Pick up any travel magazine or check in with any wanderlust blog this month and they will all be touting the hottest destinations of 2015. We often declare that the marketplace is our first love - indoor, outdoor, bazaar, mercado, souk, you name it, we are happiest when we are hunting, bargaining and jetting home with a stash of artisanal textiles, handicrafts and unique wares we are proud to share with you. In that spirit, we have compiled a list of must shop markets we hope to hit in the coming new year. Here you go, happy hunting or just relax and wait for us return with our new found treasure.
Image courtesy of experiencetherealcuba.com
With travel restrictions to Cuba changing daily, we are eagerly anticipating our first trip back to the island. Last time we visited was about ten years ago on a cultural exchange, even though shopping was nearly non- exisitent, we managed to picked up seventies inspired macram? tops and bikinis, sculptural bone jewelry and local paintings at the weekend artisanal market located at the former Almacenes de San Jos? on the Port of Havana.
Image courtesy of suellewellyn2011.wordpress.com
Our favorite thing to do in Cusco (besides petting baby alpacas!) is to shop the Plaza de Armas outdoor shops. Here you can browse traditional Quechua textiles. Pick up mantas - the vibrantly patterned fabrics that the locals wear wrapped around their shoulders, anything and everything alpaca, ethnic silver jewelry, we especially love the tupo pins used for fastening the mantas. Also, hunt for vintage festival costumes and anything with a fish motif, which symbolizes good luck. Just outside Cusco, the Quechua mountain town of Pisco has a popular Sunday market, with stalls filled with woven alpaca throws, dolls and ceramics.
Image courtesy of gopixpic.com
Myanmar has been pushed to the top of our must see destinations for 2015. With the country preparing for an influx of travelers, the infrastructure may be shaky at first, but we don?t mind because that often means there will be loads of untapped finds at the marketplace. Our first stop - the Bogyoke Aung San Market in Rangoon. With over 2000 stalls, you will find a wide selection of Burmese handicrafts, including laquerware, jewelry, and intricately woven textiles. Pick up gifts, slippers for all the temple hopping you are bound to be doing and some longyis so you can dress like a local. Upstairs on the first floor pop in to Yoyamay, a textile shop and gallery, specializing in tribal traditions. Bogyoke Aung San Market ? Bogyoke Aung San Road Dagon, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm
Image courtesy of www.thetimes.co.uk
In recent years, Oman has emerged as one of the hottest new destinations in the Middle East. Here, where the desert meets both the sea and the mountains, beyond luxury safaris this country is best known for its production of frankincense and oudh and the souk is the place to shop and learn the subtleties of the art of fragrance. The Omani people mastered the craft of layering scents, including creating the finest bakhoor, an incense hand blended from resin, flowers, oils, ground seashells and aromatics. In the Haffah Souk in Salalah, visit Laila Al Baraka at stall no.12. Her name means ?The Blessed? and she is the local scent guru. She will school you on the oudh and frankincense that has been cultivated in Oman for hundreds of years. Custom scents and blends are also available. Also check out Makka Trading in this souk, here dealers sell local aromatics, like green hojari frankincense (the most prized) by the pound.
On early Sunday mornings, the streets of downtown Sapa, Vietnam are filled with hundreds of Hmong and Red Dao people in colorful ethnic attire. This traditional Sunday market, which is bustling until late afternoon, is not only for trading, but also for socializing and unwinding after a long week. Visitors will see stalls full of mountain fruits, ethnic silver jewelry, medical herbs and local products like forest honey. For those who are enchanted by colorful costume of H?mong and Dao people, and are looking for authentic ethnic fabric to wear or bring home, the second floor of the market is a must-visit. Here you will find a number of embroidered skirts, handbags, blankets, pillow shams and table covers with unique patterns. Sapa Market, Tu? T?nh, tt. Sa Pa, Sa Pa, L?o Cai, Vietnam, Only on Sunday Mornings