Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various through 2008
Shopping can often be a chore, especially at this time of year, but not if you trade in a visit to the local mall for browsing some of the world's most exotic bazaars. We've handpicked four picturesque markets, from bustling souks in Morocco's Marrakesh to Bangkok's colorful Chatuchak Market and Mumbai's Chor Bazaar to Istanbul's famed Grand Bazaar, where bargain-hunting is a tourist attraction in itself. Plus, we've paired each bazaar with a great-value vacation deal to get you there for less (so you'll have more to spend on shopping).
Souks of Marrakesh, Morocco
Morroco’s largest traditional market, known as the souk, is in Marrakesh’s old fortified quarter of Medina. Not only is this labyrinthine bazaar beautifully atmospheric – and easy to get lost in – it also provides some unique shopping opportunities. Whether you want to pick up colorful leather slippers, embroidered blankets, colorful pottery, or buy a real-deal carpet, this is the place to browse. Haggling is more than welcome – in fact, it’s part of the culture and negotiating the price is strongly encouraged. Discover it for yourself with Friendly Planet's eight-day special for $1699 that includes airfare, hotels, tours, and more; book by January 31 for March departures.
Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market, Thailand
Thailand’s largest market — and one of the largest in the world — covers more than 35 acres and features close to 15,000 stalls selling anything from Thai handicrafts and religious artifacts to fighting roosters and fried water bugs. Open only on weekends, this Bangkok highlight attracts up to 300,000 visitors daily and provides an evocative insight into Thai culture. Whether you want to choose a souvenir to bring back home or merely take in the sights and sounds, this is a must-see. Asian Affair Holidays offers an unbeatable package to get you there through March: $1458 covers air, four nights’ deluxe lodging, and daily breakfast.
Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar, India
Mumbai’s Chor Bazaar, aka the Thieves’ Market, is a feast of secondhand and antique goods. At this sprawling place with rows of cozy little shops, you can find anything from grandfather clocks and dusty record players to Ming vases and old jewelry. Veritable bargains can be had, especially if you’re good at haggling (but do watch out for fakes). You can explore the delights of this bazaar as part of Virgin Vacations' 12-day Monuments and Masterpieces escorted tour of India from $3369, including airfare, accommodation, a variety of sightseeing tours, transfers, and meals. The itinerary takes in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Aurangabad and, of course, Mumbai.
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is “the quintessential venue for all of your indigenous souvenir needs. The numerous covered alleys of this huge indoor complex, which dates back more than 500 years, house over 4,000 shops and stalls that sell everything from carpets, fabrics, crockery, and leather to jewelry, hammam goods, and Turkish Delight.” You could spend your entire sojourn rummaging through these fantastic finds with Virgin Vacations' six-night trip to Istanbul from $939 including airfare, accommodation, transfers, and daily breakfast this January 8 and March 20, 2008.
All the package prices above are listed per person based on double occupancy. See the specific Web sites for details.
Brush up on your bargaining skills!
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