Already a mainstay in Asia for decades, night markets are now taking hold all over the world. With a buzzy, carnival-like atmosphere, they're the place to be for finding shopping and food deals as well as for rubbing elbows with locals out for a night of casual fun. Some markets run year round, some are seasonal, and some are weekend events. Here are five around the world worth noting:
Canada: International Summer Night Market
The city of Richmond in British Columbia is home to three major night markets, but the International Summer Night Market is the largest and most popular. It draws approximately 20,000 people every weekend to the trinkets, handicrafts, and even fresh produce from nearly 200 vendors. Between purchases, you can sample good eats like Singapore-style jerky, enjoy live entertainment, play nine holes of miniature golf, or pose for photographs with the two 9-foot inflatable pandas on display. The market runs Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, May 9 through September 14. Admission is 2 CAD ($1.86 USD). Tip: Print online coupons before you go to save at select vendors, and hit up the ATM -- most vendors only accept cash.
Take your pick of when and where to attend Auckland’s acclaimed night market. You'll find it in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga on Thursdays; on in Papatoetoe and Henderson on Fridays; Hamilton and Pakuranga on Saturdays; and Glenfield on Sundays. At each location, you’ll find roughly 200 merchandise stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to fashion accessories and mobile phones. Up to 80 vendors serve up street foods to fuel your shopping endeavors, and live entertainment keeps the evening hopping. Tip: Don’t let the weather keep you from attending -- Auckland’s markets are held in parking garages.
Taiwan: Shilin Night Market
One of the largest night markets in Taipei, the Shilin Night Market sprawls several blocks and spills into side streets and alleys. For the first-time explorer, this tourist-heavy market is especially accessible both in terms of English fluency and public transit. While you'll find vendors selling everything from clothing to crafts to pets, the market is best known for its food. More than 500 stalls offer local delicacies like oyster omelet, stinky tofu, fried buns, hot pot, pearl milk tea, and Chinese sausage. Tip: Need a break from shopping? Look for a cinema, video arcade, or karaoke bar that might be open depending on the time and day.
South Korea: Dongdaemun Market
Unlike most other night markets, Dongdaemun Market in Seoul, South Korea, doesn’t only pop up at night -- it’s a retail shopping district that stays open 24 hours a day. Featuring 26 shopping malls, 30,000 specialty shops, and 50,000 manufacturers, the market is known as the place to go in Seoul for trendy fashions at bargain prices. You can also find good deals for leather goods, electronics, office supplies, and silk. Be sure to stop at Mukja Golmok, literally translated as “Let’s Eat Alley,” to sample the best in Korean cuisine. Tip: Some areas in Dongdaemun Market are only open at night. Many of the wholesale stores near Dongdaemun History & Culture Park open at 8 p.m. and close at 5 a.m. the next morning.
Los Angeles: 626 Night Market
One of the first Asian-themed night markets in the United States, the 626 Night Market also claims to be the largest in the nation, attracting 50,000 attendees for each of its two-day events. This year, you can shop for bargains, chow down on great food, and rock out to top musical acts at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia on three weekends: July 18 & 19, August 15 & 16, and September 12 & 13. The market has been so wildly popular that it has expanded to two other venues. Orange County hosts the OC Night Market in May, and downtown Los Angeles will host the DTLA Night Market on June 20 & 21. Tip: Admission varies based on the venue. 626 Night Market is $3, OC Night Market $5, and DTLA Night Market $7.