Travellers who relish the opportunity to try new and exciting dishes while on holiday will love these farmers' markets.
Dried chillies ready to be turned into merken
Feria Pinto, Temuco, Chile
Based in a converted railway station, Feria Pinto in the Chilean city of Temuco is packed full of fresh produce, homemade honey, cheese, pastries, small take-away food stalls, and, most importantly, merken. Seen as a gourmet delicacy in many countries, merken is a mix of smoked chilli and coriander seeds that can be purchased fresh at Feria Pinto.
Grab one of the specially sealed plastic bags (necessary for taking merken through customs). Or purchase the spice loose and use it to season your evening meal, prepared at one of the city’s self-catered apartments such as the Lodge Mirador Los Volcanes Cabañas, or the Complejo Buenavista Pucon.
Fresh vegetables at the farmers' market
Cameron Highlands, Penang, Malaysia
Most of the tea and vegetables consumed in Malaysia and Singapore comes from the Cameron Highlands. Cool temperatures thanks to the high altitude help local farmers grow crops that wouldn’t normally survive elsewhere in Malaysia. This means that the area is full of small farmsteads (including a recent surge in organic growers) and fresh produce markets. Kea Farm is one of the area’s biggest markets and is composed of over a kilometre of vegetable stalls.
Prices tend to be lower as you wander closer to the Rose Centre – a farm that has been converted into a tranquil rose garden – and there is also a specially-designated strawberry farm next to the jungle. Visitors checking into the Cameron Highlands Resort are greeted with a gourmet menu made up of produce sourced at the market, and those wishing to stay close to the action can check out the Rose Apartment.
Tlayuda tortilla being prepared at an Oaxaca City market
Mercado Tlacolula/El Pochote/Pasillo de las Carnes, Oaxaca City, Mexico
The Mexican city of Oaxaca has an international reputation for serving up the best, locally-sourced meals and it’s impossible to decide which of the many farmers’ markets is the best. So we’ve picked three of them.
Mercado Tlacolula is a hectic, vibrant market, packed full of local handicrafts and, more importantly, mouth-watering fruit, vegetables, and pastries. Visitors heading to downtown Oaxaca should stop by El Pochote, a small organisation of organic farmers and suppliers who’ve attracted international attention from high profile food writers. Lastly, the city meat market – Pasillo de las Carnes – is full of locally-sourced meat that can be brought fresh or cooked to order.
Travellers eager to try out their own culinary skills but who also appreciate eating out would do well to check into the Marialicia Suites Hotel Boutique which provides both self-catering facilities and a gourmet cafeteria.
A customer samples the produce at the Antigua Guatemala Mercado
Mercado, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
The Mercado, located in the north-west of Antigua Guatemala, is a sprawling market that takes at least a day to explore and manages to combine history, culture, and the freshest produce. The market is divided into sections, including spaces for local crafts and second-hand clothes, but foodies are advised to head to the open air fruit market in the west of the market. Here you’ll find hundreds of stalls, covered with mangoes, papayas, and dragon fruit.
After that take a wander through the covered section of the market where you’ll find stalls selling a variety of locally-sourced meat as well as mini restaurant stands. Visitors keen to cook their own meals should check out the Posada Juma Ocag (opposite the market) or take a look at the self-catered Villa de la Ermita.
Looking for something spicy at the Belo Horizonte Mercado Central
Mercado Central, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Belo Horizonte is Brazil’s 6th-largest city and the neatly laid out grid pattern of its streets make the city centre fairly easy to navigate. This thoughtful planning extends to the city’s biggest farmers’ market, the Mercado Central, where harmonious displays feature herbs, tofu, cheese, grains, meat, pastries, and lots more.
Mercado Central is one of the most-visited locations in Belo Horizonte but the market is one of many as, in 1993, the city government started an initiative based on citizens’ ‘right to food’. This scheme included establishing affordable farmers’ markets throughout the city and regularly distributing information on prices. The result was a 50% decrease in the infant mortality rate and led to Belo Horizonte gaining a reputation for fantastic, affordable produce.
Make the most of the many local markets by booking into a hotel with private kitchen facilities (like the eSuites Sion) and a stunning rooftop view (like Ville Celestine Condo) to admire the sunset as you tuck into local delicacies.
** These recommendations come from the travel scientists at Booking.com. They’ve analyzed destinations endorsed for farmers’ markets and, according to Booking.com reviewers, these places are the best.