Discovering Asia’s fish markets

PUNGENT, colourful and filled with the racuous cries of hawkers, Asia’s fish markets are amongst its greatest attractions.

This selection of six fish markets will take you around the smelliest but also some of the most interesting locales in Asia. Visiting these markets will not only give you the chance to meet locals but could potentially score you a fresh, quality dinner.

Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, Tokyo
This famed Tokyo market, also  known as Tsukiji, is part of the itinerary of most tourists to the city and for good reason – it’s the largest in the world. Here auctions are held and the processing of the fish take place with everything that eventually finds itself on the Japanese culinary plate – that means tuna, swordfish and more. Arrive as early as you can – auctions are held at 5am.

Fish auctions. Pic: Derek Mawhinney, wikipedia

Located near the Tsukijishijō Station on the Toei Ōedo Line and Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.

Thiri Mingalar market, Kyee Mindine township, Yangon
For a cacophony of people, fish and noise head to the Thiri Mingalar market of a morning – but you better go early. Myanmar people like to get up and get their trade going before sunrise. It’s a good oportunity to mix with local people, see how they use ice to keep the fish cool and pick up something good to eat. The Hlaing river is a feature of the old capital of Myanmar/Burma. It snakes past the city in a dirty brown smudge ferrying people across its banks and providing the city with a source of fish.

Ice being ferried around in the market. Pic:

Located about 10km from downtown Yangon.

Battambang, Cambodia
Fish are sold everywhere on the streets of Battambang, probably because the Sangker River runs past that eventually links up with the incredible Tonle Sap linking the town to Siem Reap and eventually Phnom Penh – an excellent journey if river levels are right. The river is indeed a feature in Cambodia and something of a lifeblood. In every town along the river banks where you’ll find waiting nets, fishermen and fresh catch everywhere.

Kapit, Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo)
This market town way up river on the Rajang River  is a fabulous spot to wile away a few days. The river is the town’s lifeblood, forming the only real means of transport in or out of the region and a source for the colourful daily market. The market is without doubt the feature of the town and you will find an array of anything from fresh, salted and dried river fish, catfish and frogs through to turtle. Despite the reduction in the turtle population locals have not stopped enjoying them and if one is brought to the market a huge crowd will gather.

Lei Yu Mun Fish Market, Hong Kong
Seafood is important in the Chinese diet and one of the best places to shop for fresh fish are the markets in Hong Kong. The Lei Yu Mun Fish Market is ideal because once you make your selection from the shrimp, lobster, oysters, sea snakes and eels on display you can have it served up fresh on your dinner plate in no time. These are presented in large fish tanks out the front of restaurants. You may need to do some pointing to be understood as this is not considered a tourist area in Hong Kong. Bon appetit!


Chow Kit, North from Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kuala Lumpur
It might be the red light district of KL but it’s also the city’s largest indoor market. Inside the narrow walkways you’ll find stalls laden with seafood of every shape, colour, size and variety you can image. It opens daily from 9am until 5pm.