A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

Izabel Antle's picture
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In Asia, grocery stores are hard to find and always overpriced. For this reason, locals rarely frequent them and instead run to open air markets

Open air markets are vibrant, fabulous places full of aromatic food, colorful clothing, fruits and vegetables, and anything else you can think of. The goods are cheap, and these markets can be found in every city across Thailand. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

While they are exciting, they can also be a bit intimidating to the first timer. But don’t worry - I’ve got some tips that will make your trip to the market a piece of cake. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

1.    Ask the place you are staying where the best local market is. Since nearly every hotel, homestay, or hostel is staffed by locals, there will definitely be someone who can point you in the right direction. We asked our airbnb host, and she took us along with her on her usual Saturday shopping trip. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

2.    Pull out your camera - markets are full of interesting photo ops. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

3.    Markets are best visited early in the morning, or after dark. If you can manage it, markets are best visited in the morning, for many reasons. All the freshest food is out. It’s also still nice and cool during the morning hours. By the middle of the day, the sun is high in the sky, making the marketplace sweltering hot. Heat combined with meat or fish sitting out all day can lead to some certain smells…that are best avoided. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

4.    Take a large reusable bag. Reusable bags are better for the environment, and much easier to carry than flimsy plastic bags. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

5.    Carry small bills and coins. Vendors tend not to carry large amounts of change. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

6.    Don’t be afraid to barter. If something is being sold for six dollars, ask if you can buy it for three and work from there. This is most important for clothing and other non-edible goods - especially since some vendors mark up their prices when they see you are not a local

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

7.    Try the street food. It's not a secret that Thailand had some of the best food ever - and you don’t need to go to restaurants to try some. Satay (meat on a stick) is my favorite to grab at the market because of its sweet and spicy marinade and delicious peanut sauce. It is also very easy to eat while walking around. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

8.    Be friendly. You see a vendor with a bunch of good-looking food. Say “Sawat Dee Ka” (hello). Thais really appreciate when foreigners learn a bit of their language. 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

9.    Ask the prices. Point and say “tao-rai” (how much). Many vendors will not display their prices - unless tourists frequent the area. While knowing numbers in Thai is convenient, fingers and phone calculators work just as well.

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

 

Have you shopped at a Thai open air market? Do you have any tips to add?

 

 

Izabel Antle is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She's traveling the world with her family - follow her adventures at https://wheremycarryontakesme.wordpress.com/

 

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