Get a glimpse at local life in Southeast Asia by visiting some of it’s markets! At the heart of the local economy, markets are always worth a visit to see how people work, trade and have a good chat. Here are 4 amazing Asian markets to explore this year!
When we’re traveling in Asia, we’re all after the same thing – something authentic and far off of the tourist track. The reality of finding those kinds of spots, though, is harder than it sounds. But the team at Buffalo Tours loves investigating those lesser-known spots that plugs into the local cultures of even the most travelled destinations, and we’d say we’re pretty good at it.
And from our nearly two decades of finding those great spots to explore with our travellers, we’ve found that there’s one place we’re guaranteed to get a taste of authentic local culture: the markets!
We’re not talking the avenues of souvenir shops that pop up along tourist footpaths and the countless stalls flanking sightseeing spots. These markets are the backbone of local communities’ agriculture and heritage, and where locals congregate to swap stories and wares. What better way to see local lifestyles up close than strolling through these pop-up, streetside supermarkets?
If Asia is on your travel list this year, put these incredible local markets on your itinerary!
Can Tho Floating Market
Mekong Delta, Vietnam
The Mekong Delta is the agricultural hub of Vietnam and the entirety of Southeast Asia, so finding bustling locals markets here isn’t exactly a difficult feat. Finding the markets that really capture the local flavour in the weirdest, most wonderfully exciting way, though, demands swapping those walking shoes for the sea legs.
After all, the real heart of the Mekong Delta isn’t on land, so much as on the river. For the very best of the region’s floating markets, head to Can Tho City, one of the main trading hubs in this fascinating region. Don’t be surprised if you find melons flying over your head as they’re passed from boat to boat!
Coc Ly & Muong Hum Markets
When it comes to incredible ethnic minority markets, Vietnam is spoiled for choice. Home to dozens of ethnic minorities who continue to live decidedly simple lives in small villages in the countryside, Vietnam is one of the best travel destinations for those that seek diversity and cultural variety. And there’s no better place to experience the true cultural diversity of the country than Sapa, a mountainous outpost whose misty beauty harks back to its French colonial past.
Resident ethnic minority groups like the Dao, Tay and H’mong congregate in these areas to swap anything from food and household wares to fabric and jewelry. There are dozens of locals markets that are both regular and seasonal, but make time to visit the Coc Ly Market, off of the banks of the Chay River and one of the smallest (and least visited) markets in Sapa.
If you’re in Sapa over the weekend, head to the Muong Hum Market held only on Sundays and a stone’s throw from the beautiful Muong Vi Caves!
Amphawa Floating Markets
Via Bangkok, Thailand
Getting a grasp of what Thailand looked like before its incredible network of canals were renovated and forever changed, the very best place to experience it is with a quick journey outside of Bangkok toward the floating markets of Amphawa. Nestled even further beyond the more tourist-tread Damnoen Saduak markets, the Amphawa floating markets are no easy feat to get to, and seeing it at its best requires an alarm clock and a good cup of coffee.
The early morning will be well worth it, though, since the photo opportunities are certainly endless with most of the locals here donning traditional farming clothing (read: dark blue with a straw hat). Couple a trip to the Amphawa Floating Markets with a city and canal tour with us, and you’ll be in for a full day of cultural exploration that’s well off of the tourist track.
Maeklong Train Market
If you’re after an adrenaline rush and a little bit of cultural flavour, head to the Maeklong Train Market in Bangkok. Flanking the still-operational Maeklong train line, this strange pop-up market is one of the most “flexible” of local markets. Why? Trains on the Maeklong line still rumble through the market intermittently and waits for no one – including shop keeps and market stalls.
The orchestra of hundreds of stalls collapsing into the walls to allow for a passing train is something of a cultural spectacle you’ll only witness in Thailand. Don’t bet on finding any souvenirs here, though – this market focuses almost entirely on produce.
If you aren’t in the mood for some fresh veggies or fruits (although seasonal fruits in Thailand can be a souvenir in and of itself) make sure to check the local train schedule. Timed wrong, and you might be waiting a few hours.
Explore these incredible markets and more local life flare with Buffalo Tours’ custom-made itineraries today!