7 Famous Markets Around the World

Posted on January 30, 2012 by

To get a good glimpse into a country’s culture, you really can’t go wrong at the local market. From colorful, explosive food bazaars to classic vintage flea fairs, markets showcase local daily life and allow visitors a chance to dive deep. These markets can be a feast for both the eyes and the soul. Whether you are looking to mingle with the locals, try some exotic food or simply go souvenir-shopping, a visit to local markets promises to enhance your travel experience. Be sure to bring some foreign currency, leave some extra space in your luggage and get ready for some haggling!

1. Chatuchak Market – Bangkok, Thailand

The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the largest markets in the world – with over 5,000 stalls sprawled across an area of 35 acres. As a major attraction in Bangkok, Chatuchak features a wide and diverse variety of products, from clothing to Thai handicraft, religious figures to food and even live animals. This hugely popular market receives over 200,000 visitors each day, attracting locals and tourists alike. When in Bangkok, Thailand, be sure to head down here during the weekends, wander through its dizzying rows of stalls, try some deep-fried insects and watch Bangkok come alive.

2. Djemaa el Fna – Marrakech, Morocco

The epicenter of Marrakech lies in the Djemma el Fna, a square bursting with so much energy that it can be almost overwhelming for the first-time traveler. During the day, the square is a mishmash of snake charmers, water sellers, Berber story-tellers and peddlers. Inside the souk is a labyrinth of traditional Arabic souvenir stores splashed out in glittery colors and atmospheric lights. By night, the whole area gets transformed into a night food market where hundreds of food stalls are laid out in the square – selling everything from barbequed meat skewers to stewed snails.

3. Chichicastenango Market – Chichicastenango, Guatemala

The indigenous market of Chichicastenango in Guatemala is famed for the plethora of traditional handicraft, food, pottery and textiles on sale. In fact it has gained such a good reputation for itself that travelers often go out of their way to visit Chichicastenango for the market itself. The Ki’che Mayan town sits at an altitude of over 1,965m, right on the crest of mountain peaks. Market days fall on Thursdays and Sundays where vendors sell colorful masks, wooden carvings and carpets. The kaleidoscope of colors provide excellent photography opportunities.

4. Queen Victoria Market – Melbourne, Australia

Queen Victoria Market is not just the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere, it is also an important landmark in Melbourne, Australia. Dating back 130 years, the market building plays a significant role in preserving the city’s culture and heritage; it is even listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Today, it is more of an attraction and favorite local haunt – offering a flurry of fresh foods ranging from seafood to gourmet and deli food; as well as an assortment of indie-produced clothing, handicraft and jewelry. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the hot doughnut van outside the market – it’s been operating for more than 50 years!

5. Chandni Chowk – Delhi, India

Set amidst narrow alleys and cluttered walkways, Chandni Chowk is a chaotic network of shops and eateries that sell everything from saris, leather good and shoes to electronics, silverware and Indian delicacies and sweets. As Asia’s largest wholesale market, you can just imagine the size of it, and the amount of goods packed into it. In every other direction, you’ll find the bazaar divided into sub-markets specializing in different products. To navigate its highly congested streets without feeling claustrophobic, the best way is to hop on a rickshaw and cruise your way around the market.

6. Grand Bazaar – Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s biggest and oldest market, the Grand Bazaar attracts between 250,000 and half a million visitors from Turkey and around the world everyday with over 4,000 shops and 58 covered walkways. The bazaar’s complex also holds historical significance, having been constructed between 1455 and 1461 by Sultan Mehmed. These days, it is the top attraction in Istanbul with its mélange of jewelry, spice and carpet shops extremely popular among tourists. Besides the stalls, the bazaar houses two mosques, two hamams (Turkish baths), fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes.

7. Portobello Road Market, London

Possibly the most well known market on this list, Portobello Road Market has gained fame worldwide thanks to its quirky second-hand clothes stores and unique antique sellers. Since its early days in the 19th century, this market has long been a fixture of London, and  visitors from around the world often flood here to find curios and collectibles. As its name implies, the market is found along Portobello Road, a famous street that cuts through the Notting Hill district of London. Parts of the streets are closed to traffic and lined with hundreds of antique stalls as well as fruit and vegetable stalls every Saturday.

*All photos above are our own – they cannot be used without permission.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

23 Responses to “7 Famous Markets Around the World”

  1. Abhijit January 30, 2012 11:41 pm #

    Glad to see Chandni Chowk mentioned in this post! I went there as a kid! :)

    La Boqueria, Barcelona could also possibly get a mention in this list..

    • Nellie February 5, 2012 10:35 pm #

      Oh great suggestion – I should have added La Boqueria, one of my favorite markets in Spain!

  2. Abhijit January 30, 2012 11:45 pm #

    Glad to see Chandni Chowk get a mention here. I visited it when I was a little kid! :)

    La Boqueria, Barcelona could possibly also get a mention here..

  3. travels of adam January 30, 2012 2:31 pm #

    Any list where I've personally visited 5 of the 7 makes me feel pretty good. Guess I should head to Istanbul and Guatemala sometime soon :D

    • vanshika February 9, 2013 10:48 am #

      o really

  4. Jennifer Boyle January 31, 2012 6:32 pm #

    I've been to a few of the markets on your list but while Australia's Victoria Markets in Melbourne are good I consider the Eumundi Markets in Queensland much better for locally made products – food, clothing, homewares, art, furniture etc and a great vibe

    • Nellie February 5, 2012 10:38 pm #

      Thanks for the suggestion! We stil haven\’t been to Queensland, definitely need to check out that market the next time we\’re there!

  5. Dean February 1, 2012 12:56 pm #

    Visiting markets is one of my favourite things to do when I travel. Chatuchak market in Bangkok was great (although I got lost) but I particularly liked some of the quieter markets in Thailand and other parts of SE Asia. I really want to visit some of the bazaars in the Middle East and Morocco. Great post.

  6. Jonathan Simmons February 1, 2012 9:13 pm #

    Thanks for a great post. To date, I've been to 2 of the 7 on your list (the Djemaa el-Fna and the Grand Bazaar), and the latter doesn't do me much credit because I live in Istanbul anyway. I guess I've got some catching up to do! Oh well. Speaking of the Grand Bazaar, I'm glad you mention its restaurants and cafes, because a lot of people aren't aware that you can eat there without going outside. Here' s some info I found on Bazaar eateries: http://bit.ly/z4RVUH

    Thanks again, and happy travels!

  7. Will Peach February 5, 2012 10:08 pm #

    Oh my! London has got a tonne. Broadway or Colombia Road take the age for me I'm afraid. Great round-up though and I desperately want to see the others!

  8. Jeff Solomon February 11, 2012 9:18 am #

    hey! when u get here in Manila, make sure that u visit Divisoria as it is as big as chatuchak and there u can find the cheapest bargain. . .

  9. Steve @ Back-Packer June 1, 2012 6:16 am #

    Going to a market while visiting a foreign country is always an important part of my travels – there you get to see some of the "real life" going on at that place. Moreover it's a good chance to meet locals and try the typical local stuff (depending on the market).
    Thx for that helpful list!

    I would add el rastro – the flea market in madrid!

  10. Alex June 13, 2012 10:28 pm #

    Headed to London for the Olympics in August. Definitely want to visit the Portobello Road Market while I'm there!

  11. Surminga July 15, 2012 10:00 pm #

    Chatuchak is great, can source anything Thai – have you heard of the Thai floating market in Bangkok as well, thats a great market

  12. Drew Gagne July 29, 2012 8:01 pm #

    This is a great post…food, food, food! Although they aren't listed here, I've always loved the markets in Mexico. My favourite was Oaxaca, with Xochimilco in Mexico City a close runner-up.

    Then there's Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona…"a temple of food" where you can sit at a bar and drink cava at 10 a.m. while an adorably abusive woman grills garlic butter squid for you. Best morning meal of my life!

  13. Gina September 11, 2012 4:06 pm #

    Lots of neat sounding bazaars. I've only been to the Grand Bazaar at this point and that one was so massive it was overwhelming. Fun bartering, though. :)

  14. Travel universally October 29, 2012 9:20 am #

    We have been in Chandni Chowk market last year. Though it's a good market for purchasing so many stuffs, But proper care and obervation is needed while choosing the right product. and one has to be alert in order to keep away from pick pocketers.

  15. hermes bags January 16, 2013 7:36 pm #

    I have used my bookmark die so many times and this is a great idea.

  16. Daniel Isaacs April 5, 2013 3:08 am #

    The Bangkok, Marrakech, and Istanbul markets are definite must-visits for me. What can I say? I'm a sucker for exotic food – especially spicy ones.

  17. I must thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this website.
    I really hope to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well.
    In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own website now ;)

  18. sharare October 23, 2015 2:25 pm #

    I am Iranian and I hope to see this places very sooooon :)


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