This is the sixth post in the "My 5 Favorite" series: My 5 Favorite Markets Around the World.
If there is one thing I love to do in a new country or city, it's exploring the area's markets. Whether it's a food market, a flower market or one full of clothing and fun knick-knacks, I get immense pleasure from wandering up and down while I survey what each vendor is selling. I always feel a little more connected to that city than I did before, even if it's packed with tourists.
Over the years I have visited plenty of markets across various countries and continents, all of them captivating in their own way. But there are several that stand out as my favorites and deserve to be highlighted. Here are my five favorite markets around the world:
BOROUGH MARKET, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Why I Love It: Sorry Mickey and Minnie, but Borough Market is the happiest place on earth. When you're at Borough on a sunny day with a Kappacasein toasted cheese sandwich in one hand and a Pimm's in the other, life feels perfect. I don't care that this food market attracts tons of tourists; I am one of them. I have never visited Borough Market and not had sensory overload in the best way possible. I have said it before and I'll say it again, Borough Market is where your foodie dreams come true.
Why It's Worth Visiting: If you love or even like food, Borough Market is a must. Even if you don't think you like food, Borough Market is a place worth experiencing. There is so much food to try and never enough time or space in your stomach — all the more reason one should visit Borough Market as many times as one can.
LADIES MARKET, HONG KONG
Why I Love It: Ladies Market is by no means a pretty market in terms of its aesthetics, but man is it functional. It's just full of so many things, some of which are admittedly not that useful but much of which is very useful. Scarves, shoes, watches, phone covers, ties, t-shirts, and the list goes on and on. After spending an afternoon here, I knew that I could have left my hotel in a sweatsuit, stopped at Ladies Market and emerged with everything I would need for an interview with a Fortune 500 CEO.
Why It's Worth Visiting: Hong Kong overall is an amazing place, but to get an even better feel for the city, visit the markets. Ladies Market is a great place to pick up some interesting finds while brushing up on your bargaining skills.
JEMAA EL-FNA, MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
Why I Love It: Jemaa El-Fna is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited. By day, it's a shopping mecca, selling everything from intricately designed jewelry to dried fruits to freshly squeezed orange juice. By night, the place transforms into a food market and the number of people triples. I still remember witnessing that transition and being in awe of how amazing the market is, both in the daytime and at night.
Why It's Worth Visiting: It is the heart of Marrakech, a place where you will see both locals and tourists come together to eat, shop, converse, bargain and explore.
CAMDEN MARKETS, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Why I Love It: In addition to Borough Market, the other place I must visit anytime I'm in London is Camden Town, where the Camden Markets are located. Though they are all situated in one area, the Camden Markets are technically separate markets lined up alongside each other with vendors selling clothing, food, jewelry, accessories, books and many other interesting items. I love this neighborhood because it reminds me of New York's East Village but with its own British flair. I also always find the shopping to be fun and unlike anywhere else in London.
Why It's Worth Visiting: For clothing and jewelry that's a little different from what you would find elsewhere, Camden Town is the place to be. It's also the place to people watch — lots of interesting fashion on the streets of Camden Town.
SMORGASBURG, NEW YORK
Why I Love It: Smorgasburg is another one of those places that every food lover needs to visit. Originating in Brooklyn, this food market recently expanded to Queens this past summer, adding to the more than 100 vendors who sell delicious food every weekend between April and November. Unique items like the ramen burger and paratha taco make this unlike any other food market in the world. Did I mention everything is delicious?
Why It's Worth Visiting: Food, food and more food. I think that's reason enough. Just make sure to come early because the lines can get really long, particularly at the Williamsburg location.
Pretty much every other market in London deserves an honorable mention, but to be more specific, I love Portabello Road Market, Spitalfields Market and the Columbia Road Flower Market. Lastly, there's Jean Talon Market in Montreal and Östermalms Saluhall in Stockholm, both great for the hungry tourist.
Next up: my five favorite experiences around the world.