Welcome to Part II of our three-part series on Best Outdoor Markets Around the World. Part I spotlighted the best outdoor markets in North and South America. In this edition we’ve asked our most-traveled friends to tell us about the best outdoor markets in Asia and Africa.
Chatuchak Market of Bangkok, Thailand from Wandertoes
Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Thailand, is the largest weekend market in the world. You get a sense of that pretty quickly when visiting. The place is immense, and I strongly advise taking a map with you and setting an agreed upon meeting spot in case your party gets separated.
You can find everything from books, beauty products, beach house décor, clothing, home furnishings, and many options for food – to that must-have souvenir from Bangkok itself. While it can be overwhelming and crowded, it also has great deals on everything under the sun, and is fairly well organized with different zones for different types of products. So, grab that map, keep hydrated, and shop ‘til you drop!
Megan, in addition to being the voice behind Wandertoes, is a wife, homeschooling mom and victim of wanderlust. She attempts to feed her travel bug any way possible without interfering with the demands of life.
Durbar Square of Kathmandu, Nepal from Kat Pegi Mana: Where is Kat Going
Durbar Square in Kathmandu is comprised of palaces, quadrangles, courtyards, ancient temples and historical buildings that date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Many are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you wander into the side streets and alleyways, you will come across vegetable vendors, food stalls, markets and shops where locals come to buy their fresh produce and street food.
While most tourists remain in the main square to admire traditional Newari architecture of magnificently carved wooden windows and balconies, I recommend you check out the side streets to discover the wonders of the local Kathmandu markets.
About Kat Pegi Mana: Where is Kat Going:
Kathleen is a travel writer and blogger from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her friends recognize her wanderlust and often ask her, “Where is Kat Going?”
Hoi An Market of Vietnam from World Travel Chef
Hoi An is a lovely small city in central Vietnam located on the Thu Bon River. Known for its UNESCO Heritage listed Old Town, tailor shops and fresh seafood, it is one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. The market clings to the side of the river and from there stretches into the old town and sells everything from live crabs and chickens to kilos of peeled fresh pineapples. One area of the market houses a covered street food hall serving great local dishes.
Like most Asian markets it pays to get down here early to beat the heat and grab the freshest produce. Good-natured haggling is a must here if you want the best price. It’s also a great way to interact with the local traders. My favorite way to start a morning in Hoi An is watching the fishing boats unloading their catch on the market’s quay, but you’ll need to be here at dawn to see it.
About World Travel Chef:
James blogs at World Travel Chef and is father to two home educated boys. An avid Ironman triathlete and one half of a successful blogging couple, he’s currently training for Ironman Malaysia.
Bac Ha Market of Vietnam from Amused Observer
Bac Ha Market, one of the biggest in northern Vietnam, is definitely worth a visit for its variety,
vibrant colors and traditional dress of the minority people. The Sunday market is packed and it takes some skill to navigate its narrow lanes.
While there is a souvenir section with some nice items to buy, there is much more to see – an avian section with lots of noisy birds in cages, a buffalo market with animals so peaceful that you can freely walk among them, and an herbs market where you probably won’t have any idea what they are selling!
You’ll definitely want to check out the Flower Hmong people selling produce and food – it’s a good place to sit down and rest as you’re going to salivate at your first whiff of delicious Vietnamese food.
About Amused Observer:
Monika Marcinkowska works as an English teacher during the school year and travels when the holidays arrive. An avid fan of Latin America, cooking and crime stories, she’s happy anywhere she goes.
Wangfujing Markets of Beijing, China from Who Needs Maps
The Wangfujing Markets are buried within the bustling city of Beijing near the Wangfujing stop on the MTR and on the number 10 bus. However, since last year, the “official” tourist Wangfujing is closed. The second one is located at the far end of Wangfujing with an entrance across from the McDonalds.
This market is a unique and crazy experience, especially if you want to try some eccentric snacks. Here you will find stalls filled with food, both exotic and delicious! It is the best place to find local restaurants and all kinds of street foods. Vendors serve up everything from dumplings to scorpions, from seahorses to caramelized strawberries.
We had the pleasure of trying deep fried scorpions with spices on a skewer. And surprisingly they weren’t too bad! Because they were deep fried they just tasted like spiced tempura … with legs that get stuck in your teeth. At Wangfujing it was really interesting to observe how locals eat so many things that we typically find disgusting. It was definitely a culinary culture shock.
About Who Needs Maps:
We are Jenn and Jack from Who Needs Maps, a long distance travel blogging couple that meet in the middle to make this relationship work. Drop the map and get wonderfully lost.
Night Fish Market of Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania from The Travelling Chilli
Every night Stone Town’s Forodhani gardens transform into a huge fish market. Fresh fish and seafood is laid out on the tables of the numerous food stands. Barracuda, octopus, large prawns, squid, shrimps, lobsters … anything the Indian Ocean around Zanzibar has to offer is deliciously prepared. The main items sold in the market are fish, but you can also find delicious sugar cane juice, various sweet treats and some meat dishes like chicken. However, I recommend that visitors at least try some of the yummy fish or seafood.
Strolling through the night time fish market is a great experience. You can soak up the warm smoky smells of grilled seafood, the Zanzibar vibes and the lively atmosphere of Stone Town.
About The Travelling Chilli:
Sabine and Sean of The Travelling Chilli have been travelling the world together as a multicultural couple for the past eight years. Their favorite continent to travel is Africa which they continue exploring with their trusty Land Rover.
Quatre Borne Market of Mauritius from The Roving Puffin
Over the years, Mauritius has become a very touristy location. While visiting what you believe to be an authentic market you might quickly realize that you are actually in a tourist attraction. During our last stay on the island, we discovered a wonderful market that is not part of the most frequented tours … at least not yet.
Quatre Borne is a little town located in the west of the island. Its market is known to be the biggest textile market in the country. On Thursdays and Sundays, the market square is dedicated to textiles, which is quite touristy. But on any other day, the market is almost exclusively frequented by locals, coming here to buy their food supplies. You won’t only find wonderful fruits and vegetables here but also incredible spices and other local specialties.
About the Roving Puffin:
The Roving Puffin is a blog written by two Swiss travel enthusiasts who are always on the lookout for a new adventure.
The best outdoor markets in Asia and Africa are true cross sections of local life and culture. From toothpaste to tofu, from onions to octopus, you can find everything you didn’t even know you needed. Be sure to keep an eye out for our last installment in this Best Outdoor Markets Around the World series when we’ll spotlight Europe.