Night markets are deeply ingrained in local Thai culture and are must-visit destinations for any traveller, particulary in Koh Samui.
More than just a hangout spot for shopaholics, night markets in Thailand also serve as a place for locals to relax and unwind with their families after a long day of work. While most people associate night markets with the bustling streets of Bangkok, you may be glad to know that the capital city is not the only place where you can have an authentic night shopping experience in Thailand — there are many Koh Samui night markets too!
In fact, the Lamai Night Plaza and Lamai Sunday Night Market are two of Koh Samui's most popular markets, each boasting an intriguing representation of Thai night market culture. They can be a bit overwhelming for a first-time visitor because of their size and variety, but this article should help you navigate them like a local. Here is what you need to know.
Lamai Sunday Night Market (Lamai Jai Dee Walking Street)
Every Sunday, the usually quiet Had Lamai Road at Lamai Beach turns into a lively walking street lined with countless stalls selling anything from street food, handicrafts, clothes and more. Stalls usually start setting up in the late afternoon, but we would recommend you go at about 5pm or later to enjoy the full experience, complete with the crowd, which is a mix of locals and tourists.
Make sure you come with an empty stomach as there is an entire section dedicated to just food stalls. Here, you can find anything from local Thai street food to pizzas and even Spanish tapas. If you are brave enough, there are even fried insects — a protein-rich local speciality — on offer.
You can also take a break from your shopping and dining, and enjoy some live entertainment at Lamai Sunday Night Market, where there are often rock performances or fire breathers dazzling the crowd.
Lamai Night Plaza
If you do not have the chance to visit the Lamai Sunday Night Market as you won’t be around on a Sunday evening, here’s good news: Lamai Night Plaza is another popular night market just down Had Lamai Road that takes place every evening. Here are some tips for you to fully enjoy the Lamai Night Plaza experience:
Koh Samu Night Market Tip #1: Look Past the Pirated Goods
Whether you like it or not, you’ve got to admit the diverse range of pirated and knock-off goods available at the Lamai Night Plaza is impressive — you’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to knock-off Swiss army knives.
This does not mean that Lamai Night Plaza only sells counterfeit items though. Take a quick stroll down any lane and you will discover that there is an abundance of locally produced souvenirs of all kinds, from accessories and clothes to almost anything else you could think of.
Whether you want a unique handbag to bring home, or are looking for truly authentic Koh Samui souvenirs for your friends and family back home, we are sure you will find it here at Lamai Night Plaza.
Koh Samu Night Market Tip #2: Feast on Great Food and Drinks
Exploring such an immersive market as the Lamai Night Plaza can take its toll on anyone; luckily, there is a wide range of food and drinks available to help you recharge quickly.
Stop the pesky hunger pangs and grab a bite at the food centre, where you will be able to dine on traditional Thai dishes and local favourites. Once your stomach is satisfied, walk over to Bear Cocktails, a cocktail stand located on Had Lamai Road. Sip on refreshing cocktails (priced at 79 baht each) under the stars and even make some new friends! Bear, the owner, and her sister Lek are highly praised for their friendliness and hospitality.
Koh Samu Night Market Tip #3: Make Sure You Negotiate
Finally, if you want to really experience the best of Koh Samui’s night markets, you have to remember that shopping in Thailand is all about negotiation.
Asking prices can often start very high (especially for tourists), but don’t be put off; a bit of persistence will help you knock some money off and have you bartering like a local. Haggling over prices is a cultural experience on its own, so don’t be shy when it comes to getting the price that you want — it’s not only acceptable but even expected, and it can also be plenty of fun!
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