I’ll admit, that whenever I’m abroad, there will be some part during the trip when I find myself taking in a spot of people watching. With ‘x’ amount of time to pass and no routine to adhere to, I find it relaxing, and a simple way to observe the local life.
Naturally, a lot of the best people watching spots just happen to be from cafes or restaurants, meaning this post indulges my second favorite activity: eating!
Wherever you find yourself watching the world — and the people go by, grab a cold drink, take in plenty of sunshine, and chill.
The 5 global places for people watching
Ben Thanh Market, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
This popular haunt in the centre of Ho Chi Minh is a mecca for tourists, locals and gastronomes too. The market’s a foodies paradise. Here, you can sample delicious Vietnamese classics like ‘Bún chả’ (glass noodles with chicken) or ‘Phở’ (noodle soup) at cheap prices.
Go during the day, or at night, and you’ll get to soak up the electric energy and the buzz of this popular venue. It’s definitely a no-frills kind of place, so leave anything fancy in the hotel and just enjoy.
Watching scores of people passing by, while devouring double-fried imperial spring rolls is one of my best people-watching memories. Visiting Ho Chi Minh City anytime soon? Why not explore it with a local on one of these specialized tours.
Bar Campanario, Calle Mateos Gago, Seville, Spain
There’s very few countries in Europe that match the love affair I have with Spain.
Seville, with its historical landmarks and architectural treasures, is one of my favorite cities, hands down. A few 100m or so behind La Giralda — the belltower of the Seville Cathedral — are a few side streets where you can sample the many tapas on offer and of course take in the sights.
Bar Campanario offers the perfect ambience for both activities. Along with Spanish classics such as Manchego cheese and Gazpacho, try the Gratinado de berenjenas y parmesano (aubergines with Parmesan cheese). For dessert, don’t miss the sweet crepe with chocolate and bananas (Crepe con chocolate y platano). See the best of Seville, and skip the lines to visit the best sights in the city.
Abe Restaurant, Serendra, Manila, Philippines
In the heart of Manila in the Philippines, is a place called Bonifacio Global City. It’s essentially a financial district, with several areas containing residential condominiums. One of these is Serendra, a polished garden community with some lively bars and great restaurants to visit.
And in the midst of it all is one very good eatery called Abe Restaurant. Sit outdoors beneath the large red parasols to get even more people-watching exposure. When in Manila, do what the Filipinos do, and chow down on some crispy pata (deep fried pig knuckles).
They traditionally come with a traditional soy-vinegar dip, and the obligatory San Miguel beer. Divine. Manila is an excellent base to explore more of the country. Booking a local tour is an excellent way to see the city through expert eyes.
The South Bank, London, UK
When summer finally descends upon London town, the city transforms into an urban, sunny, oasis. People are friendlier, the days are longer, and naturally, there’s a beer or two included somewhere. And if you want to see the best of London, I highly suggest heading to the South Bank.
This area near Waterloo station is the perfect spot for drinking, eating, and of course, people watching. The stretch of bars and restaurants alongside the River Thames is where many people come to relax after a long day.
Find one of the many benches overlooking the river, sit back, and soak up the summer vibes.
For the ultimate London experience, there are tons of excellent tours to choose from. From joining the Harry Potter tour to visiting the home of the Crown Jewels, it’s a good way to see the city’s highlights.
Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain
There are many great places for people watching in Barcelona, and less touristy too. However, I love the energy in the popular hotspot of Las Ramblas. True, it’s not the quietest of places, but there’s plenty to do, eat, drink and observe the local Barca life.
The wide boulevard that leads to the beach is also home to Spain’s largest indoor market, La Boqueria. Las Ramblas also conveniently sits between the Gothic Quarter and Ravel District. Get away from the maddening crowds and explore these quintessential Barca neighbourhoods.
Be one step ahead of other travelers and skip the lines by booking your tickets for the best attractions, like these, in advance.
How about you? Do you like to indulge in a little people watching when abroad? Leave me a comment below and tell me a place that’s been memorable for you.
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