Cities all over the world are famous for their bustling street bazaars — you can haggle for spices in Marrakesh or buy local delicacies in Hong Kong. But the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down. In fact, there is something even more alluring and special about markets that sell into the night — sprawling outdoor shopping bazaars with stalls crammed side by side that offer up everything and anything one could possibly want to buy, from one-of-a-kind fabrics to hard-to-find medicinal herbs. Originally, these merchant huddles began in Africa and Asia where the unbearable heat took a toll on daytime trade. Today, they are destination spots for first-rate food, live entertainment, and one-stop shopping. Here are the top 10 night markets in the world. Add one (or a few!) to your bucket list.
Petaling Street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Photo: Rameez Sadikot/Flickr)
Petaling Street and Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Bargains galore can be found at two night markets here — Petaling Street and Lorong Tuanku Abdul Rahman. While Lorong is aimed at the local Muslim Malay community, selling clothing items like headscarves and colorful baju kurung, the Petaling market is more like downtown Chinatown, offering up everything from knockoff designer bags to rare spices. But if you buy, make sure to bargain — the merchants expect it, and it’s all part of the experience.
Temple Street, Hong Kong (Photo: kartografia/Flickr)
Temple Street, Hong Kong
Based in Central Kowloon, the Temple Street night market is five blocks long and lit by an endless string of bare bulbs that illuminate the mass of goods for sale there. If you can imagine it, it’s for sale, from watches to salted dried fish. This rowdy market can be a visual overload, and it’s important to keep alert. It’s not just the vendors who want your money — prostitutes and fortune-tellers lurk in the dark.
Sisavangvong Road (Photo: Dan Lundberg/Flickr)
Luang Prabang, Laos
Often dubbed the “sleepy merchant” market because of its late-night hours, the half-mile-long shopping mecca that is the Luang Prabang night market (located on Sisavangvong Road) stays open until 10 p.m. While stores in Laos are known for their high-quality goods, this market is better for cheap souvenirs. One exception to that rule: duvet covers, pillow covers, and pillow sets. Merchants can custom-make any of the above to your requested size in just a day. Also for sale are many items made from endangered animals, so avoid buying leather, ivory, talons, dried sea creatures, and other animal-based items. Stick with the fabric and silver stalls.
Tekka Market (Photo: Zervas/Flickr)
Tekka Market, Little India, Singapore
With the smell of jasmine floating through the air and nonstop chatter filling your ears, the Tekka Market is a thrill for the senses. Catering to the large Indian enclave in Singapore, it is a treasure trove filled with everything from Ayurvedic massage oils, perfume, and clothing to adorned bangle boxes and decorative items like brass oil lamps. There is also a wet market overflowing with fresh veggies, meat, fish, and flowers, including fragrant garlands of fresh jasmine.
Victoria Street Market (Photo: flowcomm/Flickr)
Victoria Street Market, Durban, South Africa
The Victoria Street Market is a historic landmark that opened in 1910 and was designed to resemble a maharajah’s palace. While many night markets are known for shilling cheap souvenirs and designer knockoffs, this vast and vibrant market has gained a reputation for offering the best in Asian and African goods: tobacco, traditional African masks, clothing, accessories, spice bars by the dozens, and stunning brass goods. Bonus? The seafood selection — with still-squirming fish — serves up the freshest picks around.
Casa Luna Cooking School (Photo: marita & chris hodges/Flickr)
Ubud, Gianyar, Bali
Much like all the other markets, the bustling Ubud market is a consumer’s heaven. But what sets it apart is that it is also a dream for serious foodies. Located in this market is Casa Luna Cooking School, which offers a gourmet food tour of the market. As culinary students stroll the stalls, they learn about local Balinese dishes and are then treated to an open-air, home-cooked feast with food from the market.
Audrix Night Market, Audrix, France
The French do everything in style — and the quaint Audrix Night Market is no exception. The tiny square attractively presents delicious food from the Périgord Noir region of France from June through mid-September. Locals suggest making a beeline for the wine, lamb, and fresh walnuts.
International Summer Night Market (Photo: Michael Kwan/Flickr)
International Summer Night Market, Richmond, British Columbia
Canada is not normally known for its diverse immigrant population, but the Richmond Summer Night Market celebrates it with live, eclectic music and vast offerings of international food. Italian and Thai are just two cuisines that are represented, but it’s the Chinese food — considered some of the best in North America — that holds serious distinction. Eat up — and then shop for clothes and crafts.
Suzuki Night Market (Photo: Clement Chan/Flickr)
Queen Victoria Market / Suzuki Night Market, Melbourne
Melbourne’s already-famous Queen Victoria Market gets infamous from November to February (their summertime) when it turns into the Suzuki Night Market on Wednesdays. Australians know how to have a good time, and with alcohol flowing freely, this is one nonstop party. Go for dinner and enjoy your choice of foods from around the world.
Yamashiro Farmer’s Market (Photo: ji son/Flickr)
Yamashiro Farmer’s Market, Los Angeles
Located in the parking lot of the Yamashiro restaurant, this cuisine-only market is a foodie’s paradise. It showcases dishes from up-and-coming chefs, local restaurants, and highly popular food trucks. Looking to please your palate? Head here. And with panoramic views of downtown L.A., it’s great for date night. But bring cash — most vendors don’t accept credit cards.