Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Why to Go: Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the center of Sultanahmet, the city’s oldest neighborhood. Though the market, which contains over 3000 stalls, is dotted with tourist-friendly tchotchke salesman, the serious-looking men drinking tea in tiny stores are – by and large – involved in complicated multi-national operations moving textiles, gems, and antiques around the world. Still, the best place to get a bargain is at the Bazaar itself, where there is an incredible supply of just about everything. Stick to the businesses ringing the outside of the market (toward Galata Bridge) if you’re looking for antiques or feel like hanging out with a herd of cats. Otherwise, just wander and be friendly. Many of the salesmen hail from the Turkic countries and Afghanistan, and they tell fascinating stories.
What to Buy: The best bets at the Grand Bazaar are jewelry and jewels, particular stones mined in the Near East. Compare topaz and emerald rings and haggle significantly (offer, at most, 60 percent of the asking price to start bidding). Find a nice merchant – keep to the edges – and you’ll find a deal.
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