirated DVDs and designer goods are widely available though it wouldn’t do to take them home with you as the penalties in most countries for being caught with them are stiff.
Fridays – Sundays, 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Chao Fa West Road, opposite the Naka Temple, Phuket Town.
Tasty titbits to tempt the tourists
Yak Yai Market offers Western and Thai food, dished out by cheerful, friendly vendors, a huge variety of fresh fruits, local handicrafts and souvenirs, clothes and accessories and even potted plants. Here you can find locally produced artwork, and postcards and even on occasion some antique goods.
Wednesday – Friday, from 5:00 pm to 12:00 am. Opposite Chalong Police Station on Chao Fah Tawan Aok Road.
Lumduan Market for a wide array of goods
Lumduan Market is one of the most popular spots for tourists and locals alike, with market stalls selling a wide array of goods, local handicrafts, clothing, souvenirs, second-hand items and of course food. There is a dedicated entertainment section that stages live events and music as well as talent shows and performances.
Sundays – Tuesdays, from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm, Yaowarat Road.
Say it with a smile
Thais believe in service with a smile so it behoves the tourist to reciprocate - this will be greatly appreciated. Given the already low prices, bargaining is not always an option. It is best to check in a friendly way if the prices are fixed and if not you can then haggle in a friendly fashion to get the best deal. Cheerful, good-natured banter is the hallmark of business transactions in Thailand and part and parcel of the culture of respect for others. Street markets can be great fun and are always lively venues where great food, entertainment and bargains can be found. After a day spent sight-seeing or at the beach they are the perfect places to stroll about and unwind and simply relax in good company in delightfully pleasant surroundings.