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The sights, sounds, and smells of the Dubai Spice Souk

Dubai in all its glory stands as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. From a desert village to a cosmopolitan city, Dubai has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. When you think of Dubai, the first thing that comes to mind is its state-of-the-art architectural wonders. There’s more to Dubai beyond the skyscrapers. The city offers a remarkable shopping experience and I don’t mean the massive malls, but the traditional markets which let you explore the authentic side of Dubai. While the innovative architecture and lavish malls are definitely worth visiting, any trip to Dubai will be incomplete if you are not visiting the Souks. The Souks are traditional markets that are really popular among locals and tourists. You can find several types of Souks in Dubai. If you’re planning to visit Dubai, then you must visit the souks for sure. 

Spice Souk

A spice store
Photo by Laura Cortesi on Unsplash

One of the most popular traditional markets in Dubai is the Spice Souk. The Spice souk has also been a famous tourist attraction over the decades as it offers an assortment of aromatic spices. The Dubai Spice Souk is located in Deira, next to the Dubai Gold Souk. The spice souk is a vibrant and aromatic marketplace. As soon as you enter these narrow lanes, get ready for a sensory experience with spices from different regions. Savour the atmosphere as you’re introduced with heaps of fragrant spices and herbs from every stall. You will be sure to find some strong-smelling spices as well as light and sweet spices. 

The spice souk is home to about 150 retailers selling a melange of exotic spices in small heaps. The vendors stock up fresh spices like herbs, dried flowers, and pods every day that are shipped from different countries such as India, Pakistan, and Iran. As you enter the market, you can find these spices neatly displayed in gunny sacks in front of each shopfront. Locals go on a shopping spree at the spice market every week. And as for tourists, even though it’s not a tourist spot, they flock here to enjoy the vibrant colours of the herbs and spices, take photographs, and of course buy the aromatic spices. There’s so much that you can buy at the Spice Souk. There’s a whole range from kitchen spices to medicinal herbs, incense burners, basmati rice, dry fruits, and hair oils. The souk really has it all. You name it, they have it. 

What can you discover here?

Spice markets
Photo by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash

The spice souk has an array of potent and light spices. You can find your seasoning staples such as cinnamon sticks, Sichuan peppercorn, cardamom, coriander, and curry powder. The market also has some unusual choices as well some of them being ancient orange peel, dried cucumbers, and preserved lemons. 

If you’re specifically looking for Arabian spices, then you’re at the right place. You can find a wide range of Arabian favourites here from sesame seeds to Sumac. One of the most popular spices that you can find here at the market is the Saffron. There are different grades of saffron here and it would be a trick to choose the right saffron. So make sure you choose the right saffron. 

Besides these spices, the spice market also sells other items such as oud perfumes, a perfect souvenir from Dubai, crunchy nuts, dry fruits, henna, tea, and certain Arabian souvenirs such as embroidered artefacts and pashminas. 

Confused on what to get?

Spices - a representation
Photo by Zahrin Lukman on Unsplash

There’s so much that the spice souk offers, that you’d surely be confused on what to buy. Some of the most popular buys at the market are saffron, rose water, sheesha or water pipes, vanilla pods, cinnamon sticks, and dried lemons. Besides this, if you’re a tea lover, you should definitely buy the hibiscus, rosebud, and lavender tea at the spice souk. 

Who said you can’t haggle?

The best thing about these markets is that you can haggle your way into buying these products. Unlike malls and shopping centres, there’s no such rule that you can’t bargain. The best way to get the best deal is by offering fifty per cent of the price at the start and then gradually increasing the amount. Walking away can also get you a good deal… being dramatic can get what you want! 

If you’re still unsure, then just watch the locals bargain and offer the same price. So, brush up your haggling skills and get yourself the best possible prices. 

How to get there?

A spice market in Dubai
Photo by Dianne Policarpio on Unsplash

The spice souk is located next to the Gold Souk in Deira on the Baniyas street. You can take the water taxi or Abra from the Dubai creek and its a short walk from there. You can also take a metro to the Al Ras metro station and walk up to the souk. 

Timings

Saturday to Thursday: 09:00 A.M to 10:00 P.M 
Friday: 04:00 P.M to 10:00 P.M 
Closed from 01:00 P.M to 04:00 P.M daily 

Tips

  • The best time to visit the souk would be during the late afternoons and evenings. 
  • There’s so much to see at the souk so plan a visit during your leisure time so you don’t end up hurrying. 

Want to spice up your cooking? Then you most definitely have to pay a visit to the Spice Souk during your visit to Dubai. You will find a variety of aromatic spices that you’ll fall in love with the smell. Dubai has been famous for its local markets and it should certainly be included in your itinerary. Plan a trip to Dubai with Pickyourtrail and get your own customized itinerary. 

Tanmayee