Around the world, markets are a good place to absorb local culture and get good bargains. They are often full of colours, scents and flavours
Whether street markets or flea markets, weekend markets or permanent markets, a market is very often one of the best places to buy souvenirs, knick-knacks or even stumble upon a rare find or two.
Almost every city in every country has its own popular market. While locals ply their wares there, tourists may like to gawk or stare and try to grab a great bargain, or even a great photo.
We have come up with a list of a few must-visit markets from around the world.
Please note, in most of these places, bargaining is quite common, so do not be shy to ask for discounts or a better price, especially when buying a larger quantity.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
Undoubtedly, many Singaporeans would be familiar with this place. This incredibly popular weekend market in Bangkok spans 27 sections and sells a myriad goods from clothing to souvenirs to furniture to books and even pets.
Food and beverages are also available at an affordable price. If you see something you like at a particular shop, you’d better buy it quickly as the place is so big, you might not find the shop again after walking away from it!
It’s surprising that Siam Paragon in Bangkok has recently been named as the most Instagram-ed place, when all the action is here! There is also a Chatuchak 2 in the Minburi district.
Tip: Always ask for their “best price”.
Ladies Street, Hong Kong
The real name of this street is Tung Choi Street but travellers would know this as Ladies Street. With over 100 stalls selling bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs, its name is derived from the sheer amount of items sold for women.
You might find some novelty lingerie, imitation bags and watches, paintings and even electronic products.
Haggling is almost mandatory here and you’ll always hear rapid-fire Cantonese around you.
Tip: Best if you can speak Cantonese or go with someone who can, so you’re not seen as a gwailo (foreigner).
Hippie Fair Crafts Market, Rio de Janeiro
What happens when a group of hippies start a market in 1968? The tradition continues to today, of course.
With over 700 stalls, this place is excellent for Brazilian contemporary art, jewellery, clothing and lots of food. You’ll find Brazilian goodies such as codfish omelette and coconut candy.
The fair takes place every Sunday from morning to late afternoon.
Tip: The merchants are open to bargaining, so make the most of it.
Camden Market, London
Having started in an old timber yard in 1972, this well-known market features some of London’s best designers and makers. Find that rock-a-billy dress you’ve been looking for, or some steam punk gear to stand out in the crowd.
Visit the Cyberdog for an eye-opening look into the fashion of the cyber-goths. There are also many Chinese food stalls plying their wares in the market.
Tip: Be discerning and look out for quality or rare items.
Sidi Bou Said Bazaar, Tunisia
This Tunisian souk [Arabic for “market”] has beautiful white walls with blue doors and windows that stand out. This makes it a great place for photos.
The stalls here are mostly artisanal and arranged according to types of products from the most important, such as perfumes and carpets, to silver tourist souvenirs.
Grab one-of-a-kind Tunisian pottery or Rose de Sable, natural sculptures of crystalized gypsum, for a souvenir like no other.
Tip: Dress modestly to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb, and to reduce the chances of being pickpocketed.
La Boqueria, Barcelona
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, better known simply as La Boqueria, was born as a travelling market from 1200 to 1700. [Yes, it’s been around for that long!] The market finally settled where it is located now.
The architecture itself is a marvel and the produce available here is astounding, including fresh fruit, and vegetables, charcuterie such as the famous jamon (Spanish cured ham), dried fruit, seafood and offal. Many think of it as the heart of Barcelona.
Ask before you snap photos of specific stalls to avoid a scolding.
Tip: If you’re not buying, don’t touch it!