Every morning, just before dawn, an amazing spectacle unfolds on Tam Tien Beach in Nui Thanh District. Around 3am, clusters of wooden fishing boats gather and drop anchor in the water. Teams of basket boats plow through the waves, carrying last night’s catch in barrels to the shore. On the sand, the fishermen’s families and traders gather to buy the seafood wholesale and rush it to markets all over Quang Nam Province.
The Tam Tien Fish Market is only 15 years old, yet it feels like a scene out of a storybook, bursting with vibrant colors, coordinated chaos, and captivating sights. If you’re interested in seeing the fish market, here’s a simple guide to get you there.

Tam Tien Fish Market - Tam Ky - Quang Nam

The fish market starts early, between 3am and 4am, and reaches a fever pitch just before day break. The first rays of sunlight silhouette dozens of basket boats hurrying drums of fish through the waves from the fishing boats to the sand. The catch is unloaded with the help of several men, and quickly rinsed and sorted into baskets for sale.

Tam Tien Fish Market - Day trip from Hoi An, Quang Nam
Tam Tien Fish Market - Best day trip from Hoi An, Quang Nam
Tam Tien Fish Market - Best day trip from Hoi An - Quang Nam Province

An eye-popping array of fish is sold wholesale at Tam Tien, as well as other seafood found in the East Sea, such as rock crabs, prawns, and squid. Seafood traders inspect the catch as it comes in, and then make quick work of bargaining for the best price. Much of the catch is carried off within just a few minutes of landing on the sand.

Tam Tien Fish Market - Nui Thanh District - Quang Nam Province
Tam Tien Fish Market, Nui Thanh District, Quang Nam
Tam Tien Fish Market - Quang Nam Province

Local fishermen remember when Tam Tien was simply an area for fishing boats to dock overnight. Traditionally the fishermen head out to sea around 3am or 4pm and return around 3am or 4am the next morning. Over time, traders began to gather on the sand to purchase the fresh catch directly from the boatmen, and soon the market grew to the size it is today. Vendors set up a small market of stalls to hawk vegetables and herbs, fresh noodles, and cooked food to the fishermen and traders.

As the sun breaks over the ocean, the trading continues. Anchovies are poured into barrels for making into fish sauce. Fish and squid are carried on poles up from the sand to the street, where they’re loaded onto motorcycles for express delivery to markets in Hoi An and Tam Ky. Small catches of lobster, prawns and crab are kept alive in buckets of sea water for restaurants.

From six to seven in the morning, the market begins to slow down. Teams of men haul the basket boats up onto the sand to be used the next morning. Women rinse out buckets in the shallow waves, fishermen mend nets, and everyone goes to the stalls on the sand to grab a hot breakfast of mi Quang or bun bo (rice noodles with beef soup.)

Breakfast at Tam Tien Fish Market - Quang Nam
Breakfast at Tam Tien Fish Market - Nui Thanh District - Quang Nam Province

Tips for seeing Tam Tien Fish Market

The Tam Tien Fish Market runs between April and September each year and closes during the monsoon season. The market is 15 kilometers from Tam Ky City and 48 kilometers or an hour’s drive from Hoi An.

You can visit the market via motorbike or by private car from Hoi An. Hoi An Photo Tours runs early morning trips to Tam Tien Fish Market for photographers of all levels. Be sure to get there before 5am to see the action: the market closes quickly after the sun comes up.

Tam Tien Fish Market

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