Shopping in Bali
Bali is a shopper’s paradise. Hundreds of boutiques and roadside stalls have been set up all over the island, and thousands of artisans, craftspeople, seamstresses, woodcarvers, painters, etc are kept busy supplying the tourist demand. Sometimes swarms of vendors crowd the beaches and streets offering you T-Shirts, sarong, necklaces, friendship bracelets, drinks and watches.
The variety is literally endless. Most of the handicrafts and paintings can be found in the district of Gianyar. The village of Mas and Kemenuh is famed of its best and talented wood carvers, you can visit a workshop where artisans in work, they produce either masterpieces or mass productions. Ubud is famed of its talented painters either classical, traditional or contemporary style. The best thing to do is to go to the major galleries, see which artist you like and seek them out at their home (if you have enough time).
Shopping on holidays is almost a necessity. But shopping in Bali is not about walking into a shop, picking something up and paying for it. It is in art and bargaining is a must. Even those not accustomed to bargaining soon get into the swing of it, and the challenge is fun for both the purchaser and vendor. It’s all about “best price” for both parties.
Shopping centers such as Geneva have cheap handicrafts, and Kuta Square has many shops and a branch of the Matahari department store and supermarket.
Kartika Discovery Mall is huge and air-conditioned. The three storey mall has a Centro department store selling Esprit, Guess, Giordano, Polo, Prada and cosmetics and fragrances from some of the best-known houses — Bulgari, Gucci, Estée Lauder, Revlon, Clinique and Shiseido. For surfing gear, go to Quiksilver, Billabong and Planet Surf. Children are catered for at Kids’ Station and Guess For Kids.
There is also a Sogo department store, Periplus bookshop, Boots chemist, Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, Baskin & Robbins and a Black Canyon Café.
The newest shopping center is Carrefour at Sunset Road featuring a huge hypermarket of the French retailer. The top floor is stocked with food, baked goods, prepared food, wine, dairy products and electrical goods. Lower floors have a variety of shops selling everything that you can imagine.
If you love wooden furniture and antiques, you will love Bali prices. Weight restrictions on aircraft mean you will probably have to have items shipped home, and there are all sorts of quarantine and customs formalities to adhere to.
There are endless shops selling indoor and outdoor furniture and garden accessories, mostly in Seminyak, but try to seek a reliable one. Packing may not be of the best quality and it’s very difficult to try to claim for the insurance you have paid for once you are back home.
While you are possibly getting carried away by the choice and range of “must-have” goodies, in Bali there are a few things to remember: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Bali is known as a treasure house of interesting goods to buy. Products of various kinds from traditional antiques to the latest quality fashions in extraordinary displays await the shoppers. It is quite common to bargain in markets, shops and art shops for buyers, so having a good price is partly dependent upon one’s smartness in bargaining. Splendid local hand woven materials, silver and gold works, woodcarvings, garments and many other interesting things can be found at any market or art market. You will find that shops selling similar items are generally grouped together. This makes comparing prices easy as you just have to go next shop to find the something. Remember to bring your cash, as not all places accept credit cards.
Kuta is a shopping Mecca for visitors, shopaholics and locals who wish to sport the fashionable look of well-known locally made Bali designs and established international brands. Don’t miss out on a spot of bikini, swimwear and surf wear shopping while in Bali. There are numerous shops in Kuta, lined up on Kuta Beach, Kuta Sidewalk, Legian Street; even small alleys called Poppies that are famous for small hotels, guesthouses and villas. Shops selling clothing, leather goods, pirated DVDs and handicrafts line the streets.
Prices differ from store to store but with the variety of choices, you will be sure to find something that matches your budget. To find some souvenirs to bring home to your family and friends, there plenty of art shops selling Balinese crafts in Kuta. Although they offer similar items, prices can vary, depending on the quality of the merchandise and how good you are at bargaining. During the high season from July to September and at Christmas, some stores hold clearance sales where you can save up to 70%.
Ubud is the heart of arts and crafts in Bali including all roads leading to it ! You will be spoilt for choice if you want to buy stone, silver, wood, brass, glass, basket ware or art amongst many other things. The art market in the town is a maze of stalls selling everything, all of which is made locally. On one of our visits, Julia Roberts had been filming Eat, Pray, Love. In one of her scenes, she was walking through the market and if it hadn’t have been for the yellow tape on the floor directing her, she would still be there! Pity they didn’t leave it down for every one else to follow!
The epicenter of shopping in Denpasar is the huge, riverside Pasar Badung. It’s a sweaty, multi-story concrete complex of stores and stalls selling everything from fresh fish, fruit and vegetables to Balinese and Javanese crafts and textiles. On the opposite bank of the river, the Kumbasari Complex houses many small traders peddling cheap batik clothing, jewellery, silverware and dubious ‘antiques.’For international-style retailing, Denpasar also has numerous modern, air-conditioned malls such as New Dewata Ayu and Matahari (opposite each other on Jalan Dewi Sartika). Out of town, Sanggraha Kriya Handicrafts in the eastern suburb of Topathi (8 km from the city center), has a huge assortment of all Bali’s craft products. Prices are fixed.However, most of the best out of the ordinary shopping in Bali is not in Denpasar, but in the nearby beach resorts of Kuta and Sanur, or in the hill resort of Ubud – all within less than an hour’s drive from the city.
Sanur has increasingly more shops opening and are really spread out along one road set back from the beach. There is also a beachfront art market with a very good community operated restaurant on the beach. On the main road between Kuta and Sanur, you will find the plush DFS Galleria. High end international labels priced in US dollars, converted into rupiah at the point of sale.
Behind the Galleria is the Mal Bali, a large attractive shopping centre including an enormous Matahari, the large supermarket and department store chain and plus plenty of other shops and eateries.
Apart from the usual tourist shops, there are 1 or 2 original shops here in Jimbaran Bay, worth a look at as their products are aimed at the export market and are of high quality. One of these is ‘Jenggala’ originally opened in 1976 and was co owned by New Zealand born Bret Hesselyn and Indonesian Wija Waronruntu, both now deceased. The business continues and thrives. They invite you to browse their showrooms to view their beautiful designer ceramics and glassware and also watch demonstrations of them being made.
Like the new upmarket hotels and luxury villas in Seminyak that are sprouting up, high quality shops and boutiques are opening and are scattered about the area sitting comfortably alongside handicraft shops, cafes and restaurants.
Nusa Dua has traditional markets at the entrance way to the Nusa Dua complex of 5 star hotels where you can still find some bargains or dine at the small restaurants within the market complex.. The main shopping complex is the Bali Collection within the hotels complex which has a variety of restaurants and stores.
WHAT TO BUY IN BALI
Antiques: The “antique” business in Bali is booming. Carve a split piece of wood, paint it and bury it in the ground for a month and wow! an antique. You need very careful when buying antiques. Mind you, you can find all sorts of interesting items in the shops in Batubulan, Kuta, and Klungkung, but there’s no guarantee as to their age.
Ceramics: The village of Pejaten in Tabanan has whimsical and serious tiles as well as stoneware plates, bowls and the like. Good quality of stoneware can be found also in Kapal. Ceramics shops can be found also in Sanur Jl. D. Tamblingan, Kuta and Ubud.
Gold & Silver: Celuk, Kamasan and Bratan are the center for metal working, where all such ornaments are on sale at reasonable prices (bargaining is a must). The craftsmen will also produce pieces and settings to order, just bring them a drawing or a sample to copy. If you don’t like it, they’ll smelt it down and start over.
Handicrafts and souvenirs like bamboo implements, puppets and ornaments made of coconut shell and teakwood, hats and baskets, wooden earrings, keychains, clothes, pen and ink paintings are sold at most souvenir shops as well as in all the major tourist areas. Pasar Sukawati and Ubud is a good place to visit, chock-full of these things at rock bottom prices. Leather goods can now be found in all the shops in Kuta, Sanur and Ubud.
Batiks: The spiraling designs and geometric patterns of Javanese batik are seen everywhere on the island as part of the daily dress of the Balinese. Buffaloes, birds, masks, and puppet figures are some of the motives entwined in characteristic compositions. Most of what is being sold on the street by vendors is not batiks, but printed materials which the Balinese use for tablecloths. High quality of hand made batik paintings are produced now. The center of batiks is the village of Tohpati. Best factory to visit is Batik Populer and Kartika Candra.
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