If you like bargain-hunting and don’t mind a bit of hustle and bustle, why not try a real-life market. A word of caution: you are stepping off the tourist track and rubbing shoulders with hundreds of like-minded Thais and expat residents, so be prepared to get real. You will enjoy the experience and we guarantee you will not leave without buying something. Some of the prices are unbelievable. A word to the wise – bring cash; stallholders look askance at platinum cards!
The most popular weekend market is officially called Chao Fa Variety but is universally referred to by its Thai name Talad Tai Rot. For many years the market operated from a space behind the Phang Nga Road bus station but has recently moved to a larger area on Chao Fa West Road. Every weekend hundreds of people flock here to shop, eat and drink and to meet with their friends.
It is impossible to give a comprehensive catalogue of what is offered. It is a characteristic of these markets that the nature of the merchandise is constantly changing. In other words, if you see what you want, buy it immediately – it may not be there next week or even in the next hour.
What you will find always is a huge selection of clothing (new and secondhand), shoes, bags and luggage, fashion accessories, costume jewelry and items for home decoration. There will also be a bewildering choice of electronic goods mobile phones, watches, toys, etc plus CD’s and DVD’s (watch out for − and avoid − the pirated ones).
It is a well known fact that shopping makes you hungry so you will be glad to know that there is a huge selection of Thai snacks and local street food on offer, all freshly prepared on the spot. Rice dishes, noodles, fruit and nuts are all available. If you are adventurous why not try some fried insects. If you can get your head past what they are you will find them quite tasty (a bit like roasted peanuts) and they are an excellent source of protein.
Market prices are keen but you should be prepared to bargain. How good a deal you get depends on your skills. Always remember to keep your temper and smile. There is no point in getting into a heated argument over ten baht!
The market opens at 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays – when it is cooler. It is a good idea to arrive early to avoid the crowds and traffic. Parking can be a problem.
How to get there:
From Central Festival Phuket intersection head south on Chao Fa West for about 1 kilometre and then turn left. The market is opposite Wat Naka (Naka Temple).
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