Shopping in Bali is a more hands-on affair than what one might experience at a mall or supermarket in the West. This is not to say that Bali does not contain its share modern malls and department stores, but that the real joy of shopping in Bali is to visit one of the many smaller markets that can be found all over the island.
The first major difference a visitor will notice shopping in Bali is the bargaining involved. Expect to haggle over everything. Common etiquette in Bali dictates that once you begin negotiations, the shopkeeper will expect you to keep dickering until a price is reached both parties are happy with. Many markets in central and southern Bali are geared towards tourists, such as the massive Badung Market, Kuta Art Market, Kumbasari market, Ubud Art Market, Sanur Art Market and the Pasar Seni Sukawati.
Expect to find a treasure trove of fine arts and handicrafts as well as semi-antique furniture, wood and stone carvings, traditional masks and woven and dyed fabrics in these places. In addition with arts and crafts you will see local specialities such as aromatherapy oils, incense, gold and silver jewellery, pearls and much more. Beach-side markets stock everything from brightly coloured sarongs to simple coral jewellery and surfing equipment.
Shops selling similar items are typically grouped together in Bali making price and product comparison easy. Keep in mind that not all shops accept credit cards – this is especially true for smaller markets off the tourist path, so be sure to carry enough cash for all your purchases. Those who can’t resist the air conditioned comforts of an upscale mall can always visit western styled malls in scattered all over the Kuta and Denpasar regions in the south. For the ultimate bargains try looking at places that are not regular tourist haunts, especially around Lovina Beach in the north of Bali.
With some diligent shopping and a little bargaining, it is possible to live very cheaply in Bali. Ever dream of owning your villa or apartment in a 5-star resort in Bali’s less crowded and more affordable north shore?