It took me years to finally realize the one thing I love most about traveling. Sure, I love learning about new cultures, seeing historic marvels, meeting new people, encountering natural wonder from perfect beaches to wildlife adventures, but the one thing that binds me is visiting markets around the world. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes…markets take a different form around the world. Here at home, we have shopping malls and downtown shopping districts, which I honestly don’t find terribly interesting. There is a cultural element to these free-form markets. It’s not just a place to shop. It’s a place to eat, drinks, catch up with friends or family, or be entertained. Here are some of the markets from my travels:
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey. An endless labyrinth of just about everything Turkish you could ever want.
The French Market in New Orleans, Louisiana. 80% tourist tack, 20% really cool and unique artistic and culinary creations.
The Green Bazaar in Almaty, Kazakhstan. One market where they put signs up asking for no photos (in the most possibly non-touristy destination!!!) so you’d better be sneaky. A whole section is dedicated to horse meat.
Siab Bazaar, Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Some people heads for the stacks of dried fruits and nuts. I kept wandering around the fresh produce and who could miss the beautiful fresh bread?
Chor Bazaar, Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Walk around and sample, sample, sample.
The Souk, Marrakesh, Morocco. Who doesn’t immediately associate Morocco with these maze-like bazaars? Pretty lanterns for the tourists, footwear and cell phone accessories for the locals. Have fun with local guys trying to mis-direct you to go their or their friend’s shop/restaurant by telling you a certain path is closed (lies)
Weekend Market in Town Square, Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. Some markets just pop up on certain days. This one had live music!
Central Market, Ljubljana, Slovenia. People overlook this small country squeezed between its hyper-tourist neighbors Italy and Croatia. That’s exactly why it’s wonderful! The central market is buzzing with beautiful food, drink and fun kitschy goods for sale.
Dolac Market, Zagreb, Croatia. It’s a sharp contrast to the cruise ship madness in Dubrovnik to see little old Croatian ladies coming to the market to pick up a few fresh flowers or vegetables, like I imagine they have done for many decades. No hypermarkets for them, right?
Chaguanas Market, Chaguanas, Trinidad & Tobago.
Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan. Don’t expect anyone to speak much if any English, but a bit of body language goes a long way as you make a feast out of all sorts of taste Taiwanese street foods, and you can pretty much translate the woman selling you dumplings is trying to nicely point all the different dipping sauces.
24-hour Flower Market, Bangkok, Thailand
Saturday Market, Chiang Rai, Thailand. Intense, body-to-body experience with every food imaginable. Who doesn’t want to make a meal of everything from Pandan-stuffed Doriyaki to skewered beef?
Night Market, Luang Prabhang, Laos. It’s what’s for dinner. Take a bowl, fill it up, pay the standard fare and then get your protein.
Jagalchi Market, Busan, South Korea. One of the largest seafood markets in all of Asia.
Bird Souk, Doha, Qatar
Nishiki Market, Kyoto, Japan. The Japanese are the biggest tourists in their own country, and Nishiki market sells numerous different types of traditional Japanese treats.
Sunday Market, Pisac, Peru. The largest market in the Cusco region, where sellers come from all over to peddle their wares.
Marigot Market, Marigot, Saint Maarten.
Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, Lisbon, Portugal. I came up to explore the Upper Town of Lisbon, but came upon all sorts of wine tasting and delicious goodies and a spectacular view of the city. Some of my favorite travel experiences were totally by surprise.
Otavalo Saturday market, Otavalo, Ecuador. Come for the traditional textiles, stay for a portion of the roast whole pig and the animal market.
Granada, Nicaragua. When I forgot a comb at home I wasn’t pointed to a pharmacy or supermarket. I was told to ask around at the market until I found someone who sold one. Got to be careful with my pronunciation of the word for comb, which can easily mean something else!
Khlong Latmayom Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand. Most of this market is actually on the piers, but after snacking on satay and fish, join the local folks on a small boat ride through the backwater canals of Bangkok.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. In my heart, one of the culturally richest countries in the Americas.
Can Tho Floating Market, Can Tho, Vietnam. A true floating market where vegetable and fruit wholesalers sell to smaller boats headed to on-shore markets. Activity starts shutting down by 8-9am, so any visitors need to get here before sunrise.
Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czechia. Don’t feel like sitting in one of the overpriced restaurants in the town square? Join the queues for a sausage.
Flower Market, Krakow, Poland
Local Market, Bagan, Myanmar. Women adorned with a traditional form of make-up (thanaka), men in traditional longyi (loinclothes)
Pike Place Market, Seattle, USA. Possibly the most renowned market in the entire United States. Come for the seafood, stay for the incredible views out back.
San Telmo Weekend Market, Buenos Aires, Argentina. From antiques to street tango, this weekend market takes up a huge swath of city blocks.
Pueblito Los Dominicanos, Santiago, Chile. Set behind an old monastery, tons of cool local crafts reside here in the Eastern part of Santiago.
Granville Island Market, Vancouver, Canada. An entire island dedicated to markets!
Market Square, Helsinki, Finland. Care for some reindeer meatballs?