Top 10 Local Markets for Travelers in Southeast Asia

Top 10 Local Markets for Travelers in Southeast Asia

By CindyUpdated Jul. 14, 2021

When you are in Southeast Asia at your favorite tourist places sightseeing, touring or just relaxing, we want you to know where you can go to experience some local native-style bargaining at outdoor markets, street markets, and indoor flea markets.

Maeklong Railway Market,

Some "local markets" are really "traps" for tourists set up at convenient tourist spots such as the Cho Dong Xuan Market at the Old Quarter in Hanoi. Most locals generally won't shop there.

In contrast are the places the locals flock to, such as the extensive street market system near Baclaran in Manila in the Philippians. Places like these are authentically places the locals actually shop at. These native markets give you a more of an authentic local flavor. And of course, the flavors of the food are quite authentic and what the locals eat daily.

Whether you want to shop for exotic items or simply common souvenirs, the open markets in Southeast Asia deliver! We've designed this list to appeal to travelers in the most popular tourist areas and include some details about prices, things to do, and transport information about how to get there.

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1. Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Thailand

This sort of a tongue-twister market (can you say it fast 10 times?) is placed conveniently in Bangkok. Bangkok itself is by some estimates the world's most popular tourist city, and the huge weekend market is conveniently located for tourists. In 2019, there were 11,505 vendors and 15,000 stalls that were arranged in 27 sections.

It is crowded however. It is the world's largest and most diverse weekend market. In 2019, about 200,000 shoppers came every weekend. People come to shop, dine, browse, and socialize.

On sale, conveniently separated into kind of goods for browsing and comparison, you can find: plants, antiques, ceramics, furniture and home accessories, clothing, books, consumer electronics, cosmetics, pets, food and drinks, and fresh and dried food products.

Many tourists come just for the novel experience. But others come for the authentic local food. There are food kiosks with seats. Some are fancy and some are basic.

For tourists, getting there is convenient since it is on the BTS Skytrain route at Mochit Station and also along the MRT Subway route at Chatuchak Park Station.

Useful Information:

  • Address: Chatuchak Weekend Market, 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak
  • Hours: in general, 6:00 pm on Friday to 12:00 midnight on Sunday. But some sellers open in the morning on the weekend. During times of storms, the market may close.
  • Suggested tour: You can go to the market on our 13-Day Essence of Thailand Tour: Far More beyond Temples
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2. Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai, Thailand

This market in northern Thailand in the city of Chiang Mai is the best in Thailand for buying local handcrafted items.

Some are works of art, and some are just peculiar, but you have maybe millions of articles to choose from. Northern Thailand is where most of the crafts production is.

There is quite a diversity: jewelry, lanterns, silk clothing, other kinds of clothing, embroidery, silk cushions, and carved wooden products. You can also buy regular souvenirs like T-shirts.

There are a lot of little food kiosks with sidewalk seating and small tables. The whole area covers about 4 square blocks.

Useful Information:

  • Address: Intersection of Tha Pae and Chang Klang Roads
  • Hours: daily from about 6:00 pm to 11:30 pm

3. Luang Prabang Night Market in Luang Prabang, Laos

Like Chiang Mai's Night Market, Luang Prabang's Night Market is a great place to find native arts and locally made handicrafts. It is the best market for crafts products and locally produced agricultural products, gold and gemstones in Laos. Vientiane's night market area is bigger, but they mainly sell Chinese manufactured products.

The location is what makes it one of Southeast Asia's best. It is set amid the natural beauty of extensive jungle, rivers, and the countryside of Laos.

The town is small, so the night market is conveniently a few minutes' walk from most hostels and hotels and is a favorite place for tourists to go for meals and snacks. Buffets start from about 18,000 kip (2.00 USD).

Best buys are the locally-made silk clothes, woven bags and products, organic coffee, and personalized products. The shopping is more fun and valuable here since some craftsmen and artists work on site for the tourists.

You can get a shirt personalized for example or have an artist do your caricature. It is a good place to have a local guide such as ours with you because among the gems of the buys, there is an abundance of poorly made and overly priced things. Our guide can guide you to the better sellers and help you find what you'll like.

Useful Information:

  • Location: The stalls and tents of this market extend down the main street in a line.
  • Hours: The sellers open around about 4:00 or 5:00 pm depending on the weather, and close early about 9:30.
  • Suggest tour: 14-Day Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos Tour
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4. Angkor Night Market in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap’s Angkor Night Market is one of the favorite tourist places. What makes it special is its size with about 240 shops, the emphasis on locally made crafts and art, and that it is roofed for protection from the elements.

It was the first night market to open in the whole of Cambodia, and the government originally dictated that it should sell locally made arts and crafts. A modest food court offers Cambodian, Western and Asian specialties. They speak English too.

Useful Information:

  • Address: at the center of town at Sivatha Road
  • Hours: 5:00 pm to midnight
Market

5. Binh Tay Market in Cholon in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This market is the largest and most popular shopping area in Cholon, Ho Chi Minh City. It is a 2-story building that the locals shop in, so you get an authentic local shopping experience as well as authentic food.

In the shops surrounding the building and inside the first story, there is a wet market where there is an extensive range of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and seafood from all over Vietnam. On the second floor, visitors will find things such as handicrafts, lacquerware, textiles, and clothes that make for good souvenirs

A convenient food court at the center of the 1st floor provides tasty Vietnamese food such as spring rolls, pho noodles, and steamed buns. Try the iced coffee for a refreshment.

Useful Information:

  • Address: at the center of the Cholon Chinatown district
  • Hours: 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
Market

6. Baclaran Street Market in Paranaque, Manila, Philippines

For tourists and travellers wanting to experience the authentic life of local Filipinos, his street market area with tents and open stalls crammed into the streets of this shopping area among malls and Filipino landmarks is an excellent place to go. It is conveniently near places that tourists go to such as the Manila International Airport and the Mall of Asia.

What is refreshing about the area is that locals looking for the lowest prices come from a wide area around Manila. The area is particularly busy before and during holidays such as Christmas and the crowding brings the streets to almost a standstill.

Besides the ubiquitous Chinese produced clothes and home products, you can find Filipino-produced souvenirs. There are several Chinese shops too. The area has restaurants, fast food, and malls for those looking for dining and shopping options better than what you find on the street. The range of options attracts the populace who call it "the shopper's paradise in the south." What also attracts them are landmarks such as the Mall of Asia that is one of the biggest in Asia and EDSA Mall.

We definitely recommend private driver for navigating around Pasay City and Paranaque City. Public transport is crowded and not hygienic, and there is a possibility of even serious crime. Watch for pickpocketers. The taxis are confusing to take from/to the airport, but take about 10 minutes. The giant Mall of Asia is a half-hour walk away and the EDSA Mall that has a metro station is to.

Useful Information:

  • Address: Roxas Boulevard, Baclaran, Parañaque City, Philippines
  • Hours: In general, it is open every day morning to about 9:00 pm at night. However, sellers don't open during major storms. It is busy on weekends.
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7. Cho Dong Xuan Market in Hanoi, Vietnam

The reason we are mentioning the roofed, large indoor flea market, even though it isn't popular with locals, is that it is popular with tourists since it is right in the Old Quarter section of Hanoi that is a tourist magnet for both backpackers and older, retired people.

The area abounds with hostels and hotels, and it is a handy place to go to browse for quick souvenirs and practical items such as jackets for about 10 to 20 USD each, hats, cheap shoes, household items, and some cheap electronics etc. The first story is a typical wet market that sells fresh produce, meat, and dried goods. On the upper levels, vendors sell clothes and souvenirs in abundance. There is a street food section where Vietnamese coffee and pho noodles are highlighted.

Dong Xuan market is at the West end of Hanoi Old quarter and is bounded by Hang Khoai street and Cau Dong street. If you keep walking down Hang Ngang street, you will reach the market after 4 blocks.

Useful Information:

8. Vientiane Night Market in Vientiane, Laos

The Night Market is a favorite tourist place in Vientiane. Though it has a nice environment in a park next to the Mekong River, it is different than the markets you'll find in the countryside of Laos. Instead of local crafts, you find mostly Chinese-made manufactures. The stalls mostly sell the same kinds of products such as clothing, bags, sports equipment, electronics paraphernalia, and souvenirs. Bargaining is expected, so price compare on the same products.

Stalls with red coverings run for about a kilometer parallel to the Mekong. Next to them, there is a newer section of regular stores. There are a few tents where they serve food or drinks, but you can go to the adjoining street along the side the market called Quai Fa Ngum, and there, you will find a myriad of food stalls that sell authentic Laotian food including everything from seafood to roasted chicken.

Useful Information:

  • Location: at Chao Anuvong Park, the center of the city, along the Mekong River and Quai Fa Ngum Area
  • Hours: The night market opens from 6:00 to 10:00 pm daily except if it is raining heavily when few sellers open.

9. Scott Market in Yangon, Myanmar

Yangon, also called Rangoon, is a relatively large city of almost 6 million people. We are mentioning Scott Market (Bogyoke Market in their language) because it is big, and the products are diverse and of decent quality but low-priced if you bargain well. It is one of the most popular things to do.

There are about 1,600 shops selling an assortment of different items ranging from art and precious stones to handicrafts and textiles. Stands are set up haphazardly throughout the building creating a maze of stalls to be explored when looking for perfect souvenirs or good deals. Plenty of food stands sell local cuisine.

Useful Information:

  • Location: Bo Gyoke Road, Pabedan
  • Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and closed Mondays.
  • Suggested tour: 7-Day Myanmar Essence Tour: A Glance That Lingers. To best see the country quickly, safely, and comfortably, our private drivers are excellent! We can handle the special visa requirements.
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10. Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The Central Market in Kuala Lumpur is conveniently located a short walking distance from Chinatown. It is interesting because ethnic groups have their own sections within it. Like most of the other markets on this page, you'll find crafts and souvenirs.

The prices and quality are middle-level unlike all the others on this page.

Useful Information:

  • Location: Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock
  • Hours: 10:00 am to 9:30 pm

Consider Us for Your Shopping Transport

We are a reputable travel company that handles private tours regionally throughout Southeast Asia and China. So consider travelling in the safety, speed, and flexibility of our air-conditioned private vehicles instead of crowded buses, tuk tuks, and regional flights. You can stop wherever you want for rest and authentic local dining.

You might see that our drivers can take you between cities and towns much faster than even flights because we go directly to the places you want to go. Once in a location, our guide and driver will help you go to the best places to shop. Going in a private car is much more comfortable and healthier too.

Explore Southeast Asia's Markets with Us

Your guide can provide some of the best places for shopping and help you to bargain at markets. Our expert guide and driver can take you to great places most tourists never get to if you are looking for expert local craftsmanship. What is more, if you book a custom tour with us, there is no forced shopping as there is with other tours. We won't take you to places you won't want to go to or tourist traps.

Shopping in the countryside: If you are looking for local crafts or products, many towns outside the big tourist places also have central markets offering a good range of arts and crafts at better prices. Let us know your preferences, and our trip advisor will recommend the markets in the places that are best suited to your interests.

Our experts can help with translation and explain the culture. Just contact us, and tell us what you'd like to do on your trip. 

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