Fellow market-obsessed travelers (or armchair travelers), this post is for you.

I love to travel.  And when I travel, I love, love, love to visit markets!  Outdoor fruit + veg markets, indoor food markets, vintage and antique markets, everyday ‘stuff’ type markets, book markets, little village markets and big urban markets – I love them all.  And if there aren’t any markets available, then I head to the regular old grocery store – because I find it fascinating what ‘normal groceries’ look like in other cultures (and of course to buy myself some curious culinary souvenirs!)

While my husband doesn’t quite share my love of markets, I think he’s learned that the quickest way to make Amanda a happy-traveler is to point me in the direction of a market with my camera and let me explore for a couple of hours!

At the end of last year we took a trip to Thailand, and after our holiday I spent a week near Chiang Mai studying with a traditional Thai herbalist.

I have So. Many. Pictures. and amazing natural health + beauty discoveries to share from this trip.  So much so, that I’ve massively procrastinated on sharing it.  How can I even do it justice?!  The sticky humidity.  The lush, green foliage and sounds of insects.  The food!  The massage balms and healing herbal steam baths.  The geckos keeping us company in the guest house.  The little village market where I was the only non-Thai.  The herbal remedies that were so different, yet so familiar.

So I’ve decided to just dive in and try to capture the experience for you…starting with a tour of Thai markets.  Come with me and let’s explore…


We started off at a night market in Phuket, where aside from rows and rows (and rows!) of clothing, jewelry, handbags and knockoff perfumes, there was a huge prepared food section.  My rule for travel is if it’s being prepared freshly in front of you, then it’s OK to eat.  I like to eat with abandon when traveling and try (almost) everything, and have only gotten sick a couple of times out of tons of trips.  (Here’s how I stay healthy while traveling.)  On this trip I drank fresh coconut water out of the coconut almost every day, for around 50 cents per coconut.  Total indulgence.

Huge variety of Thai chili paste to use in cooking.


Natural crystal deodorant stones, among health and beauty items.
Natural crystal deodorant stones, among health and beauty items.


I ate so much Pad Thai.
This is a major food market in Bangkok.  I ate so much Pad Thai that entire trip. Yum.

After tourist-filled Phuket and hectic Bangkok, I escaped up to Chiang Mai to spend a few days with a traditional Thai herbalist + healer.  The little village nearby had a small market, where I was the only non-Thai person.  Unlike the bigger markets in the more touristy areas, this little village market was simply where the locals did their regular shop.

Village market outside Chiang Mai Thailand

Village market outside Chiang Mai Thailand

Every time I travel in Asia, I’m amazed at the variety of green vegetables.  There are so many kinds – most of which I’ve never seen before.

Look at these gorgeously twirly bean pods...
Look at these gorgeously twirly bean pods…


I loved this market especially because they had a big table filled with dried herbs and barks for medicine-making…

dried herbs in a Thai market

And the food was so abundant.  These are big bags of rice waiting to be scooped out…  There were also lots of little homemade prepared foods, like coconut milk sweets on banana leaves.  (Yes, I couldn’t resist trying those!)  Heaps of wild mushrooms in baskets on the tables.  And of course chilis: on plates, in little baskets and in huge bulging bags.

bags of rice at a Thai market
Bags of rice

Just looking at these photos makes me want to start planning another trip…

Are you also obsessed with visiting markets when you travel?  What was your favorite market experience? Let us know in the comments!

(And if you enjoyed this market post, you might also like my posts from Toulouse part 1 and part 2)

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