Ready, Set, Shop! A Look at the Markets of the World (Part 1)

Markets bring into any country many business opportunities in the form of tourism when visitors flock into them during visits.

Besides yummy food, exotic edibles and delicious delicacies which are a hit in these markets, souvenirs can be purchased here as well as a handful of other wonderful products ranging from local trinkets, clothing, fabrics, pottery, jewellery, arts and crafts, lamps, and anything and everything you might have need or want for.

Australia has its own splendid collective of markets worthy of international praise (and I will gladly detail them in this article in a bit), but there are likewise equally beautiful – and some unusually weird but worth discovering – markets across the planet that will awe and amaze you.

From the oldest and very ancient, the grandest and biggest in the land, to the bizarre and strange, these markets are home to the most fascinating shopping adventures you’ll ever find.

So what else comes next? The crowd, the haggling and the enjoyment of course! Come join me and let’s walk through the astonishing streets of these splendid places.


The provocative culture and beliefs of Africa trickles down to the markets that stand in existence on this diverse continent. Steadily amplified by intrigue, the world’s interest now holds the value of African art and its other products in high esteem. And where else but here on some of the most marvellous markets in the world can such great finds be discovered…

Djemaa el Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

…el-Fna sights, sounds, scents…” Photos by Anna & Michal and Martin Fisch

The Jemaa el Fna from the Roof Terrace of Cafe de France ©The Kashbah On-line; read more here

Also Jemaa el-Fnaa or Jamaa el Fna, literally translated as the Mosque at the End of the World, is actually a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Site, being home not only to products of the land but also traditional activities of culture that have survived pressure after economic pressure.

The collection of souks are a bustle of slight madness, always transforming, never in the same place, the music of drums and stringed instruments constantly playing in the background with the rise of smoke from food stalls.

Other derbs (twisting alleyways, about 3000 of them) are sources for tiny baubles like beaded necklaces and bracelets, Moroccan fabric, beaded shoes and African weaves you can actually display in a themed room back home.

The nights give way to storytellers, acrobats, fortune-tellers and performers so it shouldn’t come as a surprise if around sunset the atmosphere changes into something even more magical.

Just haggle on, there are plenty of stall-keepers ready to give you a bargain on that Moroccan lantern – an actual art piece! – that you’ve found; usually, about ten or so sellers would vie to give you the best price.

Colorful Lanterns. Photos by gapyear and mylittletale

Colourful Moroccan Lanterns at the Djemaa el-Fna Square Souk in Marrakech ©Michelle Yam; read more here

…eyes on reflections…” Photos by travel8ee

24 hours in Marrakech Morocco ©Karen/travel8ee; read/see more here

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Jamaa el Fna Square in Marrakech, Morocco ©derfermark.

“…the transformation of the market from day to night.”

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Djamaa El Fna – Square, Marrakesh Reviews

Marrakesh Sights, Djemaa El-Fna

The Medina Soccos, Tangiers, Morocco
“…the markets bathe under the rain…” Photos by panoramio and lavidalaura

Tangier: Medina ©rheingold/image selected for Google Earth ID 50485128; see more here

Another proud UNESCO Heritage site, the Medina or Ancient City of the kingdom town of Tangiers boasts of its markets (or Soccos – the Grand and the Petit) where genuine Moroccan goods can be found and where the processes like traditional fabric-dying or pot-making that create them can still be witnessed up close.

Shops protrude from under its eternally open arches surrounded by high walls, where shopkeepers persevere to sell you wares and provide you the opportunity to bring prices even lower or just enough so you can take with you the enchantment of the Medina.

Souvenirs of silken djellabas (the traditional Moroccan full-sleeved, gracefully long and flowing outer robe), hammered brass jewellery and ornaments, glazed Tangiers pottery and leather pieces are bathed by the rain or sunlight and gleam with the delight of a culture, ready to be bought and shared with loved ones at home.

Barter in the ambience of tradition, beneath the surviving battlements, ornate doors and decorated windows that stay ever strong. This is the Medina…

“Goods for sale…” Photos by fun-damentals and Sherwood

FUN-travel…& Tangiers, Morocco ©Susan Clarke; read more here

“…the seductive laissez-faire attitude” Photos by

Ten things to do in Tangier ©Ruth Doherty; read/see more here

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“…through alleyways and streets, making it to the markets…”

Khan Al-Khalili Market, Egypt

“…in a corner of the medieval Cairo souk…” Photos by guidaegitto and travel.allwomenstalk

Shopping Tourism in Egypt ©Egypt Tourism; read/see more here Image File here

One of Cairo’s most important shopping districts, it is known by many names but lovingly called by locals and tourists alike as the Khan, a major souk dating back to 1382 and built on the even older site of the Founders of Cairo, the Fatimid Caliphs.

Medieval in its grandeur, this traditional intricate market is vibrant and glowing, the sights a personal glimpse into how life in the old civilization was like.

Take the opportunity to enjoy the environment of canvas-covered roads and colourful shops, their goods piled and stacked, lined and hung.

Shop for silver and gold, perfumes and patterned textiles – barter like how the ancients of their time used to do it and be rewarded with an armful of bargains to take home with you.

“…pottery of the ancients…” Photos by robinwyatt and ask-aladdin

“…by the wall, to the side…” Photos by caicai80 and ask-aladdin

Shopping and What to Buy in Egypt ©ask-aladdin; read/see more here

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Khan El Khalili Market

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Khan el-Khalili

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Khan El Khalili Market in Cairo (Egypt) © monikaewa

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“…from the sands and into the marketplace…”

Lomé Voodoo Market (Akodessewa Fetish Market) and the Grand Market

Togo West Africa

“…a stall of bones…” Photos by amazingoasis and panoramio

Akodessewa Fetish Market-The Biggest Voodoo Market in the World ©m.matsumoto/selected for Google Earth ID 50868018; Read more here and here Image Source here

Of all the strange and incredible places to look for shopping opportunities, this market proves to be more than just your average stroll through dusty streets.

Squeamish tourists beware as it takes more courage to walk past animal heads, preserved organs and the usually-occurring shrieks and howls of voodoo shamans and priests as they shake, fall and get lost in their trances. But charms, masks and amulets are always a hit.

As people are normally charmed by anything as mysterious and macabre, the trinkets here are always pieces for long discussions and conversation.

“…the beads…” Photos by South African Tourism

African Adventure: Exploring Voodoo in Togo ©Robert Ellsworth; read/see more here

For those that want to shop somewhere less eccentric…the Togo Grand Market has goods worth looking into. There’s food, clothes and colourful fabrics made by locals to take home. You’d be tempted to stop at every stall before you can decide on the design. It’s a market that surely balances as the light to the dark of the Fetish Market.

“…towers of textiles…” Photos by atlantic-lodge and kazak

Fetishes Togo ©TD Wolf; read/see more here

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Voodoo Fetish Markets: Togo, West Africa

Togo’s voodoo fetish markets do brisk trade

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Wayne Hoffman Checkin’ In-Voodoo Market in Africa […] © Wayne Hoffman

“…explorations of Togo…visiting the Voodoo Market…”

North and South Americas

Headstrong and tested, the culture of the Americas is one presently clothed in modernity but influenced by a past rich with innovations and ideas that helped shape these continents.

The culture and belief is inherent in everything the continents’ populace does. And their markets are always a showcase, with an aspect of competition and equal opportunity that somehow mirrors their beliefs and traditions rather beautifully.

Green Flea Market, New York

Official Site

Vintage Accessories and Makeups. Photos by greenfleamarkets

New York City Farmer’s Markets, Street Festivals and More! ©Apartment Therapy; read/see more here and here

If you happen to be in New York, between W. 76th and W. 77th Streets on Upper West Manhattan, Sunday, watch out for this market that cleverly combines the new and the vintage.

Operating for more than 25 years, the atmosphere is light and friendly, with souvenirs like antique prints, custom-made knick-knacks, treasures, furnishings, books and other flea bargains galore – and at ranged prices that fit the pocket.

Get your skills out and negotiate for lower options. Clothes are also available. There are hot mobile boutiques that resale designer pieces, bags, shoes and accessories.

The options are endless under the market’s clean outdoor canopies.

“…at the Flea Market…” Photos by gymtime and dumbonyc

The Flea Marketing of New York ©Ashley Parker; read/see more here

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Song of Style

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Exploring the Brooklyn Flee Market © lucienesalomone “…spending the weekend…”

Chichicastenango Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

“…down the steps and into the fray…” Photos by wikipedia and adventurousmiriam

Chichicastenango Market ©Supercords; see more here

The steps from the church are lined with goods and wares, candles and flowers. The fabrics come in shades of the rainbow, each colour so vivid that every stall you stumble on becomes an instant eye candy.

Never in the world is a market so brilliant, with a richness that seems to move under the daylight.

The crowds in “ChiChi” are always plenty – each shop teeming with curious goods, popular of which are decorative masks, statue of saints and huipiles which are the colourful blouses worn by women (usually denotes the village from where one individual belonged to).

The congestion is a welcome thing in this market, and to be surrounded by so much of Guatemalan tradition, to remember the memories of the sojourn, even if no souvenirs are bought (and I’m sure that doesn’t happen) are worth the travel here.

“…brightly-coloured masks…” Photos by Mario Bollini and afar

Guatemala, Chichicastenango 00.jpg ©Americas/Greg_Henkel; Image Source here

“…needlepoint at its Guatemalan finest…” Photos by citi-truck and fivepointfive

Market Day in Chichicastenango ©Priscilla Kibbee; read and see more here

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Chichicastenango,Guatemala Travelogue

Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala

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Chichicastenango Guatemala © MrRogalusa “…an exploration…”

Tonalá Market,Guadalajara, Mexico

“…through the Tuesday market…” Photos by peterktravels

Mercado de Tonalá ©travelfeedback/Members/Sammio_17; see more here

It’s a market that mixes playfulness and belief, religion as well as tradition that’s celebrated every two days in a week (Thursdays and Sundays) where the main streets of Tonaláclose, giving way to numerous vendors of ceramics, glass objects, handcrafted items and various alfareria (pottery) products for sale.

Handmade dolls can be welcome souvenirs, as well as crosses, beadwork and other little crafts made locally.

You will never get tired of walking around, worrying not even if you got lost in circles as the friendly locals are always around to help and to lower the prices for the sale you’re looking for.

Stop for some chitchat if you like and indulge in a bit of getting-to-know-you. Even more shops are enclosed behind the alley ways and lanes, so prepare to discover more choices there.

“…adorable and colorful dolls…” Photos by Ana Ruiz Flores and visitmexico

The World’s Best Markets and Bazaars: 11 Top Cities © Community/Champagne; read/see more here

“…creative designed Mexican baskets…” Photos by Crystal Marie Lopez and vermontinternationalfestival

Tonalá ©Bill Bell; read and see more here

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Mines in Mexico

Tonalá crafts market

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Tonala Mexico © stlouisjef “…the art that is Mexico, in Tonala…”

Pisac Market, Near Cusco, Peru

“…mountains beyond the stalls…” Photos by htmlhelp

Pisac Photos ©Liam Quinn; Image Source, see more here

Beyond the stalls stand the Inca fortress and a line of mountains that overlook this sacred valley and the famous market of Pisac that boasts of spectacular Peruvian goods, where the local villagers, the weavers of their crafts in their vibrant traditional outfits come out to sell.

Participate in the local customs and deal with traders for woven alpaca wool garments, patterned hats, small articles of coloured pottery, native jewellery, bags and more.

Embroideries can be yours at affordable prices, just know to barter and exchange some friendly chat with the sales folks. There will always be plenty of stands to go around so if there’s no success on one, just head a little farther to another.

Who knows, you might even forget shopping for a day (especially if you’re not in a hurry) just looking at the scenery. The view is just epic, and the simplicity of the market life amusing.

“…an abundance of colour…” Photos by htmlhelp

Pisac Photos ©Liam Quinn; Image Source, see more here

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“…just a peek into the marketplace…”

Sonora Witchcraft Market, Mexico City, Mexico

“…delve into the unknown…” Photos by williamjconaway and tourismplacesworld

Sonora Witchcraft Market ©World Tourism Directory; see/read more here

Less scary but just as unconventional, this Mexican space may be called a “witchcraft market” but other products are also available for souvenir options you might certainly consider.

There are the ever-present multi-shaded sombreros, the art, the celebrated fabrics and crafts. If you’re easily frightened, just look past the statues of death’s bony face grinning at you amongst the other saint statues and you’ll be fine. But if the mystery is your thing, go ahead and explore.

Store of potions and spell books are obtainable as well as a pack of cards or some amulets to court good luck and all manner of blessings and an alebrijes (Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures). Yet some may not wish to buy anything in particular, that’s okay.

Watching the story unfold from corner to corner makes for interesting tales to share back home while touring this unorthodox marketplace.

“…death on the doorway…” Photos by tourismplacesworld

Wanderlysh ©Elysha Hickey; read/see more here

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“…the potions of a magical market…”


Definitely the world’s largest continent, Asia also has the most population, with its people being the most varied combination of cultures you’d ever find. Exotic, striking, special…the Asian taste has a degree of complication that mixes many traditions into one astonishing continent. The markets here are no different.

They offer the same mystery that not only represents the people’s culture but confounds any visitors’ minds.

Luang Prabang Night Market, Laos

“…glows in the dark…” Photos by and nyenoona.files.wordpress

Itinerary […] Travel to Laos ©Emily J. Krueger; see more here Image Source here

The Asian people’s oft-fascination with night markets stems perhaps from the need to make use of an area that’s used for something else in the mornings.

Regardless, the idea is a welcome sight to many tourists and traders as multitudes usually flock to these places, and such is the allure of bartering in the cool of night that one market like Luang Prabang Night Market has garnered its much-deserved fame. How the beauty of gems, semi-precious stones and exquisite ceramics glitter in the light of a lamp, after a clean quiet street transforms to a bustling marketplace for the night.

You will find it intriguing to peak under any and all stalls to discover what the so-known “Land of a Million Elephants” has to offer.

There are plenty of keepsakes like umbrellas, slippers and fabrics. Jewellery and wood crafts are always present as well as food to fill that empty stomach while taking pick of the many other trinkets and the vast choice of handicrafts sold under the portable gazebos. From sundown, the trade is always open, and visitors, always welcome.

“…lighted parasols…” Photos by cruisemekong and postcardandtag

Luang Prabang Night Market ©Chouden Boy; Photo ID 1614669; see more here

“…silk scarves…” Photos by tripwow.tripadvisor and

A few more good things from the trip; An elegant sufficiency ©Gill; see/read more here

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A walk in Luang Prabang Night Market – Laos © SuperBakerloo

“…before the tussle of night…”

Chiang Mai Markets, Thailand

“…the night comes alive…” Photos by and

Chiang Mai Thailand Photos © Travel Resource; see/read more here

This is a market that combines from the collective of smaller individual and different markets all the products, foods, goods and souvenirs that enchant both local residents and tourists.

From fresh edibles, plants, flowers and the take home presents you’d love, Chiang Mai has all the range in goods at reasonable prices.

There will always be something for anyone – condiments, clothing, lacquer ware, silks, hemps and handicrafts. Just stroll around and bargain with the locals for great deals.

Everything gets more interesting when you experience the Night Bazaar (ah, the signature of Asian Markets). Be there when the Festival of Lanterns hit on November and watch thousands of lighters take to the sky to celebrate the full moon! Then off to more shopping afterwards as the selling continues into another day. Don’t forget to wai (bow of respect) once you’re given a discount.

“…Thai hats at market…” Photos by adventuresofagoodman and friendlyplanet

Treasures of Thailand ©; see/read more here

“…Thai silk…” Photos by anggi150191 and

The Markets of Thailand | Chiang Mai | Bangkok ©MJNP (Michael Jones/Nicholas Pepe); see/read more here

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Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong

“…stalls of Temple Street…” Photos by satellitetoday and tx.english-ch

Temple Street Market – Hong Kong’s Touristy Baazar ©BRENDON; see/read more here

Yau Ma Tei and the Jordan areas in Kowloon is the home of Hong Kong’s largest night market, taking up both sides of the Tin Hau Temple, some lanes, streets and even the public square nearby. No one seems to buy souvenirs here by the indicated price on the tag.

You can surely polish your skills bargaining for the goods you want like jade articles, jeans, shirts and clothing, ties, lighters, music boxes, some handicrafts, tiny dolls…if you tire of all the rowdy picking, stop for a bowl of Wonton Noodles or Clay Pot Rice while listening to some outdoor singers and performers or to the fortune-tellers and their soothing tongue.

The entertainment really doesn’t stop, even just watching your friend haggling is amusing in this market. Beyond the dai pai dong(open-air street stalls), the buildings rise darkened…the temple somewhere blesses the joyous sojourners.

“…clothing display…” Photos by discoverhongkong and helenkreisler

Helen Kreisler photography Hong Kong ©Helen Kreisler; see more here

“…tiny dolls…” Photos by trover and freelancewanderer

Temple Street Night Market ©DIANA; see/read more here

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urbaner video […] © Urbaneer

Temple Street […] © worldstreetwalking

“…strolling around…”


Continued on Markets of the World (Part 2)

Photo courtesy from Flickr by Miguel Discart