As you might expect, the place for shopping in Turkey is in the capital city of Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar are of course” must-sees” when visiting the city, but there are other markets that are equally fun to explore.
Located in the Fatih district in the historic part of Istanbul, Çarşamba, which means “Wednesday”, takes place every Wednesday. Visitors hoping to experience a slice of the real life of a Turk need only spend a few hours here watching how the locals do their shopping for the week.
Stalls begin opening up around 5 am as the vendors set up in an area that covers seven main and 17 smaller streets of the district. You can expect to find about 1300 vendors, 2500 peddlers and over 4800 stalls selling goods that range from fruits and vegetables to household goods to designer fashion.
Don’t expect clear signs and neat stacks – this is a place to rummage through piles on top of tables to find what you’re looking for. Don’t expect price tags either, since the cost of the item is whatever the seller can talk you into paying. Do yourself a favor and hang back for a while until you see how the pros do it. If possible, try to figure out what people are paying for an item you’re interested in and aim for that number as your price point. Enjoy the bargaining process and if you can’t reach a number you both can agree on, set down the item and walk away. Sometimes that gets you an angry growl – and sometimes the seller suddenly agrees to your price.
Also on Wednesdays but much less of a frantic free-for-all, the “green village” market has a reputation for providing high-quality goods including excellent fakes...er...replicas. The 2000 stalls are organised into defined areas making it much easier to find what you need.
Shop here for toiletries and makeup to get the best prices in a pleasant atmosphere and think through big purchasing decisions in one of the cafes tucked between market stalls. When shopping for name brand items either be sure you can tell the real from the fake, or buy a low-cost product knowing that it’s just a replica. If you definitely want the real thing, ask another shopper to tell you which vendors have genuine goods.
Expect to pay a little more for the goods here and if you’re short on cash, ask if the vendor takes credit cards. There may be a slight charge, but many are happy to use your plastic for a purchase.
Not only is it a fun market to explore, the idea of popping over to another continent to shop is really cool. The best way to get here is by taking a ferry, then a bus – two entertaining ways to travel in the city. If you prefer to walk from the ferry dock, it’s uphill on the way there but only about ten minutes away.
The Tuesday Market started some 40 years ago but became a traffic nightmare as the city grew. It was moved to its current spot in 2008 and still has the fresh feeling of a modern building. In addition to getting more space, the market added a day and now is open for clothing sales only on Friday.
Be prepared to haggle for everything from the price of your peach to your “Adibas” sportswear and remember that buying in bulk should get you a lower price. The only places with fixed costs are the cafes and restaurants – and some of those may have different prices for tourists. Watch what people are paying before making a choice unless you see a written price.