Certainly not the best for shopping, but among the most unique and great for photos, this market is on the railway tracks, not too far outside of Bangkok. Primarily produce, fish, seafood, vegetables and fruit, a walk through this market, particularly when a train comes, is undoubtedly odd and incredibly interesting. When the train chatters through, the stall holders casually fold up their tent awnings and stand back, just to as quickly unfurl their tarps and continue on with railway commerce as the train passes by.
With Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, growing at a rapid pace, this central market has lost some of its charm, and although it is certainly the most frequented by tourists, we still love taking a walk through its endless array of stalls, picking up a bag of sugar-cane juice (yes a bag) to refresh and haggling over a semi-decent bag or wallet for our significant other. The stallholders are pushy but in good fun, and the food stands delectable. Being in the center of the city, the market is easy to visit and offers some of the best street food during the night market. Interested in flowers? There’s a flower market out back.
Located near the gate of the same name, Seoul’s Namdaemun Market is the country’s largest traditional market, opened in the 1960’s, and the most enjoyable to walk around and get a good glimpse of market life in Korea. With both indoor & outdoor stalls selling everything from carpets to kitsch to ginseng, a stroll through the market is a walk through modern & traditional Korea with sellers broadcasting their wares from atop their stall tables and others simply peddling their jars of kim chi.
Bangkok has many markets, but the sheer scale of Chatuchak on the weekend has made this a staple for visitors to Asia’s City of Angels. There are thousands of booths in about a 30 acre space selling quite possibly everything from handicrafts to clothing to household furniture, and on and on. Locals and tourists congregate making this weekend market among the country’s most popular. More a mainstream market, but well worth your time, and a good place to brush up on your bargaining skills, they will be needed. Food is available, so take your time. Keep hydrated with the many stalls of freshly squeezed orange juice, it’s liquid bliss.
More an experience than a shopping outing, this market is busy, big and very old. One of India’s largest wholesale markets, Chandni Chowk is more a neighbhourhood than a mere market. Built in the 17th century, and visited by traders and explorers ever since, this is a favorite for taking a pedicab ride to best explore at ground level. Shop for fabrics, jewelry, spices, and pretty much everything in between. Very easy to get lost, but just as fun getting found, take some time off the pedicab to stroll the narrow streets.
Located in the Old City, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has been the heart of the Istanbul for centuries. Simply put, the Grand Bazaar is huge. With over 60 streets, 22 entrances and thousands and thousands of workers, this covered bazaar is one of Istanbul’s greatest marvels. Stroll through vaulted corridors, haggle over everything, and immerse yourself for a few hours or a few days, this is history.
Markets in Myanmar are among the most authentic you’ll find in Southeast Asia, but the rotating markets in and around Inle Lake are arguably the country’s most fascinating. These colorful and bustling markets set up in different areas over 5 days where hill tribe communities peddle their wares from vegetables and fruit to longyis, Shan bags, lacquerware and more. The market is both on land and water, so even without shopping this remains a great cultural experience as you also learn about the diversity of this Golden Land, with many cultures congregating in one place. Markets are currently held in Ywama, Mine Thauk, Indein, the Phaung Daw Ooo Pagoda, and the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery.
A bustling warren of streets, alleys, lanes and a genuine feeling of the old-world, this market is Cairo on a small scale. Selling everything from premier league shirts to traditional instruments to fresh bread, this market deserves your valued holiday time. Take some time to wander along the cavernous alleys, through ancient gates and passed aggressive sellers, haggle (a lot), and then sit down for a meal of koshari and a tea. Not interested in shopping? Perfect, come and explore and keep your Egyptian pounds for a falafel wrap afterwards.
Not only is Luang Prabang one of our favorite places in Southeast Asia, but once the sun sets the sellers get out their blue & red tents and set up shop at one of the most enjoyable markets in the region. Indigenous Hmong women head to town and offer us all a good look at their culture through handicrafts. This night market is one of the best places to purchase handmade jewellery and textiles in the region. Unlike many of her counterparts, this market is rarely ‘push & shove’, and more ‘how can I help you’, followed by some good conversation and fun-loving haggling. Off the main market streets, try some local fare or take part in some street games. Darts, anyone?
Our number one favorite market is this colorful gem up in the hills of Northern Vietnam, not far from the border with China. Commonly visited as a trip to/from the more popular old French Hill Station, Sapa, the Bac Ha Sunday Market is a kaleidoscope of color from the neighbouring hill tribe villages, primarily the Flower Hmong in their vibrant traditional dress. See everything from traditional wares and handmade textiles to a livestock auction and a fascinating outdoor eatery with everything from the ubiquitous noodle dishes to barely recognizable regional classics.