First devised as a way to avoid the heat of day in tropical climates, the night market often reflects the pace of life in different regions of the world. They offer travelers a cultural cross section where commerce, cuisine, language, and music are woven together into the fabric of daily life. While most closely associated with Southeast Asia, many other cities around the world have developed their own take on the vibrant tradition, making for totally amazing options wherever you are. As a start, here are seven of the most dazzling night markets worth seeking out:
Rot Fai Market, Bangkok
If Southeast Asia is where the whole notion of a night market emerged, then Bangkok’s Rot Fai Market is the crown jewel of the concept. The largest of its kind in a city filled with night markets, Rot Fai features innumerable goodies under the electrifying glow of multicolored tents. The open-air atmosphere swells with the lively interchanges of locals and foreigners, as the sounds of unfamiliar languages puncture the palpably humid air. The scent and sizzle of traditional Thai delicacies and other delights make a visit to Rot Fai a truly multisensory experience. Nearby, the fashionistas can purchase apparel, while a few steps over you can admire your reflection in the glimmering crystals of a decades-old French chandelier, amongst other antiques for sale.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
After you’re through taking in all the other tremendous experiences that Bangkok has to offer, travel about 700km north to the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. Regarded as a ‘shopper’s paradise,’ the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar does not disappoint. Stretching about a kilometre in length, visitors can come here and haggle for one-of-a-kind goods and taste the many different varieties of snacks and seafood available every night of the year. Our recommendation would be to arrive a bit before sundown and watch as this ordinary street populated with shops, restaurants, and hotels transforms into Chiang Mai’s bustling melting pot of commerce and culture.
Marrakech Night Market
When the sun sets in Marrakech, the night markets take over. People flock to the city’s epicenter by foot or motorbike, and often have donkeys and horses in tow. The flow of bodies and bikes into the marketplace is a spectacle in itself, and yet it barely holds a candle to the actual market. Here, you can expect to find just about everything from lingerie and colorful handmade pottery, to spices and even live snakes slithering across the shoulders of their vendors. When it comes time for sustenance, feast your eyes on the endless assortments of grilled meat, seafood, and veggie brochettes, all fresh and cooked to order. With sumptuous, alluring sounds of North African music pulsing through the air, few activities on your travel itinerary will feel this immersive.
Panda Market, BC
Set on Canada’s pristine western coast in the city of Richmond, the International Summer Night Market is going on its ninth year. Expanding organically based on reputation and word of mouth, it has been consistently ranked as one of the best bazaars after dark in the world. Affectionately known as the Panda Market, it is renowned for its outstanding array of multicultural cuisines served out of rows upon rows of gently-illuminated stands. Here you can have a taste of France through a petit lavender cheese tart or transport yourself to a Southeast Asian street food hub with a few bites of crispy fried chicken skin.
Shilin Night Market, Taipei
If you find yourself in Taipei, head straight into the dazzling lights of the Shijin Night Market, located between Cicheng Temple and Yangming Theatre. If nothing else, be sure to bring along your appetite because the focal point of this market is definitely the food. Start by snagging some sticky tofu before moving on to a serving of crispy salt and pepper fried chicken or pan-fried scallion pancakes. Once you’re satiated, try your hand at playing traditional Taiwanese games and pastimes and explore the different decorations and wares up for sale. As the market is most popular with students and young people, an evening at Shijin never fails to provide a spirited glimpse into the city’s youth culture.
Bite Club, Berlin
We couldn’t talk about night markets without mentioning the unofficial nightlife capital of the world. Berlin’s Bite Club is mutually adored by all the city’s weekend revelers, and located right on the river Spree, this ‘street food party’ goes down every other Friday throughout the summer months. Smack dab in the midst of all the action, the market grounds are only a short walk from the likes of Badeschiff and the notorious Club der Visionaere. Bite Club could either serve as the first stop on an extensive weekend of partying or as the main attraction for your Friday night. Hungry guests can sample some of Berlin’s most legendary food trucks, from Brammibal’s vegan donuts to southern comfort delights by Humble Pie. No matter what you finally end up choosing to eat, Bite Club is one of the best and most memorable ways to catch the international flavor of Berlin.
Barranco Night Market, Lima
Heading west for several thousand miles, Barranco Night Market in Lima’s Miraflores district will undoubtedly impress even the most seasoned night marketeer. The very bohemian Barranco market is probably one of the most highly regarded of its kind in Peru’s capital city, and for good reason. What makes this hub particularly interesting is the dynamic crowd of patrons who frequent it. Often, shoppers include a number of partiers who saunter by en route from one lively bar or jazz club to another. While this market is certainly smaller than the rest on our list, it packs a good punch.