Every market tells a story – of a culture, a craft and a tradition and it is this story that gets sold in the form of souvenirs in tiny little lanes and stalls. There is so much of energy, life and colour in every market and each one of them is unique. Historic and intrinsic to a country’s culture, we visit five different markets from around the world.

Taling Chan Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Taling Chan Floating market

Taling Chan Floating Market in Bangkok

In a city which is flocked by shoppers, where bargains are a way of life, there is no dearth for markets. But my favourite is the Taling Chan Floating Market which offers a glimpse into the flavours of traditional Thailand and Thai cuisine. I take a ferry across the Chao Phraya river and float through the canals of Bangkok to reach the Floating Market.

Taling Chan Floating Market, Bangkok, Thailand

Another vendor at Taling Chan Floating Market

Sitting in long wooden boats, the locals here are cooking or grilling a meal or selling fresh produce or serving a speciality from sweets to rice to meat to snakes to fish to greens. Tourists and locals flock around a montage of barges on the canals, as ditties float in the air. It is open only on weekends and can be accessed by road as well.

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar, istanbul

At the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Losing oneself in the labyrinthine network of lanes and shops in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is extremely easy. With over 60 covered streets teeming with 3000 shops, this is where James Bond stormed across in his bike in his latest block buster Skyfall. The 600 year old bazaar called Kapalicarsi in Turkish meaning covered market has been an important trading centre since the 15th century. Even today it oozes an old fashioned charm about it. Feeling a little refreshed after a cup of hot apple tea, I walk around the little lanes where thousands of vendors sell anything and everything from ceramics to carpets, glass to lamps to rugs to jewellery. Besides the Grand Bazaar, a visit to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is also recommended.

Spice market, istanbul

Anyone for some love tea ?

Amsterdam’s Bloemenmarkt

Say it with flowers in Amsterdam. With beautiful blue skies above my head, I take a boat across the canals and ferry towards the only floating flower market in the world. The 19th century Bloemenmarkt is an assault on the senses. Tulips are not just the flavour of the season here.

Amsterdam flower market

Amsterdam flower market

Colourful and fragrant, I am dazzled by the sheer variety of the flowers sold in the little shops floating on boats in the Singel located in the southern canals of Amsterdam. Besides florists, one finds seeds, herbs, decorations for the gardens and even souvenirs.

Amsterdam Flower market

Flowers adorning the roof of a shop in the market in Amsterdam

Karaikudi’s Antique Market

In a tiny little town called Karaikudi, in Tamilnadu is a tinier lane that lies behind the Muneeshwara temple. Walking along the lane, I stumble upon the treasures of the Chettinadu community that have been handed down from generation to generation in an antique market. The large sprawling mansions were built with materials from every part of the world – be it Italian marbles or Japanese tiles or Belgian glass.

Karaikudi, antique market

At the antique market in Karaikudi

The Chettiyars may have left Chettinadu but several antiques that once filled their homes are found in a handful of shops here. From lamps to vessels, glass to mirrors, paintings to artefacts, lampshades to carvings on teak, one finds an eclectic display of antiques . I find old Tanjore paintings, porcelain dolls, silverware, kitchen utensils in Burmese lacquer to old teak furniture here. Eventually I pick up a bronze lamp before leaving the market.

Karaikudi antique market

At the karaikudi antique market

Bazaars of Pushkar

If there is a state in India that is synonymous with colour, then it is Rajasthan . From Jaipur to Jaisalmer, every market in Rajasthan is rich with vivid hues. My favourite however is the lively bazaar of Pushkar. I visit Pushkar just before the cattle fair assuming it to be quiet but I am in for a surprise. The market is throbbing with life

Pushkar, market, Rajasthan

Colours of the Pushkar market

Kitschy and traditional, there is an eclectic array of goods on sale. I first encounter a series of book stores. And then there are the usual souvenirs – from turbans to bangles to puppets to jewellery. But it is the delicious sweets that draw my attention. Rich and creamy rabdi malpua is made here specially every evening and distributed across the entire town. Rows of bottles selling rose pulp and syrup and gulkhand, which are the local products are sold here as well. Pushkar is an appetising experience .

Pushkar, market, rajasthan

Hot and spicy at the Pushkar market

This article was published in The Hindu. These are my favourite markets..Would love to hear from you on the markets that you like.




  1. Poorna 26 May, 2014 at 20:00 Reply

    Thanks Lakshmi. Good ones indeed. However these are some interesting ones……

    a) Chor bazar, Mumbai
    b) Our own Flower market in KR Market, Bangalore
    c) Floating market of Dal lake
    d) Market in Kohima, Nagaland
    e) Fish Markets in Goa and also flea market in Anjuna
    f) Tribal markets of Bastar
    g) Pet market in Hong Kong
    h) Flower markets of London
    i) Souks of Muscat, Oman, Morocco and other Arabic countries
    k) Tribal markets of Arunachal

    Any market is a lovely place to be. To watch the local culture unfold. Great for Human watching. Especially so in India where weekly markets are not only business but also double up as meet and greet places.

  2. Empty Rucksack 27 May, 2014 at 10:41 Reply

    London’s Borough Market and the one in Barcelona should be on the list, Our favourite from the above is the one in Istanbul. Bangkok’s market did not have a very pleasant the time we were there.

  3. Sagar 28 May, 2014 at 15:08 Reply

    Govind Saheb Market is one of the popular market in Faizabad of Uttar Pradesh. In this market, you will get small to large items.

  4. Janka 27 August, 2014 at 16:09 Reply

    The pictures of what dazzled your senses in the Istanbul and Amsterdam markets replenished my spirit with such beauty…Exactly what I needed today***
    Thank you for allowing us to sense what you sense and for taking us with you on your journeys
    Safe and blessed travels to you Lakshmi***

  5. Myoki 29 October, 2014 at 19:43 Reply

    Hey Lakshmi, Great article on the different markets in the world! Would certainly like to visit these whenever in any of these locations. One of our favourite markets is the Saturday Night Market in Arpora, Goa. One usually saunters in looking for a bargains but walks out with an experience that will possibly stay with them for a lifetime! It’s incredible to see people from so many different nationalities feel completely at home in their local attires, way of being, drinking and eating just the way they would in their own country. It’s also incredible to see the eclectic stuff that’s usually hand-made being sold in this market. Would definitely recommend a visit here whenever in Goa next!

  6. Vinita 11 December, 2016 at 14:04 Reply

    Hello Miss Lakshmi :-),

    FIrst of all thanks for sharing fabulous stories around the world.I am too very fond of Travel Photography and yours is too good I must say.Though I still not visited abroad sites but yes I love pushkar and all the famous cities in India.keep sharing your journey to us so that we could inspire by you.:-).Very impressive Post & Photography.

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