When traveling, Tom and I dive into the local food culture. In addition to sightseeing, tasting regional cuisine is a fantastic way to learn about a destination. One of the best ways for tourists to dive into local foods is to visit a food market. While in Koh Samui, we visited several markets. There are local markets open nearly every night of the week. Here are our favorites.
Our favorite food night market on the island is Lamai Night Market, which operates on Sunday evenings beginning around 5PM. Lamai is a fun beach area located on the south side of Koh Samui. Running down the main street, there are stalls selling the usual market wares such as souvenirs, bags, t-shirts, DVDs, and the like. However, two side streets are dedicated to food and beverages. This is where we spent most of the evening. Locals and tourists alike flooded the market, sampling foods ranging from papaya salad to curries to pizza and fried chicken. Naturally, we were drawn to the “authentic” stalls frequented by locals. Tom and I enjoyed succulent oysters, flavorful soups, grilled seafood, savory Issan style dips, and a wide variety of papaya salad preparations. I washed the food down with 60 baht cocktails while Tom preferred a number of delicious iced teas. If you enjoy sampling authentic Thai food, this is the night market for you!
Our other favorite food night market on Koh Samui is Fisherman’s Village, which operates Friday evenings beginning at 5PM. Located in the center of Bophut beach area on the north part of the island, the Fisherman’s Village is composed of beautiful Chinese shop houses lining the powdery soft sand with Koh Phangan in the distance. Once again, the food selection was fantastic. Although there weren’t as many authentic options as Lamai, we were still very impressed. There was a nice array of papaya salads, fruit, Thai desserts such as mango sticky rice and coconut pudding, and a multitude of proteins grilled on a stick. In between eating, enjoy the inexpensive cocktails and stroll the stalls selling the usual touristy goods.
Chaweng Night Market, originally open Saturday evenings, now operates nearly every night. Located on the main Beach Road that extends over a mile, stalls begin opening mid-day with most in full operation by 6PM. Chaweng is a lively beach community. Spend the day playing in the bathwater warm waters. Then stay for the night market. Chaweng’s Market is more known for the wide array of goods, than for food. This is the place in Koh Samui to shop for souvenirs such as copied DVDs, t-shirts, sunglasses, and other typical market finds. Whatever you want, you are sure to find it here. However, we are more interested in the food. Stalls line the street offering a variety of food and beverage options (but this market is more known for market goods). Since we visited after a steamy day at the beach, we enjoyed sipping on coconut water (for Lora) and beer (for Tom) as we enjoyed our evening stroll.
There are a few other markets worth mentioning. Mae Nam night market operates on Thursday evenings. Located on the north side of the island, it is a nice but compact market offering delicious street market types of food such as fried grasshoppers, in addition to the usual fare and cocktails. If you are in the area, it’s definitely a market to check out.
Check out Nathon Beach night market on Saturday evenings. Located on the west side of Samui, Nathon beach market is considered the “local’s” market. Nathon has a more relaxed and less aggressive vibe. It’s a great place to sample local delicacy and watch the sun set. There is no better way to end a day in paradise!
If you are visiting Koh Samui, we highly recommend a visit to a night market. Dotted throughout the island, there is bound to be one open near you during your island stay. We cannot think of a better way to end an evening than to mingle with locals, eat tasty and inexpensive bites, people watch, and stall “window” shop. Have fun! Let us know if there’s a market you recommend. We’d love to share it!