When people outside of the city think about Pattaya, they immediately think of neon lights, Walking Street, and a large ex-pat community. However, the city has so much more to offer, and in Naklua to the north, you will find an area that is home to very few tourists, and the old town rarely attracts swathes of foreigners. However, one place that appeals to locals, ex-pats, and tourists is the famous Naklua seafood market which can be found as you enter the old town.
The market opens in the early hours with the freshly caught fish and seafood being unloaded a brought to stalls. The city’s restaurants and hotels usually buy their produce here as not only is fresh and high-quality; it is also very reasonably priced. The choice of seafood is almost endless with fresh catch, continually making its way onto the stands. Like most Thailand markets, you can also buy fresh vegetables, meats, and other items, but it is seafood, which is the main attraction.
Most of the seafood and some of the fish are still alive on the stalls confirming how fresh everything is. Unlike somewhere similar in the west, the prices aren’t hiked up, so if you want to buy oysters or prawns, you will find that they are a fraction of the supermarkets’ price, which probably source their stocks from the same place!
We recommend that you visit early in the morning as after 8 am, it starts to get incredibly busy, and parking is difficult. Naturally, weekends and Thai holidays are when Thais from across the country descend on Pattaya with one of their favorite stop-offs being the market. It is possible to buy boxes full of ice to take your purchases home and keep them fresh, or alternatively, you could go to a stall outside and ask them to cook it for you, at a price, of course.
One of the fascinating things about the market’s suppliers is that they are usually individuals or small boats with limited crews. You won’t find any larger trawlers supplying the market, and it is very pleasing to know that it ensures that the whole community continues to thrive. Even during the pandemic, it has remained busy and popular, confirming that it is a largely untouched and unspoiled area of the city.
A small market is believed to have operated from the same place for centuries although it is now expanding as increasing numbers of people come to live and visit the city. Naklua used to be famed for salt farming, and indeed that is what the name means. Of course, this too has a close association with the sea, and up until the Vietnam War; the sea was what Pattaya’s economy relied upon.
If you have never been to the market before we would recommend paying a visit even if you aren’t a seafood lover. It is a unique experience, and you can easily get there by baht bus plus all of the city’s taxi drivers will know where it is.