The Bali shopping experience is a lot of fun, firstly there are oodles of treasures to be found and secondly there are no fixed prices. Combine this with the friendliness of the Balinese people and shopping becomes a joy! It is a wholly different experience from the average high street. Bargaining is the norm in Bali and the increased level of personal interaction it brings is great fun once you overcome any personal discomfort about offering shopkeepers less than they ask.
What can you buy?
Bali is a veritable treasure trove for those who are keen to buy silk, silver or crafts. Almost every market stall and apparel shop sold simple cotton dresses and T-shirts but they often also had some beautiful silk dresses, scarves and sarongs. There is also lots of jewellery available too, ranging from more traditional pieces to modern designs.
|Friendly shopkeeper in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.|
The variety of arts and crafts on offer in Bali really impressed me though. The Balinese are a resourceful people indeed. Especially around Ubud there were lots of art galleries and bookshops. Wooden carvings and metal figurines were available everywhere as well. Different villages around Bali specialise in different crafts. Balabutan, just outside Dempasar for example, specialises in stone carving and as a result the roadside is littered with statues. If you are looking for something specific when you visit Bali, I’d advise you save time by doing some research ahead of arriving.
|Crafts on sale in Bali, Indonesia.|
How do you bargain?
Bargaining is a way of life in some countries, especially around Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. The price the shopkeeper initially asks he may be very pleased to get, but it is usually more than he actually expects to get for the item. Depending what the item is, it is usually best to start at about half of the offered price and then barter your way to a middle ground. When you come from a place that only uses fixed price selling, bartering can seem uncomfortable. It does not need to be though. If you are in a country where it is normal practice, then there is nothing to be ashamed of when trying to strike a deal with a shopkeeper. It is generally considered bad form however to bargain hard for an item and then not go through with the transaction.
|Fruit stall, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia.|
I have had the occasional unfriendly experience in some parts of the world, but in Bali the shopping experience was nothing but big friendly smiles, which probably means I did too much shopping!
Where is your favourite shopping destination and have you haggled while shopping overseas?