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The 15 Best Markets For Taking Stunning Pictures

A Personal Selection of Markets in Africa, Asia, the Middle-East and South America

Woman smoking at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar - The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

Woman smoking at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar – The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

No matter where I travel, I immensely enjoy visiting markets. Many of them, especially in Africa & in Asia, but also in the Middle East & in South America, are an assault on your senses: colorful and at times disorientating, aromatic or even intoxicating, vibrant and eventually hectic places… But this is where “the real life” can be found, so different from touristic highlights (though some markets have turned extremely popular in the last years, also amongst tour groups…)

Taking pictures at markets can be very challenging and even frustrating, but it is at the same time extremely rewarding as a Travel Photographer. This is why I will publish in the coming days a guide with “20+ Tips For Improving Your Travel Pictures At Markets”…

This list does not intend to be comprehensive, but rather a summary of my most remarkable & especially rewarding experiences as a Travel Photographer… I also must acknowledge that at some of the most vibrant & chaotic Markets, I did not manage to take decent pictures, especially in my earlier years as a Travel Photographer – This was particularly true in Africa…

  1. Sunday Markets In Back Ha & Luong Phin, Northern Vietnam – Bac Ha Sunday Market is a festival of colors, a true photographer’s dream! Locals come down from surrounding villages and trade things needed for everyday life: food, rice wine, clothes, you name it! And they couldn’t care less for the few visitors that are meddling in the crowd, at least in the first hours…
    Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

    Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

    Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

    Bac Ha Sunday Market, North Vietnam

  1. Friday Goat Market In Nizwa, Oman – Even before the selling began, the round podium in the center of the roofed-in arena was filled with men dressed in white Dishdasha, looking elegant and important. A sudden noise of shuffling feet announced the selling and the crowd of humans and animals in the circle started moving. Soon the noise increased, as the men were calling out the price and touting the qualities of the goats, which they were dragging or carrying around this base…
    Omani Woman at the Cattle Market in Nizwa on Friday Morning, Sultanat of Oman, Arabic Peninsula

    Omani Woman at the Cattle Market in Nizwa on Friday Morning, Sultanat of Oman, Arabic Peninsula

    Cattle Market in Nizwa on Friday Morning, Sultanat of Oman, Arabic Peninsula

    Cattle Market in Nizwa on Friday Morning, Sultanat of Oman, Arabic Peninsula

  1. Daily Markets In & Around Harar, East Ethiopia – You find many markets in & around Harar (Spice Market, Meat Market, Awaday Chat Market…), and they are as vibrant and colorful as it gets in Africa. It is mostly women in traditional dress selling just about anything that you need… But probably the most surprising to me was how easy it is to take pictures: people were actually eager to pose and then laughed when observing the result…
    Daily Market in Harar, Ethiopia

    Daily Market in Harar, Ethiopia

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    Daily Market in Harar, Ethiopia

  1. Sunday Market in Tarambuco, Bolivia – Tarabuco is a village about 65 kilometers from Sucre, known for its highly developed weaving techniques and quality textiles and especially for its very genuine “Indigenous Sunday Market“. The local population must be nearly solely “Indigenous” and the number of farmers wearing traditional clothes was overwhelming. Most interesting are the various head dresses, some look like leathery brown helmets, others resemble dark blue woolen ski hats…
    Traditional "Indigenous" Sunday Market in Tarabuco, Bolivia, South America

    Traditional “Indigenous” Sunday Market in Tarabuco, Bolivia, South America

    Traditional "Indigenous" Sunday Market in Tarabuco, Bolivia, South America

    Traditional “Indigenous” Sunday Market in Tarabuco, Bolivia, South America

  1. Five-Day Market Around Inle Lake, Myanmar – The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week. The three days on Inle Lake, I managed to visit the Floating Market at Taunggyi (or Ywama), at Paya Phaung Daw Oo and Inthein Market. Those markets are a mix of traditional rural markets offering everything for your daily needs, but also an increasing number of souvenir stalls, to address the rapidly growing number of tourists. The majority of women still wear traditional clothes, creating amazing photo opportunities…
    Woman at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar - The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

    Woman at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar – The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

    Young girl at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar - The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

    Young girl at the 5-Day Market on Inle Lake, Myanmar – The five villages on the shore of Lake Inle take turns, so there is actually a market each day of the week.

  1. Monday Market in Ségou, Mali – Unfortunately, Mali is now completely out of reach even for seasoned travelers, with various branches of ISIS-backed terror organization operating in the area… But the Monday Market in Ségou (much bigger and much more lively than the one in Djenné) is as colorful and vibrant as a Market can get, even for African standards. This was the biggest one I have experienced, actually! Unfortunately, back in 2005, I was completely overwhelmed as a Travel Photographer and hardly made a descent picture. This is definitely one of the places where I would so much love to go back with my current knowledge of Travel Photography!
    Women collecting firewood. That is there job among many others ... Djenné, Mali

    Women collecting firewood – Djenné, Mali

    Women of the "Village des Potiers", Mali

    Women of the “Village des Potiers”, Mali

  1. Guambiano Indigenous Market In Silvia, Colombia – Silvia, a village about an hour drive from Popayan, is the centre of the Guambiano region, one of Columbia’s most traditional indigenous groups. The Guambiano still use their language and dress in colorful clothes, especially for market day. They live in the surrounding villages and arrive in throngs for the Tuesday market in Silvia to sell their agricultural products, turning this picturesque village in a sea of blue…
    Blue skirts, thin hand-woven ponchos and a bowler hat, Guambiano Indigenous Market, Silvia, near Popayan, Cauca, Colombia, South America

    Blue skirts, thin hand-woven ponchos and a bowler hat, Guambiano Indigenous Market, Silvia, near Popayan, Colombia

    Blue skirts, thin hand-woven ponchos and a bowler hat, Guambiano Indigenous Market, Silvia, near Popayan, Cauca, Colombia, South America

    Blue skirts, thin hand-woven ponchos and a bowler hat, Guambiano Indigenous Market, Silvia, near Popayan, Colombia

  1. Hani Market near Yuanyang, Yunnan, China – The Rice Terraces of Yuanyang are definitely the most spectacular ones I have experienced. And the good news is: the Hani Markets in the villages surrounding Yuanyang remain some of the most traditional in China. With very few tourists around, taking pictures remains easy and very rewarding!
    Market at a small Hani village near the Rice Terrasses of Yuanyang, Yunnan, China

    Market at a small Hani village near the Rice Terrasses of Yuanyang, Yunnan, China

    Woman at the Rice Terrasses of Yuanyang (here in Duoyishu), Yunnan, China

    Woman at the Rice Terrasses of Yuanyang (here in Duoyishu), Yunnan, China

  1. Markets of the Lower Omo Valley, Ethiopia – Key Afar, Jinka, Turmi, Sasheme… There are many traditional Markets in the Lower Omo Valley! A long procession of people marching towards a village is always the first indication that it is market day. As always, women are almost crushed under incredible heavy loads of firewood, maize and other produce, while men gingerly walked their goats to be sold like a pet…
    Shasheme Market, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia, Africa

    Shasheme Market, Omo Valley, South Ethiopia, Africa

    Hamer People at the Market in Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia, Africa

    Hamer People at the Market in Turmi, Lower Omo Valley, South Ethiopia, Africa

  1. Daily Market In Pushkar, Rajasthan, India – Why not trying something completely different? Over three thousand (3.000!) pilgrims arrive daily in tiny Pushkar, Hindi from all over India and even abroad. They come for one reason – to leave money with the countless priests and temples. Even the most devout Hindi commits the odd sin that hurts his karma… A pilgrimage to Pushkar and a pile of money can undo that… Which means that you have all around Pushkar people selling just about anything you can donate at one of the many temples…
    Women at the market in the streets of Pushkar, Rajsthan, India

    Women at the market in the streets of Pushkar, Rajsthan, India

    Women at the market in the streets of Pushkar, Rajsthan, India

    Women at the market in the streets of Pushkar, Rajsthan, India

  1. Wednesday Market in Saint-Louis, North Senegal – Wednesday Market in Saint-Louis, in northern Senegal, is as colorful and vibrant as a Market can get, even for African standards… There you can buy just amazing you need or do not need: fish from the river & the sea, cattle, vegetables, spare parts, household tools, you name it! Unfortunately, back in 2004, I was completely overwhelmed as a Travel Photographer and hardly made a descent picture. This is definitely one of the places where I would so much love to go back with my current knowledge of Travel Photography!
    Returning home from the market!

    Returning home from the market!

    The "Anciens" sitting in the shade and watching life go by ...

    The “Anciens” sitting in the shade and watching life go by …

  1. Market & Bazaar in the Old City, Jaipur, India – At first sight a chaotic, congested, hot city, but Jaipur abounds with highlights and is definitely worth spending several days to somewhat scratch below the surface… And that means of course to spend some times in the city center, between the huge bazaar and the many informal market places that dot the Old City.
    Women in the streets of Jaipur, the Pink City, Rajasthan, India

    Women in the streets of Jaipur, the Pink City, Rajasthan, India

    Heavily loaded bike, in the streets of Jaipur, the Pink City, Rajasthan, India

    Heavily loaded bike, in the streets of Jaipur, the Pink City, Rajasthan, India

  1. Friday Market In Lalibela, Ethiopia – Lalibela’s Friday market offers a nice break from churches spotting. Cramped with stalls selling vegetables, fruits and clothes – it is huge! Nearly everyone was selling red onions, some merchants only a handful, some seating next to a small hill, some skillfully stacking them, others just spilling them on the ground. The cattle market is cordoned off by a wooden fence, its only entrance controlled by an armed guard…
    Market in Lalibela, Ethiopia, Africa

    Market in Lalibela, Ethiopia, Africa

    Women using Umbrellas against the sun, Lalibela, Ethiopia, Africa

    Women using Umbrellas against the sun, Lalibela, Ethiopia, Africa

  2. Floating Vegetable Market, Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir, India http://grandescapades.net/floating-vegetable-market/ – It was still dark when my Shikara dove into the labyrinth of Golden Dal. The lake was absolutely quiet and temperatures bone-chilling at around 05:00 am. I found a place squirming with small boats selling squash, tomatoes, onions, eggplants, green beans, fish and flowers. Men only, squatting on their boats haggling with people they have probably known all their lives…
    Floating Vegetable Market, Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir

    Floating Vegetable Market, Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir

    Floating Vegetable Market, Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir

    Floating Vegetable Market, Lake Dal, Srinagar, Kashmir

  3. Floating Market in the Mekong Delta, Can Tho, Vietnam http://grandescapades.net/can-tho-the-mekong-delta/ – There is no denying it… The extremely touristy Floating Market turned out to be quite disappointing: the many roads and bridges built in the past 12 years have obviously taken commerce away from the waterways! Nonetheless, this market still offers some great photo opportunity if you are in the area of the Mekong Delta. But: do not take a tour from Ho Chi Minh City, rather take a bus to Can Tho and from there, everything can be easily organized…
    Floating Markets, Can Tho, Mekong Delta

    Floating Markets, Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

    Floating Markets, Can Tho, Mekong Delta

    Floating Markets, Can Tho, Mekong Delta, Vietnam

     

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