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Hua Hin Morning Market

Michael Babcock, Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Chatchai Market in Hua Hin (also transliterated as Chat Chai), is well worth a visit. Whenever we head to the south of Thailand, on our own or when we used to during one of Kasma’s small-group tours to Thailand, we always plan to stop.

An Aisle in Hua Hin Market

An interior view of the market

The market is located off the main highway, highway 4, also called Thanon Phetkasem (Phetkasem Street); it’s on the right as you head south. The southernmost boundary of the market is Thanon Dechanuchit (Dechanuchit Street). The market is mostly indoors, with a little spillage to the street.

This is mainly a market for locals, featuring fresh ingredients of all kinds: vegetables, fruit, fresh-pressed coconut milk, meats, fowl and seafood. It also includes stalls with dried ingredients (dried shrimp, etc.) and prepared food. On the north end there are a number of shops catering more to the many fahrang (Caucasian) tourists and selling beach attire, colorful shirts, straw mats for the beach and so on.

(Click images to see larger version. There’s a slideshow of all images in the blog plus more at the bottom of the page.)

We go largely just to enjoy the lively, colorful display of fresh food.

Inside Hua Hin Market

Inside Hua Hin Market

Different markets throughout Thailand have different feels. This market is one of the most bustling markets we go to: the aisles are a bit narrow and it seems as if there is always someone wanting to get past you in the cramped quarters. Often you’ll have to scrunch over to one side to allow a motorcycle (often making a delivery, the item in a box on the back of the motorcycle) to edge past you. So be prepared to be jostled and don’t block the aisle too badly when you take photographs!

I always look forward to one of the aisles at the market where you find all kinds of dried foods; for years I’ve tried to reproduce the wonderful palette of oranges and reds created by the stacks of dried shrimps, vegetables and fruits.

Dried Food Stall

Colorful dried shrimp and more

Various Dried Foods

Close-up of dried foods

Fish Vendors

Fish vendors

When I think of Hua Hin Market, one thing that I always think of is fresh seafood. Hua Hin is right on the coast and the market naturally contains a whole section with many seafood vendors. The aisles in this section can be a bit treacherous: they are often very damp and often a bit slimy from water used to clean and refresh the seafood. Tread carefully! Usually a vendor will specialize in one thing or another: fresh fish, shrimp, squid or crabs, for instance. In addition to the fresh seafood, you’ll find all kinds of dried fish, squid and shrimp. When you see all the fresh seafood, openly displayed, you wonder how on earth all of it can get sold and what happens to the surplus. Luckily, Thais love seafood so probably hardly any of it goes to waste.

Whole Fish For Sale

Whole fish for sale

Dried Mackerel

Dried mackerel in baskets

One item that we always look for here is jackfruit (kanoon or kanun); it always seems to be good from this market. When you visit Thailand you really must try jack fruit: it has a subtle, delicious flavor unlike nearly any other fruit. It’s found in many markets already cut out of its matrix and ready to eat: something you appreciate much more if you’ve ever had to prepare it yourself!

Preparing Jackfruit

Preparing jackfruit for sale

Jackfruit Fruit

Jackfruit fruit, ready to eat

As befits a local market, there are a large number of vendors with fresh vegetables, ranging from large stalls with just about everything, to small vendors on a straw mat on the ground with just a few items to offer. As usual, you’ll find any vegetable you could desire for cooking Thai food, including items that we would love to be able to buy in the U.S., such as “rhizome” (krachai) and fresh, green peppercorns. In addition, you’ll find varieties of vegetables that are very different from what you’ll find back home. One example is the long, green eggplant (makeua yao) that is so delicious when roasted; you’ll even find it here already roasted – all you need to do is take it home and easily finish a delicious Roasted Eggplant Salad (Yum Makeua You).

Vegetables for Sale

Vegetables for sale

Roasted Green Eggplants

Roasted green eggplants

Hua Hin Municipal Market Slide Show

Click on “Play” below to begin a slideshow.
Clicking on a slide will take you to the next image.

Inside Hua Hin Market
An Aisle in Hua Hin Market
Dried Food Stall
Various Dried Foods
More Dried Shrimp
Fish Vendors
Whole Fish For Sale
Prawns For Sale
Fresh Crabs
Dried Mackerel
Dried Fish
Preparing Jackfruit
Jackfruit Fruit
Yellow Mangoes
Vegetables for Sale
Green Peppercorns
Roasted Green Eggplants
Palm Sugar
Dried Chilli Paste
Fresh Chilli Sauces
Butcher Stalls
Egg Vendor
Making Coconut Milk
Meat on Sticks
Grilled Fish Vendor
Frying Fish Cakes
Miang Kam to Go
Donut Holes
Flower Stall

One of the aisles at Hua Hin Market; notice the motor scooter in back.

Here's a view of Hua Hin Market from the inside.

There are numerous stalls selling dried shrimp and the like.

Here are several kinds of dried foods, including colorfully orange dried shrimp, to the right.

Here are 4 different dried shrimps, packaged to sell.

Hua Hin is on the coast and the market features numerous vendors of extremely fresh seafood.

Here's one vendor's selection of whole, fresh fish.

Fresh prawns (shrimp) such as these are widely available.

Other vendors offer fresh crabs, such as these.

This dried mackerel (pla too) is one of Thailand's favorite fishes; here it's sold in baskets, ready for steaming or frying.

Other kinds of dried fish are artfully arranged in an aesthetic swirl.

Hua Hin market always seems to have delicious jackfruit; here a vendor separates the fruit to sell.

Here's the fruit of the jackfruit, removed from the sticky matrix and ready to eat.

Of course, there's all kinds of other fruits as well, such as these sweet, yellow mangoes.

Here are orange and green papayas.

Naturally, there are numerous vendors with fresh vegetables; these are artfully displayed indeed.

Thai markets in general have a wealth of exotic ingredients hard to find back in the U.S., such as these fresh, green peppercorns.

The market also offers cooked ingredients that can be taken home and incorporated into a dish, such as these roast green eggplants.

Hua Hin market offers any ingredient you need to cook Thai food. Here are plastic bags of soft, easy-to-use palm sugar.

The market also offers fresh-made chilli pastes and sauces, providing an easy way to make an easy, delicious dish.

Here are some more spicy sauces.

Here's an inner aisle with several butchers offering fresh meat.

This woman offers chicken and duck eggs and also salted duck eggs. You select the eggs and take them home in a plastic bag.

Here a woman is making extracting fresh coconut milk from the flesh of coconuts; notice it running into the front pink bucket.

Of course, there's lots of pre-made food. This vendor is out on the street and offers various meats on sticks, such as satay and sausages.

Here's a grilled fish vendor with a marvelous smile.

Here's a close-up of fish or shrimp cakes fried in oil in a wok.

There's also many different pre-made foods, such as these packages of miang kam.

No market is complete without a complete selection of kanom (snacks), both Thai and, as we see here with these "donut holes," western.

Every Thai market has at least one vendor with colorful flowers; here we also see refreshing young coconut, ready to drink.

Inside Hua Hin Market thumbnail
An Aisle in Hua Hin Market thumbnail
Dried Food Stall thumbnail
Various Dried Foods thumbnail
More Dried Shrimp thumbnail
Fish Vendors thumbnail
Whole Fish For Sale thumbnail
Prawns For Sale thumbnail
Fresh Crabs thumbnail
Dried Mackerel thumbnail
Dried Fish thumbnail
Preparing Jackfruit thumbnail
Jackfruit Fruit thumbnail
Yellow Mangoes thumbnail
Papayas thumbnail
Vegetables for Sale thumbnail
Green Peppercorns thumbnail
Roasted Green Eggplants thumbnail
Palm Sugar thumbnail
Dried Chilli Paste thumbnail
Fresh Chilli Sauces thumbnail
Butcher Stalls thumbnail
Egg Vendor thumbnail
Making Coconut Milk thumbnail
Meat on Sticks thumbnail
Grilled Fish Vendor thumbnail
Frying Fish Cakes thumbnail
Miang Kam to Go thumbnail
Donut Holes thumbnail
Flower Stall thumbnail

Two Previous Blogs on Hua Hin

Five Previous Blogs on Thai Markets

Written by Michael Babcock, September 2011

Pork Leg Rice in Hua Hin

Michael Babcock, Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Readers of this blog know of our love of markets and street food. Certain foods are more widely available on the street and one of the dishes that I especially love is Stewed Pork Leg Rice – Kao Kad Moo,. A recent Thai cook book categorized this as a Chinatown food – interestingly, I’ve seen it on streets all over Bangkok and Thailand but never come across it in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Pork Leg

How could we pass this by?

Although we sometimes make this at home, to do it right you need a pork leg with skin on, and a single recipe makes quite a large quantity. The skin is what really makes this dish so delicious: with the skin on, the dish contains lean meat from the leg muscle combined with the rich, fatty, gelatinous skin and fat.

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Hua Hin Food Vendor

Pork leg rice vendor in Hua Hin

It’s not hard to make: you essentially stew the pork leg with spices until it’s nearly falling off the bone with tenderness. Add some pickled mustard greens, hard-boiled duck eggs and then serve over rice with a hot and sour sauce and blanched Asian broccoli on the side. Usual cost is about 30 to 40 baht for a fairly substantial plate of succulent, delicious food.

There used to be a pork leg rice vendor right outside our hotel an Sukhumvit Soi 55, where I could easily satisfy my craving. Unfortunately, she now makes blended drinks and I’ve not found another nearby pork leg rice vendor, yet.

Chopping Pork Leg

Vendor chopping pork leg

This past January we were headed down south to do some snorkeling and decided to stay overnight in Hua Hin, a sea coast town on the east coast (Gulf of Thailand) about 200 kilometers from Bangkok. It’s one of the closest resort towns to Bangkok. About 25 kilometers north is Cha Am. Cha Am has always been more of a resort for Thais and Hua Hin is more popular with fahrangs (Thai word for Caucasians). Years ago we had really enjoyed the night market at Hua Hin and, since we didn’t want to miss the morning market (Chatchai Market) either, we decided to stay overnight.

We found a hotel about two blocks from the morning market on Thanon Sasong (Sasong Road). The next morning as we walked to the market, about a half a block from the hotel we spied a street vendor selling pork leg rice from a cart and, both having an immediate Pavlovian response, walked over in wordless agreement. We both love pork leg rice; we love the richness of the dish, the lovely feel of varying textures in the mouth (from the lean meat, the fat and the skin). (Note: It’s anyone’s guess if this vendor is still there, 9 years later (May 2020). With luck the market will still have a pork leg vendor.)

Pork Leg Rice Set-up

All the ingredients

Chopping Pork Leg

Chopping the pork

This is a fairly typical street set-up that you see all over Thailand. He has a cart on wheels so he can move it on and off the streets along with a couple of (flimsy, metal) tables to hold everything else he needs. Heat is provided by a canister of gas. Seating is provided for customers by incredibly flimsy plastic stools and metal tables. Everything can be packed up and carted away in short order.

The dish was every bit as delicious as we expected. The pork was rich and tender while the pickled mustard green added a slightly sour counterpart. It was also served with a light broth with melon in it – good for clearing the taste buds after the rich pork.

Pork Leg Rice

Pork Leg Rice

Pork Leg Rice

Pork Leg Rice with duck egg

If you are in Hua Hin and want to try to find this vendor, here’s how to do it. As you are heading South on Highway 4 (Thanon Phetkasem), you’ll drive past Chat Chai Market (the morning market) on your right. The southernmost boundary of the market is Thanon Dechanuchit (Dechanuchit Street) – turn right there. Go down one block to Thanon Sasong (Sasong Road) – turn left there. Almost immediately on your left is a 7-11 store: the food stand was directly next to the 7-11 store. Be warned, though, street food vendors do come and go.

For information on Hua Hin, check out Thailand Hua Hin dot com (offsite, opens in a new window). It comes complete with maps and photos of many attractions.

Vendor and Customer

Getting Pork Leg Rice to go

This vendor does a pretty good business of selling the item to go, as well. Here we see a Thai schoolgirl picking up her lunch in a convenient plastic bag. (See our post on Thai Food To Go.)

There are restaurants that serve pork leg as one of their dishes. It’s usually served as one of many dishes, without the pickled mustard. Here’s a picture of Stewed Pork Leg served in a restaurant in Northern Thailand. We’ve also come across deep-fried pork leg, a particularly tasty treat.

Written by Michael Babcock, March 2011

Hmong Vendor (Wednesday Photo)

Michael Babcock, Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Hmong Vendor in Hua Hin

Hmong Vendor

Hmong vendor and child

This is a picture of young Hmong woman and her baby taken on the main highway in Hua Hin, on the way down south.

In looking over all my Wednesday photos I realize I’ve sadly neglected pictures of what is really my favorite part of Thailand – the Thai people. There is a reason that Thailand is sometimes called “The Land of Smiles.” Often, while going through a market or even just on the street, from out of nowhere your own smile is often mirrored back in a Thai smile that makes your day.

Since Hmong villages are pretty much exclusively in the north, this woman is a transplant out of economic necessity: she has come here to set up a stall and sell goods to tourists. It’s a fairly common Thai story, not just for the Hmong but also for uncounted Thais from northeast Thailand (Isaan): having to leave the safe confines of village and home in order to survive. Nonetheless, what a beautiful smile!

The Wednesday Photo is a new picture each week highlighting something of interest in Thailand. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

Hua Hin Treats

Michael Babcock, Thursday, September 16th, 2010

In Hua Hin, Thailand, about 120 km south of Bangkok, there’s a great place to buy snacks. Readers of this blog can be forgiven for thinking that all Kasma and I ever do in Thailand is visit restaurants and markets where we eat all the time. Come to think about it, that’s pretty accurate! Actually, though that’s a bit of an exaggeration, food is never too far from our minds in Thailand, in part because it is so widely available and visible. When we travel around Thailand we rarely miss an opportunity to visit a market and inevitably, over the years, we’ve gotten to know some markets very well.

Hua Hin Intersection

Look for this intersection

Meechai Shop

Mee Chai Shop

(Click on an image to see a larger version.)

Mee Chai Shop Sign

Look for this sign

One of our regular markets is Hua Hin Market, for we drive through Hua Hin once or twice a year on our way down South, both on Kasma’s small-group trips to Thailand and when we travel on our own. [Kasma retired from doing these trips in 2020. We still will most likely go down south every year.]

Another reason we stop in Hua Hin is to pick up Thai kanom (snacks) at one of our favorite snack spots in all Thailand. It’s a storefront called Raan Mee Chai or, in English, “Mee Chai Shop.” It’s found directly opposite the main market in Hua Hin, right on the main road through town. It is just past Soi 55/2 and as you head south it will be on your left hand side.

Kanom Tian Sign

Sign and Kanom Tian

We make a special visit to this store to buy a number of treats. I’m convinced that they make the best Kanom Tian in Thailand. You may have seen this treat in Thai markets and not known exactly what it was – it’s one of a number of Thai treats that are wrapped in banana leaves. This particular kanom is a pyramid-shaped, dough-filled savory treat and is widely available in markets everywhere around Chinese New Year as well as Songkran (Thai New Year). The Thai word, tian means candle, so it is the “candle snack.” (It is perhaps named that because of all the candles lit on the holidays when it is usually available.)

Kanom Tian

Kanom Tian, unwrapped

The dough is made from sticky-rice flour while the stuffing contains mung beans and spices, sometimes pork. The dough at MeeChai is particularly gooey and tasty while I’ve never had a filling elsewhere that is so peppery and savory; this one is pork-free. It’s worth a trip to Hua Hin (and this shop) just for this one snack. I’ve pretty much stopped buying kanom tian elsewhere because it always disappoints: it’s never as good as from this shop.

Here’s a recipe for Kanom Tian – Stuffed Dough Pyramid Dessert (offsite, opens in new window). I can’t vouch for how good the recipe  is, I’m including it because it has a sequence of pictures that give a very good idea about how the snack is made.

Trays of Custards

Trays of custards

The second treat that I like at Mee Chai shop is their Baked Coconut Cream and Taro Custard (Kanom Maw Gkaeng Peuak). (Another transliteration of the Thai might be Khanom Maw Kaeng.) This is actually a snack that another town on the way to Hua Hin – Phetchaburi – is famous for; Thai travelers will make a special stop at Phetchaburi just to buy this custard. They’d be better off going to Hua Hin! I’ve had this snack from several different places in Phetchaburi and I think Kanom Maw Gkaeng here at MeeChai is the best I’ve ever had. It is an incredibly rich, creamy delicious baked custard.

Baked custard

Baked custard – Kanom Maw Gkaeng

One of the secrets to this delightfully rich custard is that it uses duck eggs rather than chicken eggs. I’ve made it at home using 100% duck eggs and 100% chicken eggs as well a combination of both; by far the best result comes from using 100% duck eggs. The other ingredients are coconut cream (the thicker the better), palm sugar, and taro that has been cooked and mashed. This dessert is very, very rich. With the Mee Chai version  a small square is enough; I eat small bites at a time wanting the delectable smoothness and taste sensation on my tongue to go on and on and on.

Pineapple Cookies

Pineapple Cookies

The other snack we always get is a box of pineapple cookies. These consist of a pineapple filling between two almost cracker-like outer cookies. Although we see these cookies in many places in Thailand, this shop sells the best ones we’ve found, though I don’t think they make the cookies themselves as they do the custards and kanom tian. I find these cookies are best eaten after snorkeling for a couple hours! (Underwater Photos from Thailand)

The shop also sells other treats, other types of custards and also sticky rice and mango. Try anything that looks good to you because it is all good. They also sell a number of nahm prik (chilli pastes), nahm jihm (dipping sauces) and gkabpi (shrimp paste), perfect for taking home or as gifts.

Previous blogs on Thai snacks (kanom):

Serving Sticky Rice

Serving sticky rice

Written by Michael Babcock, September 2010 & 2020