Six of the best internationl local markets

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Whether selling food, jewellery, antiques or handicrafts, the irrepressible heart of a city beats in its local market. As well as soaking up the sights and sounds, and sampling local food, it’s a great chance to haggle with local vendors and satisfying to feel you’ve walked away with a bargain (even if you later discover you haven’t).

Here, Cox & Kings, shares their favourite local markets from around the world.


Amphawa floating market, Bangkok, ThailandAmphawa Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Drive an hour outside Bangkok to find a floating market genuinely used by locals. This bustling weekend market has a fantastic atmosphere and is a great place for foodies. Go with an empty stomach and try some of the different regional foods and snacks on sale. Food stalls selling local specialities and quirky shops are squeezed along the boardwalks and colourful long tail boats moor along the canal with barbecues on board brimming with fresh seafood, exotic vegetables and fruits.

Padova market, ItalyPadova Market, Italy

For fresh and local seasonal produce there’s nowhere better than the market in Padova, open every day except Sunday. Palazzo della Ragione, a grand arcaded building, is the best place to start. The open passages house butchers, cheese stalls and fresh pasta shops, while the Piazza delle Erbe is mainly fruit and vegetables. The stall holders are passionate about their wares and give tips on how to prepare their ingredients. It certainly beats the supermarket.

T-Nagar market, Chennai, IndiaT-Nagar Market, Chennai, India

No Chennai bride would consider her wedding preparations complete without visiting this market to buy her gold jewellery and saris. A Kanchipuram silk sari can cost anything from £500 to £10,000 with gold and silver threads interwoven with the finest silk. The colours are magnificent. For tourists, this is the best place to buy jewellery, either something custom made or chosen from one of the thousands on offer.

Mercato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Mercato, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

As the largest open-air market in all of Africa, the Mercato in Addis Ababa is the best definition of ‘a feast for all the senses’. You can buy anything and everything. The best of the market is found by wandering the alleyways: past ironmongers welding by your feet; the recycling area where old tyres are turned into sandals and tin cans are made into trinkets; and sections for all sorts of electrical goods. Don’t leave without sampling some freshly brewed coffee.

Adelaide Central Market, AustraliaAdelaide Central Market, Australia

South Australia is possibly Australia’s finest food and wine producing state, and Adelaide’s Central Market is a great place to stock up on local goodies. Kangaroo Island brie and Pheasant Farm pate by Maggie Beer from nearby Barossa Valley are two popular choices. The stalls offer plenty of tastings, but the best way to discover the market is to go on a guided tour with Mark Gleeson who has been a trader and chef there for more than 20 years.

Surquillo Market, Lima, PeruSurquillo Market, Lima, Peru

Peruvian food is definitely flavour of the month, and there’s nowhere better to experience it than in this central Lima market where Peruvians do their daily shop. Produce from all over the country is sold – fish from the coast, tropical fruits from the Amazon, meat from the Andes, and hundreds of different vegetables – so you can see the enormous variety that exists in the country. You’ll be amazed by how many different types of potato exist in Peru.

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  • ESW
    almost 6 years ago
    The best local market we've been to was in the tiny settlement of Awat, about 30 minutes drive from Kashgar, in the far east of China. All the tourists head to Kashgar for the Sunday market which is huge and attracts tens of thousands of visitors. We took the decision that we didn't want to visit it and that Kashgar was a place to be avoided on a Sunday.

    Our guide knew this and asked if we would like to visit a real local market instead. We jumped at the chance and joined the long line of donkey carts heading to Awat. Some were ladened with fresh produce, others had sheep or calves on them. There were farmers herding flocks of sheep or cattle along the road. We were the only western faces and it was a marvellous experience, in spite of the sheep's head for sale by my feet when we had some lunch.

    My review with pictures is here: