Shopping on Bali will have two limits: Your Budget and your luggage allowance
You can go shopping for fine art and handicrafts such as antique, semi-antique and modern furniture, all kinds of paintings, delicately crafted gold and silver jewelry, wood and stone carvings, masks, woven and dyed fabrics, etc. in many shops in the Kuta/Legian area, in Sanur, in various handicraft villages, the Sukawati market on the way to Ubud and in the town of Ubud.
The island of Bali is paradise for shoppers. The beautiful traditional culture of the island and its focus on aesthetics mean that locally produced handicrafts, textiles, and art are everywhere. As Bali is a thriving tourist center, products from around Indonesia and Asia can easily be found at low prices, while decades of cosmopolitan visitors have contributed to a thriving fashion scene. The cost of living is low, and so are prices, allowing the smart traveler to enjoy the best of all worlds without breaking the bank. Traditional shops and markets offer flexible prices, making the best deals possible for those with bargaining skills, while most stores offer fixed prices that are so low that bargaining is unnecessary. Different areas of Bali are famous for different products. Handicrafts, stonework, and jewelry are made and sold in Ubud and the surrounding areas, while mass-produced souvenirs and cut-rate fashions are a Kuta specialty. Funky and stylish boutiques are all over Seminyak, and in Kerobokan, local furniture stores are filled to the rafters with rescued antiques and modern pieces made of the finest materials. For adventurous travelers, bargain-priced textiles, spices, and crafts from around Indonesia are on offer in Denpasar’s bustling markets. If you don’t have the time to travel around the island to search for the hottest bargains, you can visit one of the many tourist emporiums that are found all over the island, which allow one-stop shoppers to pick up lots of Bali bargains under one roof. Finally, if you run out of space in your bags, you can use Bali’s convenient shipping services to make sure that your goods get to your home safe and in one piece.
With so many shopping choices in every quality and style, visitors will not be able to buy everything, and so should keep in mind some of the “must-have” items that make a trip to Bali complete. For smaller souvenirs, gifts, and additions to your house, wooden and metal handicrafts and paintings can’t be beat. These come in all shapes and sizes and so the best idea is to go to a large shop or market and browse around. For drinks, a good bag of strong Balinese coffee is worth buying, as well as premium coffees from Sumatra, Java, and Sulawesi, or the infamous kopi luwak. Those who like stronger drinks can buy a bottle of brem (palm wine) or arak (rice liquor), both of which pack a punch. Beach lovers will do well to buy beach sarongs, which come in thousands of designs and colors for only a few dollars. Traditional clothing, such as Balinese udeng headdresses and safari shirts and elegant kebaya dresses for women are also great buys. Bali is also famous for funny t-shirts, often featuring cartoons by local artists, and these can be found both in souvenir stores and the streets of Kuta, alongside budget surf wear and “designer” clothing. Textiles from around Indonesia, such as batik prints and woven ikat cloth, are readily available, and are a must for shoppers who will not visit the rest of Indonesia. Silver jewelry in traditional and modern designs is sold at shockingly low prices, while beautiful furniture in ebony, mahogany, and teak can be bought at a fraction of the price in other countries.
Shoppers will be in heaven in Bali, but should remember some tips that will make their experience smoother. First of all, credit cards are still not very common in Bali, and cash purchases are the norm. Places that bargain and smaller shops will not have credit card machines, while larger shops that do have them will expect you to pay a 3% processing charge. If you do not want to pay this extra percentage, carry cash. Also, make sure to always check the quality of the products that you are buying. If you are not sure how to tell whether something is of good quality, ask local people or other travelers. Indonesians are very interested in the tricks that allow low-quality goods to be passed off as the real thing, and like talking about this, as do tourists who come to Bali to shop. This also goes for prices, which can vary greatly. Ask different people the same questions to get a feel for what the right price should be. Another point to remember is that when it comes to bargaining, it’s best to be friendly. Bargain hard but don’t get angry or pushy, and don’t make insulting jokes. You will get nowhere, and might get in an argument. Keep in mind that prices in some tourist areas may be double or triple the normal rate, so start low and wait for the seller to come down to a rate that you like. If that doesn’t work, leave the shop. If the seller really wants to make a deal, he or she might give you a final low price, and if not, there are more shops to look at. Finally, if a shop has price tags and the seller tells you that there is no bargaining, even after a few tries, no bargaining is possible, and pushing the point will make you look rude. Follow these simple tips and dive into the shopping heaven that is the island of Bali!