Outdoor food markets are a longstanding tradition in Asia. The open-air markets and night markets are integral to Asian culture, as is haggling at the bazaar. While there will always be tourist traps you risk falling into—especially in a market brimming with souvenirs—there’s authentic food at record-breaking prices to be found. And some of these markets are off the beaten path enough that the tourists actually struggle to find them—even in the age of iPhone navigation. From Tokyo to New Delhi, foodies of Asia feast at these nine bustling markets.
Amphawa Floating Market, Mae Klong River, Thailand
The famed floating market—located about 50 miles from Bangkok—Amphawa is comprised of a narrow strip of the Mae Klong River and two distinctive rows of wooden houses. There are dining options aplenty, but the most talked about choice are one of the many cooking boats, which grill fresh seafood they subsequently serve to you on a banana leaf.
Tiong Bahru Market, Singapore
Unlike some of the food markets in Asia which cater more to tourists, Tiong Bahru is a local foodie haven. It has 1,400 seats and 83 vendor stalls. The options can be a little overwhelming, but there are some must-try foods. First up, try the shark fritters at Lor Mee, then stop at the Fried Kway Teow & Fried Oyster stall, and finally go to Tow Kwar Pop for charcoal-grilled bean curd puffs. While there are too many coffee stalls to count, you’ll find a line at 238 Coffee, because they make a particularly strong and flavorful cup of “kopi.”
Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Located in District 1, Ben Thanh Market can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. You’ve got to go in with a plan and be prepared to haggle, which isn’t for the faint of heart. There are four entrances to the market, 12 gates, and 3,000 stalls, all of which host 15,000 patrons on any given day. Shop at the main market between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. In the evening, you can instead direct your attention to Ben Thanh Night Market and the adjacent Street Food Market, which offers more upscale local fare.
Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India
Used books, bridal outfits, stunning fabrics, bangals, and some of the most authentic Indian food you’ve ever tried. All this and more await at Chandni Chowk, a staple of old Delhi you have to see to believe. Try the paranthes at Paranthe Wali Gali—they’re an Indian bread typically filled with potato or other seasoned vegetables. Visit Dariba Kalan, a jewelry store that sells semi-precious stones and affordable gold and silver jewelry, and Red Fort, the largest spice market in Asia.
Chiang Mai Sunday Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Open from 4 p.m. to midnight on Sundays, the stalls take up an entire kilometer of Ratchadamnoen Road. On Sunday night, it’s a given that out-of-towners are checking out the Chiang Mai bazaar—it’s an absolute must. You can buy any cooking ingredient imaginable—be it shrimp, produce, or spices—as well as sumptuous cheap eats, clothing, jewelry, and all the souvenirs you need.
Ameyoko Market, Tokyo, Japan
Spanning three city blocks, Ameyoko has desserts sure to inspire Instagram envy, including matcha-infused ice cream delicacies. Come for the traditional Japanese garb, including kimonos, and stay for the animated vendors encouraging visitors to try everything in sight. In addition to the sweet treats, Ameyoko has an impressive array of seafood—look out for shellfish galore, and if you’re feeling brave, try a bite of mollusk.
Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Jalan Alor, a famed road in Kuala Lumpur, is known for their authentic, high-quality, and inexpensive eats. The stalls are much appreciated by the city’s foodies and tourists alike. The only problem is, because Jalan Alor is tucked away, some tourists have trouble finding it. To get there, take the monorail to Bukit Bintang, when you get off the monorail, it’s just a couple minute walk. As is the case for most of these markets, there’s plenty of debate as to the best dish or food stall—you definitely need to try the chicken satay at Terminal Sate Zul.
Namdaemun Market, Seoul, South Korea
You can visit this market anytime—it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Be warned that not all the vendors observe the 24/7 hours. To see the full hubbub of the market, going during the lunch rush is overwhelming but worth it. Join the fray at the various alleys within the market, from Foodie Alley to Noodle Soup Alley to Beltfish Alley. The oldest market in South Korea, you can intersperse some souvenir shopping into your lunch feast. After all, you can buy anything from fishing supplies to home goods. Whether you’re there for a steaming dakkochi (chicken skewers) or to buy rugs to ship home, Namdaemum won’t disappoint.
Gianyar Night Market, Bali, Indonesia
Open at 5 p.m. every evening, Gianyar is an eclectic night market in Ubud that attracts the backpackers in search of an authentic (and inexpensive) meal. There are also beautiful clothing stalls for anyone after Balinese souvenirs. If you’re looking to try classic Balinese fare, try a Bakso (a dumpling-type soup) and babi guling (grilled pork). Aim to get there on the earlier side—around 5:30 p.m.—when the food is freshest.