Visit Christmas Markets with a Twist Flying from Doha!
Christmas markets usually conjure images of snowy scenes filled with mulled drinks and merry-go-rounds in the midst of winter but heres a few exotic destinations that might tickle your fancy..
Colourful paintings and pareos in the Seychelles
Mahe is home to an array of talented local artists; their studios and galleries across the island offer colourful paintings and wood sculptures for sale. Private tours of the galleries can be arranged by Banyan Tree Seychelles. Along the way, guests can visit Market Street in the capital, Victoria, where hand-made arts and crafts such as hand-dyed pareos (sarongs) and spices including cinnamon bark, coconut oil and vanilla are on display; perfect to add a Seychellois touch to the Christmas pudding.
Vibrant silk dresses in Central Vietnam
The UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An, near Banyan Tree Lang Co is where one of the country’s most unique shopping experience can be found, Central Market. Here, visitors can browse for gifts such as vibrant Vietnamese lanterns, conical straw hats, fragrant herbs and exotic spices. Skilled tailors can create almost any type of clothing from scratch; from silk shawls and shirts to suits and dresses, providing a bespoke festive gift. For a refuelling break, try Cao Lau, a dish made of pork, noodles and greens, popular with locals and tourists alike.
Go for gold in the markets of Phuket
Thailand’s famous markets make this country a must-visit destination for shopaholics. The concierge team at Banyan Tree Phuket offer expert advice to ensure guests experience the best of retail therapy. Known locally as Talad Tai Rot, Phuket’s weekend night market is the place to pick up some special gifts; from religious carvings and imagery, woven bags and baskets to a wide variety of shoes and clothing. Those feeling generous can also purchase beautiful gold jewellery from downtown Phuket. Whilst browsing the markets, visitors can keep hunger at bay by sampling Thai delicacies such as dried squid, sweet and savoury dumplings, traditional Pad Thai and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves.
Searching for Aladdin in Marrakech
Visitors looking for sunshine without a long-haul flight need look no further than Angsana Riads Collection in the heart of the Old Medina in Marrakech. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this maze of laneways is a shopper’s paradise packed with arts, crafts and jewellery; clothing, leather bags, footwear and household knick-knacks. Argan oil or black soap, both used for softening skin and hair, make unique stocking stuffers; the black soap is traditionally used in Hammam rituals, delicately scented with Eucalyptus essential oil. Other gift ideas include the iconic palm of Fatima, a sign of protection, power and strength, regarded locally as a lucky charm to ward off the Evil Eye. Or for those seeking out some fun folklore, the Medina has a bounty of handmade carpets and brass lamps to bring out their inner Aladdin.
Arabian spices from the UAE
Filling Christmas stockings with Arabian delights, Banyan Tree Al Wadi and Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach in the UAE offer ideal bases in the desert or beach to explore traditional souks nearby. Two souks are located on both sides of the Creek in Dubai, just over an hour from the resorts. The Naif Souk, on the Sharjah side of the creek, is famous for its gold and textiles including delicate silks and artwork. One of the most visited attractions in Dubai, this market also sells traditional dress from across the Arab region. In the second souk an aromatic blend of various spices welcomes visitors. Guests can immerse themselves in the unique Arabian culture by taking an Abra across to the market.
Sombreros and alebrijes in Mexico
At the idyllic coastal resort of Banyan Tree Cabo Marques near Acapulco, guests can soak up the magical atmosphere which cocoons the region during the festive period. Christmas in Mexico brings an abundance of colourful gifts to the market places of Acapulco. The El Noa Noa handicraft market offers an interesting collection of precious stones and minerals, whilst the sprawling outdoor bazaar of the Mercado Central offers everything from the traditional corn-based beverage ‘atole’ to modern shoes in all shapes and sizes. El Mercado de Artesanías Parasal, also known locally as "El Tepito," is one of Acapulco’s oldest arts and crafts market, with hundreds of stalls groaning with leather goods, ceremonial masks, chili ristras (dried strings of chillis), alebrijes (Mexican folk art), ceramics, pottery, hammocks, silver jewellery, embroidered blouses and a huge variety of Mexican sombreros.
Fly a pirate ship in Bali
Guests visiting Banyan Tree Ungasan in Bali can take advantage of the array of affordable artwork found across the island. Local markets in Denpasar and Ubud are treasure troves for those seeking an alternative piece of art to hang on their walls at home. The Ubud Art Market, the setting for the film Eat Pray Love, offers beautiful silk scarves, handmade woven bags, placemats, baskets and hats; stone and wooden statues and kites depicting colourful animals, pirate ships and more. Kumbasari Art Market is Denpasar’s art market and central landmark of the city; here, visitors can join locals as they flock to source necessities such as silk parasols, temple attire and silver holy water vessels.
So why not plan your Xmas break now!