In Thong Sala, the main town on Ko Pha Ngan where the pier is, a Saturday walking street market pops up, well, every Saturday, with a relaxed vibe and stalls selling a range of items, including plenty of local products.
Even if you don’t have any more room in your luggage or backpack for souvenirs, it’s a great social occasion where you can mingle with Thais and check out plenty of creative arts, crafts and organic products made by people living on the island.
To find the road — referred to as Chinese street, walking street or its official name, Talad Kao – head to the pier and face the 7-eleven. Turn right, and it’s about a five-minute walk to the end of the road. It’s normally possible to turn left and drive towards Baan Tai down this road, but on Saturdays, it’s converted into a walking street, where vendors set up shop selling goodies such as delicious Thai food (including Chiang Mai sausage and Southern Thai favourites for around 50 baht per serve or less), sushi, fresh fruits and vegetables, new and secondhand clothes, hair accessories, sunglasses, CDs by local bands, jewellery.
Alternatively, you can get there from the other end of the road. Find the intersection with Home Mart. You’ll see the market adjacent to Home Mart here — look for all the bikes parked in front of a blocked off lane with lots of shops.
Many of the foods sold here are grown and processed on the island, and given the island’s recent push towards organic production, it’s likely that what you find will be organic produce. Enjoy the fresh taste of Ko Pha Ngan and know that you’re helping to support the locals by purchasing their wares.
A wide variety of shops, restaurants and bars line the street, so you can stop for a drink or some food at one of these places — it’s a great excuse to people-watch those who visit the market, from tourists to Thais.
The official opening time of the market is 16:00, but vendors begin setting up around 17:00, and though the market is meant to go until 22:00, many of the shops are packed up by 21:00. For the best experience, head there between 18:00 and 20:00.
By Kaila Krayewski
Last updated on 24th October, 2013.