One of the best ways to get a taste of the local street food in Thailand is to head to one of their night markets. Most towns in Phuket have their own markets held on specific days once or twice a week but the biggest night markets are the Phuket Town Night Markets (Talad Tai Rot to the locals). These markets are open on the weekends from 4pm until around 9pm. Unlike a lot of the smaller markets in Phuket, most of the ground surface at these markets is cemented meaning you don’t have to pick your way through the mud. My advice is to get there fairly early as it gets very busy from around 5pm as the sun sets and the weather cools.
I arranged two minibuses to transport our wedding party of over 30 people to the markets. The trip took around 45 minutes one way from Kamala Beach. Once we arrived we set a time and meeting point and then split off into groups. As the Boy and I entered into the markets with Dad and my Stepmum, he had to duck down under the tarpaulin roof as he was too tall! Thai markets are not designed for 6 foot 3 Dutchmen!
The Phuket night markets have a vast array of new and second-hand clothes, wood carvings, toys, DVDs, souvenirs and more. There even is a “petshop” section selling live little rabbits and kittens; this was an area my step mum and I trotted past as quickly as possible. Despite trying not to look I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of rows of small cages stacked on top of each other all jammed packed with poor little creatures. If only I could save them all!
The best part of these markets is the local street food. The four of us purposely bypassed all the trinkets, clothing and electronics to follow our noses to the heart of the aromas. The Boy was once again attracted to the fried insect stall. I cannot understand why he likes these snacks so much, I think part of his enjoyment is seeing the shock value he creates when everyone sees him munching on a big bug. However even when no one is watching I noticed he continued to happily crunch away whilst picking legs and wings out from between his teeth.
Meanwhile my attention was directed at the plethora of Thai desserts on offer. It was like an Eastern version of a candy store. I found it hard to decide what to try so I ended up trying a little of most things on offer provided I knew they were gluten free. Fortunately the vast majority of Thai dessert are made with gluten free flours such as mung bean flour and rice flour so I was spoilt for choice. Just a little tip, make sure you bring your Thai eating card with you to the markets so you can check with the vendors before purchasing anything.
After a few hours at the markets, we all regrouped and made the short journey up the scarp to Tunk Ka Cafe; a Thai restaurant recommended to me by a friend that lives in Phuket. The restaurant is located on top of Khao Rang Hill and gives practically 180 degree panoramic views across the city from their terraced open styled dining room. Although it is worth visiting just for the views, the food at Tunk Ka can hold its own. The menu is all Thai and is very extensive offering over 100 dishes.
Now seeing as I was on my wedding holiday I have to confess my usual dogged determination to photograph and review all the dishes on show was taken down a number of notches. It was the first night that we were lucky enough to be joined by all our wedding guests and my attention was much more focused on enjoying these precious moments with those I love dearly.
Thanks to my Thai eating card and some very obliging staff, a number of special order dishes were brought out for me specifically made gluten free and onion free. I was touched by the care and attention they gave me to ensure I had enough to eat. I highly recommend the soft shelled crab and the tamarind prawns. All our dishes contained ultra-fresh ingredients with all the elements of Thai food sweet, sour, salty and bitter balanced elegantly. A big thank you to my dear friend Carole for such a fabulous recommendation.Phuket Town Night Market (Talad Tai Rot) Opening Hours: Saturday & Sunday from 16:00 til 21:00
Location: Talad Tai Rot is located along Chao Fa West Road, Phuket’s main thoroughfare, one kilometre south of Central Festival shopping mall and is opposite Wat Naka, a Buddhist temple. Take a left at the first set of traffic lights. Tunk Ka Café Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
Location: At the top of Rang Hill, Phuket Town