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Singapore (CNN) — Singapore's lively wet markets provide a throw-back experience many visitors might not expect to find in a glitzy world capital.
Here, air-conditioned, squeaky-clean shopping malls are replaced with the shouts of stall vendors and a dose of good old-fashioned commerce. And local residents.
Singaporeans and expats alike find buying groceries from one of the city's many wet markets is an effective way to save pennies. (A "wet market" is simply one that sells mostly meat, animals and produce as opposed to durable consumer goods.)
The best time to explore is bright and early, when the produce is freshest and stall owners are at their most energetic. We visited three of the best-known markets in Singapore and met the people who keep them running.
In the heart of Little India, Singapore's largest indoor wet market is also the most difficult to navigate. The nearly 300 stalls are known for their aromatic India spices, huge selection of fresh fruit and veggies and still squirming fish. This market is also open later than most, generally not closing until late afternoon.
Tekka Centre, 665 Buffalo Road, Singapore; open daily from 6:30 a.m.
Tiong Bahru Market
This is one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods and its wet market is frequented by many expats as well as locals. Among the usual colorful array of seasonal fruits and vegetables, there's imported New Zealand and Australian beef. It's also a great place to buy flowers, especially orchids.
Tiong Bahru Wet Market, 30 Seng Poh Road, Singapore; open daily 6 a.m.-noon
Chinatown Wet Market
This big and bustling market in the basement of the Chinatown Complex specializes in live seafood and exotic animals. Big fat frogs, gourmet turtles, stingrays and eels are on sale -- alive and kicking. Shoppers can take them home just like that, or the stall owner will prepare them for you.
This is also one of the best places in town to buy Chinese medicine and other dried goods that vendors claim can treat practically any health problem.
Chinatown Wet Market, Chinatown Complex, 335 Smith St.; open daily 8 a.m.-noon