It rained off and on while we were in Phuket. Typical tropical rainy season weather. It didn’t stop us though. When there was a break in the rain, we grabbed our flimsy trash bag ponchos, hopped into our car and headed to Phuket’s weekend night market for a bite to eat.
deliciousness on a stick
fried fish cakes
fresh tropical fruit smoothies for less than a dollar — I could live off these
This doesn’t look like much, but this tiny bite packed a serious delicious punch – fried fish cake topped with fried thai basil, served with cukes and fish sauce. SO GOOD.
mysterious and delicious beef and noodle soup topped with equally mysterious and delicious condiments
pick your seafood, pick a sauce, then pay to have it grilled
rain seeping through the covered market
puffy fried fish cakes topped with a Chinese-style sauce and served with quickly sauteed greens
Phuket weekend night market
Walking through the Phuket night market was an overwhelming experience. Vendors selling everything from clothing to electronics to food on a stick packed side by side like sardines under tarp-covered stalls. The endless labyrinth of market alleys was dark, cramped, and chaotic. Just when we thought we reached the end, another small side alley appeared.
We meandered through the market weighing our options on what to eat. With so much to choose from, and with limited stomach space, a plan was necessary. On our third or fourth time around the main food area, we decided to jump right in and start trying foods we had never seen or tasted. Our first choice was a small, plastic sandwich bag filled with fried fish cakes, lightly fried Thai basil, sliced cucumbers, and a spicy fish sauce. Two long toothpicks were provided which we used to spear our tasty bag of goodies. It didn’t look like much, but the flavors were bright and packed a major punch. Immediately addicted, we gobbled down the entire bag in record time.
After devouring some freshly grilled seafood on a stick, we circumnavigated the market in search of more food. We followed the crowds and found ourselves at a small, outdoor space with a few plastic tables and stools. It was absolutely packed with people. In front of the stall, a lady watched over four large cauldrons of bubbling broth. Eventually, we were ushered to a tiny, shared, table where a bowl of beef noodle soup was placed in front of us. I’m not even sure if we ordered the soup. It just arrived and we ate it. And it was one of the best things we have ever eaten.
Rain, rain, and more rain
What began as a light sprinkle quickly evolved into a full on torrential downpour. Even the covered areas didn’t escape the rain. The patchy roofs and leaky tarps were no matches for the tropical storm which poured like a waterfall over the edges of the corrugated metal eaves. Everyone huddled in the same spots waiting for the rain to subside enough to dash to the next dry spot. The humidity made wearing rain gear almost worse than getting wet, so we resigned ourselves to getting soaked.
Eventually, the rain stopped long enough for us to plan our escape. We purchased a few more snacks and a couple of fruit smoothies to go and raced to our car before the next downpour arrived. Back in our hotel room, we dried off, popped open a few Chang beers from the mini bar, and finished off the rest of our night market treats.
Phuket Weekend Night (Naka) Market | COST: Free admission and parking, most meals are about $1-2 | DESCRIPTION: Huge, mostly covered, weekend market that sells food and just about everything you can think of. Food options include a wide range of grilled meats and seafood, sushi, fruit smoothies, soups, fried fish balls, and about a million other little bites that are perfect for eating on the go. I wouldn’t really consider this a place to buy souvenirs. There are a few vendors that sell things like magnets and wall hangings, but you’ll mostly find t-shirts, clothing, shoes, sunglasses, knock offs, etc. It can get very hot and very crowded, and there are very few places where you can sit, but then, that sort of adds to the ambiance (and fun) of a night market in Thailand. | FACILITIES: On-site parking, both for car and motor scooter. We didn’t have any trouble finding a place to park. I also noticed what I *thought* were bathrooms to the side of the night market. | VERDICT: Even though many tourists visit the market, it still maintained a very local feel, which I liked. As one of Phuket’s largest night markets, it’s worth visiting, though there are many night markets in Phuket where you can probably find similar food and items.