Shopping in the open air markets of Lagos is an experience that should not be missed. The colourful display of goods, the crush of bodies, and the hum of voices bargaining over goods are the things that contribute to the uniqueness of the markets. There’s also that inescapable excitement that hovers in the air, which makes shopping such a pleasure – particularly if you have a silver tongue and you’re well versed in the art of bargaining.
Here are some of the best markets in Lagos.
The largest market in the city, where both locally made and imported fabrics, shoes, bags and other fashion accessories can be purchased. Balogun Market is the heart of Lagos Island. Located within a stone’s throw of Broadstreet, the market is one of the reasons Lagos became the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria. More interesting are the women who run the market, business smart and fashion savvy, they are arguably the most powerful women in the political stratosphere of Lagos.
Almost as old as the ancient town of Eko itself, Idumota is one of the best places to shop for bulk products at low prices. Subdivided into Oke-Aarin, Idumagbo and Oluwole, the market is perfect for shopping for a wide range of products, from wrist watches to food. The market is also one of the major hubs of distribution for home videos from Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry). It is one of the largest markets in Nigeria.
One of the most colorful and interesting places to buy freshwater fish and crustaceans. For those with exotic tastes there is wild game on sale (snails, alligators, tortoise etc). Most of the fish on sale are still alive and can be found swimming in specially woven baskets that are kept in ponds spread around the market. The fish are massive and the market is a favorite haunt for chefs who specialize in seafood.
Originally the port through which the island communicated with the mainland of Lagos, and other parts of Nigeria, Ebute Ero (as it is aptly named in Yoruba) is one of the most crowded markets in Lagos and specializes in wines, ports, champagne and non-alcoholic drinks.
This is one of the most interesting markets on the mainland, specialising in fruits and fresh farm produce. Oyingbo has several myths surrounding it; one of them is that it’s a portal where humans and otherworldly beings mingle. Unlike other major markets in Lagos, Oyingbo is opened both during the daytime and at night.
Because of its unique location along the coast of Lagos, Ojah Fish Market is a seafood lover’s haven, and people troop in from both inland Lagos and Benin Republic to buy fish and other exotic animal made available in the market. The women of Badagry are famous for creating a savory smoked fish that is sought after all over Nigeria.
The largest cluster of dealers in electronics goods in Nigeria, Alaba is also known as the place to go while bargain hunting for recycled goods. It has also established itself a distributing network for works produced by both the Nigerian film industry and the Nigerian music industry.
For fresh food items at rock bottom prices, Mile 12 is your best bet. With a wide range of fruits, vegetables, grains and other food items sourced from all over Nigeria, Mile 12 has become known as the fresh food hub of Lagos markets.
When going shopping, wear your oldest, most comfortable clothes and shoes (preferably sandals or slippers).
For both food and fish markets go as early as possible, things are fresher and cheaper then.
If you’re going bulk shopping on the Island (Balogun, Ebute-Ero etc) carry as little cash as possible, and use your debit or credit cards. The same goes for Alaba International Market.