I would go out of my way if I heard of an interesting market. A market is a great place to sample real local life, no matter where you are.
The market is the centre of the town or village, and despite the arrival of many big shopping centres in Phuket over the last 12 years, the local markets here are still busy.
There may be big stores like Tesco-Lotus, Makro, Big C, Supercheap and many mini-mart style shops like 7-11, but the market (talad in Thai) is still the place to get fresh local produce, or a place to hang out and meet people. For me, a market is an essential part of life in the local community.
Here are some of Phuket’s best markets:
1. The Weekend Market
Probably the market that most tourists will visit is the weekend market just outside Phuket Town.
Locals call it Talad Naka (since it’s close to Naka Temple) or Talad Jatujak Phuket (after the huge Jatujak market in Bangkok – but the market in Phuket is much smaller!).
It’s held on Saturday and Sunday starting in the mid afternoon, carrying on until about 11pm. Best time to go is a bit before sunset.
It is quite big and once you are in the maze of stalls it’s easy to get lost.
There are lots of food stalls selling all kind of snacks and drinks, lots of clothes, arts and crafts, DVD’s/CD’s, plants, pets, mobile phone accessories – it’s also great for people watching.
2. Kathu Fresh Market
Kathu is my area. The main market is big and seems to have got busier over the years even though the main Tesco store is only a few km away and Tesco even opened a mini store in the area.
Kathu is the area between Patong and Phuket Town and is a mainly residential area but with quite a lot of history as the tin mining industry was centered here in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The market is on daily, all day. It’s a fresh produce market with stalls selling fish, shrimp, meat, vegetables, chilli paste, eggs, flowers, ready made meals and a lot more.
It’s nice to visit in the early evening, get some food from one of the many food stalls and watch the world go by.
3. Karon Temple Market
A very easy to visit market if you stay near Karon beach, the Karon temple market takes place in the temple grounds on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the late afternoon/evening.
It’s a mix of fresh produce, snacks and food, clothes and a few tourist-aimed stalls selling sunglasses or swimwear. It’s the main local market in Karon.
There’s another market a couple of miles away in Kata on the back road away from the beach.
4. Phuket Town Indy Market
The Indy Market near the old section of Phuket town only started in 2010, meant to be a place for teenagers to hang out in a safe, smoke free environment.
It is indeed very popular with the youngsters. There is often live music too.
It’s not huge, and most of the stalls sell arty items and clothes and there’s some food and drink stalls too.
The Indy Market takes place on Thursday and Friday evenings (so it doesn’t clash with the Saturday/Sunday weekend market).
Certainly worth a visit combined with dinner or drinks in Phuket Town.
I’ve heard there is now a similar market on Wednesdays at a place called Boat Plaza, a new development just north of Phuket Town.
5. Expo Market
We have used the Expo market quite a lot, and often buy shirts, pants, Thai souvenirs, and computer games here.
It’s an air-con cooled indoor market, open every day near the centre of Phuket Town. It’s a good place for clothes.
6. Phuket Town Main Market
The main market in town reopened in 2010 in a new building. The old market was really old and rather smelly.
The streets all around the market are also a market, it’s a very busy area and is also where you can get local buses (like in the photo above) to points all around the island.
Jamie Monk works at liveaboard dive specialists Sunrise Divers. For more information call: 084 626 4646 or visit: sunrise-divers.com