Open-air markets provide a vastly different shopping experience from modern malls and shopping complexes. Many of the world’s most iconic markets have been running for years, and boast produce, goods, and souvenirs that you just won’t find at any old shopping mall.
Even as time passes and the world adapts to technology, the traditional open-air market will never go out of style. Here visitors can buy custom handmade products with a story behind them, listen to live music and gorge on authentic street food and local fare. Check out these 10 amazing open-air markets around the world, and why you need to plan your next trip around them.
9 Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong
It’s worth including Hong Kong on your next itinerary, just to check out the Temple Street Night Market. These markets are packed to the brim with stalls selling local trinkets, crafts, and souvenirs, as well as a variety of food stalls. There are endless rice and noodle dishes on offer, so it’s a good idea to come here on an empty stomach.
Visitors to the Temple Street Night Market can also have their fortunes told by a real parrot. It sounds crazy, but nothing is impossible at these magical markets.
8 Viennese Christmas Market, Vienna, Austria
Who doesn’t love a good Christmas market? The Viennese Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria, is one of the best in the world. Taking place in the square in front of the city hall, the market resembles a white winter wonderland straight out of a fairytale book. Browse through the stalls selling Christmas decorations and winter treats like roasted chestnuts, cookies and candy.
Here you’ll find a skating rink, nativity scenes, reindeer, Christmas choirs and a number of stalls selling delicious mulled wine, just to add to the fantastical festive vibe.
7 Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India
Chandni Chowk is one of the best open-air markets to visit in Delhi. Full of authentic and traditional goods for sale, the markets spill out over narrow alleyways and walkways that are usually filled to the brim with people. Among the products you can buy here are saris and other textiles bursting with color, and different types of native jewelry.
To immerse yourself in the full experience of shopping at Chandni Chowk, you’ll have to do some bartering. Haggling and bargaining with the sellers are expected forms of behavior in Delhi, so don't be shy!
6 Chichicastenango Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala
Chichicastenango Market, commonly referred to as the ChiChi market, is a must for anyone visiting Guatemala. In fact, most travelers specifically visit the town of Chichicastenango just to explore the iconic market for themselves.
A sea of traditional crafts is on offer, as well as pottery that’s been hand-painted. One of the market’s signature woven bags or tapestries always makes for the perfect souvenir for anyone back at home. There’s also an endless array of food stalls serving up local fare since a few laps of the market are bound to make you hungry.
5 Chatuchak Market, Bangkok, Thailand
The largest market in Thailand and one of the largest in the whole world, Chatuchak Weekend Market draws in hordes of visitors every year. Spanning across 35 acres, the market can take quite a bit of time to get through. The 15,000 stalls are categorized into 27 sections, including food, clothing, pets, and antiques, to try and keep things organized.
Many of the stalls are open on weekdays too, but to ensure that the particular booth you want is open, you’ll want to visit on a weekend. Make sure you arrive early in the morning to avoid overwhelming crowds.
4 Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia
Located in the Australian city of Melbourne, Queen Victoria Market is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. Operating between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. between Tuesday and Sunday, the market sells everything from clothing to children’s toys.
The city of Melbourne is renowned for its strong coffee culture, so the best way to start your day at Queen Victoria Market is with a coffee in hand from one of the many food and drink stalls. You can also grab breakfast, lunch, dessert or a scrumptious snack to enjoy while you browse.
3 Khan El-Khalili, Cairo, Egypt
Dating back to the 14th century, Khan el-Khalili in Cairo, Egypt, will make you feel like you’ve landed in the past. Though there are plenty of modern goods available, including toy camels, jewelry and decorative tents, you can also buy things that have been bought and sold in the market for centuries, including glassware, perfume, and authentic handicrafts.
Resting right in Cairo’s center, the market should be a must for any traveler looking for a cultural experience. A highlight is Fishawi’s Coffee Shop, which has been providing coffee for hagglers in the market since 1773.
2 The Marrakech Souks, Marrakech, Morocco
Another gateway into the past is the Marrakech Souks, located just beside the main square in the Moroccan city. It’s easy to get lost in the market, which is made up of a maze of winding walkways and alleys that are lined with stalls and merchants selling their goods. But there’s no rush—the souks are open well into the night.
The bustling Marrakech Souks is one of the best places to go if it’s authentic street food you’re after. Here you can eat kebab and tagine until your stomach is content.
1 Pike Place Market, Seattle, USA
The oldest surviving market in the United States, Seattle’s Pike Place Market should be on everyone’s to-do list at least once. 40,000 people frequent these markets a day, coming home with books, handiworks, antiques, and other market goodies. For those who love seafood, the market also specializes in incredibly fresh fish.
Not a fan of seafood? At Pike Place, you can also eat donuts and French pastries, traditional deli sandwiches, Korean fusion dishes, Chinese street food, bowls of pasta, sushi and Persian kebabs, among a plethora of other treats.