6 reasons why markets are a traveller’s kryptonite

Smell that fresh fish? See those pyramids of spices? Hear the haggling? Taste that sample of fudge?

Markets are some of the most vibrant, chaotic, fun places that you can visit while travelling. They’re certainly a feast for the senses and a fantastic way to get a big dose of culture. We sniff out markets (quite literally, sometimes!) in almost every destination we go to – and here are six reasons why you should too. But beware – you’ll soon become addicted to them! Check out the list of our favourite markets at the end of this post.

visiting markets

1. Food

It goes without saying that the food at markets is one of the main draw cards. We love street food and markets are where you can find some of the cheapest and most authentic local flavours! We’ve munched away on barbecued corn cobs in New York City, devoured sweet pastries in Auckland, slurped cocktails in Thailand, and welcomed Belgian poffertjies into our lives in Vancouver.

2. Photography opportunities

Markets are vibrant, bustling places that offer the chance to experiment with different photography techniques. The range of colours, products and people offer a great dynamic in photos. Get your zoom lens out and get up close! Some of our most favourite travel photos were taken in markets in Southeast Asia – we love the moments that can be captured at these places that are a confluence of all different types of people.

visiting markets

3. Interact with local people

Sometimes, depending on the destination, it can be difficult to interact with local people on a personal level. But in markets, especially in places where you haggle to determine the price, you develop a relationship with the seller for a few minutes. It’s a lot of fun meeting locals, no matter the country.

4. Colours

More often than not, markets are a feast for the eyes. All those weird vegetables, piles of textiles, and hanging carcasses offer a mish-mash of colours that can’t be found anywhere else. We love just wandering around and looking in awe at the different stalls – even if we don’t buy anything.

5. Shopping

Coming back to buying things, markets are some of the best places for shopping. Especially in Asia, they’re full of cheap and interesting trinkets. Even if they’re a bit crappy, it’s still nice to have a souvenir to take home. If you want to buy a Folex (fake Rolex), you’ll probably be able to find one somewhere! In other parts of the world like the US, quite often there will be local craftspeople selling their handmade goods like clothes, soaps, jewellery, and other bits and pieces.

visiting markets

6. Atmosphere

Overall, we just love the unique atmosphere of markets. They’re buzzing with activity, loud, chaotic and brash, but the clash of colours and smells makes them such interesting places to visit. Go and get lost in a market and you’ll come out having tasted some weird local food, wearing a funny hat that you were convinced is the ‘next big thing’, and with a better understanding and appreciation of the culture that you’re surrounded by.

The Global Couple’s favourite markets

Do you love markets as much as we do? Where is your favourite market? We’d love some recommendations – leave your suggestions in the comments!

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  1. Suss

    You know, I never made a habit of hitting up markets when I was on the road, but now I’m thinking that was a mistake. I absolutely love the tightly packed crowd, the evening fog, the mess and spillage, the signs of human life. I’m going to have to take after your example and do a bit more of that. Can you recommend any specific markets?

    • Petra

      You should absolutely make markets a part of your itinerary! All those things you just mentioned are the best things about markets. We’ve added a list of our favourite markets to the bottom of the post so that other readers can get recommendations too – thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  2. Pia

    The fish market on the waterfront at Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, is incredible. A huge range of fresh fish come straight off the brightly coloured boats anchored adjacent and into the many tents. You can watch tuna being skilfully hacked to pieces, observe locals haggling over their seafood dinner or walk next door to the eating markets, choose your own fish and watch the salesperson barbecue it in front of you. Make sure you eat at the busiest stall, as that’s the best one. It’s a hit on all of the senses; beware of the sometimes overwhelming smell!!

    • Petra

      Sounds amazing Pia! Yum, we love fresh fish. I think it would take some doing to get over the smell of fish markets though… 😛

  3. My favourite markets have been in South America for the handmade quality of their wares – nothing like a lovingly crafted alpaca poncho to battle those bitter Andean days!

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