Top 5 favorite markets
I was in Ho Chi Minh City for a conference a few weeks ago and realized one thing about my travels… I always head straight for the biggest or best known market in town. So I thought this month I would share with you my top favorite markets in the world. Or at least out of the countries I have visited. So here are my notes ladies, if you like to shop then put your best bargaining skills on show and fill your suitcases.
#1: Chatuchak Weekend Market (Bangkok, Thailand):
Pretty sure I will have a version of this place waiting for me in heaven, but with air conditioning. I have been visiting this market every time I go to Bangkok since I was 15 years old. You’d think I would actually know my way around by now. But getting lost is half the fun and you always find new stuff. This place has everything from handmade unique silver jewelry from amazing local artists, $5 100% thai silk scarves, to your very own pet cockroach or sugar glider (the pet section is really interesting). Everything you could ever want at all levels of pricing is in this market. But wear your thinnest clothes and prepare to be bounced around in crowds of sweaty locals and tourists alike. And if you find the area with the piles of vintage leather jackets and cowboy boots, please GPS that location and send it to me immediately. Of course I can’t seem to make my way back to it. Bonus: these little guys playing their version of The Black Keys- Lonely Boy and dancing. Totally made my day!
#2: Ben Thanh Market (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam):
So this is actually a little touristy for my taste but it is still one of my top favorite markets because it is such a part of the community. If you can get past the same cheesy tourist goods from shop to shop and really look into the alleyways you can find some great finds in the small stores. Dive deep and find some unique hand crafted horn boxes, or carved amulet necklaces. These little shops are few and far between but as you search there are great local foods at every twist and turn. Eat a delicious $1 Pho Bo lunch at one of the many stands or snack on some of the best and juiciest fruit in the world. You know it’s good when even the locals gather round for meals. This place is just great for the overall experience more than the actual shopping which is why it is so high on my list. I should also add that I totally stocked up on really unique necklaces for about $5-$10 a piece that would have cost at least $50 in any boutique in the US. So I consider that a total win!
#3: The San Lorenzo outdoor leather market (Florence, Italy):
It has been a long time since I have been to this market but I assume it is still the same. The name obviously says it all. Haggle like it’s no tomorrow and ask them to take a lighter to the jacket or whatever it is you are looking at to make sure it doesn’t burn and is good quality. Don’t ask me why, but someone told me to do this and it really helped weed out the cheapies. Actually I don’t know if that works on all things or just jackets so maybe do a little more research on leather first. But I do know my favorite leather jacket came from here in 2004 and it still looks as good as the day I bought it. Plus Gelato while shopping and wine afterwards, need I say more?
#4: Luohu Market (Shenzhen, China):
This is my dirty little secret. I am actually nervous to share this one for fear of severe judgment. But this market has so many other cool things I feel like I have to share it, but I cant if I don’t tell you why I really go there. Here it goes… deep breath; I buy fake purses. The top of the line fakes that are sometimes the fall off the back of the truck purses. Don’t judge, you know if you looked at your $500 Tory Burch stacked against the EXACT SAME purse I got for $100 you’d save that $400. Well, this market is your stop. But even with the sea of distracting Chanel and Celine, this market had local handicrafts that will stop you in your tracks. It is 4 or 5 floors of greatness. Hand carved Chinese stamps. Or traditional cloisonné jewelry and jade in every shape size and wearable form you can imagine. Stop by and get a personalized wooden carving or Chinese silk scarves. I’m spoiled because my parents live in this town so I get to visit often, but it seriously never gets old. Despite my penchant for cheap faux designer goods, I have some really beautiful pieces in my house and my closet from this market.
#5: Camden market (London, England):
I don’t actually remember buying anything in this market oddly enough. But I just remember it being, for lack of a better word, FUN. A FUN area of town, a FUN market, and some FUN/FUNNY people watching. This place just makes you feel cool and kinda British punk by proximity. It probably shouldn’t be on the list since I didn’t actually find anything to buy but sometimes those are the best kind right. The places you just enjoyed but don’t really remember why? Somewhere in this crazy place I found and entire shop dedicated to serving baked potatoes in different ways. Therefore, it will always have a place in my heart and my top 5 favorite markets. Another cool market in London is Portobello Road on a Saturday. But I am a sucker for Angela Lansbury and Bedknobs and Broomsticks songs so I might be bias.
Ok, so that’s my short list. I have so many more in Europe and Asia but what good would I be if I didn’t at least save something for another blog post. If you have an upcoming trip and you think there is a good chance I have been to where you are going and you need some shopping recommendations feel free to contact me. It would be nice to be able to put my addiction to good use. Then as I travel I can just tell my husband that I am doing research every time I hit the atm up for cash… again.