Local Markets, brimming over with local food and products, often play a huge role in any traveler’s itinerary. We love them because this is where the locals’ hangout, they personify the personality of the city or town, and they provide an opportunity to experience some of the best food around. At these markets, we often experience the local fare for the first time. We purchase souvenirs for family and friends. We rub elbows with the locals while taking in the culture and sometimes learning a few phrases in the local language. Twenty-three travel bloggers from around the world share all you need to know about their favourite markets around the world.
1. Chandi Chowk Market (India)
One of the most hectic, chaotic and exciting places of my India backpacking adventure was certainly the Chandi Chowk Market, located directly in the centre of Old Delhi. In this huge market area, you’ll find everything you could ask for – food, spices, traditional clothes and much more. Different market sections offer different products and you’ll easily get lost due to the size of the whole market area. The narrow and tiny streets are incredibly busy (make sure you don’t get run over by a rickshaw!), but it’s also one of the incredible and true cultural experiences you shouldn’t miss when visiting the country. Like in every crowded place, take good care of your valuables! Right next to the market, you’ll also find some of Delhi’s most beautiful and incredible sights, such as the Red Fort and the Jama Masjid mosque.
Besides the shopping, you will come across many other animation-related establishments like maid cafes where waitresses dress up and act like maids or anime characters. These are quite unique, much like the culture of Japan. Another establishment to look out for when at Akihabara is the manga cafes, an internet cafe where besides having access to the internet, you can read comics, watch DVDs and hang out.
3. Zegyo (Zay Cho) Market (Mandalay, Myanmar)
Whenever we arrive at a new destination, one of the first places we like to visit is the local market. Markets can tell you so much about the local culture and we just love exploring the local food and spices while chatting with the vendors. We’ve been to many gorgeous markets over the years and from our first visit to Mandalay’s market, we knew it was going to be one of our favorites. Mandalay’s central market is full of vibrant colors and countless stands where you can find fresh fruits and veggies, local delicacies, spices, clothes, household goods and more. It is spread over a few blocks and can best be described as a beautiful mess. The local vendors were very friendly and when they saw we were not familiar with some fruits or vegetables, they quickly offered us a taste while striking a pose for our camera. A few blocks from the central market you can also find the Flower Market which is another recommended stop. We just couldn’t get enough of the sight of the locals riding their motorbikes with huge bouquets of Chrysanthemum. If you are a market person, you will surely fall in love with Mandalay’s markets as we did. Just don’t forget to ask your guide or hotel for the best time to visit these markets.
4. Green Hills Mall (Manila, Philippines)
There are many different types of markets around the world, but Green Hills Mall, located in Manila, Philippines is one of the most famous markets to purchase faux name brand bags and the cheapest freshwater pearls around. They have a great selection of quality pearls and several booths throughout the area. You can purchase saltwater pearls, but often times you will get the best deal on freshwater pearls. Of course, as a market, they raise the rates. I highly suggest you bargain for a more affordable rate. They will most likely give a discount if you purchase more than one set or strand of pearls.
5. Souq Waqif (Doha, Qatar)
Souq Waqif literally means the standing market. It is Doha’s oldest market and was reconstructed in recent times to conserve its original Qatari architecture. Walking inside Souq Waqif is like being transported to ancient Arabia and the market is one of Doha’s premier tourist attractions. Souq Waqif is full of maze-like narrow streets that are perfect for exploring. The alleys are filled with a variety of shops selling everything from souvenirs to household goods and from apparel to birds. The Souq is particularly famous for colorful spices, unique handicrafts, perfumes, dry fruits, and gold jewelry. The Souq Main Street is lined with restaurants serving multicultural cuisines. The atmosphere inside the Souq is magical with traditional music and cultural shows taking place on weekends and adding to the ambiance. Souq Waqif is the best place to buy souvenirs, relax, and people watch in Doha, Qatar.
6. Bangkok Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat)
Bangkok’s famous 24-hour Flower Market is a short walk from the city’s bustling Chinatown. An explosion of colours and smells, it’s a must visit for anyone who loves the buzz of a good market. With a history dating back to the 18th century, the market is believed to have begun life as a floating market on the Chao Phraya River and its name in Thai ‘Pak Khlong Talat’, which means ‘market at the mouth of the canal’ reflects this. Today, the market provides a floral injection to various events taking place across the city, from weddings and parties to Buddhist ceremonies and everyday activities at the temple. As well as an incredible collection of flowers from all over the country, you’ll also find a variety of fruits, vegetables and local herbs and spices. Unlike most markets, rush hour is just before dawn as florists work hard to get garlands finished and buyers stock up on fresh flowers for the next day. For tourists and photographers, the market is a novel delight, for Bangkok residents, it’s a symbol of pride and an emblematic display of Thai culture.
7. Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Submitted by Maria from Fingertiptravels.com
As the sun sets and the heat of the day dies down, night markets pop up all over Chiang Mai, Thailand. The most notable is the Sunday Walking Street, for which vendors work all week creating handicrafts. Smack in the center of the old walled city, Ratchadamnoen Road is closed to traffic for about a kilometre of glorious shopping, eating, and people watching. The handicrafts are beautiful and well made. The local cotton is exceptionally soft: pay a couple of extra dollars for quality cotton shirts and skip the cheaply made ‘elephant pants.’ Batik, a wax-resist technique for dyeing cloth, is used with indigo dye to create gorgeous, deep blue fabrics that make eye-catching table runners and placemats. The food alone is worth it to visit this local market. Temple courtyards along the market street are closed off for food stalls with fresh and cheap food. Options are bountiful and include Pad Thai, grilled meats, northern Thai specialties like Khao Soi, coconut pancakes, and fresh fruit juices and smoothies. The Sunday Walking Street in Chiang Mai is an amazing experience and well worth a visit for well-made handicrafts, tasty local food, and lively people watching.
9. Brocante (antiques) Market, La Flotte, Ile de Re, France
Sometimes, the best things in life are unexpected. It was a lazy start to a lazy vacation in France. Staying in the village of La Flotte on the laidback island of the Ile de Re, we ambled down to the marina in the fresh morning sunshine. We were looking for the boulangerie our hosts had carefully directed us to the night before, but within minutes, we were lost in a maze of ancient streets. That’s when we happened across the most gorgeous brocante (antiques) market. Sprawled between an avenue of lime trees, close to the town’s impressive marina, we found a market selling everything from old garden tools to vintage wine flasks and miniature cars from the 1950s. But it’s not just the wares on sale that made this such a lovely market to visit. We also loved the market’s position in charming La Flotte, surrounded by pastel-painted houses draped in wisteria and ancient salt-encrusted walls. Next door to the brocante market we came across the daily food market in the village’s medieval marketplace – but that’s another story!
10. Great Market Hall (Budapest, Hungry)
The largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, the Great Market Hall is ideally located at the end of Vaci utca and at the foot of Elisabeth Bridge. Built in 1897, its magnificent architecture has turned it into a tourist attraction. The bottom floor is where the stalls are located. You can buy meats, salami, fruit, veggies, sweets, wines, and the famous paprika. Walk up the stairs to discover stalls where you can buy souvenirs, as well as places where you can eat traditional Hungarian fare. Sprawled over 3 stories, there is quite a lot to do, see, smell, and eat to keep you busy for 1-2 hours. Since it’s a market used by the locals for their grocery shopping, it’s best to avoid visiting it during the weekends.
11. Rialto Market (Venice, Italy)
Rialto Market, located in Venice, Italy, is one of the most well-known food markets in the world in the culinary and foodie scene. Most well known for its fresh catch that comes daily from the Grand Canal of Venice, it’s a meeting place for Venician locals and a must-visit location for tourists.
The market, which has been satisfying hunger for more than 700 years, is so-called because of its location near the world-famous Ponte Rialto – one of the most photographed locations in the world. Yet, the market has actually outlasted the bridge. Originally, the Ponte Rialto was the site of a pontoon bridge which carried people over the narrow crossing of the Grand Canal. Today the market consists of nearly 100 purveyors of fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, meats, and is surrounded by over a dozen excellent restaurants – all of which pull their product right from the market.”
How many cool modern markets do you know? I think the most notable markets are old and traditional, but this one is different. Opened in 2014 it is one of the top attractions in Rotterdam. The website states: “Market Hall is a sustainable combination of food, leisure, living, and parking, fully integrated to celebrate and enhance the synergetic possibilities of the different functions”.
Smart design, gorgeous colorful interior, and delicious food, what else would you need? If you travel to Rotterdam – skip breakfast and go directly to the Market. There are many restaurants, places with cooked and fresh food, many sell local products. The market hall holds 200+ apartments, that are carved into the walls and the ceiling. Some of those are given for rent, which I believe is the best way to visit the market and a good way to experience modern architecture in the Netherlands.
14. Mercado de Campo de Ourique (Lisbon, Portugal)
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is no ordinary market… Founded in 1461 by Sultan Mehmet II, it is one of the oldest and biggest Bazaars in the world! To put things in perspective, on a normal day between 250 000 and 400 000 people visit this market and more than 20 000 work there! Besides its size, it is a fascinating building, with painted arches, marble and copper fountains, and twenty-two unique gate entrances! With over 60 streets and alleys and 4,000 shops, you can find anything you wish, from jewelry to carpets, clothes, furniture, spices, food, pottery… you name it, they have it! It is the ideal place to buy souvenirs and gifts for your relatives.
The Grand Bazaar is organized by sectors all the vendors of jewelry are in the same street or zone, and the same goes for other goods. Even the street names indicate what products you will find there like aynacilar – “slipper-makers”. In addition to all the shops, there are several restaurants and joints, toilets and even a hamman and a mosque. Don’t forget to bargain the prices or even walking away when you disagree. You will be able to reduce the price by a least 30 or 40%. Note you will need at least 3 or 4 hours to explore the market. It is very easy to go to the grand bazaar by metro, just catch the line to Aksaray Station.
17. Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market (Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada)
The Annapolis Royal Farmers and Traders Market located in historic Annapolis Royal is open every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm (+ Wednesday 8 am – 2 pm in July and August). From mid-May until mid-October you’ll find the market on St. George Street across from the King’s Theatre. In mid-October, the market moves further up the road to the Historic Gardens. The market bustles, offering an array of local produce and food, locally produced wine, beer, cider, baked goods, skin care products, teas, arts, crafts, books, and antiques. Most of the products available are produced in Nova Scotia. Local musicians entertain shoppers with their toe-tapping music. Be sure to stop by the sausage truck and enjoy a perfectly cooked sausage served up on a French baguette. Don’t forget the sauerkraut!
Iquitos is the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon, accessible only by boat or plane. The city’s bustling spirit is typified by Belén Mercado, a huge market set in a floating shantytown on the Itaya River, close to its confluence with the Amazon. The stilted huts of Belén are home to some 7,000 local residents. In the haze of dawn, the market is where the shantytown inhabitants and the indigenous people of the nearby Amazon jungle come together.
The sprawling market is packed with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. Vendors from the jungle villages arrive at sunrise to sell their fresh produce. For visitors from outside the city, the accessible upper part of the market is the safest place to shop and explore. It is here you can take a tour in a canoe with a local guide and learn the secrets of the area’s turbulent history. The early hours of the day are the best time to visit to witness the market in its most chaotic moments and to grab a deal before the fierce Amazonian sunshine takes its toll on the stock.
22. Bury St. Edmunds Town Market (Suffolk, England)
Submitted by Matt from The Travel Blogs
As you arrive in Bury St Edmunds, the clue is on the welcome sign “An historic market town”. This small town in the English Countryside grew up on the back of the people that would come to shop at its market. Now is no different, while the times may have changed and the town’s grown up, the market remains the beating heart. Taking over the town centre every
Wednesday and Saturday, you can expect to find local produce, artisanal cheese and baked goods, unique clothing, £1 stands and much more. My favourite row, however, is right in the middle under the town’s statue that stands in memory to the survivors of the Boer War. It is home to over 15 different stands selling traditional street food from all over the
world, freshly prepared in front of you. While it may not be famous, the Bury St Edmunds market has a charm which will warm the hardest of hearts. At least if the market doesn’t, the Indian food stand will.
23. The Central Market (St Helier, Jersey, UK)
Located on the corner of Beresford Street and Halkett Place, in the heart of St Helier, is the Central Market of Jersey. The market was opened first in 1882 and features Victorian architecture including impressive cast iron structures and an ornamental fountain. With many of the original features intact, the market is both interesting and colourful and is definitely worth a visit if only to appreciate the building. Obviously, it is a great place to shop as well. You can buy all sorts of local produce (Jersey Potatoes, Jersey Strawberry, Black Butter etc.), arts and crafts items, jewelry, fruits and vegetables, flowers, books, clothing, antiques, gifts and toys and so much more. There are a number of food stalls and cafes, luggage shops, a spice shop and even a post office within the market! The market is lively, fascinating and a great place to shop or simply wander around. Definitely worth a visit if you are in Jersey.