Night Markets Around Asia

For the night owl traveling around the globe (particularly in the Asia-Pacific region), one of the most frequented destinations is the night market. These markets can be found all around the world, particularly in Asian communities. Night markets are the perfect place to go and do some late-night shopping, or just stroll around, look at some goodies, and observe all the hustle and bustle among all the other night owls who would rather do anything but sleep!

Here are five of Asia’s most famous night markets:

Namdaemun Market at night.

1.) Namdaemun Market. Located in Seoul, South Korea, the Namdaemun market is Korea’s oldest and largest market.

Dating back to 1414, Namdaemun Market is located by the city’s historical southern gate. From the time of its inception, the market has been a place where food, everyday items, fruit, clothing, and much more can be bought (mostly bought nowadays) or traded. The market boasts over 400,000 shoppers a day and has over 10,000 stores located along its alleyways!

Namdaemun Market is open 24 hours and at any given time of the day, the market is bustling with shoppers! The market is famous for its restaurants, clothing stores, cosmetics shops, luxury item shops, food shops, household item shops, and even eyeglasses shops!

A scene at the “temporary” Shilin Night Market circa 2006.

2.) Shilin Night Market. The largest market and biggest nighttime hotspot in Taipei, Taiwan, is without a doubt the Shilin Night Market.

This market, which opened in 1909, is famous for its food court, which contains over 500 different food stalls and restaurants! The market itself consists of two areas: The market itself, and all the neighboring businesses such as stores, theaters, and karaoke bars. Shilin Market is most famous for its street food and traditional food such as “frog eggs” (a type of dessert that resembles frog eggs. No actual frog eggs are used as ingredients in this dessert!), Chinese baozi, fried chicken, and sausages.

The original Shilin Market building underwent renovation beginning in 2006 and in December 2011, the newly-renovated market building opened to the world.

For anyone in Taipei looking for a good late-night snack, this is the place to find it!

A row of stalls in Temple St. Night Market.

3.) Temple Street Night Market. For the night owl living in or visiting Hong Kong who wants a good nightly dose of late-night Cantonese opera, men’s fashion, traditional Chinese medicine, odd trinkets and antiques, old video tapes, Canto-pop karaoke, and Chinese fortune-tellers, they can find all this and more at the historic Temple Street Night Market in the Yau Ma Tei and Jordan areas of Kowloon.

This market is one of the busiest in Hong Kong. Over the years it has earned the nickname “Men’s Road” because of the large number of vendors and stalls selling men’s fashion and fashion accessories. It is also famous for its seafood restaurants and street food, antique and household accessory stalls, fortune-telling booths, and masters of traditional Chinese medicine who practice in this market.

Temple St. Night Market is also famous for being shown in a number of HK blockbuster films such as the Temple Street series of movies from the early 1990s and the 1996 Stephen Chow movie The God of Cookery.

The Liuhe Night Market.

4.) Liuhe Night Market. Another famous night market in Taiwan is Kaohsiung’s Liuhe Night Market. This market is famous nationwide for its seafood and exotic food, as well as other Chinese foods.

The first food stalls opened at Liuhe in the 1940s and in 1987, it became a full-fledeged tourist-oriented night market.

Liuhe has 138 food stalls and the market itself opens at night. During the day, the market vanishes and the street is just another one of Kaohsiung’s streets!

Lau Pa Sat in the daytime.

5.) Lau Pa Sat. While the old Telok Ayer Market – or Lau Pa Sat as it’s more popularly known among Singaporeans – isn’t quite a night market anymore, it is a popular food court and “hawker centre” that stays open through the night!

Established in 1825, Lau Pa Sat has been an integral part of Singapore’s history throughout its existence. Until 1973, Lau Pa Sat was a “wet market” where seafood was sold. Nowadays it’s a food center where many food stalls can be found selling dishes from all over Asia and the West.

Lau Pa Sat can also be a very lively place at night. During the weekends, jazz bands perform in the center of the market after dusk and throughout the week, hawker stands selling  a southeast Asian shish kebab-like dish known as satay pop up all around the building.

All in all, Lau Pa Sat is a lively place to have a good meal and enjoy the Singapore nightlife on a sleepless night!

These are just five of the famous night markets in Asia where a person can whittle away the nighttime hours shopping, eating, or just soaking up the atmosphere. If you know of any other night markets (or any other markets such as Pasar malam or hawker centres) in the Asia-Pacific region that are a good place to shop or just hang out in the wee hours of the morning, please tell us more about them in the Comments section below!  

For more info about these markets, here are some sites for you:
- (An excellent entry from the food blog That Food Cray about the Shilin Market. Includes a multitude of pictures.) (A blog entry from My Kafkaesque Life about the Liuhe Night Market. Chock full of photos and info about the market!)

(Image of Namdaemun Market copyright: d’n’c. Shilin Market image: Senkang. Temple Street Night Market image: deror_avi. Liuhe Night Market image: Henry M. Trotter. Lau Pa Sat image: mailer_diablo. All images used via Wikimedia Commons.)

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