Chinese Grandma Market Street life in Phitsanulok



In July we will be coming up to two years living in Phitsanulok (pronounced Pis-an-oo-lok). Unless you’ve been here (which is highly unlikely), the odds are this is the first time you’ve heard of it. Both a city and a province, Phitsanulok is a key part of the lower north region in Thailand. It is well known as the ex-capital of the Kingdom for a brief twenty five years, and the birthplace of two former Kings, King Naresuan, and his brother and successor King Ekathosarot (Sanphet III). For almost two years it’s been my adopted home.

Despite its historical significance, Phitsanulok does not attract as many visitors as neighbouring Sukhothai and Kampheang Phet province. It does however, act as a convenient stopover for travellers on their way to these world famous UNESCO heritage sites, as well as Chiang Mai further north.

Phitsanulok is a busy, traditional Thai city but it is regional. Travel ten minutes out of the main centre and the backdrop of street shops will fall to the green expanse of rice fields and the dense thick of spear-like sugarcane fields. Life here is quiet, and the plentiful options that fill our lives in busier cities like Bangkok or Melbourne, simply do not exist here. There are a few good cafes, one main shopping centre, two movie theatres, one train station, about a dozen great restaurants and a few bars. Life is simpler here but there is colour in the everyday.  The main attraction and beauty of Phitsanulok to me is its street life. This is where you see the people of Phitsanulok going about their day, drinking local coffee, grabbing food-to-go, running errands, working, sleeping or doing business.

Street food stalls are a common sighting and a huge focus of life here – you will rarely drive a minute in town without seeing one. Thai’s love their food and if you visit one of Phitsanulok’s markets, you will see this first hand. There are several morning markets and a fantastic night market that is so vibrant and authentic, very unlike the more tourist targeted night markets you will find in Bangkok.

For those that are curious, this is a small glimpse into street life in Phitsanulok; its people, its markets and the day-to-day.

Jen Curcio.



Street life in Phitsanulok Roti Man Fakerah is a local institution famed for its roti and curry. They open for breakfast and dinner only, and their roti is worth the wait.


Street Life in Phitsanulok girls pick up carThe Toyota Hilux has to be one of the most common cars owned in Phitsanulok – in fact we have one just like this one. It is a common sight to see people sitting in the back, or produce packed sky high.


Street Life in Phitsanulok khao mangaiMy favourite khao man gai (chicken on rice) being plated up


Street Life in Phitsanulok stallsModes of transport are often pimped out in imaginative ways to cater for food demands


Street Life in Phitsanulok Fruit Stall Street Fruit Stalls – fresh fruit to order. Pick what you like and have it sliced and packaged in front of you.


Street Life in Phitsanulok beardI see this man every week. He is unmistakeable. Driving his hybrid tractor bike in town, often with his hair out flapping in the wind. Always a smile, always a sight.


Street Life in Phitsanulok train stationThe centre of all the activity in town – the Phitsanulok Train Station


Street Life in Phitsanulok old woman chicken stallA local woman waiting to order chicken at the morning market


Street Life in Phitsanulok man in rickshawA rickshaw driver catching up on sleep


Street Life in Phitsanulok black and whiteLunch break at a local restaurant shop


Street Life in Phitsanulok Coffee Bolan A local drinks stall. The stall holder is topping off the iced coffee with some condensed milk


Street Life in Phitsanulok Chillies Drying herbs and spices, even fish or fruit is a common sighting in town. People leave trays and baskets on roofs, atop motorbike seats, in trailers, and outside window sills


Street Life in Phitsanulok coconut girlA little girl enjoying her coconut ice-cream at the night market


Street Life in Phitsanulok coconuts and bananasLocal produce – the papaya I bought here is still some of the best I’ve ever tasted


Street Life in Phitsanulok scratchLocal night market goers. Though food and produce is the main event, there are a few small clothing stalls.


Street Life in Phitsanulok Chinese doughnutsThis man is so lovely, he makes the best Chinese doughnuts at the night market. He serves them plain, stuffed with condensed milk or pandan custard. I always stop by and say hi, even if I’m not buying.


Street Life in Phitsanulok coconutsThe average asking price per coconut is about 30 baht


Street Life in Phitsanulok wet marketA wet market stall holder gutting fish


Street Life in Phitsanulok tamarindSelecting tamarind is serious business


Street Life in Phitsanulok flowersFlowers for buddhist offerings at the temple


Street Life in Phitsanulok papaya ladyOne of my favourite stall holders at the night market – she sells the best papaya


Street Life in Phitsanulok sleepy trainAfternoon siesta – the train market is one of the best places in town to people watch