In need of some retail therapy? These commercial centers are sure to satisfy any material craving while still giving the most bang for your buck. Across the globe, street markets are an incredible resource for purchasing goods from small, independent suppliers that make up the world’s most interesting commercial hubs. A visit to any of these enormous markets is far from as a simple shopping outing. They promise to tickle all five senses, test and challenge your patience, and most importantly, your negotiation skills. But they give you the true flavor of a destination, and often put you in a position of seeing and meeting locals.
1. Chatuchak Weekend Market – Bangkok, Thailand
Though some sections of this market are open daily, it isn’t until the weekend that Chatuchak – one of the world’s largest markets – really gets going. This expansive collection of over 15,000 stalls and shops cover 35 acres in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. The offerings here are broad in scope; in addition to the usual household items, clothing, bootlegged DVDS, and handicrafts, Chatuchak is sadly also known as a hub for illegal trafficking of endangered live animals. The food and drink here is eye-popping, with vendors hawking a variety of Thai food, produce, and all matter of indigenous and foreign cuisines.
With some serious modernization plans in the works, Chatuchak’s visitors can look forward to air conditioning and a lively night bazaar in the near future, putting the market on par with some of the world’s premier shopping and eating destinations.
Image: Daniel Shen/Flickr
2. Grand Bazaar – Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul’s geographic location as a natural crossroads between Europe, Africa, and Asia has made it an ideal commercial hub for intercontinental trade since the 15th century. The “Grand Bazaar” was officially established in 1520 under Sultan Mehmed as part of his re-invigoration of the Turkish capital.
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul consists of 12 major buildings in addition to two mosques, and countless cafes and restaurants. Like many of the world’s largest markets, it is zoned into subdivisions according to the nature of the goods being sold, which range from hookahs, carpets, and jewelry to spices, leather products, and miscellaneous trinkets. Even with this attempt at organization, chaos inevitably ensues at the Grad Bazaar, due to 400,000 daily visitors.
3. Kejetia Market – Kumasi, Ghana
West Africa’s largest market is located in central Ghana, about 150 miles inland from Ghana’s coast and capital city, Accra. Ghana is well-known for richly colored and patterned textiles, and it is these stunning pieces that catch foreign eyes in this urban marketplace. However, in addition to traditional wares, the market is also chock-full of more contemporary goods and clothing.
The hustle and bustle of an African city market can be overwhelming for unaccustomed visitors, but it is an experience where one can observe firsthand the unique form of business transaction and commercialism that drive economies in the developing world.