The best markets around the world offer a window into the local culture. Of course, many destinations are well known for their bustling markets, such as the legendary Grand Bazaar in Istanbul or the floating markets of Bangkok! Whether you’re on the hunt for handmade crafts or regional snacks, be sure to add these famous markets to your travel plans!
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Grand Bazaar – Istanbul, Turkey
An icon of Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest and largest covered markets on earth. Encompassing 61 streets and around 4,000 shops, this labyrinthine bazaar is a must-visit if you travel to Turkey. So, what can you buy in the Grand Bazaar? Well, pretty much anything is on sale here. From stalls stacked high with colourful Turkish Delight to the glistening jewellery shops of the ‘Gold Jewellers’ Road’, each section of the market specialises in different products. Founded in 1461, the Grand Bazaar is an excellent example of Ottoman-era architecture. One of the best markets in the world, you’ll need to spend at least half a day to truly get to grips with the size and diversity of this market!
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – Bangkok, Thailand
Around 100 kilometres southwest of Bangkok, this famous market is worth the day trip! In fact, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country! An authentic example of a traditional Thai water market, traders sell their wares from small boats along the Damnoen Saduak canal. With tiny wooden boats, piled high with colourful fruit and vegetables, the sights and sounds of this unique market must be seen to be believed! Local farmers, often wearing large-brimmed straw hats, come to the market every morning to sell their fresh produce, a tradition that has endured for more than 100 years in this very spot! If you’ve never visited a floating market before, this is one of the best markets to experience the hustle and bustle of an authentic Thai water market.
Tsukiji Fish Market – Tokyo, Japan
If you’re a foodie in Tokyo, you can’t miss out on an early morning visit to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. The largest fish market in the world, it’s a must-see if you’re a sushi aficionado! Covering an area of more than three blocks, this enormous market supplies most of the sushi restaurants in the city. Here, an array of fresh fish is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Restaurants try to outbid each other to secure the best quality ingredients for themselves! Only 120 visitors are permitted to watch this spectacle each morning. The main event, namely the giant tuna auction, takes place a 5 a.m., so you’ll have to get up early!
Chichicastenango Market – Guatemala
Handicrafts, colourful textiles and authentic Guatemalan culture; this is what you can expect if you visit Chichicastenango! One of the best markets in Guatemala, Chichicastenango is the largest outdoor market of its kind in South America. Thursday and Sunday are market days when the town is filled with visitors, traders and locals. Historically, Chichicastenango has always been a place of trade and this tradition lives on today. As well as incredible handmade textiles and authentic souvenirs, the market is also a fascinating place to experience the diverse cultures of the Guatemalan highlands.
Jemaa el-Fnaa Square – Marrakech, Morocco
No trip to Marrakech would be complete without dining at Jemaa el-Fnaa Square! One of the best food markets, Jemma el-Fnaa only gets going after dark. As day turns into night, locals pitch their stalls and begin cooking up a feast of incredible Moroccan and Arabic dishes. From kebabs and tajines to mouth-watering pastries, this food market feeds thousands of hungry locals and tourists every night of the week! During the day, the square is better known for its snake charmers and entertainers. Visiting at night is a totally different experience and a true window into Moroccan culture and flavours! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the perfect place to end your day after a shopping spree in the souks of the Medina.
Chandi Chowk Market – Delhi, India
Over 300 years old, Chandi Chowk is a landmark of Delhi. A shopping area rather than a designated marketplace, it’s one of the largest of its kind in the country. Locals, tourists and visitors flock here to examine the endless array of goods. Each section of the neighbourhood is dedicated to different items. For example, Dariba Kalan is where you’ll find great value silverware, whilst Nai Sarak is known for its used books. What makes this market so astounding is its sheer size and the volume of products on offer here. A literal treasure trove, although the hustle and bustle can be a little overwhelming it’s considered one of the top sights in Delhi.
Khan El-Khalil Bazaar – Cairo, Egypt
Travelling to Egypt? Well, make a little time to visit the Khan El-Khalil Bazaar! Established during the Mamluk era, Khan El-Khalil is located in the historic centre of Cairo. This bazaar specialises in handmade ornaments and decorations, such as Egyptian lamps and carpets. As you stroll through its narrow streets be sure to appreciate the beautiful architecture of this historic part of the city, seemingly unchanged by the passing of time. After exploring the bazaar, be sure to stop at El Fishawi Coffee Shop. The oldest coffee shop in the Middle East, it’s the perfect spot for people watching!
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