I love visiting Southeast Asian markets whether they are day or night markets. Tell the truth, the best markets I have found are in Cambodia as far as diversity, bargaining or haggling, and finding things. At the Central Market here in Phnom Penh one can find everything from batteries and car parts to the “wet market” and then on to jewelry, clothing, backpacks, and even small locks for doors. Its just a bunch of stuff that would take hours to see if you patiently went at it. I usually go with a few things I need because most of my beautiful wardrobe is purchased from markets. I buy the cheap Cambodian t shirts and underwear, knock off shorts that are most likely not North Face, and often socks. I can find decent belts too that will work. Most of these things cost just a few dollars each but you have to go to the Central Market armed with patience and perhaps an iced latte. Being hungry does not hurt either since there are lots of food stalls to find some noodles or chicken bbq or whatever.
Down the street though from where I stay its different. This is a neighborhood market with the vendors lining the street itself selling their stuff. I wandered down there tonight really wanting fresh fruit and already having decided to get some dumplings down the street a bit where the good dumplings live. Its a fun, frenetic, happy street in the evenings with everything from street food pizza to chicken satay to fresh fish and clothing there to look at. I did not spend a lot of time but did see a bit strolling up and down the street, saying hello to numerous Khmer people, looking at various foods that I will come back to try and finding a nice fresh fruit stand. Here is what it looks like in the evening.
Lots of stuff. Major amounts of stuff of all different kinds and everyone hits the streets to shop for clothing, eat, find something to drink, and kinda party down. Its a lot of fun and pretty much open to whoever walks down the street wanting to buy stuff.
The markets across Cambodia are so cool and different. You can go to another market like the Russian Market and find slightly different things or visit the non touristy Orussey Market and find even more things but with no tourists shopping. The isles and corridors are much smaller and the market is a bit confusing with the aisles running in all directions. I spent some time awhile back at the Orussey Market to get a sense what it was like too.
I have to say though that the open air and street evening market is totally cool. Its a blend of people, the ever popular and somewhat frustrating motorbikes, and just about every kind of shopping experience one could want.
If you ever get to Vietnam or Cambodia check out the markets. Particularly in Ho Chi Minh City, the Ben Thanh Market is very cool and here in Cambodia I shop regularly at a few in Phnom Penh and the Night Market and Old Market in Siem Reap. Just a lot of fun folks and its a distinctly Southeast Asian experience.