Phuket might have fantastic restaurants and shiny shopping centres, but it’s the markets on the island the really capture the soul and feel of the place. From nighttime bazaars to vintage flea markets, here’s a guide to Phuket’s best markets.
A market that’s popular with the young “in” crowd of Phuket, Chillva Market is a stylish, modern market with distinctive shipping-container shops and treasures to be found under white-tented stalls. Located on Yarowat Road towards Phuket Town, the full market is open from 4-11pm Thursday to Saturday, whilst the shipping container shops are open daily. Rather than counterfeit goods, the clothing and accessories available here are stylish, local brands, and everything is available at local prices.
There are a number of small bars and restaurants to be found in the containers, yet some of the best food choices are found in the market itself; from tasty desserts to crunchy fried bugs, you’re guaranteed a good feed at rock-bottom prices. With live music providing the perfect shopping and dining soundtrack, it’s easy to see why Chillva Market is thought to be amongst the best markets on the island.
Phuket Walking Street
Housed inside the beautiful vintage building of Phuket’s Old Town, Phuket’s Walking Street market is the perfect place to pick up souvenirs. Known as “talat yai”, or big market in Thai, there are clothing, handicrafts and other trinkets to buy. There’s also the chance to try local, southern-Thai cuisine, which is a must if you’re in the region. A weekly event, this Sunday night market attracts both locals and travellers in their droves. Perhaps the most interesting thing to try here is the horseshoe crab, which looks like something prehistoric yet tastes incredible. Food, crafts and a laid-back atmosphere surrounded by beautiful, colourful townhouses, this one has everything you could need from a market in Phuket.
Phuket Weekend Market
A huge night bazaar that also goes by the name of Naka Market, the Phuket Weekend Market is reminiscent of Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market due to its sheer size and the fact that seemingly anything and everything can be bought here. From new and old clothes to electronics, to tonnes of gifts and souvenirs — not to mention animals and pets — whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it here. Fresh food is available in abundance, from stinky durian to your Thai street food favourites, and the low prices mean you can afford to be adventurous when it comes to trying new things. There are tables to sit at, but they’re more often than not full, so eating as you’re shopping may be your best bet.
Phuket Indy Market
A small but relatively lively market, the Phuket Indy Market has become one of the go-to places for young Thais in the city. Young, creative Thais flock here to buy and sell the latest fashion, with plenty of stalls dedicated to selling stylish clothing and accessories that can’t be found in the larger shopping centres in the city. As well as being a good spot for shopping, it’s also a great place for snacking. Grilled meats, sweet desserts and authentic dishes can all be found as this small but perfectly formed market and the streets of nearby Phuket Old Town are full of great places to dine. Open on Thursdays and Fridays from 4pm until around 10pm, it’s not a place you’ll spend hours in but it’s great to start the evening.
Located in lively Patong, Malin Plaza is a daily market that consists of tabletop stalls, re-purposed shipping containers and much more, partially under a metal roof that’s perfect for when the rainy season comes. Like other markets, there’s an impressive range of things to buy here. As well as tourist-orientated clothing and accessories for sale, there’s a range of authentic Thai products available, too, from silk scarves to wooden carvings, that make for perfect souvenirs and gifts. In terms of food, the usual street foods and desserts are ready to eat, as well as there being fresh produce and seafood that can either be taken home or cooked in front of you. With plenty to see, buy and taste, it’s a real must-visit market for anybody in Patong.