Here at Peregrine, we believe travel is all about getting closer to the local people and gaining an understanding of the culture you came to discover.
One of the richest, yet most simple, cultural experiences you can enjoy is a stroll through a local market. From the sweet dried fruits and decadent pastries of Barcelona’s La Boqueria to the aphrodisiacal formulas and native Aymara herbs of Bolivia’s Mercado de Hechicería – there are markets waiting to be explored the world over.
Prepare to dive in and fully immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of daily local life, absorbing the unique sights, smells and sounds that surround you along the way. It’s places like these that offer the perfect chance to interact with locals, sample homemade delicacies, learn about the regional traditions and customs, and give back to the communities we visit by supporting the local economy.
Given the wealth of choice out there, we thought we’d start you off with a shortlist of some of the biggest, oldest and most unusual markets from around the globe. It’s time to embrace the frenetic atmosphere and brush up on your haggling skills.
1. Old City Market, Acre, Israel
Wander down the many winding alleyways of Acre (Akko) and you’re bound to stumble upon the Old City Market. Set on a route once used by the Crusaders and surrounded by stunning old architecture, it’s an area totally immersed in history. Come here for a real taste of Middle Eastern life as you shop together with the locals, browsing the many stalls of fresh fish, Arabic sweets like knafeh and baklava, locally made jewellery and spices. Look out for charming cafes and hummus restaurants as you go.
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2. Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India
As one of the most antiquated and busy markets in Old Delhi, the Chandni Chowk is shrouded in history. Built in the 17th century by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, it was designed by his favourite daughter Jahanara. Translated as the Moonlight Square, it was once split by canals that reflected lunar rays. Chandni Chowk houses the Red Fort, ancient mansions, halwais or confectioners and more. Be sure to try the jalebis here, these sugary deep-fried snacks are irresistible.
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3. Medina of Marrakech, Morocco
Ambling through the souks of Marrakech forms an essential part of any break in the Moroccan capital, but it can be a somewhat bewildering experience for first-timers. Souks are separated into their different specialities and there’s a myriad of exotic goods to choose from. Head to Souk Smata for beaded babouches or slippers. Make your way to lesser-known Souk Haddadine for a peek into the world of a local blacksmith or stop by Souk el Attarine for fragrant spices.
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4. Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan
Being the world’s largest fish market, trading an enormous 700,000 tons of seafood each year, it’s no surprise that Tsukiji has become popular amongst travellers. Visitors arrive before the crack of dawn to secure one of 120 spots to watch the renowned tuna auction, where fish can sell for huge sums of yen. Before exploring the rest of the market, witnessing wholesalers’ impressive knife skills and choosing between the many stalls serving up the freshest sushi breakfasts.
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5. Cai Rang Floating Market, Can Tho, Vietnam
Swarms of boats sprawl along this half kilometre stretch of the Can Tho River to make Cai Rang the most extensive floating market in the Mekong Delta. Sellers begin to gather here at dawn, giving the river a colourful facelift as they pepper the waters with their vibrant tropical crops. Soaking up the setting from the water is good fun, but to grasp a real idea of its scale take to the Cai Rang Bridge for amazing aerial views.
Eager for a taste of local life? Over 100 of our Peregrine tours include a visit to a local market, click here for a closer look.