Passing through Phuket: Sunday Night Market

How to get from the Phuket Airport Thailand

When I arrived in Phuket, Thailand, I bought my shuttle bus ticket, packed my duffel bag into the back and waited.  We waited an eternity in a full van for the driver.   I guess I shouldn’t complain as the shared bus is only 200 Thai Baht ($8 Canadian), but after spending 24 hours in a beautiful hotel and seeing Don Mueang airport twice within that 24 hours, I wanted my vacation to start!  I chose Phuket over Pattaya – if you’re interested in learning more then check out I’m Voyager’s post here.
Patong Beach Phuket Thailand

On the Road Phuket Thailand

Having had a delayed flight and then another 2 hours to drop everyone off in Patong before heading to my hostel (the last stop in Karon), I arrived at my exhausted and mildly peeved.  I knew we would have to make a stop at a Travel Excursion shop (go in, tell them your hostel’s name and that you’re not buying anything), but I didn’t realize just how long it would take.  I’m not sure how much faster a cab would have been as the beach and most accommodations are at the south end of the island, but I was not a happy camper when I arrived at Doolay Hostel.

Doolay Hostel Karon Beach Phuket Thailand Doolay Hostel Phuket Thailand Afternoon in Phuket Thailand

The hostel is in Karon Beach, which is one of the less popular beaches in Phuket.  Patong Beach is the site of Bangla Road, which reminded me of Vegas, just on all kinds of drugs.  This area is full of ladyboys, strippers, and the infamous Ping Pong shows.  We’ll get to that.  We were on the other side of all that: relatively empty beaches, street food, beachfront bars, and sunsets to melt even the coldest heart (read: mine, but again, we’ll get to that later…).

After checking in, napping a little, and taking a shower, I met my roommates.  Our tiny female dorm (we had the smallest room, but the aircon worked, it was nearly bug-free [Thailand, guys], and the mattresses were comfy) was full of nurses from Kansas City who had just spent some time in Korea before popping over to Thailand.  One of them had taught in Seoul, too.  I was invited along to the Sunday Night Market, but wasn’t entirely sure I was welcome on their ‘Nurses Gone Wild’ trip, so when I saw a dashing, young, bearded man eating cereal and reading a book in the hallway I stopped to chat.  I managed to convince this sun-kissed demi-god to come with me to the night market so I could finally get some authentic Thai food.  About 45 minutes later we were ready to hit the road.

Banana Pancakes with Nutella in Phuket Thailand

En route to find a tuk-tuk which wouldn’t gouge us we found banana pancakes.  These crepe-like delights came topped with not only Nutella, but also condensed milk.  I’m not certain how we never really saw overweight Thai people, but for 60 Thai Baht each (just over $2 Canadian) I can assure you had I stayed in Phuket obesity would have hit me hard and fast.

Amazing Sunset in Phuket Thailand Karon Beach
Phuket Thailand Palm Trees
Incredible Sunset in Phuket Thailand Karon Beach

Unbelievable Sunset in Phuket Thailand

After eating out banana pancakes, singing Jack Johnson, and admiring the sunsets, it was off to the night market.  On the East side of the island, the tuk-tuk cost us just over 200 Thai Baht each, so approximately $25 Canadian for the 3 of us.  Tuk-tuks are not as cheap as one might think, and you really do have to haggle them down an excessive amount in Phuket because of all the tourism.

Crowd at the Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Crowd at the Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

The Night Market was packed!  Sunday nights tend to be the most exciting of the night markets in Thailand, in my limited experience.  Everyone was in a good mood selling their wares.  Nobody was too pushy, either.  Those who could speak English were happy to explain what kind of dishes they were serving, and some of the jewelry and make-up vendors stopped to chat about my necklace.  It was a really relaxing experience, and items were the cheapest I’ve seen anywhere in Thailand, which is interesting since I actually found Phuket to be quite expensive overall.

Durian at the Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Cyclone Potato Chips at Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Food at the Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Food at the Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Vendors at Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

All Kinds of Curry - Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Various Curries - Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Tasty Thai Food Phuket Thailand Night Market

Coconuts Night Market Phuket Thailand

Dim Sum Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Thai Yellow Curry Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Chicken Skewers Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

Sunday Night Market Phuket Thailand

Sunday Night Market Phuket

Singha Beer Phuket Sunday Night Market Thailand

At the night market you can get all kinds of “street food” from meat on a skewer, to curry noodles or curry on rice with various types of meat or vegetables, cyclone potato chips, cupcakes, brownies, and tons more.  The main thing to remember is that if it looks like it’s been sitting around at all?  Don’t eat it.  We had everything grilled or boiled right in front of us, and I think that kept up from getting sick.  You can get your fix of make-up, handbags (knock-offs galore), jewelry, shoes (tons of Converse, Adidas, and Nike), and shirts at this market – it’s huge!  I picked up a couple of beer label (Singha and Chiang) t-shirts at the night market in Phuket, but the prices were so good I wish I had gotten more (they were much pricier in Chiang Mai)!  Each  was 100 Thai Baht ($4).  I didn’t even bother haggling because the prices on my t-shirts were so good.  We also found places to buy beer even though it was still technically during one of the many drinking bans.  Huzzah!

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New friends and #Thai #Beer.#TOSocialThai #tuktuk

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After the Sunday Night Market in Phuket, we headed back to Doolay.  I hadn’t actually had that much to eat at the night market, so we stopped into 711 where Ham & Cheese toasties are essential to weary expats.  If you’re in Thailand and manage not to taste the magic of a ham and cheese toastie, I’d begin to question whether you were even in Thailand at all.

711 Penang Chicken Curry

We also found frozen Penang Chicken Curry with rice which may have been one of the best meals of the week.  That, or it was in the wee small hours of the morning and we had been out swimming!

The tasty food continued the next day.  Doolay Hostel makes some pretty incredible burgers which you can jack-up with bae (bacon and egg) or extra cheese.  We opted for it all, and the burger did not disappoint!

The Doolay Hostel Pad Thai might just beat out my own creation in Bangkok.

The Tom Kha Gai was great, but I would opt for the Pad Thai.  It had a solid amount of tender, roast chicken and the tamarind sauce was excellent.

Massaman Curry is FAMOUS in the South, so when I finally got my hands on a bowl it was well worth the wait.  The creamy and delicious, spicy curry left me completely blissed out.  Had I just come for the curry I would have been pleased with this particular dish in Phuket!

Finally, welcome to The Toronto Seoulcialite, H, and welcome to Seoul as of September 21st!  I can’t wait for you to arrive.  Let’s try to cook Thai food once again!

If you liked this post, be sure to add it to a board on Pinterest!

Phuket Sunsets to Melt Your Heart

60 Comments Add yours

  1. Samantha says:

    Phuket looks awesome! I want to go back to Thailand but this time to Chaing Mai (to visit the Elephant Nature Park)…and then maybe Phuket. It’s surprising that it’s expensive!

    What are these drinking bans you mentioned? The whole city/country on lock down? Why? And the place you stayed – Karon Beach – is that where some of the bombings happened? I remember last year when I was leaving Thailand there was a bombing at a mosque. We had no idea because we were in the airport and only found out until we got wifi and L’s dad asked her if everything was okay. CRAZY!

    Looks like you had a lot of fun on this trip! Beautiful cover/Pinterest photo, too!

    1. Kate says:

      Honestly? Elephant Nature Park wasn’t worth it, but that’s for a later post! There is a more exciting elephant excursion that is still ethical. There were drinking bans for elections and for the Queen’s birthday but they lasted over 24 hours! Patong is where the bombings happened. Thanks for the compliments and my pinterest game is still in the works – so pin to your heart’s content!

  2. Nice post…loved the photos and Instagram posts adding in there! Hoping to go to Thailand after my teaching contract ends in February…might have to check out this area. Keep up the great work!

    1. Kate says:

      Thanks, Matt! Check out Phuket for a couple of days then move on to the islands. They sound far more exciting!

  3. Soraya says:

    I really enjoyed Phuket when I visited. We stayed in Karon Beach area last time we were there, and enjoyed it too because it was less crowded. I also really like the north part of Phuket, Surin Beach upwards.

    The night market looks great! I will have to check it out on my next trip to Phuket later this year. Was the night market in Chalong area?

    1. Kate says:

      It was! Good memory!

  4. Gina says:

    I really enjoyed all your food photos. I went to Thailand in January and I stayed at an Airbnb away from the main road. I’m not really a people person and avoid dorms like the plague. Hahaha. That Masaaman curry is high on my list the next time I’m in Thailand!

  5. Laura says:

    I’m looking forward to reading more. I was the safest eater there and got so sick (i.e passed out in the lobby sick) – weak stomach!

    1. Kate says:

      Oh man I guess Korea (gochujang!) had prepared me well. I feel really lucky as I used to have the weakest stomach! Thai eats were the best. I’m still craving cilantro…

  6. Anne says:

    Have a love hate relationship with Phuket at the moment. I’m writing my final bachelor thesis about the island (& sustainability). I loved the area I was in, but hated Patong beach and all the other touristy areas. It’s definitely an island that is promoted waaaaay to much and mass tourism has transformed into mature tourism making the island less and less attractive for anyone 😮 such a shame… But still a nice little stopover when you start travelling the rest of the South!

    1. Kate says:

      Exactly! I only spent 3 nights there and hit Patong once…didn’t even make it to Patong Beach! I’ll be eager to read your publication when it’s finished!

  7. Still never been to Thailand, but definitely feeling like I should go now! The food looks amazing and sooo cheap I can’t even believe it. I was never too keen on visiting Phuket, but it looks like you were in a really nice, more chill part. I’m not really keen for all the partying and drinking xD

    Would you say Phuket was worth visiting? I definitely want to go to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, but I’m still not sure about Phuket.

    1. Kate says:

      I actually preferred Phuket because I’m such a waterbaby. We didn’t find all that much to do in Chiang Mai because of the time of year. Bangkok was rad and I’ll definitely be back as I must visit the islands and the white temple in Chiang Rai!

  8. Those sunsets look wonderful. And the night market sounds well worth the previous hassles and delays. Great photos too! I’m very hungry now.

  9. Romy Oomen says:

    It looks amazing! Your insta posts are stunning. Especially the food catches my eye haha. A lot of people I know go to Phuket. My reason for picking other destination is that I thought it would be too touristic. Whats your oppinion on this?

    1. Kate says:

      It was pretty touristy on the Patong side, as I mentioned, but Karon was much, much less so and I quite enjoyed that!

  10. Maggie says:

    We just got back from Thailand too and loved it! Love the night market photos, it was one of our favorite things to see in Bangkok. We didn’t make it to Phuket (we opted for Koh Samui) but it looks wonderful!

  11. Phuket looks so beautiful! I didn’t get to spend much time there as I took the ferry from there to Ko Phi Phi Islands. Was Phuket filled with tourist? I heard it has gotten a lot busier.

    1. Kate says:

      Hey! I think I mentioned in the post that where we were didn’t have many tourists, but Patong is pretty full of ’em. Karon was a lot cleaner than Patong. Much less to do, but I think that’s what I wanted!

    2. Kate says:

      Karon wasn’t too busy at all! Patong was much busier with Asian tourists for sure.

  12. Sheena says:

    The Sunday Night Market in Phuket looks awesome! I’ve been in Latin America for most of the year, this is really making me miss my Asian roots! 🙂

  13. Nicole says:

    All that food looks so amazing, I think I would definitely come back from Thailand ten tonnes heavier! Looks like you had an amazing trip, loved living vicariously through you on IG while you were away lol!

  14. The night market is quite interesting. I wonder if the market only operates at night? And why it has to be at night? I really find it interseting. And what are the ladyboys and strippers doing there? haha.. I’m so naive about Thailand but definitely would love to go there if I have the chance.

  15. I haven’t been in Phuket 🙁 Only in Bangkok so far. Maybe next time 🙂 And your story and pics – inspiring! 🙂

    1. Kate says:

      Thanks, Ria! I wouldn’t stay in Phuket for too long again, but it’s a nice little stopover!

  16. Danielle says:

    Those sunsets really are beautiful! Sounds like you had a fun experience at the night market! I know whenever I visited a market in Vietnam, I ended up buying too many ‘backpacker shirts’ (vietnam flag, name of the city, elephants, beer logos…) so I feel your pain! haha

    1. Kate says:

      Oh ma so many backpacker shirts! I swear I meant them to be gifts but I only gave one away haha

  17. Megan Indoe says:

    I miss thai food all the time! I think I ate curry at least one meal a day EVERYDAY we were there! I would switch it up from Massaman, Green, and Red curry! Occasionally at some of the islands near the Malaysian border you could find Muslim Curry which was our favorite, but we are still uncertain what this actually is because I have searched all over the internet for it and can’t find anything! We didn’t travel to Phuket when we went together, we tried to island hop as much as we could and stayed further south before going to Chiang Mai. Honestly, I don’t think I would like Phuket based on Scott’s description, but I’d be down to give it a try!

    1. Kate says:

      Yeah it wasn’t somewhere I’d go for an extended period, but for a couple days of the universe telling me to sit tight and relax? It was perfect. Harry and I went to the same place for massaman curry the day we left to go to Chiang Mai. He’s actually in Laos right now and I made him a guide to Laos based on severam of your posts and another couple of articles here and there. He visited your site and thought Bobo and Chichi was quite possibly the most adorable thing ever

  18. Oh you just made Phuket look so wonderful. Ilb visiting Thailand next year and this post just made me so excited about the trip. Amazing work with the pictures

  19. Kerri says:

    I’ve not been to Phuket as the touristy aspect has never really interested me, but if I did go here I would certainly make the most of it – like you have. Did you try the Durian at the markets at all ? I found Thailand to be incredibly cheap so it sounds like Phuket has added the $$$ for the tourists which is the norm I guess. Looks like you had a great time, despite getting off to an annoying start.

  20. Anne says:

    I am so surprised Phuket is expensive as I’ve never been anywhere in Thailand that was. The nearest I went to Phuket was KRabi which also has views to die for

    1. Kate says:

      I mean it was comparatively expensive. I feel like certain things were actually cheaper in Korea!

  21. Nina says:

    As always, I love your food photos but beach photos really stand out! Totally opposite how I (as someone not visited yet) imagine Thai beaches ( sardine level with no personal space). Also heard Phuket is among the most expensive islands, but if I compare to Africa is dirt cheap.

  22. Hanani says:

    Love the photos, Kate!
    I love Phuket. Patong is over-rated but have some of HKT’s cheapest accommodations. I love Kata Beach the most. Though a little bit out of the way and not many restaurant choices. Karon is great too.
    If you visit again next time, Kamala is quite a nice place to be in 🙂

  23. Ami says:

    The night market is so full of life. Am sure I too, would have a blast here. I loved your pictures of the beach. Really cool. Hoping to do this the next time I head to Phuket.

  24. Suma Jain says:

    Just reading the names of all the delicious food my stomach’s growling. Lovely write up with beautiful pictures of the beach and night market :).

  25. Nathan says:

    I have such mixed feelings about Phuket — I’ve been twice and both times I thought it was just meh but I hear there are much better parts than what I saw. Your pics are amazing and it makes me want to give it another try!

  26. JM says:

    Phuket is still my favourite place in Thailand. I miss the fruits and the massage of course.

  27. Des says:

    I still need to hit up Thailand, but I love night markets. I’ve been to them in Taiwan and Hong Kong (and would actually give Taiwan the edge between the two), but your pictures look awesome. The food looks great!

    1. Kate says:

      Oooh suggestions, please! I’ll be in Taipei for 2 nights in a couple of weeks!

  28. Sounds quite hectic! I remember all the travel between cities in Thailand + Cambodia in two and a half weeks, and being exhausted by them (that waiting part… SO annoying!). Sounds like the whole thing turned around though, and you had fun! Dooley looks like a sweet place to stay if only for those burgers alone!

  29. Can’t look at the food that you’ve eaten without wanting to jump on an airplane back to Thailand right now. Green Curry, Pad Thai, Street food, Banana Pancakes with a million calories, but who cares! Which dish was your absolute favorite?

  30. Lol I love Jack Johnson too! Banana Pancakes is a great song…and delicious too 🙂 PS. I laughed at the part where you wrote “nearly bug-free” – yeaaaah that sounds about right.

  31. Emre says:

    Although I have never been in Thailand, I am crazy about Thai food. This looks so delicious! I really would like to go sometime, but I always try to avoid the overly touristic places when I visit a country. So I don’t know if Phuket would be a good choice for me.

    1. Kate says:

      Yep but remember, my side of the island was pretty empty! Not that many tourists at Karon Beach!

  32. Lindsay says:

    Sounds like a great trip – those photos made me so so hungry!! What was the best thing you tried at the Night Market? I’ll definitely have to pay it a visit when I finally get my arse to Thailand 🙂

    That hostel looks great too, much better food options than I have seen elsewhere 🙂

    Thanks very much for sharing!

  33. Wendy says:

    I could look at your photos forever! Beautiful beach photos and sunsets. I had experienced the Bangkok version of night market and those pingpong shows. Pity!

    But I am looking forward to reading your posts more and hey, welcome to Seoul for your H!:-)

  34. Don says:

    It seems food is the main priority there ? Haha. Thai food is awesome so I’d love to try that stuff there.

    1. Kate says:

      Food is always priority #1! Curry game on point

  35. Claire says:

    This looks awesome! I love Thai food, and massaman curry is my favourite! Definitely on my travel list 🙂

  36. star lengas says:

    Night markets are such a great way to participate in the local culture. It sounds like you’re a pro at haggling, please teach me your ways! Also, I’d have to agree, the food is sooo good I’m surprised there aren’t more Western-sized folks… your photos have me missing Thailand, I can’t wait to go and explore Phuket! ps. I pinned 🙂

    1. Kate says:

      The teeshirts were so cheap I didn’t even bother haggling until I got to Chiang Mai! We should hit up some markets in China. Those are the best for haggling because the drama is all over the place

  37. Katharina says:

    This is such a useful blog post! We are heading to Thailand at the end of the week and i am finishing off our itinerary. I was looking for something to do in Phuket. this is perfect! thank you for sharing x katharina

  38. Joe says:

    The food looks absolutely delicious 🙂 I’d expect nothing less than having to haggle hard in a place that attracts so many visitors, of course, but that’s how it goes. The sunsets look beautiful as well by the way. Hope the Massaman curry was hot and spicy – that’s the way I like it!

    1. Kate says:

      Lol we didn’t haggle at the night market – the prices were too good and we felt bad! The Massaman was perfect!

  39. Jyoti basu says:

    This looks awesome! This is such a useful blog post. Night markets are such a great way to participate in the local culture.

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