Mercado Libertad: The Best Shopping in Guadalajara
Prepare for Three Levels of Culture Shock!
Mercado Libertad is a tourist's dream and nightmare, all at the same time. The selection, quality, and location is incredible for any tourist to Guadalajara. Yet, at the same time, three levels of vendors selling every single item available under the sun makes for a crowded experience unlike any suburban American mall you have ever seen.
The mercado is easily located in the city center of Guadalajara. Tourists with rental cars can park below the plaza off of several main arterial roads in the downtown area for a reasonable price in a safe, municipal garage. Taxi's are also an easy way to arrive. Last, but not least, you can access the mercado from the Plaza Tapatía, a tour within itself.
The mercado, like any good mall, has several entrances and several floors. However, it probably doesn't have one of those neat plastic kiosks with a colorful map telling you where to go!
No worries, though, as vendors are pretty well sorted and stick together. So whether you want foodstuffs, handcrafts, leather goods, shoes or clothing, you're in the right place. In fact, locals sometimes call this mercado electronico or mercado taiwan, due to the availability of cheap electronics here. Don't expect the "real thing" when you're looking for jewelry, either. (However, there is a gorgeous joyería-jewelry store- directly behind the mercado in Plaza Tapatía. Head over there instead!).
The aisles vary from narrow to normal, but be prepared to wander in single file lines at times if you are traveling with a large group. You'll need to keep an extra eye on children in this maze of brightly colored distractions.
Two culture shocks that an American tourist may want to be prepared for: the butchered meats area, and the bathrooms.
The butchers in the mercado sell every part of the animal available for consumption or use....and it's all hanging right there in the open for you to take a look at. It's actually a great opportunity for children to see what they're actually eating and where it comes from...that is not the back room of the supermarket!
Meanwhile, if you have to use the restroom, be sure you have some coins available. You'll need to pay to get in, and then pay again if you want to use toilet paper or soap.
Both a fun shopping trip and one of the most memorable cultural learning experiences you'll ever have, the Mercado Libertad is on the MUST DO list for any visit to Guadalajara.