select - bustling street markets

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The world’s cities have plenty of must-see museums and tourist sites, but head to street markets instead and you’re in for a treat: a grand spectacle of daily life, where locals go about their business and visitors might just unearth a hidden treasure.

 

Casablanca

Casablanca’s medina, enclosed in 18th-century fortified walls, isn’t so much a single street market as an entire old town crammed with tiny shops and street stalls. Casablancans wander its narrow lanes in search of household goods, bargain-priced shoes, and clothes, as well as daily bags of fresh fruit and dried spices from hand-pulled carts. But visitors will also find handicrafts and souvenirs, which range from silverware, jewellery, leather goods, and brightly painted pottery, to copper pots and jugs. You can also come across odd curios such as fossils. Bargaining hard is a requirement. You might get lost down the winding alleys, but there is always something more to be discovered around the next corner; and small eateries along the way are a good place to rest the legs and enjoy a couscous or tagine lunch.


WHY
A great experience of shopping traditional style, by seeing items being made by crafts people right in front of you.


WHERE
The medina is full of markets, especially around Bab el Jedid, Tahar el Alaoui, and the Great Mosque.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Casablanca.

 


Delhi

At the Chor Bazaar under the ramparts of the Red Fort, you can rummage through flea-market treasures: everything from crystal chandeliers and antique porcelain to cheap crockery, as well as clothes, shoes, and kitchenware. Increasingly, you can also find regional handicrafts such as quilts, tie-dye fabrics, silverware, wooden toys, marble inlay work, and paintings. There is also a book market adjacent with vast numbers of magazine back issues, colonial-era tomes, and modern college textbooks. If you’re peckish, sizzling, freshly-cooked samosas in little pyramids of yellow, smeared with chutney, can be bought from roadside vendors. The market is also a great place to people-watch, featuring market touts, ascetics draped in beaded necklaces, Sikhs with full beards and curled moustaches, and Rajasthani women in red-and-pink silk with all the grace of Bollywood stars.


WHY
This is the oldest Chor Bazaar (or Thieves’ Market) in India, with an estimated 10,000 street stalls.


WHERE
The market sprawls in the Daryaganj area of Old Delhi between the Red Fort and Mogulera Friday Mosque.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies twice daily from Doha to Delhi.

 

London

Portobello Market is undoubtedly London’s best street market, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Along well over a mile of street stalls, you’ll discover fine-quality antiques and jewellery at the Westbourne Grove end of Portobello Road. As you head farther north, you pass fruit and vegetable stalls before second-hand goods and flea markets gradually take over, tempting with hidden treasures at more affordable prices.


WHY
Made famous in movies such as Notting Hill and The Italian Job, the market is a quintessential London experience.


WHERE
Along Portobello Road in Notting Hill; take the underground train to Notting Hill Gate station.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies non-stop from Doha to London five times a day.

 


Munich

Running every day but Sunday, Viktualienmarkt is an open-air food market that has been operating in the heart of Munich’s old town since 1807. It is still the city’s most popular market. Everyone from Munich’s top chefs to students and housewives come here to buy the freshest of produce and cut flowers in bold splashes of colour. For visitors, this is a good place to stock up for a picnic in one of Munich’s parks, with stalls selling cheese, smoked fish, sausages, sushi, Bavarian apples and pears, and home-brewed beers or freshly-squeezed juices. You can even sit at the tables of the beer garden in the centre of the market to eat your purchases – though only at those tables not covered with a tablecloth. The market hosts regular festivals and colourful folklore events.


WHY
Some 140 stalls selling the best of Bavarian fresh food, plus flowers and handicrafts, coupled with a cosy, historical atmosphere.


WHERE
The market lies behind St Peter’s Church off Marienplatz, the central square of Munich’s old town.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Munich.

 


Beijing

Panjiayuan Street is host to Beijing’s best street market, with some 3,000 stalls that are just the place to find interesting souvenirs from all across China. Calligraphy, ceramic teapots, Qing dynasty furniture, battered old opium pipes, laughing Buddhas, paper lanterns, and memorabilia from the Cultural Revolution sit in tottering heaps along the market’s many aisles. You can also find military binoculars, bronze Tibetan doorknobs, ivory carvings, and plenty of other oddities that will fit in a suitcase. Panjiayuan is at its best on Saturdays and Sundays, when the handicrafts section operates; if you’re after some genuine antiques, turn up at dawn any day of the week. “I give you good price, okay? Hello! You want?!” shout old ladies in English, all in one breath. Bargain fiercely, beware of fakes, and enjoy the spectacle and hubbub.


WHY
Panjiayuan is one of the largest antiques and handicraft markets in Asia, and offers a huge range of traditional Chinese items.


WHERE
South of Panjiayuan Street, just beyond the southeast corner of the Third Ring Road.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Beijing four times a week.

 


Paris

The Marché St-Ouen features up to 3,000 stalls selling everything from bric-a-brac to antiques and clothing. Old vinyl records, curios, glassware, military paraphernalia, and a whole lot more lie in jumbled heaps alongside more serious Louis XV commodes and old Louis Vuitton steamer trunks. The market has a festive air, vendors competing with street performers for attention, while food stalls tempt passers-by with mussel soup.


WHY
Marché St-Ouen claims to be Europe’s largest flea market, and gets close to a quarter of a million visitors every weekend.


WHERE
Avenue de la Porte de Clignancourt and surroundings; alight at Porte de Clignancourt metro station.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has two daily flights from Doha to Paris and 16 flights a week from March 27.

 


Seoul

Namdaemun is one of Seoul’s most important shopping districts, and between consumers and wholesalers keeps going 24 hours. The streets are lined with shops and stalls, while more stalls are jammed into a huge three-storey building sagging under the weight of household goods, sportswear, leather, sunglasses, silk, and textiles sold by the metre off giant rolls. This is one big treasure trove of Korean enterprise, and a nirvana for those devoted to bargains, though you have to beware of fakes. Korean soap operas patter from the TVs of hundreds of vendors, and young kids hunker under stalls and slurp up bowls of instant noodles. Push your way through bursting sackloads of underwear, clamber over teetering piles of shirts, and duck your way through hanging handbags and hosiery: this is a hands-on shopping experience.


WHY
Lively, fun, and distinctively Korean, this market is part of what makes Seoul such a great place to shop.


WHERE
Namdaemun is reached on Line 4 of the subway; get off at Hoehyeon station.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Seoul.

 


Hong Kong

Serious aficionados of street markets should head to Hong Kong’s Kowloon district, which seems to have a different market on every other corner, some specialising in the likes of songbirds, jade, or flowers. Famous Temple Street Market gets into its stride in the early evening and continues late into the night. Clothes are the chief focus here, as well as watches, electrical goods, CDs, and household items. If you’ve bought too much, you can even pick up an inexpensive extra suitcase to haul away your goodies. Shopping apart, a visit to Temple Street is still worth it for its sheer energy and bustle. Vendors compete under strings of light bulbs, Cantonese pop wails from portable stereos, fortune-tellers read palms, and an occasional traditional opera singer might be warbling away down a side alley.


WHY
Hong Kong’s best-known street market reflects all the inventiveness, comfortable chaos, and business acumen of the trading city.


WHERE
Temple Street is on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong; take the MTR to Jordan station.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Hong Kong.

 


Mumbai

Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Mandai, commonly known as Crawford Market, is one of the most famous of Mumbai’s 70-odd street markets. Chiefly a colourful fresh-food market, it also sells cosmetics, household and gift items, and even pets. There’s an unnerving meat section that might convert you to vegetarianism; but don’t miss the spectacle of salting and drying Bombay duck (actually a kind of fish).


WHY
Hustle and bustle in a colourful street market running here since 1869, and showing no signs of slowing down.


WHERE
North of Victoria Terminal train station along MG Road in South Mumbai, best reached by taxi or rickshaw.


HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Mumbai daily.

 
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