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Eating out for less

While fine international dining is coming into its own on Samui, much of the island's original flavours survive at fresh markets

Published on December 14, 2007

Eating out for less

Some of the best food on Samui is found in the islandís markets, where freshly caught seafood is brought in, and is then served up inexpensively in small local eateries.

With Samui becoming more upmarket, the price of vacationing there is rising as a result. Once a destination only for backpackers, Samui now caters to more upscale visitors who want to pamper themselves with luxuries. Living it up on a fine dinner can easily cost from Bt1,000 to Bt1,500 per person. Ouch!

But among the array of fine Italian diners, luxurious Thai cuisine and hip French eateries are hot spots where there are local goodies to be had at bargain prices. Tucked away down narrow alleys and corners of the streets there are little pushcarts offering a stack of grilled fish, barbecued squid, prawns and somtam. There are also plenty of holes in the wall offering great curries for a bargain. With just Bt50, you can enjoy a Thai meal with delight - no credit cards needed, of course.

If you plan to stay longer on Samui and lodge in a villa or a guesthouse with a kitchen, add some fun to your stay by strolling in the local fresh market and getting some fresh ingredients in order to make your own dinner. The most popular fresh market in Samui is Phra Yai Market, which is on the way to the Big Buddha.

The compact fresh market opened four years ago, and quickly became the major supplier of seafood to the townspeople and a number of fancy restaurants all over the island.

Located right next to the pier where fishermen unload their catch from the Gulf of Thailand. The whole area is clean and organised. All products are displayed and sold on elevated wooden stalls, not on the ground like in some fresh markets. You can smell the unique odour of a Thai fresh market, though it's not unbearably strong.

Every day fishing boats dock at the pier with their decks full of the bounty of the sea. Fish is the most popular item at Phra Yai Market, though shellfsh, crabs, prawns and other fruits of the sea can also be had. Per kilogram, fish costs between Bt70 to Bt120 while crabs are priced at Bt250. A must-try is the mullet (Bt50 per kilo) which is widely eaten on Samui. The most popular mullet dish is gaeng som - spicy and sour, clear curry-based soup with lots of vegetables and fish. Fresh oysters here are sold at Bt12 to Bt20 per shell, depending on the size.

Local vegetables and general greens are also sold here at reasonable prices. Also available is quite a selection of chilli paste. If you're not much of a cook yourself, ask one of the vendors here for advice on authentic Southern Thai cuisine.

Phra Yai Market

Big Buddha Beach

Koh Samui

Daily, 3 to 6pm

Manta Klangboonkrong  

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