Night markets or night bazaars are street markets which operate at night and are generally dedicated to more leisurely strolling, shopping, and eating than more businesslike day markets. They are typically open-air markets.
Night markets are popular in Asian culture; they can be found especially common in East and Southeast Asia; from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia to the Philippines. Nevertheless, night markets are more prominent within ethnic Chinese economic and cultural activities. Some well-known night markets exist in Taipei, Kaohsiung, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Bangkok, but they also exist in Chinatowns worldwide.
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Taiwan hosts numerous night markets in each of its major cities. The larger and more formal of these markets might take place in purpose-built marketplaces while smaller or more informal ones tend to occupy streets or roads that are normal thoroughfares by day. The temporal night markets (ones that are not housed in any permanent structure) are actually consistent in their location; in most large cities, they are on a smaller street parallel and close (a block or two away) to the primary street of that city. Though the temporal night market stalls appear at night and then vanish by day, the vendors usually return to the same location the next evening. Night markets do not close, but the individual stalls may randomly take days off due to holidays, family illness, etc. Most temporal stalls within a night market have white canvas tops and bright lights. This gives the temporary night markets a fantastical, carnival-like atmosphere.
When a new night market street develops, the initial response is not always positive - they are thought to be noisy and the customers often leave trash behind that the owners of the daytime stores must deal with. As the night market becomes more well known, however, often it is looked upon more positively and the daytime stores adjust. The daytime stores then stay open later, because there are now customers at night when previously there wouldn't be. Night markets can increase profitability and often bring secondary type of consumers that are different from the daytime consumers. For example, a daytime store may normally sell herbs. At night, that same daytime store may now change its wares to include iced grass jelly and honey tea; this second item caters towards the teenage and early-twenties crowd, which is the majority of night market customers. Although some of these markets are specialized (e.g., in certain types of food), most have a mixture of individual stalls hawking clothing, consumer goods, xiaochi (snacks or fast food), and specialty drinks. The atmosphere is usually crowded and noisy with hawkers shouting and fast-paced music playing over loudspeakers. Some individual vendors may take advantage of the informality of the market to offer counterfeit, pirated or grey market consumer goods. The night markets usually open around 6pm, and are busy until past midnight.
Major night markets often have agreements and contracts where the vendors pitch in for utilities such as electricity and water hook-up. A few (such as Shilin Night Market) actually include the cost of basic cleaning in this price. There is also a greater police presence at major night markets, compared to the temporary night markets.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore
Night markets are commonly known as Pasar Malam by the locals, which literally means night market, "pasar" being related to "bazaar" in Persian or also the meaning "market" in Malay/Indonesian, and "malam" meaning "night". A pasar malam is a street market in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore that opens in the evening, usually in residential neighbourhoods.
It brings together a collection of stalls that usually sell goods such as fruit, vegetables, snacks, toys, clothes, movie discs and ornaments at cheap or at least reasonable prices. A pasar malam often takes place only one to a few days of the week, as the traders rotate around different neighbourhoods on different days of the week. Haggling over prices is a common practice at such markets.
Today, several kecamatan (district) in Jakarta and also other provinces in Indonesia, hold weekly pasar malam, usually held every Saturday night in nearby alun-alun square, open fields or marketplaces. In Indonesia, pasar malam has become a weekly recreational place for local families. Other than selling variety of goods and foods, some pasar malam also offer kiddy rides and carnival games, such as mini carousel or mini train ride.
Night markets are also hosted in various areas of North America, particularly on the West Coast, with Taiwanese-American student organizations hosting annual night market events to emulate the jovial atmosphere and celebrate the unique culture of night markets. In San Francisco's Chinatown, a large night market with almost 100 booths takes place every autumn Saturday in Portsmouth Square. In Chinatown in Vancouver, British Columbia, large night markets take place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May to September, as well as in an industrial area near suburban Richmond, BC's Golden Village; the Richmond Night Market features more than 400 booths and attracts in excess of 30,000 people per night (total attendance in 2005 was almost two million). Night It Up! (formerly Toronto Night Market and Asian Night Market), has been and continues to be Power Unit Youth Organization's flagship project, attracting tens of thousands to a two-day celebration of Asian food and culture in Markham, Ontario (attendance was over 60,000 in 2006). The 626 Night Market, held at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, is stated to be the largest Asian night market in the United States. The Food Trust in Philadelphia operates a unique variant of a night market, with it being a temporary event only active for one night before moving somewhere else in the city; the market has thus far been held in East Passyunk, South Street, Northern Liberties, Mount Airy, Old City, Chinatown, and other places across the city.
- Taipei's Shilin Night Market
- Bangkok's Suan Lum Night Bazaar
- Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
- Street food
- Seoul's Dongdaemun Market
- Night markets in Hong Kong
- Shuenn-Der Yu "Hot and Noisy: Taiwan's Night Market Culture" in The Minor Arts of Daily Life: Popular Culture in Taiwan David K. Jordan, Andrew D. Morris, and Marc L. Moskowitz, (eds.), Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai'i Press, 2004.
External Links and References
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs website about Night Markets in Taiwan
- Taiwan Tourism Bureau Special Interests > Night Markets (Taiwanese Mandarin) (English) (Japanese) (French) (Spanish) (Korean) (Dutch)
- San Francisco Chinatown Night Market
- Vancouver Night Market
- Vancouver Chinatown Night Market
- Richmond Summer Night Market
- Night It Up!