One of the hardest decisions to make when traveling is how to remember your trip once you get home. The perfect souvenir can help to rekindle the experiences of your trip long after your sunburn has faded and you have recovered from jet lag. However, finding that perfect souvenir can be tricky. One place many people wouldn’t think to look for amazing deals is large markets, commonly known as bazaars. Found in every corner of the globe, bazaars can be indoor or outdoor, open seasonally or year-round. Each bazaar sells authentic specialty products for very low prices that tourists often pass over because they don’t know what to look for or what constitutes a good deal. Check out what a few bazaars around the world are selling to see where you can find high-quality items for economical prices.
La Feria de San Pedro Telmo: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Next time you take a trip down south, don’t forget to stop at the bazaar of La Feria de San Pedro Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This large open-air market takes place every Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in one of the oldest neighborhoods of the city. After visiting this extensive market in La Plaza Dorrego, you will need to take an extra suitcase home because you will encounter scarves, brass pots, antiques (including old telephones and gramophones), dinette sets, knives, and much more. But some of the best bargains here are for genuine leather goods. The leather belts, bags, and purses you will find here are high quality, often made locally, and very inexpensive. As an added bonus, while shopping for that perfect souvenir, you might be entertained by a couple dancing the tango or puppeteers performing a show with their marionettes. And if you get hungry while shopping, have no fear—La Feria de San Pedro Telmo has an abundant supply of delicious eateries and cafes. This is a bazaar you cannot afford to miss out on if you are in the area.
Grand Bazaar: Istanbul, Turkey
If you’re ever in Istanbul, you can’t miss shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Originally built in 1461, it is the world’s largest covered market, with 60 streets and 5,000 shops. Located at the heart of the city, this bazaar is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm every day but Sunday. You can buy anything here from t-shirts, genie pants, and scarves, to carpets, antiques, and evil-eye trinkets. There is even an entire part of the market dedicated to food where you can find delicious Turkish delight and authentic spices. However, at the Grand Bazaar, the real steal is inexpensive custom-made jewelry. The precious metals and jewels cost just a fraction of the price of similar items in US jewelry stores. It will be well worth your while to get lost in this extensive bazaar in order to shop for your new favorite pair of earrings.
Jaffa Flea Market: Tel Aviv, Israel
Jaffa was the ancient name of the port that is now the city of Tel Aviv in Israel. When visiting Tel Aviv, you will find the wonderful bazaar known as the Jaffa Flea Market (Shuk Hapishpishim in Hebrew). Open 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday through Thursday, the Jaffa Flea Market contains all sorts of treasures, from Holy Land souvenirs—like rosary beads and menorahs—to jewelry and brass wares. Authentic items you can buy here inexpensively include hand-painted ceramics, such as decorative tiles and dishes. Made locally, these ornate ceramic products often have intricate designs and can really give a special touch to your home decor. So take some time to meander through the streets of the old city of Jaffa. You just might find some hidden treasures.
Taling Chan Floating Market: Bangkok, Thailand
If you head to the Far East, you will have a unique consumer experience. Imagine rowing a boat through a mall, and you’ll have a good idea of what a shopping excursion is like at the floating market of Taling Chan. Located twelve kilometers outside of Bangkok, at this bazaar you can explore one of the many floating markets of Thailand where rowboats ferry goods up and down the waterways. This market is open each day during business hours. While this market is famous for its fresh produce and gardening supplies, you can find many hidden treasures, such as getting a foot massage for 200 baht (US $6) and the authentic experience of sitting on the floor while eating traditional Thai food. Because this is mostly a food market, be sure to grab some authentic Thai spices to take home with you, such as saffron, green peppercorns, galangal, dried coriander, lemongrass, and tumeric, just to name a few. So if you are ever in Thailand, put shopping at a floating market on your to-do list.
—Rachel I. Gessel