Visiting local markets is one of the best things you can do while traveling. Wet markets, neighborhood markets, fish markets—the list goes on. Getting to see where locals buy their groceries, the many varieties of every kind of food—a rainbow of fish, tiny, white eggplants, long green beans, 20 different types of rice—deepens your understanding of a new place. There is both a foreignness and a familiarity to these markets. They're so different to your own daily life, but the act of shopping for the very best ingredients to shape dinner for your family and friends is pervasive across so many cultures.
As magical as markets can be, it's even better to explore them with a local to get a real insider’s look at what these markets have to offer. Companies like Traveling Spoon pair travelers with local guides which makes it easy to get that behind-the-scenes experience at all the best markets. You can even learn how to cook some of the foods you find! Here are Traveling Spoon's top five markets off the eaten path—some known and some less known—and the guides who can show you around.
Originally built by the French during their rule over Hanoi, Dong Xuan abounds with kitchen supplies of every kind—from cleavers and knives of all shapes and sizes to barrels of beautiful Vietnamese foods like rice and chilis. For an insider visit, go with Hong who will take you on a hunt for the best produce to cook up (with a stop for some Vietnamese snacks). Shop for fresh catfish and local dill before returning to Hong’s home to enjoy her crispy, freshly-fried spring rolls and cha ca (Hanoian grilled fish will dill and turmeric).
2. Şirinevler Pazarı Market (Istanbul, Turkey)By Stephanie Lawrence
3. Nishiki Market (Kyoto, Japan)By Stephanie Lawrence
4. On Nut Market (Bangkok, Thailand)By Stephanie Lawrence
5. Sastri Nagar Market (Chennai, India)By Stephanie Lawrence
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