The Sea Gypsies Fish Market in Rawai Beach offers the freshest of seafood and the guarantee that your purchase is going to benefit the local community and family-run businesses. Featuring a broad selection of often live fish and shellfish, you need only carry your still-wriggling purchases across the road, where you will find a choice of restaurants to cook them for you there and then.
Located along the dirt road to the left of Rawai Pier, after the stalls selling seashells by the sea shore (try saying that three times fast!), the fish market is about 100 metres long and consists of different families selling the catch of the day along the coastal side of the promenade, with a number of simple local restaurants along the inland side. What all of the restaurants have in common is the offer to cook the fresh wares of the market for 100 baht per kilogram.
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The Sea Gypsies Fish Market is an attraction in itself. Most of the stands have bubbling tanks and buckets full of live seafood, while butchered samples lied in beds of ice. Prices are pretty similar from stall to stall and are generally set by the kilogram, with crabs at 350 baht, prawns of various size and species ranging from 850 to 1,500 baht, cockles for 150 baht, mussels for 80 baht, and so on. A lot of items have price tags, but make sure you bargain hard – it’s all part of the fun.
Each stall is a family business, with their boats lined up by the shore behind them. Some land really unique catches, including brightly-coloured grouper, rock lobsters and even black-tipped reef sharks. The stallholders are generally friendly and some will gladly let you pose with one of the huge, colourful and quite frisky lobsters.
The actual dining part of the Sea Gypsies Fish Market experience comes from carrying your catch over the road to one of the many restaurants. As the market is such a popular tourist attraction, most of the shops boast signage in English, Russian and Chinese. The place is also very popular with locals and most of the preparations available come from Thai cuisine, such as prawns in tamarind sauce, mussels in garlic-chilli sauce or whole deep-fried sea bass in sweet and sour sauce. You can certainly be assured of the quality and freshness of your food!
With its bustling atmosphere and unusual sights, visiting the Sea Gypsies Fish Market is well worth your time, even if you’re not particularly hungry. If you are, the best time to go is about lunch time (12:00 - 13:00), when the catch is at its freshest. For the best results, ignore the menu entirely and trust the chef’s recommendations.
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Sea Gypsies Fish Market
- Opening Hours: 11:00 - 21:00
- Location: To the left of Rawai Pier