Markets Around the World
There is always something so special about markets in any given country, whether a farmer’s market or an artisan’s market, exploring them gives you a taste of the local lifestyle. At these markets your surrounded by a blanket of foreign languages, your senses are bombarded by the most delicious smells or the most strange, and you feel comfortably enmeshed with the culture. My favorite markets encompass a wide range of cities from Paris to Bangkok, and although for the most part they are extremely different, they share the same hustle and bustle and are so beautifully unique. Paris is one of the most alluringly idyllic cities in the world, and my favorite farmer’s market holds place in a lovely little square near the third arrondisement. When in Paris, the best thing to do is to rent an apartment for the week or as long as you wish. With a kitchen at your disposal, you can rummage these local farmer’s markets and stock your temporary fridge with the most delicious baguettes, brie, vegetables, pastries, and brilliant wines. Although it’s nice to enjoy meals at lovely cafes and bistros, it’s even better to pack up a picnic with your farmer’s goods and sit at a local park, or my favorite, the Place de Vosge in the Marais. Le Marche’ de la Bastille is one of the quaintest and charming farmer’s market in Paris. With a variety of stalls lined up in a park, surrounded by the perfection of French Architecture, this local market is both beautiful and sweet. Le Marche’ de la Bastille is open Thursdays and Sundays from 8:30-3:00.
Another great little Sunday market is Paris’s Marche Biologique. One hundred percent organic, this market presides in Saint Germain area and is deliciously special. With fresh produce and stalls that make mouth-watering muffins, and crispy potato pancakes, Marche Biologique has a chic and captivating Parisien vibe that will make you feel right at home. Its difficult to choose whether to buy the lovely wines, olives, lavender soaps, bundles of herbs, or bushels of colorful flowers.
Traveling half-way across the world to Thailand, is one of the largest and most diverse markets in the world. Chatuchak Market in Bangkok sells anything from Buddhist art to fried crickets. This local market offers visitors a plethora of Thai artisan goods, jewelry, clothes, statues, food, and animals. This weekend-only market is fantastically broad, covering 35 acres with over 5,000 stalls. This market is so exciting to visit that you must spend the entire weekend roaming from stall to stall, and exploring each crevice and mysterious corner. Chatuchak will constantly amaze you as every corner is completely different. As you meander through the weaving stalls you will find immense diversity with Gems and stones in one corner, and puppies and every form of insect in the other. In between shopping, you can stop in the center of the market and lunch on the most authentic Thai food. The cuisine ranges from deliciously Thai noodles and satays, to food only for the adventurous with fried crickets and sweetened slugs. A enormous Asian market experience, Chatuchak is so memorable and perfectly Thai.
[Above: Chatuchak Market]
Another lovely market in Thailand is the Ratchaburi Floating Market, right outside of Bangkok. This market is stunningly picturesque and along with its beauty is an adventurously local experience. Strictly a farmers market, Ratchaburi is where all the locals shop and trade their produce. You can rent a long tail boat at this river and engulf yourself in the local flavor of Thailand. As you cruise down this murky river your surrounded by the vibrant colors of boats, fruit and vegetables, and locals with their large straw hats. The wooden boats clink together while you try and squeeze your way past the chattering Thai as they barter through this floating market. This marketing experience gives you an appreciation of the local lifestyle, houses, and gardens and is a beautifully scenic and fun way to get a taste of a Thai floating market.
Next, we’ll go to Istanbul, Turkey to the world’s largest covered market, the Kapali Carsi Market. This bazaar is full of authentic Turkish goods such as rugs, pottery, brassware, leather apparel, and a million other “treasures”. Some have even described the Kapali Carsi as a town in itself, with 4,000 shops and miles of weaving passageways. This market is so whimsical and radiates an old world atmosphere, that draws you in further and further like a black hole. Turkey is well known for their rugs, so if you feel the desire to rug shop the experience is worth it. With so many competing rug shops, the owners will lure you in with their Turkish spiced teas and charming swagger. A common symbol you find in Turkish markets are the deep blue of the evil eyes (really a symbol for peace) that hang displaying from every stall. What makes this market unique from others in the world is that it has dozens of restaurants, a mosque, a police station, and is the makings of a tiny city within one covered space. The largest covered market in the world, The Kapali Carsi, is a memorable and a wonderfully bazaar, bazaar.
For a perfect mix of british quirkiness and tourism at its finest, visit Camden Lock Market right outside of London. Although Camden is a high tourist destination it is still worth a visit. With a mix of temporary stalls and permanent store fronts, Camden sells anything from clothing, books, candles, apothecary goods, fast food, to random bric-a-brac. The most popular section of this large market is beneath the archways in an area called The Stables, which was once a horse hospital with and stables over a railroad station’s viaducts. Camden is also popular for alternative sub cultures, such as goths and cyber-hipsters, because they have a wide range of alternative art and clothing very fitting for these trend-setters. Vintage and high-fashion finds are plentiful at Camden. Berty and Gerty, is a spot with great vintage finds and hip accessories. Vintage finds from the 1920’s to modern vintage are jammed packed into this tiny little treasure trove. Camden also has great little shops that will create custom clothing. Love You Long Time, is an ecclectic little place, with young designers and seamstresses who will create a custom look for you based on the fabric you choose and the direction you give them. With so much energy and space to explore, Camden Lock Market is a uniquely eclectic space that draws in those seeking more of a pop cultural view of world markets.
An idyllically special market weaving down the streets of Knotting Hill is the Portobello Market. Sometimes called the “worlds largest antiques market”, Portobello Market, located on Portobello Road is home to a row of antique stores. Every Saturday these antique stores collide with portable antique stalls filling Portobello Road with thousands of wonderful little treasures. The road itself is so enchanting with its colorful buildings, and old-world charm, making this market so fitting for this London niche. While your on Portobello, in between these antique stores is the sweetest cupcake shop in Europe. The Hummingbird Bakery sells the perfect cupcake to go along with your perfect afternoon strolling around Notting Hill.
Moving south to Barcelona, Spain, the Mercat de Sant Josep also called Boqueria , is a lovely Spanish market and the most popular in Barcelona. Situated just off La Rambla, Barcelona’s main street, Mercat de Sant Josep is a local produce market that is run by the loyal and local Barcelonans and is visited by market-goers daily. With smells that will assault your senses, and some that will bring a smile to your face, this beautifully local market has been around for decades. Its unique glass and iron architecture and ethereal atmosphere is truly remarkable, and will make the Boqueria a memorable market in your world travels.
Venturing to South America’s Otavalo Market, two hours north of Ecuador’s capital is the most famous and unique markets in all of Latin America. Surrounded by thousands of people, high in the Andes Mountains, you feel like your in movie. The indigenous culture, the local’s clothing, the colors, and their way of life is spectacular. Otavalo and the surrounding villages are fantastic and will take days to explore. Otovalo Market is open seven days a week, and starts at dawn. It is recommended to arrive as early as possible so you can see the animal market, food markets, arts and crafts, and amazing Ecuadorian textiles. The indigenous people of this mountainous Andes region are so beautifully dressed and authentically captivating. For impressive shopping and a vivid cultural experience, Odavalo is truly an inspiring and wonderfully traditional place to visit.
One of the most famous markets in Rome is the Porta Portese Market, located in magnificent Trastevere. Every Sunday this flea market overflows with shoppers digging through lovely mounds of old books, jewelry, silver, and little keepsakes. The surrounding architecture and antiquity of Rome will set the mood for hours of wandering the market and getting a taste of native Italian lifestyle. The chatter of their gracefully magnificent language mixed with amazing picturesque images will wow you. With thousands of vendors to explore this flea market will fill up your entire Sunday morning before a lazy and mouth-watering lunch of caprese and a margerita pizza.
Hong Kong’s most bustling market on Tung Choi Street, known as Ladies Market, is ever growing and ever popular. Although its called Ladies Market, it sells items for both men and women. With a wide array of goods from clothing, watches, jewelry, toys, bags, and jeans this is know as Hong Kong’s best fashion market. With so many people, smells, and wonderful chaos, you know your in a huge Asian city as you experience this eccentrically special market.
All these markets around the world are visually stimulating, and allow you to be one with the locals. These marketing experiences are unbelievably unique and give you a taste of each countries culture and beauty.