The World's Best Markets and Bazaars: 11 Top Cities

Early morning at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Frommers.com Community
By Charis Atlas Heelan

Marketplaces are a vibrant mixture of textures and intoxicating tastes and aromas. No matter what's for sale -- fresh produce, arts and crafts, jewelry, or antiques -- these local markets often reveal a more authentic side of a destination.

Bargain your way to a great deal at these international markets and bazaars. You may just stumble upon that perfect souvenir.

Photo Caption: Early morning at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Photo by seattlenativemike/Frommers.com Community
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Handmade dolls in Guadalajara, Mexico. Frommers.com Community
Come home with more than tacky trinkets by heading to Tonalá, a Guadalajara suburb that is a veritable kaleidoscope of colorful crafts. The market spreads over the entire inner section of the town, with a wide-ranging selection of Mexican textiles, glassware, furniture, art works, ceramics, tinware, and more. Thousands of stalls line the main street, and even more shops are hidden behind them in laneways and alleys -- all offering Mexican wares at bargain prices.

Where & When: Tonalá market is on Avenida Tonaltecas and the surrounding streets, 10 miles from Guadalajara. Market days are Thursdays and Sundays. For everything else, Mercado Libertad in Guadalajara's city center is one of the biggest markets in the country.

Photo Caption: Handmade dolls in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Champagne/Frommers.com Community
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A flower market vendor in the plaza of Aix-en-Provence, France. Frommers.com Community
The entire region of Provence has more markets than you could visit on one trip. From local seasonal produce to flea markets, brocante (antiques) to flowers, the charming villages -- including Aix-en-Provence -- are filled with postcard-perfect street markets.

Where & When: It's not possible to list them all, but this website will help you plan your market trawl through southern France. Saturday mornings are usually peak market times, while select Sundays are known for the massive flea markets on the cobblestone streets.

Photo Caption: A flower market vendor in the plaza of Aix-en-Provence, France. Robin Jaske/Frommers.com Community
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Touring the Floating Market in Bangkok by boat. Frommers.com Community
Although the Thai capital brims with sophisticated shopping malls, you'll find better deals at the outdoor markets. Wear comfortable shoes, drink plenty of water, and be prepared to spend all your baht as you shop your way through Bangkok.

Where & When: On weekends, the 15,000-stall Chatuchak market is the place to find antiques, clothing, housewares, and everything in between. Each night, hawkers at Patpong market in Bangkok's red-light district sell knockoffs of watches, scarves, clothes, and bags. Each day, Pratunam Market has clothing stalls set over dozens of labyrinthine alleys and arcades. Khlong San (open daily) is a riverside fashion and clothing market. Although touristy, the floating fruit and vegetable market along the "klongs" (canals) at Damnoen Saduak (open daily) is still worth the detour.

Photo Caption: Touring the Floating Market in Bangkok by boat. Photo by Ahmoud/Frommers.com Community
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Spices at Istanbul's Spice Bazaar. Photo by <a href="http://www.frommers.com/community/user_gallery_detail.html?plckPhotoID=c8f5433c-9d95-4427-bedf-32bf3bd24a2b&plckGalleryID=c0482941-0d2d-4cca-b8c4-809ee9e20c72" target="_blank">Chanda/Frommers.com Community</a> Frommers.com Community
There are street markets, outdoor markets, and covered markets on both sides of the Bosphorus, offering everything from food staples to high-crafted metalware. Although you may be drawn to the ambience of the larger historic markets in Istanbul, you'll more likely to find locals scooping up bargains at the weekly street markets in residential neighborhoods.

Where & When: The Grand Bazaar with several thousand stalls and small shops is Turkey's largest market and is open Monday to Saturday, as is the well-known Spice Bazaar, or Egyptian Market. Sali Pazar street market is held on Tuesdays in Kadikoy and there is another market in Sehremini. On Wednesdays, there are markets at Fatih and Yesilkoy; on Thursdays in Akatlar and Ulus; on Fridays in Findikzade; and on Saturdays in Bakirkoy and Besiktas.

Photo Caption: Spices at Istanbul's Spice Bazaar. Photo by Chanda/Frommers.com Community
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Rue Mouffetard in Paris is lined with fresh produce stands and food stalls. ...johann j.m.
So many markets, so little time. In Paris, the intense love of food is no accident. You'll find markets enticing you to sample the finest fruit, vegetables, bread, cheese, and other delicacies. Markets are a morning pursuit, so get there early and shop well.

Where & When: Marché Bastille on Boulevard Richard Lenoir with a huge range of seafood, wine and cheese (Thursdays and Sundays); the picturesque rue Mouffetard (daily) near Censier-Daubenton Metro; Saxe-Breteuil from Place de Breteuil to Avenue de Segur with incredible Eiffel Tower views (Thursdays and Saturdays); and Avenue President Wilson in the 16th arrondissement (Wednesdays and Saturdays). For a list of fresh produce roving markets or marchés volants, visit www.chocolateandzucchini.com.

Photo Caption: Rue Mouffetard in Paris is lined with fresh produce stands and food stalls. Photo by ...johann j.m./Flickr.com
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Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt has more than 3,000 stalls selling books, furniture, clothing, and more. Amy Chen
Paris is said to be where the concept of the flea market (Marché aux Puces) began. In fact, you could spend days -- if not weeks -- meandering through these markets. Snare bargains at suburban street stalls that are like massive tag sales, or battle against professional dealers who scour the antique markets at dawn.

Where & When: Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt with 3,000-plus stalls of collectibles over seven eclectic acres and more than a dozen individual markets (weekends and Monday); Porte de Vanves in the 14th arrondissement (weekend mornings) with 350-plus stalls; Marché Parisien de la Création, also in the 14th arrondissement with 120-plus artisans displaying their paintings, sculptures, photography and ceramics (Sundays); Marché d'Aligre in the 12th arrondissement with fresh produce as well as flea-market stalls (every day except Monday); Marché Saxe-Breteuil, a typical street market with housewares, clothing, and bric-a-brac; and Marché du Livre Ancien et d'Occasion in the 15th arrondissement (weekends) for collectible books.

Photo Caption: Les Puces de Saint-Ouen at Porte de Clignancourt has more than 3,000 stalls selling books, furniture, clothing, and more.
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The famous Portobello Road in London. stefano.petraz
London has a long tradition of antique and flea markets. Most operate year-round -- rain, hail or shine. Opening at the crack of dawn, you'll need to rummage through a lot of trash to find your treasure, but you can pick up some amazing deals and one-of-a-kind pieces at numerous street markets throughout the city.

Where & When: Friday mornings at dawn, anyone serious about antiques is scouring the Bermondsey Market, one of London's main antique markets. Better known to tourists is Portobello Road (www.portobellomarket.org), a Saturday morning tradition for decades with its hundreds of antique stalls and small shops. Brick Lane (www.visitbricklane.org) on Sundays is a definite browser's delight and Borough Market (www.boroughmarket.org.uk) (Thursday to Saturday) is where you'll pick up the finest British produce. This map shows the location and operating hours of 20 of London's best markets.

Photo Caption: The famous Portobello Road in London. Photo by stefano.petraz/Flickr.com
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Exploring one of the many open-air markets in Cairo. Frommers.com Community
There are the tourist traps, and then there are the local markets that ooze charm and crowds of Egyptians looking for a deal. Just beware of fake antiquities, and realize that real ones can't be exported without a license.

Where & When: The sprawling and often chaotic Friday Market (Souk el Gomaa) takes place every Friday underneath the Al-Tonssy flyover just south of the Citadel, between the City of the Dead and Khalifa. The largest and best known market is the famed 14th-century Khan el-Khalili market (Monday to Saturday) and the neighboring Sharia-al-Muski market is where you're likely to find locals shopping for clothes. Bulaq Market (open daily) at the northern end of the Sharia 26th of July is another option for clothing, antiques, and housewares.

Photo Caption: Exploring one of the many open-air markets in Cairo. Photo by SRtraveler/Frommers.com Community
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Traditional dresses for sale at the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong. Frommers.com Community
Street stall culture is alive and well on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon, where you'll find many products at a fraction of the store price. Plus, you have the added bonus of being able to bargain with the vendors. It's wise to double-check that the leather bag really is leather and that the clothing is in the correct size.

Where & When: Markets are open daily, or in many cases, nightly. In Mong Kok, the Ladies' Market on Tung Choi Street is a good start (noon to midnight). Pick up toys, clothing, and electronics at Wan Chai Street Market, and shop and dine at the nightly Temple Street (4pm to midnight). Find clothes and accessories at Jardine's Crescent in Causeway Bay (11am to 9pm); buy jade and other gems at the Jade Market in Yau Ma Tei (until 3pm); and find antiques and trinkets at stalls along Cat Street, Hollywood Road, and Ladder Street on Hong Kong Island.

Photo Caption: Traditional dresses for sale at the Temple Street Night Market in Hong Kong. Photo by SHAKTI79/Frommers.com Community
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A mountain of pottery at a bazaar in Jaipur. juicyrai
A center of traditional Rajasthan arts and crafts, Jaipur has dozens of marketplaces that feature handmade products, including beaded clothing, ceramics, jewelry, carpets, and textiles.

Where & When: Markets in Jaipur are open daily, usually from around 11am. The better known street markets include Johari Bazaar for gem stones and fine jewelry; MI Road for pottery, metalwork, and carved wooden items; Tripolia Bazaar and Chaura Rasta for costume jewelry, trinkets, and ornaments; Bapu Bazaar and Nehru Bazaar for textiles, perfumes, bags and shoes; Ramganj Bazaar for shoes; and Kishanpol Bazaar for wooden furniture, Bandhani tie-dye textiles, and clothing.

Photo Caption: A mountain of pottery at a bazaar in Jaipur. Photo by juicyrai/Flickr.com
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At the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. marcomassarotto
Although not generally known for antique markets or fresh produce stands, Tokyo is famous for its enormous fish market. Tsukiji is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of international visitors each year. Even if you're not a fish lover, you'll be overwhelmed by the sounds (and smells) of this seafood epicenter.

Where & When: Tsukiji Fish Market (open from 3am daily except Sundays and holidays). Get there at dawn and experience tuna auctions and the freshest sushi you'll ever eat. Flea markets are held at various temples and shrines most Sundays, including Yasukuni Shrine in Chiyoda-ku and Hanazono Shrine in Shinju-ku. Other markets take place sporadically on weekends throughout the year in different locations. The Japan National Tourism Organization lists antique and flea markets on its website.

Photo Caption: At the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Photo by marcomassarotto/Flickr.com
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Local handicrafts on display at Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala. Frommers.com Community
Chichicastenango (or "chichi" as it is lovingly referred to) is home to one of Latin America's most colorful and traditional markets. Local Mayan communities from the surrounding highlands region congregate in the village, bringing with them a selection of handmade ceramics, hand-woven blankets, textiles, and clothing.

Where & When: Chichicastenango is about a two-hour drive northwest of Guatemala City. The market is held in the central square on Thursdays and Sundays.

Photo Caption: Local handicrafts on display at Chichicastenango Market, Guatemala. Photo by Globbo/Frommers.com Community
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