Night markets are definitely one of those things C and I look forward to in the summertime. They usually start in May and end sometime in September. Open only on the weekends, they're great places to go for unique finds, street food, and entertainment. It's definitely a fun thing to do because it's one of those few activities you can do at night here in Vancouver. This year, Richmond has the privilege of having 2 of them! One is called the Richmond Night Market (by the River Rock Casino / Canada Line Bridgeport Station) and the other one is called Summer Night Market (on River Road and Vulcan Way). I personally don't even go to buy a lot of the goods whenever I go. A lot of it is just to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.
This post is just about the Richmond Night Market, supposedly the largest Night Market of its kind in North America, with over 80 food vendors and 200 retail vendors that sell just about anything under the planet. I'm definitely sharing more about the variety of food that gets sold. C and I chose to came on the first day the Richmond Night Market opened - good or bad I'm not too sure!!
I've shared some tips below about parking. There's definitely a lot of parking available, but the access and exit to it is still a little tricky as there are a lot of people heading there as well, so the traffic officers have to balance the flow.
Unlike the Summer Night Market, the Richmond Night Market charges $1 for the entrance (May prices). Nowadays, I believe the entrance fee is at $1.50. Not to worry! They also sell Zoom Passes where you can get 12 entrances for $10 (not sure if this has changed). I recommend going this route as you also get to enter quicker than having to line up where people are purchasing their entrance tickets. At the same time, you can use the card as a group (i.e. one card for 5 people - everyone gets to go twice). And for frequent visitors like us, we bought the $20 card which allowed for 25 entrances.
And of course, what's a Night Market without entertainment? With music blasting throughout the night, the Night Market is definitely the place to be late-night in Richmond.
The retail vendors were a lot more diverse this year I found! You can get awesome deals for cute "Made in Korea" socks, coloured contact lenses, custom jewelry, hair accessories, gym attire (yes - this is my favourite! You can get gym attire for less than $20!), swords, stationery, plants, fruits, cupcakes, and I'm going to get more random as I go through the list of the things you can find at the Richmond Night Market.
And just as you thought you've seen it all, we've also got the game stations! I saw a couple from the years before, but this one was bigger than before! People line up to play these games (just like the ones you see in fairs) and win prizes (oh my goodness, those toys were sooo cute!).
With over 80 food vendors (I never actually counted), there's definitely something for everyone here. There's definitely a good number of the standard food stands that usually populate night markets, including bubble tea / lemonade drink places, takoyaki (ball-shaped octopus snack), dimsum, "hurricane" potato fries, BBQ on a stick (Chef James!! - they're really good), and then there's the more unique ones like tofu, and deep fried ice cream, and crepes. I apologize for the photos as it was really challenging to take them, seeing how busy it was that day! It also doesn't help that I'm so tiny so people could easily block my view!
Like I mentioned, there's these dim sum places that serve siumai, BBQ pork buns, noodles, steamed rice rolls, which are great especially since Richmond tends to have chilly nights!
This one even serves imitation shark's fin soup! I actually went and tried it, and it was pretty good. The flavouring of the soup was just like the shark's fin soup, and instead of shark's fin, they used chicken breast.
It's definitely good on a rainy afternoon in Richmond!
Then of course you've got "Rotato", which sells spiral potatoes on a stick (wow, sorry for the poor description!). Everyone always lines up for this place! When we first went, the line was about 200 people... The only time we've seen it short (20-30 people) was when it was raining! So, there's always a plus when it's raining in Richmond. Less people go to Night Market, but, some vendors also don't come in. The Richmond Night Market may also not open altogether, which hasn't happened yet so far!
One of my most favorite eats to get from night market has to be the takoyaki balls. They're doughy octopus balls that I incorrectly described to my boss as "timbits with octopus in them". The combination would definitely taste better than what you imagine. Tip: buy them from a vendor that cooks them right on the spot. Nothing beats 6 yummy, steaming hot, freshly made octopus balls. Some vendors put them on a warmer to keep up with the lines. No! They aren't as yummy that way. Some places also serve giant ones, or with shrimp and other seafood.
Just like the previous years, this "food bus" was also around. They sell the deep fried oreos, deep fried cheesecake, and whatnot. I mean, how can you go wrong with anything deep fried? I wished their partner truck came too - they used to sell pulled pork poutine, and man was that good! :)
On the more unique side of things, I rarely find Rice Burgers in this part of the world and it's nice to see them here! From where I used to live, McDonald's used to serve Rice Burgers! In fact, my talented photographer friend Mylene Chung did a spoof of them here just let you know how they actually look like!
Because Richmond Night Market vendors usually serve something Asian-inspired, I wasn't too surprised that the burgers from this place was! In fact, C was so interested that he tried the spam burger out! Spam isn't just your email inbox that you'd like to get rid off, it's a canned meat product that is popular especially in Asia because it was cheap, and it tasted good. I just learned today that it came from a combination of words "spiced" and "ham"!
C thought it was a little small but I mean, how can you go wrong with spam, chili mayo and a touch of pesto???
Richmond Night Market also serves Japanese buckwheat noodles now! Gah!! I love zaru soba and all that comes with it! I thought this was a brilliant idea. You could pick from a grid what type of sauce and toppings you want to have on it!
Another place I rarely see in the night market is tofu/soy drink/dessert products! From my experience, this place gets sold out sooo quickly! So, be sure you head in early if you'd want some yummy tofu pudding! (I had to attempt 3 visits to Night Market to even get close to what I wanted to get!!) This place really strikes a chord in me because I grew up in a place where tofu desserts frequent the streets, and as a child I would rush to the street vendor holding a small bill and just eat it off the street. It's definitely one of those "first purchases" I've made!
Then to all ice-cream lovers, I present to you ice cream waffles and ice cream in a crepe!
Now I'm not really sure if the Japanese came up with the ice cream + crepe + fruit + nutella combo, but they are so freaking good! A definite must try and I just absolute love it! :) And you've got these friendly crepe makers that often shout their slogan "Japanese crepe! You will never regret!" Haha! And believe them, it is really yummy!
My photo probably wouldn't do it justice, but mine had nutella (I swear by this chocolate product), strawberries, and vanilla ice cream inside a perfectly made light crepe.
And for all the mango lovers, there's Mango Yummy! They serve all kinds of mango desserts. I tried the Fresh Mango and Jelly Shaved Ice. Yum yum sooo good! It's definitely interesting as the mangoes in this side of the world definitely taste different from the ones in Asia. I almost always treat them as a different fruit! But, they're always delicious no matter where they're from and I love them.
Just letting you know, the Richmond Night Market does have chairs and tables to sit on when you're eating. But generally, you kind of just walk as you eat, especially when you want to explore the other food options. They also have this beautiful lighted sakura tree setup for a charity, which I think really sets apart the night market from others. They feature many other artists in the market, so you should all check it out!
Thank you for reading this super long post about the Night Market! I hope you will go and check it out for yourself - sunny or rainy! Especially during summer time, this is a MUST VISIT!
What you need to know:
Friday & Saturday
7 p.m. - 12 a.m.
Sunday & Statutory Holiday
6 p.m. - 11 p.m.
7 p.m. - 1 a.m.
How to get there:
- By Transit - Take the Canada Line to avoid the crazy lines in parking!
- By Car - If it's a sunny day - street park by Costco and the surrounding areas unless you want to risk lining up for a really long time. It's a longer walk, but it's better than getting stuck going in and heading out. If it's a rainy day - try parking as close as you can! The parking closest to the entrance is better than farther out, because it gets really muddy!
- By Bus - There's a bus loop that stops right in front of the Richmond Night Market.
Tips from a frequent visitor:
- Girls - don't wear heels or stilettos as much as possible! The gravel path before the entrance will make it really hard for you to walk on. Plus, you don't want them to get all dirty when it gets muddy right?
- Bring cash! All the transactions are made in cash.
- Travel light - be aware that it's usually crowded and you might have to line up for quite some time.
- Be prepared to line up - A lot of the better food stalls have a long wait time. Be sure you're ready for that if you're super hungry!
- Pregnant women - Refrain from going to the Richmond Night Market, I'm sorry! We've seen too many pregnant women try to protect their bellies from the crushing crowds of people. Not exactly your leisure walk. And also for parents with strollers, if you can do without the strollers that would really work best. It's hard to navigate around with your stroller, so if you have another way of bringing your child instead of a stroller, use that instead.
- It's okay to go on a rainy day! In fact, it could be better! This is the perfect way to avoid the lines (if you hate lining up for everything)
- Smile and have fun! It's a great place for entertainment! The lines are worth it :)