Asia’s night markets a melting-pot of culture, cuisine

April 11, 2010

By Judy McEuen
Travel Writer
Troy Media

Judy McEuen
Judy McEuen

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Apr. 11, 2010/ Troy Media/ — A trip to any Asian destination is not complete without a visit to its many night markets. Food stalls of local cuisine and delicacies are sure to be aplenty.

A sprinkling of mats full of local handicrafts and products can be all over the market place and there’s also a remarkable profusion of luxury-good rip-offs as well. I don’t personally promote the latter, but if it’s your thing you are sure to find a great bargain.

Night markets in Asia are a melting-pot of culture, cuisine, fashion and handicraft. If you want to be in the middle of it all when visiting an Asian city, head to the nearest night market and get pleasantly lost in the ordered chaos of commerce, culture and art.

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong: Located in the Yau Ma Tei area in Kowloon, Temple Street is the busiest and most visited of all open-air night markets in Hong Kong. Tourists and locals alike flock to this night market from dusk until the wee hours of the morning. Cheap ready-to-wear items for all ages as well as toys, watches, electronic gizmos and knick knacks of all kinds are all available for sale within the market’s vicinity.

You can even buy a glimpse of your future from the many fortune tellers – that is, if you trust their clairvoyance enough to pay good money for it. You are bound to find a number of opera singers in your exploration of the night market and be treated to the delightful sound of traditional Chinese folk songs.

Huaxi Night Market, Taipei: Located between Xiyuan and Huan roads near Longshan Temple, Huaxi is one of the smaller markets that comprise the vast network of markets of Guangzhou, Wuzhou and Xichang streets. Previously famous as a red light district, Huaxi St. reinvented itself to promote legitimate commercial activities after the local government of Taipei prohibited prostitution.

Now, a tourist favorite, this night market is sought for its exotic cuisine offerings such as snake-based dishes and fresh water turtle fare. It also offers tourists a more picturesque and historical alternative to other Taipei night markets.

Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Bangkok: Located in Pathum Wan District opposite Lumphini Park, Suan Lum is a haven for budget-shopping enthusiasts who do not want to brave the sweaty crowd of a typical night market. Suan Lum is housed in a complex of covered walkways with a Khmer-inspired façade.

Merchandise of all kinds, like shoes, clothes, jewelry, kitchenware, beachwear and tapestries among a plethora of many others, are readily available here. A mere stone’s throw away from the shopping area is a big open-air beer garden with a decent selection of Thai restaurants and other bistros specializing in various cuisines such as Italian, German and Japanese. 

Visitors to Suan Lum can also enjoy a rare pampering of fish exfoliating their feet in the various fish spas or a luxurious massage in the many massage parlors located in the area. Those who want a quick look at the Indian epic of Ramayana, also known as Ramakien in Thai, should find time to watch the performance at Joe Louis Puppet Theatre nearby.

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