1. Crawford Market
Since 1869, this Gothic structure has lent stately grace to stalls selling everything you could possibly need from paper cups to puppies. It’s one of Mumbai’s oldest covered markets and it was the first building in the country to get electric lighting. Though the name was officially changed to Jyotiba Phule Mandai after independence, everyone still calls it Crawford Market. It’s closed on Sundays but, on other days, this is the best place to get fruits, nuts, and vegetables at wholesale rates.
2. Hill Road
Hill Road in Bandra is where everyone goes shopping for clothes that aren’t really meant to last, the kind you wear for a season and then replace. T-shirts, dresses, pajamas, and shoes are found in the shops and displayed on the pavement (you read that right). After marveling at the cheap prices, check out the old-timey bakeries in the area and the old arcade, Elco, now more famous for its delectable street food offerings.
3. Chor Bazaar
Chor Bazaar or the Thieves’ Market is really a flea market in a different guise. Saturday to Thursday, it’s a hunting ground for antiques and discards. It’s a great place to look for Bollywood posters and gadgets—a gramophone player, anyone?—as well as clocks, ceramic door knobs, and tiles. You could decorate a whole bedsit from these shops. Though they may not be thieves, the shopkeepers will definitely try to fleece you, so halve their asking price and haggle hard.
4. Pali Naka
Bandra’s Pali Naka is a hipster’s heaven. While part of this area is home to regular neighborhood stores like a pharmacy and a pet shop, this is also where you can find Hass avocados and Brussels sprouts as well as miso paste and artisanal cheese—all at a hefty price. If the crépe place and the organic café have yet to convince you that it is mostly ex-pats that live here, the fact that the vegetable vendors all speak English should do it.
5. Ninety Feet Road, Dharavi
Not really a market, more a long street lined with shops that retail leather, this is the place for cheap boots and bags. Until 1996, the slum of Dharavi, which sprawls on either side, used to house all the leather tanneries. These have moved, but the traders still live and work here, selling not just shoes that can be made to order in two days, but also designer handbags and wallets leftover from big fashion house orders.