Mumbai: Stall, Street, and Dock Shopping

Mumbai’s bustling markets give visitors some of the truest glimpses of the city’s inner workings. But they also provide ample opportunity for travelers to get lost and hassled, so it’s good to go exploring with an expert. We asked Rashida Anees, a top personal shopper and Bombay tour leader, to help us navigate. She’s given us her smartest tips, but they can’t quite replace having her take you around in person—she’s a local celebrity. Anees can be booked through the Taj or Oberoi hotels in Mumbai. You can also make reservations by calling her at 91-98/2022-8225 or e-mailing her at rashidaanees@hotmail.com. Rates begin at $150 a person per day, including car and driver.

Silver Bazaar

What it Sells

Wholesale silver jewelry, precious and semiprecious gemstones, trinkets, and artifacts both old and new.

Where it Is

Near Abdul Rahman Street, in the center of South Mumbai.

When to Go

Closed Sundays, the market is otherwise up and running from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. daily. Arrive early to skip the crowds and get prime access to the day’s best goods.

How to Do It

Look for vendors who sell their gems to locals. They’ll have modest rates and reliable quality. All items are sold by weight.

Crawford Market

What it Sells

Everything from fruits, nuts, and vegetables to meat, chicken, and fish. The baskets, luggage, and Indian perfumes are also not to be missed.

Where it Is

In one tremendous colonial warehouse in the heart of South Mumbai.

When to Go

Crawford is open daily from 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., except on Sunday, when the shops close at noon.

How to Do It

Stock up on snacks like Indian sweets and nuts; from the perfume shops, buy lavender and jasmine aromatherapy fragrances. Anees’s insider status guarantees access to the best vendors and their wares.

Abdul Rahman Street

What it Sells

Textiles, ribbons, and trimmings, plus stationery, party decorations, and all sorts of handmade paper. Everything is a bargain.

Where it Is

Near Crawford Market, in the center of South Mumbai. Stalls are clustered along one main street and spill into nearby alleys.

When to Go

From Monday through Saturday the stalls start selling at 10:30 A.M. and close up at 7 P.M. They’re closed on Fridays.

How to Do It

Plan an early visit to avoid shopping-related traffic. Know that most trade here is wholesale, though individuals may also buy.

Chor Bazaar (Thieves’ Market)

What it Sells

Plates, chandeliers, lamps, prints, paintings, old ship clocks. “Years ago, if your bumper was stolen, you’d find it here the next day,” Anees says. “Now it’s an antique market with everything.”

Where it Is

On Mutton Street, a ten-minute drive from Crawford Market.

When to Go

Chor is open 11 A.M. to sunset, closed Fridays, and has half-days during Ramadan.

How to Do It

Plan on a half-day here. Stick with Anees for finds like Art Deco furniture and hand-painted Spanish plates.

Sasson Docks Fish Market

What it Sells

A staggering sight: Indian pomfret, salmon, lobster, prawns, eel, and crawfish unloaded from 500-year-old ships and then scaled and sold on the docks at one of Mumbai’s biggest seafood markets.

Where it Is

In Colaba, South Mumbai, about a ten-minute drive from the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower.

When to Go

The market starts at 7 A.M. every day and closes at 11 P.M., but it is liveliest in the early morning hours. Open daily except during the monsoon season, which goes from June through September.

How to Do It

Visiting this market is about observing, not buying. Don’t go without an escort. No photography is allowed.