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Markets are a big part of the Thai culture and a place to indulge in food or find a bargain or unique, handmade product.
Visitors are hit on all five senses, vendors are persistent and talk to anyone who passes their stall, so the sheer number of products can be daunting. Visitors to the Koh Phangan should not overlook the many fascinating markets that can be found, including food markets that are here all the time and also other markets such as temple fairs and Art markets.
Fresh markets provide all people with affordable, nutritious foods and a source of income, as well as serving as repositories of Thai food culture and social networks. There are stalls selling spices, vegetables, and a variety of other products, including fruit, curry pastes, and fresh coconut milk, eggs, chicken, pork, beef, rice, fresh noodles, fish, and seafood.
Most markets will also have one grocery stand or more, which are the closest thing you'll find to a generic all-in-one, stocking store-cupboard staples like sugar, flour, oil, bottled sauces and seasonings, and possibly rice, eggs, and a smaller catch-all range of vegetables and herbs.
Here you will find everything you need to make local cuisine and also ingredients you will recognise from home.
As well as fresh markets you will also find family-run stores dotted about the island which is similar to this but just one shop.
Here is where you come not to cook but to eat! You can usually find a mix of everything including all of your favourite Thai dishes and street food snacks. Europe, Israel, France, Mexico, and the rest of the world are all represented!
The beauty of food markets is that you can pick and choose what you want to eat. Many people enjoy grabbing small bites of a variety of foods, such as Thai street food!
Get your mouth around bbq chicken sticks, pad thai, Thai curries, sweet treats, mango sticky rice, and everything else you might think of!
There are several different food stalls so there is something for everyone's taste and this is the original and most well-known food market on the island. Fresh Thai food such as Pad Thai, Green Curries, vegan food, and shellfish dishes have been mastered by the vendors. They have an inside area with small restaurants and tables and chairs for eating on. It’s a great place to meet, chat, and laugh with locals and other backpackers on Koh Phangan. The market attracts a large crowd and is a good place to hang with other travellers.
The newer edition but an extremely good one with more choices for healthy, vegan and vegetarian food. Phangan Food Court still has all your favourite Thai food stalls and a nice big dining area to enjoy for all the family. The thing that makes this place unique is that it is totally undercover so good for all-weather yet still the same ethos as a traditional food market. They have everything from pizza stands, salads, toast bars and Thai food.
A sweet food court opens every day with many veggie and vegan choices being that it is the health-conscious area of the island. You can also find your favourites like you will find all over Thailand with a bonus of live music on certain nights.
These types of markets are not there every day but on certain days of the week, whether it is just once or a few times. You can expect everything from the above, fresh food and prepared/cooked food as well as stalls selling other goods such as clothes.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
16:00 - 21:00
The Big C food market, like the Pantip food market in Thong Sala city, opens in the late afternoon when the heat of the day has subsided. From neon Singha beer sleeveless T-shirts to Thai-style bags, scarves, and sarongs to multi-coloured swimsuits and beachwear to flower-shaped soap carvings to Muay Thai (Thai boxing) shorts to watches and handbags to inexpensive jewellery – all affordable gifts and souvenirs to take back home. Along with plenty of tasty thai treats to eat, ready-made curries and fresh produce stalls.
16:00 - 22:00
The Saturday Walking Street Market takes place every Saturday on Thong Sala's Chinese Street (the one with the post office). This is a busy, thriving with gifts and all-sorts market where you can find everything from clothes to food to music, starting about 4 pm and lasting until 10 pm. Going to this market in the evening has a wonderful atmosphere; everything is lit up and the sky is comfortably dark; what better way to shop? Over the months, more stalls emerge, and some disappear; this is the beauty of it. The market has grown to the point that it now stretches beyond the actual street, and it is surprising how large it has become and how many different stalls there are. It is a venue for artists and artisans to display their work; you will find truly unique items, some of which you won't find in shops on Koh Phangan, and the prices are typically lower, which is always a bonus!
17:00 - 21:00
You should expect to see a lot of stalls selling food, beverages, clothing, and souvenirs, just as you would in any other Thai market. Chaloklum village has a sleepy and laid-back feel that is special to the island for such a busy fishing village, so you can relax there when on your way to the market. Chaloklum is located in the far north of the island and is about a 20-minute motorcycle or taxi ride from Thong Sala.
These types of markets pop up every now and then at different events. It is an opportunity for makers and creators of all kinds to show and sell their unique items. Shop owners will sometimes join in the market along with independent creators who don’t have a shop. You can expect live music and other activities during these types of markets.
As there are no regular ones occurring it is best to keep an eye on our events and listen within the community to when these happen.
Festivals are held at temples all over the island at various times of the year. Live bands, stallholders, and food sellers turn normally quiet spaces into noisy fairs with a party atmosphere. When your local temple hosts a festival, expect some loud, possibly sleepless nights and increased traffic, but it'll all be in good Thai cultured spirit! Join them if you can't beat them!
Temple festivals are an important part of the community calendar, but they are also an opportunity to make merit for Buddhists and collect funds for the Temple. Making merit is a way for them to hope for good fortune and success in their lives.
Temple festivals can last anywhere from one to three weeks, and you can go during the day for a fun walk around, eating snacks from street vendors, and checking out the market shopping. In the evening, it takes on a new vibe and is well worth a visit; enjoy some cold drinks while enjoying live music in the midst of the local community, where there is still a positive vibe.
If you walk around the festival and look closely, you'll notice that Buddhist rituals are a major part of the event.
Thai markets of all kinds are integrated into the culture here. It is a must-do to visit at least one time during your trip but usually, a food market will become somewhere you visit more than once. Go and enjoy the sights, sounds smells and tastes amongst a vibrant and happy atmosphere on Koh Phangan.
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