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.
The most well-known night markets are those in Taiwan, but they also exist in other areas inhabited by ethnic Chinese such as Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Thailand, Philippines and Chinatowns worldwide.
Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia
Night markets are commonly known as Pasar Malam by the locals, which literally means night market, "pasar" being related to "bazaar" in Persian. A pasar malam is a street market in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia 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.
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. 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.
Night markets are also hosted in various areas of North America to celebrate Chinese culture. Many Taiwanese-American student organizations host annual night market events to emulate the jovial atmosphere and celebrate the unique culture of night markets. In San Francisco, a large night market with almost 100 booths takes place every autumn Saturday in Chinatown's Portsmouth Square. In Vancouver, BC, large night markets take place every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from May to September in Chinatown, as well as in an industrial area near suburban Richmond, British Columbia's Golden Village; the Richmond Night Market features more than 400 booths and attracts in excess of 30,000 people per night (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 Organizations'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).
- 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.
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