Touring Food Markets When TravelingWhile touring Patong market I was in heaven. There are times when I’m not fond of walking through wet markets in Southeast Asia. Sometimes, they tend to be a little too authentic, and a little too wet. Chau Long market in Hanoi, is a perfect example. Vendors are slicing up meat and dealing with all of the nasty bits. The ground is soaking wet, and splashy. Enough said. It’s in direct comparison to the food markets in Europe. Our favorite is Santa Catarina market in Barcelona, where the market is as functional as it is beautiful. It’s clean, bright, airy, and with lighting perfect for photos. The Patong market in Phuket, fell somewhere in between. I think it was why I was so at home there. The market building is set on two stories. Upstairs, vendors are selling dried goods and cooked food. Downstairs the market was organized, with loads of space to walk around. Stalls were well organized. The entire building was open and airy. At first, I assumed this meant the market was a bit too touristy. But, most of the shoppers were indeed, Thai, preparing for a big festival the following day.
Touring Patong Market in PhuketI love the colors of food markets in Asia, from the bright colors of the produce and flowers, to the red and green of the chili peppers. Most of the stalls had little plastic bags ready to go for customers to bring their chili peppers home. The produce was piled high, sometimes so high that I worried peppers or cabbages would topple over. I loved watching people peruse the stalls at Patong market, looking for the perfect produce, or perfect piece of fish. I am sure there were some serious negotiations going on, as it is customary to bargain at local Thai markets. Because we were close to the beach, a large percentage of the Patong market included fresh fish and seafood. I enjoyed watching the seafood swim in their tanks, having no idea what their future held. Some of the clams were spitting water high into the air, almost in protest of their destiny.
Touring Patong Market With a ChefAnother reason why I enjoyed this particular food market was that we were touring with a Thai chef. Just after our tour of the market, we were scheduled to take a Thai cooking class. This was the first stop so that we can learn about the ingredients we would be using. The chef was certainly pointing out ingredients that I did not know anything about, even though we are pretty knowledgeable about Thai food. He was also able to translate for us so that we could chat with some of the vendors. One of my favorite stalls included not only chili peppers, but also garlic, ginger, shallots, and more. The stall included piles upon piles of the ingredients that make Thai food amazing! The girl working the stall was friendly too, not minding at all that I was picking up all of her products and smelling them! The chef was able to answer my questions about the difference between ginger and galangal, and the other roots we saw, including bright orange turmeric! To an untrained eye, they may look identical. But, to the chef’s eye…
Heading to Phuket?Where to Stay in Phuket: Get more hotel recommendations here. What to do in Phuket: Go for a Thai yoga massage! Find more Thai food tips in our Southeast Asia food travel guide. Learn more: Get a Top 10 Guide to Phuket or the DK Eyewitness Guide to Thailand from Amazon. We were supported by the Centara Grand Phuket during our Patong market tour and Thai cooking class, but all opinions are my own.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.