Local Markets in Phuket - Local Life
When I was younger, I did a lot of traveling including 7 months in Africa, 6 months in South America and another half year in Central America and Mexico. The object of travel? To see and experience different cultures, different ways of life, to see amazing natural wonders, to discover, to learn, to try all possible local beers... I have always been drawn to markets. The local market is where you see real local life, see the people, smell the smells, find real local food. This can't be found by sitting by the pool at your hotel. You may not care, I know sometimes I also want a holiday when my plan is to do f**k all with nobody bothering me. And I am sure many people coming on holiday to Phuket have the same idea. Relax, do a couple of day trips, eat good food, get a massage, drink some beers. It's a HOLIDAY after all! This blog has ideas for things to do for everyone - I realise that not everyone is interested in temples or small islands with Buddha statues or weird festivals ... but this blog does aim to get off the beaten tourist trail much of the time and show the "real" Phuket. I know many people enjoy exploring and getting a taste of local life, and a local market is a good place to start.
I live in the Kathu area of Phuket which is between Patong Beach and Phuket Town. It's got a lot of history, and lots of people live in this area, both native Phuketians and many people who have moved here from other parts of Thailand, and foreigners too. The local market in Kathu is pretty big, one of the biggest markets on the island, and it's open every day. This is not a tourist market, there are no stalls selling souvenirs, this is a real local market selling food, clothes and much more. It's easy to find - just come from Patong over the hill and when you hit the traffic lights with the Caltex gas station on the right, there you turn left and you will see the market. It's always busy, especially late afternoon/evening, despite the fact that the Tesco Lotus store is just a few minutes drive away, and a Tesco mini store and Big C! The market is still the place to go for fresh produce. I took a walk around with my parents while they were visiting, stopping off first at Kathu Chinese Shrine:
The shrine is in the old part of Kathu village a couple of km away from the market and the busy roads leading from town to Patong. Opposite the shrine, a little shop. The shop owner enjoying an evening beer...
We parked a couple of hundred meters from the market - parking a car nearby not easy, as I say it is a busy market. If you go on a moped, should be able to find a place to squeeze in. There are lots of foodstalls outside selling snacks, chicken etc... and Thai "ready meals" - precooked curries and so on, choose and take away in a bag:
Also saw a couple of "Roti" stalls - pancakes. The banana pancake is a well known snack, and it's not just a tourist thing. These pancake stalls are all over the place. A simple plain pancake can be livened up by adding banana or raisins or chocolate or sweetcorn. A very popular snack.
Inside the covered market you can find stalls selling fresh foods - meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, chili paste. It's a feast for the senses, all kind of sights and smells. The guy below is selling various chili pastes which are eaten as a kind of "dip" with the vegetables. Killer spicy.
And here's the egg man and the fish man. There are lots of fish stalls, as you might expect, since Phuket is by the sea! Seafood is a large part of the diet for Phuket people, with fish, prawns and squid to be found at this market.
There are fresh food markets all over Phuket, the big one in Phuket Town, also you can find one in Patong (Banzaan), a temple market at Karon, one on the back road in Kata, and Rawai is a good place to go for fresh fish. Always worth a look at a local market, this is where you can really see normal local life, nothing to do with tourism, just real people living in the real Phuket.