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Psar Thmei, Phnom Penh
The Central Market is that easily recognisable grand yellow Art Deco building with the huge dome. It was built in 1937 during the French colonial time and had the biggest dome (45 m in diameter) in Asia at the time. In Khmer, the market is called Psar Thmei which actually means "New Market", the "central" name refers to its location - no reason to get confused here. There are four wings in addition to the main hall, along with outer stalls all the way around. Tourist related stuff are mostly found at the outside stalls, while the inside is tempting locals with jewellery, fashion and eletronic goods.
Psar Chas, Phnom Penh
If you thought the Russian Market was dense and cramped, try to visit the Old Market. Underneath low hanging plastic canopies in narrow lanes that even the Khmers have to wriggle through, you can go shopping for hair extensions (real hair), padded push-up panties (yes, to make your bum look bigger) and shiny stuff in every shape, as well as the usual things like fruit, fish and motorcycle parts. As you can guess, this market caters mostly for locals, even though it is close to the tourist stretch at the river front. More the reason to have a look and laugh with the locals here.
Kashgar livestock market
There are a few legendary markets around the world. The Grand Bazar in Turkey... Merkato in Ethiopia... but few have the allure of the Sunday livestock market on the outskirts of Kashgar. Every week, buyers and sellers and onlookers flock (no pun intended) to an otherwise empty lot to check out the local products. Sheep, goats, horses, camels and nearly everything else in between are up for grabs. Bargaining is hard. And whether it's for breeding, or even better afternoon meal, animals are quickly sold, bought and shipped off to who knows where. The chance to have a nice meal on the grounds is great too. And the meat could not be any fresher!!
Silvia village outside Popayan
Every Tuesday, the small village of Silvia holds its weekly market. Buses loaded with Guambiano Indians and sacks of potatoes in every colour and shape arrive early to return equally loaded in the afternoon. The Indians are dressed in their finest, which just happens to be the same for all. Ankle boots, deep blue scarf, bowler hat and wraparound skirt, and that includes the men too. It is a great mix of trading and get together at the plaza for catching up on the latest gossip. It is just one of those lovely places that Colombia is so full of, but again not many visitors come here (luckily).
The huge Saturday market in delightful Otavalo is popular with locals as well gringos. The town square is packed with small stalls offering an massive range of knitted and weaved souvenirs in all colours of the rainbow, some more authentic looking than others. Down the side streets more local goods are sold by the beautiful dressed indigenous people. Both the men and women still wear their traditional clothes, which for women is a white embroidered blouse and a folded scarf on the head, and for the men white trousers and shirt. Both have long hair that is plaited and hanging down their back.
Every Thursday the town of SaquisilÃ turn into one giant market. Actually it is several markets that are spread over the town. Indigenous people from remote villages in the surrounding hills come in to sell their goods, whether it is a goat, old shoes or a bag full of guinea pigs... and they are not sold as pets. The people are covered under colorful ponchos and felt hats sporting a fashionable peacock feather. It is a wonderful messy and rowdy affair, that starts early and phase out around midday. While Otavalo market is for tourists, this is the real deal.
Camel and wood market
Eritrea is hardly teeming with major attractions and sites to distract the checklist ticking tourist. But what it lacks in architectural grandeur, it more than make up for in the authentic culture department. Several hours north of the capital, in the regional town of Keren, something magical happens every Monday. In a dry riverbed, a market springs forth from the dust. And from the surrounding countryside come a seemingly endless stream of villagers, with camels in tow, attempting to sell their wares. The sights, sounds and smells are exactly what a village market should be. There is no Disney-fying for the tourist masses, there simply aren't any. Just you, some camels and a lot of staring locals.
Tsukiji Fish Market
A fish market might not sound overly exciting, but this is not some random joint. Tsukiji wholesale fish and seafood market is the biggest by any measure. Anything from seaweed to 300 kg tunas is sold here and over 2500 tons are handled every business day. The market consists of two sectors, the inner where the fishy thing is happening, and the outer where other food stuff and kitchen utensils are sold.
The best time to visit is between 5.30 am to 8 am, if you come later all the action will be over, but the retail shops will still be open.
Silk Road markets
The stories of the most famous and historically important trade routes in history have become legend. It's difficult to say the words "Silk Road" without conjuring images of bygone caravans, bustling markets and fabled cities. Perhaps no place in Kyrgyzstan is better to catch a glimpse of the route than the southern city of Osh. The main bazar in Osh hasn't changed much for millennia. Locals and foreigners alike hunt for hidden treasures then set in for prolonged bargaining sessions trying to get a fair price. From textiles to livestock to handmade tools to everything else you might (or might not) need, the bazar in Osh has it all.
Luang Namtha Province
Muang Sing used to be the biggest opium market in the Golden Triangle. Today, you can still be offered some of the black stuff in the street, but the new market is now for other stuff, like live frogs on a string, fried insects and rice wine by the bucket. Ethnic tribes come in from the surrounding hills to buy and sell their goods, making the morning market a colorful event and a great opportunity to mingle with so many different tribes at once. People from H'mong, Lao Lu, Thai Dam and Akha are among the usual crowds, but you need some practice to tell them all apart.