Photograph by Dominik Butzmann, laif/Redux
From the National Geographic book Four Seasons of Travel
Cuenca Flower Market, Ecuadorwww.cuenca.com
One of the world’s great historic cities, Cuenca boasts more than 50 churches from the Spanish colonial era. But its major draw is the daily flower market, lurking in the shadow of the monumental Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción. Vendors at dozens of stands offer quivering orchids, arum lilies, and giant roses.
Marché Aux Fleurs, Francewww.parisinfo.com
Risk sensory overload at the 200-year-old marché aux fleurs, the sort of setting that brings to mind Madame Bovary. A delicious cloud of freesia, jasmine, and tuberose wafts across these Belle Époque halls—except on Sunday, when blossoms give way to beaks at the marché aux oiseaux (bird market).
Bloemenmarkt, The Netherlandswww.amsterdam.info
Hugging an attractive stretch of the Singel canal, Amsterdam’s “floating” Bloemenmarkt is an apparition of colors so crazy, it’s no wonder the 19th-century merchants got tulip mania. The barge stalls overflow with popular varieties like Queen of the Night. Pick up a bag of bulbs or some clogs to take home.
Campo Dei Fiore, Italywww.rome.info
Founded in the 15th century, this little produce market occupies a special place in Romans’ hearts. The romance begins at dawn, when farmers wheel in nature’s bounty. The flower stalls are the last to close; stick around until 1 p.m., when the vendors really get the gab and throw in an extra rose or two.
Adderley Street Flower Market, South Africawww.capetown.travel
The country’s largest flower hall market is renowned for the barbed wit of its female vendors, some of whom have been snipping and grinning here for decades. Prepare to shake, haggle, and roll away with heaps of carnations, lilies, and a lovely pincushion proteas, a native of South Africa.
Phool Mandi, India
Blooms plucked across the globe pop up at the phool mandi, one of Asia’s most spectacular and bustling flower markets. It’s wholesale, meaning the fragrant piles of rajnigandha (tuberoses), chrysanthemums, and lilies are bigger than usual. Bright orange marigolds, a favorite for traditional garlands, are sold from burlap bags the size of ottomans. Vendors start at dawn but vanish by 9 a.m.
Pak Khlong Talat, Thailandwww.tourismthailand.org
The Pak Khlong flower market is one of Bangkok’s most nimble and arresting sights. Open around the clock, the stands are best enjoyed in the cool air after midnight, when boats on the Chao Phraya River deliver lotus blossoms in electrifying pink and white.
A vine-encrusted arch heralds the entrance to Caojiadu, the largest and busiest of Shanghai’s flower markets. Spread over three floors, the sheer variety of plants and greenery can overwhelm anyone’s Zen, although everyone agrees the prices are heavenly. There’s enough here to equip a minibiosphere—birds, fish, turtles, and gurgling fountains.
Dangwa Flower Market, The Philippinesvigattintourism.com
If love is in the air, pick up a bouquet from Dangwa—round about midnight. On Valentine’s Day, crowds of Manila residents will be doing the very same thing. Stuffed into four lanes in the student quarter of Sampaloc, the stalls never think about closing; the bouquets are freshest when the barflies wilt.
Flemington Flower Market, Australiawww.sydney.com
Sydney’s best kept secret is its cavernous flower market, achingly beautiful and buzzing from 5 a.m. with green energy. By about 9 a.m., the hustle fades as florists make off with their day’s booty.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.