‘Souk’ is a traditional Arab word used for ‘market’. Middle east is full of great souks that can completely redefine your idea of shopping. In most of these souks everything is allowed. You can bargain to your heart’s content, shamelessly enjoy window shopping, and sit for hours and do people watching.
Souks in Dubai are immensely popular for their diversity, vibrancy, purchases, and electrifying energy. Almost all the Dubai souks are famous amongst tourist but there are a few best known souks that are a part of almost every traveler’s tour itinerary.
From the most lavish jewelry to the best of hand woven fabrics, delectable aroma of spices and condiments to the irresistible scents; the souks of Dubai have them all.
Here’s a list of the most famous souks of Dubai that add to the incredible shopping experience in Dubai.
1. The Gold Souk
Inarguably one of the best known souks in Dubai, the Gold souk is not only a delight for serious gold lovers but also a great place to witness over 10 tons of gold hanging in unimaginable shapes, designs and sizes. Dating back with its roots to the 1900s, it is one of the world’s busiest jewelry markets today. A costly metal like gold is sold in both shops and stalls, and the designs glitters into your eyes and it becomes difficult for even a strict non- shopper to hold back.
The gold souk in Dubai offers a chance for you to bargain, a feat not commonly heard of when it comes to buying gold. The gold souk of Dubai is the place where over 20% of the world’s gold pass through the stalls and shops and its definitely a visit worth remembering to.
• The nearest metro station to the gold souk is Palm Diera
• The best way to buy gold at your price is to haggle in a persuasive manner. Be polite but adamant on your price. Chances are that you’ll get somewhere close to what you quoted.
• Rest assured that the gold at the souk is genuine as the traders there are carefully chosen and monitored.
2. The Spice Souk
Just walk a few minutes south of the gold souk and you’ll be guided by the irresistible aroma of the spice souk. Filled with spices from all over the world, the narrow alleyways of the spice souk are a treat to your senses. These small shops that sell the most exotic spices collected from across the globe including varieties of cinnamon, chilies, saffron, turmeric, sumac, coriander, cloves, cardamom and much more. While most of these spices are Asian, the buyers here are from all over the world.
•The secret to buy exotic spices without burning a hole in your pocket is through bargaining, a lot.
• The shopkeepers can be very pushy and can even lure you to buy original watches and electronics for cheap price. Be careful what you buy and don’t give into impulsive buying.
3. The Textile Souk
Also known as the ‘old souk’, the textile souk is located just over the creek in Bur Dubai. It’s beautiful to see a long stripe of elegant sand colored stone buildings topped with exciting wind towers and covered up with wooden roof beautifully arranged in a line. An array of shops lined next to each other offer fine fabrics from all over the world. The mere feel and touch of these fabrics is enough to make you buy them instantly. Shawls, scarves, traditional wears and a whole lot of variety is enough to steal your heart. Fine quality of silks, airy cotton fabric brocade, georgette and innumerable varieties of clothing material are available at bargainable prices at the textile souk.
• It’s all about experiencing shopping just like the old days. Don’t expect air conditioning or comfy places to sit.
• Haggling is sure going to take a lot of your time here, thanks to the persuasive vendors here. So make sure you have enough time to thoroughly enjoy the souk.
4. The Perfume Souk
Just on the east of the gold souk lies the aromatic perfume souk on Sikkat Al Khail road. Whether you’re looking for the traditional Arabic ‘ittars’ or the international range of branded perfumes, you’re in luck for almost all kinds of perfumes that too at bargained prices. But at the perfume souk, you have to be careful about whether what you’re buying is actually genuine or a too good to be true fake copy. While its always better to bring along a local person who knows how to shop at the souk, its equal fun to try the fun on your own and learn from the experience.
•While its mainly known for a variety of perfumes, this souk is a great place to buy incense sticks too, and that too an incredible variety.
• Other than perfumes and incense sticks, the souk is a hub of a variety of oils that you can buy in small take away bottles and even in whole sale.
5. Souk Madinat
If you’ve had enough of the traditional haggle souks, it’s time for you to head to the magical place called the Souk Madinat. The place is a refreshing change from the too persuasive vendors and gives a break to your haggling practice. Filled with high-end eateries and a series of interesting shops, this can be your place to buy some memorable souvenirs for your loved ones.
The souk is more of a place to relax and shop in style than to look for a traditional market experience. So go with the similar mindset.
6. Souk Al Bahar
The address of Souk Al Bahar is in one of the biggest malls of the world- the Dubai Mall, so needless to say, it is not exactly the place for cheap shopping. More like a shopping center designed in the style of a souk, Souk Al Bahar is great for traditional carpets, handmade jewelry, and high end electronic gadgets. There are a variety of places to eat. While you really can’t do much in the area of bargaining but you can be rest assured of the high quality here.
• If you can’t stand the heat of the traditional souks, this is your place to be. The entire souk is air conditioned.
• Visit the souk towards the evening time and you can view the magnificence of the Dubai fountain up close and personal.
The myriad of amazing Dubai souks is worth exploring and spending your time at. While the souks are open from morning till late evening, the best time to visit the souks is during the cooler stretch of the evenings. Avoid visiting in the afternoon between 12pm till 2pm as the weather is too hot and most of the shop owners close their shop for lunch breaks. Visit during the morning hours if you want to avoid the crowd but then why to miss the vibrancy of these souks, especially when the trade in the full throttle during evenings. So wait no more, visit the grand souks of Dubai today!