Markets are one of our absolute favorite things to visit when we travel. We really do our best to not miss a local market. We do our research on local markets prior to departing for a trip, jotting down the hours of operation, what the market specializes in, where’s the best place to grab breakfast, etc. But we also love stumbling upon the small markets that only the locals know about, the ones you’d never read about on any travel site.
Waking up early to head to the market for breakfast or just to smell the fresh flowers gives us a sense of authenticity about the city we’re exploring and its people. From fresh foods to authentic souvenirs and all things in between, here are a few reason why markets belong in the must-see category.
There is sometimes no better place to get the most freshest and authentic local foods than at a market. Generally speaking its also the cheapest place to grab breakfast, lunch or even dinners (at night markets) and you’ll not only have tons of varieties to choose from but often they are exclusive to the markets only and either very difficult or expensive to find at sit down restaurants.
Marketplaces often have the best souvenirs and contrary to what a lot of people think, its not always food related. Prices are often cheaper than if you were to go to a local souvenir store and many items sold by the vendors are handmade by them, so you’re getting your product right from the source.
3. People watching
Markets are visited by locals routinely, it’s such a great place to people watch and see the everyday life of the destination you’re at. We love grabbing something to eat, sitting on the nearest bench and seeing locals purchase (and sometimes haggle) for their everyday items.
4. Holiday exclusives
Of all the holiday markets, Christmas markets tend to be the most popular and often the best. However, depending on which country you visit, the holiday markets are not limited to Christmas only. In India markets are lit up in their best light productions during Holi (Celebration of Colors), Diwali (Celebration of Light). In Bangladesh, street markets specialize in products made of clay and flowers for Pohela Boikshak (Bengali New year). In much of middle east and other Islamic countries, markets are droned with beautiful clothing, shoes, and henna tattoo stations for Eid (Islamic holiday). In China, street markets sell banners, lanterns and all things red for Chinese New year. It’s a great place to experience specialty food, purchase exclusive trinkets/clothing only available during the holidays, and observe how locals celebrate.
5. Affordable Spa Treatments
This one is geared more towards Asian and parts of Central America, but street markets are a great place to find spa stations. In Thailand, foot massage places are a dime a dozen. From all the walking you end up doing at these markets, a massage spot is very much welcome, especially one that costs a fraction of what it does in the western world.
Here are some of our favorite markets from around the world (in no particular order):
Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain
Great Market Hall, Budapest, Hungary
Paris Christmas Market, Paris, France
Chiang Mai Night Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington, USA
Granville Island Public Market, Vancouver, Canada
Mong Kok Market, Hong Kong
Chelsea Market, New York, USA
Outdoor Market, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Hamburg Christmas Market, Hamburg, Germany
If you have a favorite, please share! We’d love suggestions for our future trips.
As always, Happy and Safe Travels!