By Maciek Klimowicz
As the sun begins to set, they come out and take reign over the streets of towns and cities across Thailand. No, it’s not ghosts or spirits I’m talking about, but…markets. Night markets.
Some are quite famous, like the Night Walking Street in Chiang Mai or Bangkok’s Rot Fai market; other are lesser known and more local. But whether big or small, well-known or low-key, they all share certain traits – they are fun, noisy, colourful and a vital part of Thai way of life.
Here in Phuket, we are no strangers to night markets. Almost every part of the island hosts an open-air market, ready to satisfy your shopping mania and food cravings.
In the recent years however, the night market map of the island underwent a dramatic change. Once virtually synonymous with Phuket’s night market, the Naka / Phuket Weekend Market might still be the largest, but isn’t necessarily the best (despite what many taxi and tuk tuk drivers will tell you). New night markets are popping up all around the island, replacing the “same same but different” counterfeit goods with new, original and stylish merchandise and substituting Styrofoam bowls of greasy Pad Thai, with healthy snacks, creative drinks and dishes from around the world.
Whether you’re after a t-shirt from a local designer, a pint of craft beer or a plateful of takoyaki, you’ll find it all, and much more, at the best markets in Phuket we present here.
Also known as Phuket Walking Street it hails one of the most beautiful locations of any market in Phuket, or in fact – Thailand. It takes place every Sunday in the heart of Old Phuket Town, on one of its most picturesque thoroughfares – Thalang Road. It’s beautifully resorted, multi-coloured Sino-Portuguese shop-houses, serve as a background to the shopping and dining activities occurring on the street level. We especially like the rainbow coloured mocktails and no less colourful mochi ice cream.
Sunday, 4–10 pm
Also located in Phuket Town, but on a different, less vintage street, is the Indy Market, which takes place each Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at Limelight Avenue. One of the oldest on this list (launched back in 2010) it draws younger crowds than the other, and is especially popular with Thai students. A good selection of handmade product (mostly female fashion and accessories), snacks and a constant supply of live music, grant it a place on our list.
Thursday – Friday, 4–10 pm
Ma Kin Night Market
The latest addition to Phuket’s market scene (at the time of writing), formerly known as Tinlay but recently rebranded to Ma Kin Night Market, it focuses on food and has a few aces up its sleeve. Firstly, it’s the location – away from the crowds of Southern Phuket, up in Cherng Talay / Bang Tao. Secondly, it’s the space – it is vast, unrestrained and with a well maintained surface, making it ideal for walking, even with a baby pram or a wheelchair. But space isn’t wasted here – there are dozens of food and shopping stalls, plenty of activities for the kids, including a merry-go-round and a jumping castle, and Phuket’s food trucks like to pay Ma Kin a visit too.
Saturday – Sunday, 4-10pm
Fun Friday Market
We stay in Cherngtalay, where at the Boat Avenue shopping and dining space, the uber-popular Friday Night Market draws huge crowds, and for a reason. Except for the street shopping and street food on offer, Boat Avenue hails some excellent restaurants and bars, giving you a chance to enjoy an ice cold Margarita or a plateful of sushi, before browsing through the stalls. Boat Avenue is fun every dayu of the week, but even more so on Fridays.
Back in Phuket town but away from its historic centre, is one of the newest markets on the island. Chillva took Phuket by storm with its combination of container-based dining and drinking with ground-level shopping. You can either enjoy a local dish in one of the container eateries surrounding the main square, or grab a snack from one of the stalls, settle down on the half-moon stairs surrounding the main stage, and enjoy live music and Chillva’s relaxed ambiance.
Thursday – Saturday, 4–11 pm
Boat Lagoon Weekend
Shopping and dining on a water-edge promenade, panoramic views from Phuket’s only lighthouse, open-air cinema – these are all things that make Boat Lagoon Weekend special. The ambiance here is a tad classier than at other markets on the island. Adults enjoy the “Beats & Bites” theme of good music, good food and good family activities, while the kids love the magic shows and cartoons on the big screen. This season’s last edition took place in May, but Boat Lagoon Weekend will be back for more in November 2017.
Friday-Saturday (on selected dates), 6-10pm.