You might be surprised to realize that Bali’s not only a paradise for surfers, yoga practitioners, and raw food-lovers. Nope, it’s also a fantastic place to purchase handicrafts, textiles, and art. There’s a very high level of skill among the local people, prices are very reasonable by Western standards, and years of tourism have lent designers and producers a stylish sensibility.
Per capita there are more expert craftsmen in Bali than any where else on the planet. Almost everyone has a special skill from mask making, to dance or music, to cooking and so many more. Learn from the experts how to make the most out of your Bali shopping experience.
So, how do you make the most of the opportunity? Allow us to guide you:
1) Don’t be afraid to bargain
Unless you’re shopping in a store which clearly offers fixed prices, feel free to bargain with the vendor in pursuit of a good deal. That’s not to say, however, that you should try to drive prices through the floor. Haggling is like a game, and with a smile and a bit of cultural sensitivity, everyone can win. Remember that a few thousand rupiah probably means a lot more to them than it does to you.
Be aware, too, that if you offer a price and the seller accepts your offer, you are obligated to buy. Anything else would be considered rude. If you’re really not sure whether you’re getting a fair price, politely demur and leave. The seller may even pursue you with a lower offer.
2) Plan ahead
If you just wander out of your hotel and start shopping, the chances are you’ll soon be overwhelmed by choice and the enticements of vendors. By the time you get home, you’ll likely realise that you didn’t get the thing you really wanted, or you paid too much for what you did get. The range of goods available in Bali can be mindblowing: clothing, furniture, handicrafts, jewellery, coffee, and – of course – souvenirs.
The key is to have an idea of what you want, and to visit the places where those things are available in abundance. For example, Ubud and Seminyak are great places to buy clothing, Mas and Tegallalang are excellent for furniture, and Celuk is the place to go if you want gold, silver, or gemstones. When you do this, you know you’re getting the best quality, and the proximity of many different suppliers ensures that prices stay competitive.
3) Check the quality
This is a simple one, but it bears mentioning. There are some beautifully-made artifacts available in Bali, but equally there are some shoddy ones. Feel free to compare, ask people you trust, and ensure that you’re getting good quality. It hardly needs saying that if you get it home and it falls apart, you won’t be getting a refund. It takes a trained eye to know when quality materials are used and if you plan to purchase a substantial amount, a professional shopper will pay for itself, sometimes many times over. Please let us know if you need help.
4) And one more thing …
Note that, excepting large stores with fixed prices, credit cards are not widely accepted. When you go on a shopping expedition, take plenty of cash with you. Unless you want to come home with your wallet smarting, however, only take what you want to spend. This prevents you from overspending, and can also be a useful bargaining tool (“I only have this much”). For many more tips, be sure to download our free Ultimate Bali Travel Guide.
Armed with these tips, you should be in a good position to make the most of your shopping excursions in Bali. At Floating Leaf Eco-Luxury Retreat, we also offer a personal shopping service with Putu, who has years of experience securing the best bargains and the highest quality goods. She has filled numerous containers for stores, restaurants and our private clients for over a decade. A local Balinese, of course, she speaks the local languages fluently and knows all the tricks of the trade. Email us today for more information. You’ll probably save twice what you pay Putu, get your shopping done in half the time, and have a blast doing it.