5 of the best markets

Chicastenango market in Guatemala by Liz Noonan

They are the thriving hub of villages, town or cities. They are where people come from miles around to trade their wares or take home a bargain, and they are where visitors get to see the local community in action. Even if you’re not a shopper, there’s so much to love about markets. Here’s a few favourite places to enjoy the local flavours and hone your haggling skills…

Djemaa el-Fna:
During the day the Marrakech main square is full of touts, performers, snake charmers and more, then at night it transforms into an outdoor food festival. The square is surrounded by souks, otherwise known as local markets, selling everything from brass pots and pans, to linens, antiques, colourful spices, local dresses, leather slippers and delicious Moroccan food.

Tsukiji market:
The Tokyo Central Wholesale Fish Market is something to see, and pre-dawn is the best time to see it. Over 3,000 tonnes a day pass through this market, made up of 450 different kinds of fish; figures which are unparalleled in the world. Before day-break the wholesalers lay out the goods (including gargantuan tuna in open wooden coffins!) and at 5.30am the frenzied bidding begins. Needless to say, this is also the place to try sushi at the delicious local stalls – nowhere else will you get any fresher!

Kashgar bazaar:
One of the biggest and oldest markets in Central Asia, for over 2000 years it’s been an important trading point on the Silk Route. In the animal bazaar you’ll find Uyghur and Kazak herdsmen lining up their sheep and goats for sale and just about any other kind of domestic animal that you can think of is traded. In the Sunday market area, that’s closer to town, the collection of available items is phenomenal, everything from dried fruits and silk stockings, to kitchen utensils or DVD players adorned with traditional designs. The food is fantastic too and make sure you try the fresh pomegranate juice and mutton dumplings!

Chichicastenango market:
Set in a remote little town in the highlands of Guatemala, every Thursday you’ll be wondering if the whole country has made its way to these markets. Market day is a gathering place for local trade and gossip and you’ll be jostling with traditionally-dressed locals for the best buys. Don’t be surprised if your backpack ends up overflowing with vibrant textiles and handmade jewellery that you won’t find anywhere else at the end of your Guatemala holiday.

Chatuchak market:
Bangkok’s weekend market is a monstrously huge collection of stalls filled with everything you would ever want to buy. It’s segmented into lots of different categories (because you couldn’t possibly cover it all in one day), so you can decide to wander the aisles of denim fashion, spend time in the antiques section or enjoy the incredible selection of fresh produce and foodie treats.

Do you have another favourite local market that is on your top 5 list?

Photo: Chichicastenango market by Liz Noonan.

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About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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