Chaotic, smelly, noisy, crowded, hot and, yes, at times, also not that clean… Night markets can be a little overwhelming but, yet, experiencing the night out there is a very unique and authentic experience that you can’t miss if you visit Asia. If you have ever visited one of them in Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Vietnam or any other country, you may know what we are talking about.
In those markets you can find almost anything to buy or have fun!
Loud music, fake branded products, traditional fortune-telling, relaxing massages and many, many people, in those markets you can find almost anything to buy or have fun! And, what is more, night markets are best known for being the referent for street food in Asia. If you want to taste all kind of fusion plates made of fresh (or not) fish, seafood, meat, vegetables, local fruits or delights, for the best price, night markets are the best stop of your trip. The main characteristic that distinguishes them from other kind of markets is their cheerful and casual atmosphere. While morning markets are intended for grocery shopping and office workers hunting for a quick meal to take away, night markets are for fun! And, even if it is possible to take away, food is better enjoyed on an open-air table, perhaps next to a noisy stranger.
The main characteristic that distinguishes them from other kind of markets is their cheerful and casual atmosphere.
And now, 5 curiosities that you may not know about those touching markets!
1. They originated more than 13 centuries ago
Night markets were born in China in the 8th century, during the Tang dynasty. Nevertheless, it was not till the Song dynasty (960–1279) when they started to popularize. But they have not last for all this time, there was a period between the start of the Communist rule in China till the 70’s when were suppressed. Yet, when the Communist Party relaxed its rules, night markers were one of the first cultural institution to reappear.
2. They were linked to brothels and red-light districts
Nightlife in ancient China was very active, unlike in the west where darkness has been always linked to danger. Restaurants and business were open till late at night and brothels and red-light districts were close to these busy areas. Merchants took advantage of those lively spaces to set up their stalls and sell more. Today the phenomena is kind of the opposite: many fast food chains and clothing stores congregate around the night markets to attract the clients that visit the markets.
3. Their size can reach the area of a football field
And the number of stalls may arrive up to 400 or 700, a lot of food to taste!
4. They are a common space to try out the success of entrepreneurs
Night markets allow a direct contact with potential customers for young artists, chefs, designers and any kind of entrepreneurs. If you want to start your own business but are short of budget, think about opening a stall in a night market.
5. Taiwanese popcorn chicken is the most popular night market food
Taiwan is one of the most popular destination to enjoy night markets. Have you ever been to one? Watch this video to enjoy the real night market experience. The most popular dish, according to EzTravel, is the yansu ji also known as popcorn chicken. This is a dish made of bone-less thighs breaded with sweet potato flour, ginger, garlic and some Chinese spices. If you can’t go to Taiwan and taste it in person, try to follow this recipe. Why it is called popcorn chicken when none of the ingredients are popcorns is a mystery still to be solved.