Visiting a city these days is about so much more than hitting up the same old tourist traps. Those looking to discover what foreign places really have to offer might find themselves wandering off the beaten track and directly into the heart of the best spot any city has to offer: The market. While the contents of each city markets can vary hugely, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great flavor of local life in each one you attend, whether it be food, culture or clothing centered.
Around the world, there are some markets which blow the rest out of the water and if you’re on the hunt for something really special, then you might want to refine your search a little bit. While these markets are by no means exhaustive, they do offer up a version of international life that is unlike anything you’ve ever tried before. Hold on to your shopping bags; things are about to get really interesting.
Borough Market, London
Foodies from across the world flock to London’s Borough Market, and it’s really not hard to see why. Located in a booming industrial hall, the market specializes in almost every type of cuisine, and is a great place in which to try something new. While twists on classic British food are widespread, you can also expect to find great variations on exotic foods, seafood, baked goods and local produce. The full market is open all day from Wednesday to Saturday, and is a great place to sneak to if you’re fed up of all of the crowded tourist dining spots. While it is almost always busy, it is for good reason and as long as you’re willing to fight for your supper, you’re guaranteed a plate of something interesting.
Nestled at the intersection between Central and Western Asia, Kashgar is a real mix of cultural influences and to journey there is to experience a place unlike any other. If you really want to understand what it’s all about, however, you will make a beeline for the city’s mammoth bazaar, which is packed full of every type of product imaginable. Bringing together local food, trinkets, handmade goods and cultural items under one roof, the Bazaar is the perfect place to fully understand the myriad of local cultures that influence the place. Locals make their way to the market on Sundays to stock up for the week, so while the day can be incredibly busy, it is also a great window into Kashgar life.
Chatuchuk Market, Bangkok
Thailand is a city renowned for its street food and local markets and while there are a huge number of incredible spots around the country’s islands, there’s no arguing that Chatuchuk in Bangkok is the best. One of the largest markets in the entire country, Chatuchuk is also one of the most diverse and whether you’re hunting for handmade clothes, local food or cultural trinkets, you’re bound to find something incredibly unique. With stalls winding every which way in the market, it’s easy to spend hours simply wandering through the labyrinth, taking in everything on show. It might sound overwhelming but don’t worry; the market is broken up into themed sections, making shopping there much less intimidating.
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Of course, there’s a lot of great stuff going on elsewhere in the world and in some cases, you don’t have to journey too far to experience something extraordinary. At nearly 100 years old, Pike Place Market in Seattle is one of the oldest in the world, and has clearly perfected the market formula over the years. While there are a few “tourist friendly” stalls set up, the majority of things on sale are bought by locals, so the market is a great place in which to slip into community life. Fresh food stands attract large crowds, especially at the weekends, so if you’re in line to buy, make sure you have your eyes on the prize. While the market isn’t the biggest of its kind, it is one of the most diverse and shoppers there are bound to come away with something truly unique.
Stanley Market, Hong Kong
Quite possibly the most popular market in the whole of Hong Kong, Stanley Market is worth visiting at least once in your life. While it is located a little way from the center of things, making a trip there is more than worth it. On arrival, you can expect to be greeted by hoards of clothes, paintings, silks and local foods, all dotted around the many restaurants and cafes inside.