I don’t know who Jonker is but his weekly night market is the place to be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in the Malaysian city of Melaka.
In fact, it’s so busy it should be called Jonker’s Crawl – glaciers move faster than the hundreds of people browsing through this night market. It’s a good thing, then, that I’m really not in a hurry. After all, what is time when you’re a backpacker?
Every weekend evening in Melaka (or Malacca, if you’re that way inclined), Chinatown’s main thoroughfare of Jonker Street closes to traffic and opens to bargain hunters. The heat of the day abates and locals and tourists alike come together to sift through tables of clothing, antiques, arts, crafts, junk.
Food is also available, although, apart from the famous chicken rice balls, the variety and quality doesn’t come close to that available in hawker markets in Penang or even Kuala Lumpur. You can – and should – stay in a hotel in Penang or Kuala Lumpur and participate in these night markets, too.
As I make my way up Jonker Street (actually called Jalan Hang Jebat), sifting through tables of knickknacks and authentic-looking-but-probably-not antiques, I eschew the queue for chicken balls and grab a fruit shake and some chicken on rice instead.
While I eat, I watch some singing and dancing on a large stage set-up at the upper end of the road – and I managed to catch some footage of an old man doing a funny dance, which you’ll see below.
The Jonker Walk night market starts around 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and goes until late. Music and entertainment can be found at the upper end of the street, moving away from the Melaka Clock Tower and the river.
Also be aware of pickpockets. Although I had no trouble and don’t know of anyone who has been robbed in Melaka – it would make for a happy hunting ground for thieves due to the crowds. The market should be less crowded on Sunday evenings, when weekend tourists from Kuala Lumpur head back home.
Have you ever been to Jonker’s Walk night market in Melaka? And is it one of the best markets in Southeast Asia?