Markets on the Street
Street markets have been centers of commerce for centuries. Even in the age of Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, these casual retail spaces, usually populated by small, independent vendors, are thriving in some parts of the world and are being revisited as viable places to shop in others. For tourists, cities with bustling market scenes are great destinations. If you want to toss out the guidebook and reallysee what locals are eating, buying, and — if you know the language — talking about, all you have to do is hit the local market. Of course, bargain hunting and eating always seem to end up on market visitors’ agendas, even if the outing began as a sightseeing-only exercise. Virtually every major metro area on the planet has at least some sort of market that can give visitors an authentic experience. However, the following markets are not to be missed and worthy of a spot on anyone’s itinerary.
St. Lawrence Market, Toronto
Toronto’s sprawling St. Lawrence Market is the envy of other mall-weary North American cities. The market has a 200-year history and currently consists of three large retail spaces. Open Tuesday through Saturday, St. Lawrence has specialty vendors selling artisan foods, organic meats and vegetables, and many other locally grown or handcrafted goods. More than 100 vendors populate the lower levels of the South Market building, while art and cultural exhibitions are regularly held on the upper level. The Saturday Farmers Market, held in the adjacent North Market building, brings even more options to hungry shoppers, while Sunday’s antiques show draws bargain hunters and collectors. The ground floor of St. Lawrence Hall, one of Toronto’s most historic structures and home to still more retailers, completes the market-lover’s triple crown.
La Boqueria, Barcelona
Barcelona is known for its beaches, its famous soccer club, and its architecture. However, La Boqueria is arguably the city’s most exciting attraction, at least from a food lover’s perspective. This market’s roots can be traced back to the 13th century, and its design and atmosphere are, for some visitors, as attractive as what’s for sale in the many market stalls. Boqueria’s edibles range from fresh seafood and vegetables to artisanal foods and Catalan specialties. Some visitors are bound to get inspired and want to do more than simply eat their way around the market. Luckily, Boqueria has an onsite culinary school so that those with culinary ambitions can take some Catalan kitchen skills back home with them.
Chandni Chowk, Delhi
Chandni Chowk is the busiest market in Delhi, as it has been for several hundred years. Located in its namesake neighborhood, within eyeshot of the famous Red Fort in the old town, this buzzing retail area offers the quintessential experience for anyone visiting the subcontinent. For some, the market, which can be described by a number of superlative adjectives, is simply a sensory overload. But, unlike the other markets on this list, it might actually be possible to get anything in Chandni Chowk: from made-to-order wedding dresses to exotic fruits to refurbished secondhand shoes. Each alley of this buzzing retail district holds something that is either unforgettable or simply unbelievable.
Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok
Chatuchak Weekend Market is a legend among tourists and Bangkok residents alike. It is the largest market in Thailand, by far, and one of the largest weekend markets in the world. Sometimes simply referred to as JJ (an apt abbreviation, since the “ch” sound in Thai is sometimes romanized as a “j”), it is a sprawling market that welcomes at least 200,000 people per day on the weekend. This place is a souvenir-hunter’s dream, with all sorts of exotic crafts, antiques and collectables for sale, alongside live animals, socks and boxer shorts, and virtually anything else you could want or need. Novices (and many locals) have trouble finding their way around the 35 acres of market stalls, but a huge variety of food vendors mean that hopelessly lost shoppers will never go hungry or thirsty while wandering aimlessly. Also, JJ has a smoking ban, so while you will be confronted with all sorts of scents, cigarette smoke will not be one of them.
Shilin Night Market, Taipei
Shilin Night Market is the largest of Taipei’s famous night markets. It is best known for its gigantic food court. Independent vendors sell their specialties in a virtual feeding frenzy, and many locals and visitors consider this one of the best places to eat in all of Taiwan. Renovations of the original market building over the past 10 years have led to some major moves for local vendors, but these food artisans, many of whom have a devoted group of regular customers, are still serving the same dishes that they always have. Hundreds of additional vendors are found along the streets that surround Shilin, with non-food related shops also part of the mix.
Marrakech is home to some of the best, most authentic shopping options in the Magreb. The city’s souks have starred in travel literature, films and armchair travelers’ daydreams for decades. Though it is often referred to as the Marrakech Souk by the uninitiated, there is actually no central market area, rather a series of interconnected markets that specialize in different items. Authentic Moroccan handcrafts are for sale down one narrow street, while dates and flatbreads overflow from street stalls and shop houses down an adjacent alleyway. Whether you are in the market for a handmade pair of sandals or an authentic Moroccan meal, or you simply want to take it all in without spending a single dirham, this commercial district is one of the best attractions in all of North Africa.
Camden Lock Market, London
The Camden Lock Market is a huge area of interconnected retail spaces where vendors sell everything from art and furniture to food and jeans. This is one of London’s biggest tourist attractions, with 100,000 people passing through the market on peak shopping weekends. Eating and bargain hunting are always options, but a calendar of special events, including concerts and art shows, are also part of the mix.
Rialto Market, Venice
The Rialto Market, in Italy’s tourism hot spot Venice, is one of the world’s most atmospheric retail spaces. It is also one of the oldest, with a market first moving to the area at the end of the 11th century. Today’s market sits on the bank of the Grand Canal, which is spanned by the famous Rialto Bridge, a stereotypically stylish and historic Venetian masterpiece that dates from the 1500s. The market itself is a bustle of activity every day, with goods unloaded from barges and locals aggressively seeking out the freshest and best items. Fish is the backbone of commerce at Rialto, though vegetables, fruit and other products important to Venetian cuisine are also on display. For tourists, a visit is more about the experience than about shopping, but what an experience it is!
Ver-o-peso, Belem, Brazil
Markets worth mentioning for their size are found in Brazil’s main cities, from Sao Paulo to Rio to Salvador. Perhaps the most unusual space, however, is the Ver-o-peso Market in the midsized city of Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon. Açai berries are one of this market’s recognizable staples, but many other products are completely foreign to visitors. Fish and fruits found deep in the forests of the Amazon are for sale here, and not for sale (or even seen) anywhere else in the world. This is a place where the true wealth and diversity of this largely unexplored region of the world are on display.
Portland Farmers Market
There are plenty of excellent farmers markets in the U.S., but our list’s American entry is the Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University because of its local, organic focus and diversity of items. Aside from super-fresh seafood, this Saturday shopping spot in the City of Roses features exotic foods that are made and grown locally. Vendors hawk everything from Asian vegetables that are hard to get on this side of the Pacific to buffalo meat to organic berries. Overall, Portland has an impressive menu of farmers markets, with Travel and Leisure Magazine calling it one of the best market cities in the entire country.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
Sprawling over a huge area in the city center, Kapali Çarsi (kah-pah-luh chahr-shuh; “Covered Market”) was the first shopping mall ever built. During Byzantine times, this was the site of a bustling market; when the Ottomans arrived, it grew bigger and more diverse. The prime location attracted guilds, manufacturers, and traders, and it grew quickly — its separate chunks were eventually connected and roofed to form a single market hall. Before long, the Grand Bazaar became the center for trade in the entire Ottoman Empire. At its prime, the market was locked down and guarded by more than a hundred soldiers every night, like a fortified castle.
The Grand Bazaar remained Turkey’s commercial hub — for both locals and international traders — through the 1950s. Its 4,000 shops were bursting with everything you can imagine, from jewelry to silk clothing, and traditional copperware to exotic, Oriental imports. But then the Grand Bazaar was discovered by travelers seeking the ultimate “Oriental market” experience. Prodded by shopaholic tourists with fat wallets, prices and rents skyrocketed, and soon modest shopkeepers and manufacturers found themselves unable to compete with the big money circulating through the bazaar’s lanes. These humble merchants moved outside the bazaar, displaced by souvenir and carpet shops.
Today’s Grand Bazaar sells ten times more jewelry than it used to. While tourists find it plenty atmospheric, locals now consider its flavor more Western than Oriental. And yet, even though the bazaar has lost some of its traditional ambience, enough artifacts remain to make it an irreplaceable Istanbul experience.
Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia
Queen Victoria Market is more than just Melbourne’s shopping mecca – it’s an historic landmark, a tourist attraction and an shopping institution for Melburnian’s.
This vast and vibrant centre of trade and commerce was officially opened on 20 March 1878 and has served consumers needs for more than 120 years.
The Vic Market as it is known by Melburnian’s is a great place to get a feel for Melbourne’s diverse cultures.
Spread over 7 hectares, it is the largest open air Market in the southern hemisphere. Almost one thousand traders sell everything from exotic Australian fruit and vegetables and local and imported gourmet foods, meat, fish and poultry to hardware, manchester, clothing and authentic Australian artefacts and souvenirs.
Wine tasting is conducted Sunday afternoons, providing a great opportunity to try some of the world class wines produced in many regions throughout the state. The market is the most popular visitor attraction in Victoria, and guided tours are available Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings.
In its 120 plus years, Queen Victoria Market has had a colourful and sometimes controversial history. During that time, the site has been a cemetery, a Livestock Market and a Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market.
The Queen Victoria Market was officially opened on 20 March 1878.
Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong
Temple Street Market, also known as Temple Street Night Market, is one of Hong Kong’s biggest and arguably best markets. If you’re only going to see one market while in Hong Kong, it should probably be Temple Street Market. The market doesn’t really get busy until after dark, and even if you aren’t interested in a bargain, it’s worth a visit to see the crowds and colors and enjoy some food.
There are hundreds of stalls on Temple Street alone, but also on many of the streets that intersect with Temple Street. The emphasis is on fashion, with stalls selling everything from knock off Gucci handbags, to carefully embroidered Chinese jackets, but you can find stalls selling just about anything. You should be warned that many of the goods on offers are fakes or copies, which is why they’re often priced so cheaply. In addition the market itself, you’ll also find an endless supply of Dai Paid Dongs serving street side snack food on plastic seating as well as clusters of fortune tellers offering palm readings, tarot cards and more. You should absolutely expect to bargain
Temple Street is a spectacle as much as it is a shopping experience.
Shilin Night Market, Taipei, Taiwan
Shilin Night Market is the one of the largest night markets in Taipei. The market is centered on Yangming Theater and Cicheng Temple. The night market is formed by many prosperous shops on Wenlin Road, Dadong Road and Danan Road, etc. Among them, Shilin Market was built as early as in 1899 and the market is famous for various snacks and eatery. Many visitors have come to Shilin Night Market to enjoy the delicious foods, such as large pancake enfolding small pancake, hot pot on stone or Shilin sausage. Shilin Night Market has become a renowned place for great foods.
Because the night market is close to many schools, students are the main customer group. Goods are sold at less expensive prices as compared to regular stores. There are special areas for furniture, clothing, photo shops or pet shops. The finery shops and cold dessert shops in “lover’s lane” attract most student customers.
Shilin Night Market covers a large area. When one walks in the turning lanes and alleys, he (she) would often find something unexpected. The night market is packed with many people during holidays. We can often see families carrying many things from shopping and enjoying good meals. Their satisfaction is fully shown from their happy expressions.
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