Some of the most interesting places to visit in Hua Hin are the locals’ local evening food markets, however many that are not familiar with these markets may find them too daunting to navigate. Our ‘foodie on the street’, Leigh Higgins from Feast Thailand, is at these markets most evenings; she gives us her tips and explains why she loves them so much.
At times it can be quite intimidating when faced with a huge fresh food and produce market in Thailand; hoards of locals parking their bikes eager to get in and get their nightly food fix. In Hua Hin, there are many of these markets, both small and large, opening up around 5pm, ready to serve the locals for dinner.
These markets are certainly geared towards the locals, however with a few tips, expats and travellers can find these markets a rewarding experience. They can seem quite overwhelming and somewhat chaotic; however, there is an order. Not all vendors are there everyday; they all have their own routines, which allows you to try new or different dishes. The fresh produce is displayed to its full potential and you’ll often find unique or regional ingredients on offer. Vendors may not be fluent in English, but they are proud of what they have on offer and will try their best to help you. Proteins are all on display as well and are extremely fresh; everything from live prawns or frogs, to eels and barn yard chickens. This may not be for those with weaker stomachs, as every part of the animal is for sale.
The locals like to buy fresh, hence why they come to these markets. Leigh says “At night, I often see vendors that we use on our food tours, buying their ingredients for the next day, which tells me that they are focused on having the best quality produce.” Many of these market vendors are also setup to sell freshly cooked meals for people to take home. You will see some vendors cooking on site in huge woks over enormous jet burners; this is as fresh as you can get. Big tubs of curries, stir fries, soups and salads, along with fried or grilled chicken and Thai sausages and satays. There are also vendors who cook at home and bring their food to market for sale. Whatever Thai dish you desire will normally be available. The other great thing about these markets is the price. Should you pick something and find you don’t like it, the cost has only been 30 or 40 baht. I would advise anyone to follow your gut instinct and try what you think looks good, even if you buy a little too much; leftovers can all be eaten the next day.
General rule of thumb when buying at these markets is look to see who is popular; this is a great sign that the vendor is doing something right. Look who is cooking fresh and how the vendors present both their food and themselves, as this normally indicates they are proud of what they do. You will find these types of markets scattered around every Thai town; locally, whether you are in Cha-am, Pranburi or in Hua Hin, there are many. Dinosaur Market on Soi Chonprathan 62 and Hua Na Market between Sois Hua Hin 112 & 114 are both open nightly. Phae Mai Market, on Thanon Chonprathan (Canal Road), opens Tuesdays only. These markets are often rustic with uneven walkways and rickety roofs over your heads, but give them a try.