The Four Best Markets in Thailand

Best Markets in Thailand

One thing you’ll discover as a traveler to Southeast Asia is that the region is filled with an myriad markets. At first, they feel unique and vibrant. But after awhile they all start to look the same same, but different (which is a shirt you will see at every other stall in every single market across that part of the continent.) However, there are a few markets in Thailand that are not to be missed, because they are authentic and serve up some of the most unforgettable cuisine. Here are the best markets in Thailand:

 

The Best Markets in Thailand Begin in Bangkok

 

Monk at the Damnoen Saduak floating market near Bangkok

 

Floating Markets

 

There are not many places in the world where you can sit on a wooden sampan at the break of dawn, while monks in saffron-colored robes paddle past and dock beside storefronts and water crafts to pray with the Buddhist faithfuls. Then the monk paddles away as the newly blessed prepare for another day of business at the floating market.

 

Most of the boats in the floating market are captained by women who sit beside massive gas tanks that power their stoves. The Pad Thai lady spooned spices and sauces into her sizzling wok. The coconut pancake lady paddled up alongside my boat and filled a banana leaf basket with her fried dessert. Our captain guided us toward the soup vendor and we triple-parked in the waterway while passengers in the next boat handed me a ceramic bowl. I kept eating as we navigated the liquid lanes.

 

Homes lined the water. Residents’ patios were inundated with small gardens. There were myriad souvenir stalls at the floating market. They were all made of corrugated metal and sold the same wares. The elderly boat-women stopped to link their vessels and chat before the flood of tourists arrived. Bananas, pomelos, pineapples, and straw hats overflowed from their wooden crafts.

 

Pad Thai at the Floating Market

 

Chatuchak Market

 

There are 8,000 stalls at Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market. Vendors sell cheap clothes, knock-off fashion, shirts with malapropisms and incomprehensible English, and even threads that could pass as semi-haute. There are also great displays of local artists’ creations and sellers’ chintzy wares. But the best part of the Chatuchak Market is the food. You can bounce from stall to stall, with minimal baht, sampling plates of noodle, followed by curry dishes, followed by coconut ice cream. It is cheap foodie heaven, making it one of the best markets in Thailand.

 

DJ at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok Thailand

 

Chatuchak Market in Bangkok Thailand

 

The Best Markets in Thailand Can Be Found in Chiang Mai

 

Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market

 

The Chiang Mai Night Market

If there’s one day during the week to make sure you visit Chiang Mai it’s on Sunday night when the night market is in full swing. Unlike the northern city’s lackluster, daily night market, everything is more interesting on Sunday. At the Sunday Night Market you can find all of the kitsch of the regular night market, but there’s more charm, increased vibrancy, great street performances, endless assembly lines of masseuses, and some of the best and strangest foods in the country.

 

Some stalls sell sticky rice intricately wrapped in banana leaves for three cents. There are sticks of squid, nests of noodles, jellyfish sushi, and bowls of pad thai, all of which cost less than a dollar each. But for me, the highlight was eating bugs.

 

The first vendor I found only sold french fry baskets filled with fried crickets for about 60 cents. The brittle, toasted, basil-flavored bugs tasted just like popcorn and were a great starter for future insectivores.

 

“Good with beer,” the vendor informed me.

 

But if you keep walking the night market, you’ll discover one other vendor with a smorgasbord of healthy invertebrates. Besides crickets, this second bug-lady displayed jumbo-sized grasshoppers (which tasted similarly to the cricket with just more oils and seasoning retained by its larger body), pasta-like silk worms, beetles the size of M&M Peanuts (though they exploded more like gel-filled Bubble Yum), and sharp-winged whirligigs (which featured even soggier innards). I sampled a variety for 60 cents. I was, however, too cheap or too scared to try one bug called the mackerel, which resembled a cicada on BGH (bug-growth-hormone). One mackerel cost a whopping 35 cents.

 

Eating Bugs at the Chiang Mai Night Market

 

Markets En Route to the Thai Islands

 

The Banana Pancake Lady Before the Night Boat to Koh Tao

 

The Ban Don Night Market at Sulat Thani

 

The pier in Sulat Thani, where travelers wait for the night boat to Koh Tao or Ko Samui, offers a small night market that serves up big dishes and gigantic paradoxes. As our waitress ran to the busy food carts for our food and Singha Beers, a man walked his elephant between the small tables on the raised patio. Locals were uninterested in the pachyderm and instead watched women’s volleyball on the television through the ferry window.

 

The market featured the chicken man, who stood behind a glass box, displaying his hanging poultry. The banana crepe lady plopped huge chunks of orange butter onto the hot plate and folded the most delicious desserts. At one end of the market, an assembly line of workers dished up soupy desserts filled with sugar-soaked fruits and gelatinous unknowns and at the other end were the fruit vendors. I enjoyed my meal as the bar cart, which was covered in Christmas lights, blared reggae music.

 

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Posted on by Noah Lederman in I Ate What?

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