World's most marvellous markets
By Martha Hales
What better way to get under the skin of a destination than to visit the local market? Whether you are a browser, a people-watcher or a dedicated bargain hunter, markets are going to be a highlight of any trip. Throughout the world, they are places full of life and the bustle of buying and selling, giving you a fantastic insight into local produce, culture, cuisine and life in general. Often, markets are not just places to buy and sell, they are hubs for community life complete with bars and cafés to take a breather from all that shopping and watch the world go by. We’ve picked ten of our favourites to give you some inspiration for your next holiday.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
The famous wet market, site of pre-dawn auctions of huge numbers of fresh fish, moved sites to Toyoshu in late 2018, but the Tsukiji outer market around the original site is still home to everything but the fish: you can find specialist shops selling knives, dishes, sushi making equipment and just about anything required for Japanese cuisine. The sushi restaurants are still here too, offering some of the freshest plates in the city for breakfasting workers and tourists.
Experience Tsukiji fish market with our trusted local expert's Classic Japan tour.
Chadni Chowk, Delhi, India
Dating back centuries, Delhi’s ever-busy street market sits right at the heart of Old Delhi, and it’s a true assault on the senses. Different types of shops are clustered in groups so it's easy to compare prices and ranges without crisscrossing the whole market. Jewellery and perfume are popular buys, along with antiques, fabrics, saris and scarves. The spice section is especially impressive and characterful, and it's a good place for souvenir shopping.
Take a look at our trusted local expert's Taste of India itinerary and get one step closer to this bustling street market.
Kashgar market, China
The ‘live market’ of Kashgar is held on Sundays and it's not a day out for the faint hearted, as the livestock are numerous, large and pretty pungent. Trucks and trailers pile in from all over, bringing buyers and sellers together, and then the haggling commences. Kashgar’s indoor bazaar is an exotic and colourful market where you can buy household goods, fabrics, spices and dry food, with the fresh food stalls and street food vendors occupying the streets nearby.
To experience this unique market, take a look at our local expert's Mysteries of the Silk Route tour and get one step closer to seeing it for yourself!
Chichicastenango market, Guatemala
A vibrant pop of colour and life greets you as you arrive at Chichicastenago. The amazing handicrafts are the main draw here, and you will find every Guatemalan souvenir you can imagine - at great prices if you get your haggling head on. Textiles and masks are highly sought after, and refreshments are another good buy, with fresh fruit juices and handmade snacks available all over the market - though perhaps save the poultry section until after you've eaten!
Explore Guatemala with our trusted local experts.
Sao Joaquim market, Salvador, Brazil
See local culture and commerce at this open air market which sells everything from fresh vegetables to live goats and much more besides. The produce market is quite an experience, with a huge range of tropical fruit and a vaguely grisly meat section where whole animals are butchered and you can buy pretty much any part of them. The squeamish are better off sticking to the dry goods areas, where you can browse spices, ceramics, religious articles and homewares.
For Brazil trip inspiration take a look at one of our trusted local expert's suggested itineraries.
Novopodrezkovo flea market, Moscow, Russia
If your idea of fun is pottering through an immense flea market where goods on sale range from pure junk to vintage fashions and impressive Soviet era memorabilia, you need to make a beeline for Moscow’s Novopodrezkovo flea market where anything upwards of 2,000 sellers come to ply their wares every weekend. Whether you go home with something fabulous or something worthless all depends on your perseverance as you pick through the mountains of goods on sale.
Browse our trusted local expert's recommended Russia itineraries for trip inspiration.
La Merced market, Mexico City, Mexico
Huge piles of tomatoes, avocados, limes and chillies brighten up the display at Mexico’s most famous produce market, one of the oldest and largest in the capital. The market is divided into separate sections, the fresh fruit and veg is the largest and most enticing. Not only is it a great place to see Mexico City’s cooks gather the ingredients for the next family feast, it's also a fabulous place to get to know the street food here. Stalls all around the market offer a bewildering array of delicious treats to tempt you.
Explore Mexico with one of our trusted local expert's suggested itineraries.
Makola market, Accra, Ghana
Lively and noisy, this is a hub of commerce in the Ghanaian capital and buzzes with activity from dawn until dusk. Makola is a large and overwhelming experience but one which showcases the sights, sounds and scents of West Africa as you weave through the lanes. A guide is advisable for first timers as it’s a difficult place to navigate, but once you’ve found your way around it's a great place to stock up on kente cloth and Ghanaian foods.
Visit Makola market with our trusted local expert's Highlights of Ghana Tour.
Otavalo market, Ecuador
This market is renowned through Ecuador and beyond as a great place to see local culture and browse the huge array of handicrafts. It's such a big market that Otavalo begins to fill up on a Friday as vendors and visitors arrive ready for the big event on Saturday, and if you visit you’ll understand - almost every street in town is packed with stalls selling everything from musical instruments to blankets. Textiles are a good buy, as they are locally made and great quality.
Check out our trusted local expert's Active Ecuador tour for trip inspiration.
Marrakech souk, Morocco
The sprawling souk in Marrakech is an Aladdin's cave of fabulous crafts and trinkets overflowing from the honeycomb of shops into the lanes and alleyways of the souk. Each artisan craft has its own area, so you can enjoy a street of stunning brass lanterns, another packed with colourful carpets, one for ceramics and another for leatherwork. The size and complexity of the souk means it’s difficult to retrace your steps, so if you see something you want to buy, snap it up in case you can’t find it again.
Visit Marrakech for a long weekend with our trusted local experts and experience the delights of this magical souk.
Make it happen
Which of these fantastic markets will make it onto your holiday wishlist? Click on the links above to find out what other great activities each of these destinations can offer. Our handpicked local experts can personalise your itinerary to include as many markets as you like. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office please call +44 (0)117 325 7898.