Dinh Cau Night Market Phu Quoc
The Dinh Cau Night Market (Cho Den Dinh Cau) is one the most popular attractions on Phu Quoc Island and it is a great place to sample fresh seafood, street food, snacks, local craft beer, and shop for souvenirs. This market has recently rebranded itself and moved to another location → see: Phu Quoc Night Market
Dinh Cau Night Market Guide
The Dinh Cau Night Market, which is often referred to as the “Phu Quoc Night Market” or just “Night Market” is a street that is 500m in length that has about 50 stalls selling seafood, snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. It is located behind Dinh Cau Beach on Vo Thi Sau street near the Dinh Cau Temple. The seafood stalls are located at the night markets main gate while the souvenir shops are located at the end of the street. The night market is opened daily from 5pm until midnight, rain or shine.
Location of the Night Market
The night market is located in Duong Dong Town near the Dinh Cau Temple. To get to the night market, travel north on Tran Hung Dao street until you reach the roundabout. There you will see the entrance gate to the market on your left hand side. The market is the “biggest draw in town” so you will not miss it. If you are arriving by motorbike, then you can park it in front of the market or at a paid parking spot, which costs 10,000VND per motorbike. Both places are safe; just remember to secure your helmets.
What To Expect:
- At around 5pm, Vo Thi Sau street shuts down to motorized traffic and this street becomes a pedestrian only street.
- The night market becomes very busy around 7pm so if you want the freshest catch or you want to take pictures, arrive early.
- You do not need to ask for permission to take pictures as the vendors are accustomed to it.
- When you are walking down the night market street, a lot of the restaurant salesmen will try to pressure you into buying their seafood as they are competing for your business with the other restaurants. Some are friendly and some are not. Before choosing a restaurant we recommend that you first walk up and down the street to get oriented. The prices for the variety of dishes are all, more or less, the same and everything is negotiable.
- You will see a variety of fish on display, some laid out on ice and some swimming around in aerated fish tanks.
- You will also see a lot of “street children” begging at the entrance to the night market and it is up to you if you want to give them money or not.
Note: The seafood being sold at the night market is relatively expensive compared to other places on the island. There is about a 30% markup on all the seafood here.
What To See
- Seafood – See the eye catching display of the diverse seafood being sold. If you look at the squid carefully you will notice the ink spots blinking and moving around.
- Dinh Cau Temple – You can also visit the Dinh Cau Rock Temple, which is nearby. The night market is named after this temple.
- Dinh Cau Beach – There is a wonderful local beach next to the night market. The evenings are very popular here as many people come to watch the sunset near the temple and have a drink by the water .
What To Buy
- Seafood – You can buy sea urchins, sea snakes, various sized conch, blood cockles, oysters, scallops, abalone, various species of shrimp, sting ray, shark, octopus, squid, giant clam, sea snails, grouper, razor mussels, sea perch, tuna, red snapper, king fish, cobia, lobster, crab parrot fish, sheephead fish, and other types of marine creatures here.
- Other food – If you do not like seafood or if you are vegetarian, you do not need to worry as there are plenty of other dishes available.
- Souvenirs – Shells, pearls, handicrafts, wooden boats, and other souvenirs can also be purchased at the night market.
Note: Cheap pearls can be bought at the night market but these are not Phu Quoc Pearls but rather fake pearls imported from China.
Seafood Buying Tips:
Not all the fish seen at the night market is fresh. Anything that does not sell is refrigerated to be sold the next day. Here are some tips to help you choose wisely:
- Look for bright, clear eyes. The eyes are the window to a truly fresh fish, for they fade quickly into gray dullness. Dull-eyed fish may be safe to eat, but they are past their prime.
- Next look at the fish. Does it shine? Does it look metallic and clean? Or has it dulled or has discolored patches on it? If so, it is marginal.
- Smell it. A fresh fish should smell like clean water, or a touch briny or even like cucumbers. Under no circumstances should you buy a nasty smelling fish. Cooking won’t improve it.
- Look at the gills. They should be a rich red. If the fish is old, they will turn the color of faded brick.
- Look for vibrant flesh. All fish fade as they age. If the fillet still has skin, that skin should look as pristine as the skin on an equally good whole fish – shiny and metallic.
- Smell it. The smell test is especially important with fillets. They should have no pungent aromas.
- Is there liquid on the meat? If so, that liquid should be clear, not milky. Milky liquid on a fillet is the first stage of rot.
- Press the meat with your finger. It should be resilient enough so your indentation disappears. If your fingerprint remains, move on.
- The best way to choose a live fish or crab or lobster is to look for, well, life. Is it scampering around in its tank? Swimming happily? Or is it sulking in a corner or hanging motionless and panting? If so, don’t buy it. Lobsters and crabs starve themselves in tanks and often can be almost empty inside when you crack open one that’s been imprisoned in a tank for weeks.
Scallops, a Special Case
- Scallop are popular in Phu Quoc and are almost always sold shucked, so what you are looking for are “dry packed” scallops, meaning they are not shipped and stored in brine. Those scallops you see wallowing in milky ick? Leave them be.
- Look for whole shrimps and the ones that are swimming in tanks. Buy head on shrimp if possible. Why? Because head-on shrimp stay moister.
Squid or Octopus
- These both last longer, however at the night market you can buy the fresh.