Binh Tay Market, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
It’s easy to get here by public transport and see the colourful fruits and vegetables, hats, fabrics, pottery, clothing, spices, and motor scooters with oversized boxes for yourself. It’s off the beaten path, and has a lot of shops that are for local retailers rather than tourists, but it gives you a great taste of a Vietnamese market. The terrific street food is something that should appeal to visitors of all kinds. That is making the market more and more popular with tourists. It’s in Saigon’s Chinatown, as you can see from the food and the architecture. There’s an imposing 18th century pagoda built to honor the goddess of the sea. The local Chinese believed that she’ll protect merchants and sailors who cross the sea regularly between China and Vietnam.
Portobello Road in London
With more than 150 years of history, Portobello Road is probably one of the best known street markets in the world. It’s not only about antiques anymore; you can find a treasure trove of bargains for fashion, food, crafts, books, and music. It’s best to check online to figure out which section of the market you want to check out; Saturday is the day when the market is in full swing and you can experience a mile of hustle and bustle.
Chatuchak market, Bangkok
This market used to be popular among traders and wholesalers, but now it has more than 8,000 stalls and 35 acres of shopping space to entertain more than 200,000 visitors who come on a typical weekend. If you can think of something, you can probably find it somewhere at Chatuchak, which makes this market a perfect place to visit if you’re not staying in Bangkok for long. You can buy everything from antiques and ceramics and silverware to pets. If you buy more than you can carry, there are even export companies that will ship your purchases home for you.
Village St. Paul, Marais, Paris
The brocantes, or flea markets, of Paris are famous, and Village St-Paul, in the heart of the historic Marais district, is one of the most well-known. Some people even drive for hours from neighbouring countries to shop for the original and high quality home furnishings here. Plus, the arched passageways and hidden passages make this a great place for pictures.
Hongqiao New World Pearl Market, Hongmei Road, Shanghai
This huge three-floor market is one of the best places for jewellery; just look at the stalls selling thousands of strings of pearls. Some stalls will even design your pieces for you. The up-scale shops are off to the sides. It started, and still is, a market for fashion knock-offs.
Divisoria, Claro M Recto Avenue, Manila
Remember to bargain at this bustling market in Manila, where you can buy all kinds of cheap produce as well as toys, gifts, accessories, office supplies and anything you can think of. If you’re the first customer, you may get the price you ask for due to a belief that successfully selling to the first customer is a sign of good luck.
Traditional Arabian markets are an important part of life in Dubai, so make sure you stop by the souks. The most well-known are the gold souk, where you can buy cheap gold, platinum, and diamonds that will be genuine, thanks to government control; and the spice souk, where you can sample dried fruits and nuts, rice, herbs, and spices before you buy them. Others include a textile souk, a perfume souk, a fish souk, and the Dubai Mall Souk that hosts more than 40 jewellery and watch shops.
Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, Rue de L’Ecuyer, Brussels
This stunning 19th century building is worth walking through for the history alone. It’s on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. The theatre, cinema, and cafes drew writers like Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and of course there’s a treasure trove of boutiques and restaurants. It’s close to the heart of the capital, not far from the Grand Place. You can also go to the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts where you can look at the work of Albert Einstein, Hergé, Picasso, Mozart, and other men and women who influenced the arts, history, music, literature and the sciences.
Marga Schoeller Bücherstube, Berlin, Germany
This is another place where you can browse for a long time. Marga Schoeller Bücherstube was founded in 1930 and is one of Europe’s oldest bookshops. It specializes in English literature but has a fine selection of children’s literature and books from small independent publishing houses. The writers TS Eliot and WH Auden were said to be regular visitors at this store (now located in Knesbeckstraße 33), where today’s bookworms are often greeted with free coffee and cake.
Casa Gispert, Sombrerers 23, Barcelona
Casa Gispert has been selling coffee, huts, dried fruit, fruit preserves, tea and other treats here since the 1850s. The traditional family-run firm is still roasting nuts using evergreen oak wood on the same wood-fire oven. Even if you don’t buy anything, stop by and take in the incredible smell.
Arab Quarter, Haji Lane, Singapore
This last market is one that’s best seen at night. Turn your back on the skyscrapers and enjoy the 200-year-old Masjid Sultan Mosque, indie boutiques, buskers, and old-style curry houses.