You would have noticed it by now - the apparent burst of activity around the island at 4pm. Sides of streets that would otherwise be unremarkable on other months will come alive with food vendors and people. If you are on the street, you won't be able to escape the mouth watering smell of barbecued meet on a slow fire. And this, mind you, happens not just in Langkawi, but all across Malaysia as well. Just for this wonderful while, the Ramadan bazaars have taken over.
As you would have discovered in one of our previous posts, Langkawi’s Ramadan bazaars are a treasure trove of food and culture. Strolling through one of our markets scattered across the island, you’d have to be prepared for the sensory overload of sights, sounds and smells. Ramadan month has just begun, and the bazaars are teeming with hungry locals and tourists.
Vendors usually start setting up as early as 4pm and will be done by 7.15pm. While you can find satay stalls and drink vendors pop up almost everywhere by the sides of roads, it is altogether a different experience to be exploring a full blown Ramadan bazaar. We did some research and have rounded up our top picks of Langkawi’s Ramadan bazaars for you to check out before sundown: go!
Padang Matsirat Ramadan Bazaar
If you love having rice, this is Ramadan bazaar to check out. There are loads of stalls here with delicious home cooked Malay dishes alongside others selling roast chicken, grilled lamb and dessert.
Must try: A big cup of coffee topped with creamy milk from the Kopi King stall for a super thirst quench.
Ulu Melaka Ramadan Bazaar
This bazaar is on both sides of the Ulu Melaka road stretch that’s near the Jalan Makam Mahsuri junction. It’s the smallest compared to the others we are featuring here but packs a punch in terms of stall variety. From noodles to rice to murtabak to fireworks – you’ll find it all here.
Must try: We found akok here! Akok is a sweet snack from the East Coast state of Kelantan made from coconut milk, loads of egg yolks (real authentic ones use only duck eggs), flour and sugar. This rich kuih was a gem to find at this bazaar.
MIEC Carpark Ramadan Bazaar
You can’t miss this bazaar situated at the parking area of Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) near the airport. This yearly Ramadan attraction skipped last year but is back again this year. Timing is of essence if you’re heading to this Langkawi Ramadan bazaar; too early and you’ll miss the whole vibe, 6.30pm and it will be really busy, after 7pm most of the food would be sold out. Best time to hit this bazaar would be between 5.30-6.30pm.
Padang Wahid, Kedawang Ramadan Bazaar
The most intriguing food thing we encountered out of all the bazaars we visited was found right at this Langkawi Ramadan bazaar. Nestled between stalls roasting honey chicken and rice, we first spotted them and knew that we HAD to try it.
Horseshoe crab, or belangkas as it is known locally, doesn’t really contain much ‘meat’. What you eat instead are their eggs. Here, the horse shoe crab roe is served with veggies in a kerabu style with a sweet and tangy sauce. Top the salad off with crushed ground nuts and some chilli sauce and you’re good to go.
The verdict? Horseshoe crab roe tastes like the roe of other shellfish but 10 times stronger. Having it tossed with the sweet and tangy kerabu salad took away much of the pungency which made it quite pleasant to the palatte. While this may be an acquired taste for most, we encourage you to give it a go!
Interesting and sad fact: Horseshoe crab has gone on to the list of near threatened animals because of its precious blue blood. We’re not joking, horseshoe crab blood IS blue and it could save your life…only if we humans don’t kill them into extinction first.
Kuah Ramadan Bazaar
We’ve saved the best for last. This Langkawi Ramadan Bazaar is the mother of all Ramadan bazaars on the island. It’s big, it’s noisy and it smells of all things mouth watering. Honestly, we’re not going to waste your time over describing how it feels like to be here and rob you of the pleasure of discovering it yourself.
Must try: The ridiculously messy and sloppy roti John. The 100% natural and fresh sugar cane juice. The heart stopping grilled lamb, if you are willing to brave the queue.
Please please please remember to bring your own food containers and water bottles to Langkawi’s Ramadan bazaars. Even just a little less plastic and styrofoam used will help our environment tremendously. For travellers, bear in mind that almost all street food vendors in Asia still use plastic and styrofoam packaging. It could be a good idea for you to travel with your own food containers and cutlery!
Do you have a Langkawi Ramadan bazaar to recommend? Or do you have a must try food to share? Let us know in the commments.