South-East Asia is bursting with all kinds of incredible sights and activities; as a travel destination, it manages to cater to both high-end luxury holidayers and shoestring backpackers alike. One thing that SE Asia really has in spades are walking streets and markets; from handicrafts made by local tribes to chintzy tourist fancies, antique furniture to fresh local produce you’ll find everything you could ever hope to find whilst exploring these beautiful bazaars. Far from seeing the same old manufactured stuff, again and again, SE Asia’s unique mix of cultures, foods, and ethnicities ensures that their markets are no cookie-cutter tourist traps but rather a splendid display of complex histories that reach back through the centuries making SE Asia the renowned bucket list destination that it is today. Below is a list of the top eight not-to-miss markets whilst traveling around this stunning subregion.
Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is one of the world’s largest weekend markets. It boasts over 8,000 stalls selling everything that you could possibly dream up, from fine art, furniture and fashion to exotic (and potentially contraband) pets, car parts and broken electronics. To make it a bit easier (but not a whole lot easier) to navigate, the market is sectioned up into ‘themes’. Market maps are available from the security guards on site and are a useful ally when trying to find your way from the Hello Kitty corner to the teak wood specialist lane. Arrive early if you can to avoid the deluge of tourists and locals that will storm the market later on in the day.
587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
Chiang Mai’s Chilled Night Bazaar is a Mix of Local Handicrafts, Live Music and International Cuisine Although this night market covers over three blocks of Chiang Mai’s old town, it’s a lot more laid-back and spaced out than the chaos found in Chatuchak. Here, you can comfortably spend hours perusing the various stalls whilst sipping on a fresh young coconut and taking in a show from the youth orchestra of Chiang Mai, an indie cover band or a traditional Mor Lam band. The history of this market dates back to the original Yunnanese caravans that stopped here to flog their wares en route from Simao, China to Mawlamyine, Myanmar.
The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Bangkok is a True Feast For the Eyes And visiting it is an experience that you won’t soon forget. Vibrant and colorful, Damnoen Saduak floating market would easily pass for the most picturesque in SE Asia. Traditional boats, heaving with fresh produce, flowers, spices, souvenirs and anything else in between glide past whilst you sit back and slowly float by. Although Damnoen Saduak is not the most easily accessible market from central Bangkok, it’s well worth the trip out to see this unique trading spectacle.
Damnoen Saduak, Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi 70130, Thailand
Visit the Quaint, Lantern-Lit Night Market of Hoi An in Vietnam A beautiful display of local craftsmanship and one that should definitely not be missed. The main attraction of this night market is the sight of the hundreds of traditional silk lanterns that Hoi An is famous for. The styles are infinite, however, if you can’t manage to find a pattern or design that you’re happy with, then one of the many local tailors will be delighted to whip one up for you on the spot. This market is particularly stunning at sunset when the streets are getting darker and the lanterns are slowly being lit against a backdrop of washed-out purple and pink clouds.
Nguyễn Hoàng, An Hội, Minh An, Tp. Hội An, Quảng Nam, Vietnam
Get an Early Night’s Sleep To Catch the Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable, Long Bien Market in Hanoi This one doesn’t usually make it onto the must-do tourist attractions for Hanoi but if you commit yourself and manage to wake up and pull yourself out of bed (3-4 a.m. is the best time to visit) then you’ll get to experience how the locals get their fresh produce. You’ll witness haggling, laughter, teasing, a few arguments and a true insight into the everyday lives of the Hanoi people.
Hồng Hà, Phúc Xá, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Vietnam
Bugis Street Market in Singapore Has Had a Long and Salacious History Dating Back To the Early ’50s Made famous for its reputation amongst sailors and military personnel looking for entertainment from the ladyboys that hung around the area, today it’s home to over 800 shops selling cheap clothes, tourist trinkets, and food. Head upstairs and away from the main drag as this is where you’ll find the real bargains on designer labels, artwork, and books.
3 New Bugis St, Singapore 188867
Angkor Night Market Located in Siem Reap, Cambodia Originally developed back in 2007 in a bid to preserve local Khmer handicrafts and bring in a source of income to the city to help alleviate the poverty of its residence. Here, you’ll find the usual market fare along with a range of recycled and upcycled products and a super 3D movie that teaches viewers about the history of the Khmer people.
Angkor Night Market St, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
The Sukawati Art Market in Bali, Indonesia is a Two-Story Hive of Activity, Color and Culture Located in Ubud, this art-centric market is where you’ll find authentic handcrafted artwork, wooden sculptures, souvenirs and fabrics all at competitive prices. It opens from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. every day and is well worth a visit.
Jalan Raya Sukawati, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80582, Indonesia
Now that your BUCKiTDREAM diary is all sorted in regards to which markets to check out, why not read up on Top Tips For Touring Thailand, Be At Your Happiest In Hạ Long Bay and Bliss Out In Beautiful, Bountiful Bali?