Written by jagat Bali Author
Jagat Bali News - Bussiness
Guideline for the casual holiday shopper and the "shop till you drop" hard liner.
Shopping is rarely a motivation to go anywhere that far away from home as Bali, unless you are doing it for business. However if you are visiting the island it can be great fun to see large ranges of fancy handicrafts and other unexpensive items that are produced locally on the island. It will keep you busy for days.
Not everything sold here is originally Balinese in nature however, since the influences of foreign designers and companies that are producing in Bali are so strong, as you can see in textiles, ceramics, gift articles or furniture.
The first rule, "pay only attention if you are interested" is essential for your survival in the shopping jungle. Your first contact with the shopping world is most likely after your first breakfast the first morning after you leave your hotel for a orientation walk. If this happens to be in the Kuta area, be careful whom you pay attention to. There are hundreds of road sellers that are offering small goods like sun glasses or watches. If it's your first time in Bali, you might be pleased that you are receiving so much attention, and so many people are eager to talk to you. If you have been here before, you will already know that a comment such as "that's too expensive" signals somehow a certain level of interest to your opponents, and from now on these boys will be determined to make you buy one of their goods by asking "what's your last price ?" If you accidently name a number, they will not let you go without making a deal.
The correct way to treat them is to look briefly on any merchandise and only talk if you are interested, as talk means willingness to negotiate. "No thanks" may sound polite, but translates into their language as "make me a better offer" Silence means there is no interest whatsoever on your side, and they will not bother you.
In the shops there are non of these hassles, and prices are usually fixed these days. However in the smaller shops there might still be a possibility to negotiate the price, try and you will find out. Outside the main shopping areas without fixed prices, negotiation is a must, otherwise you will pay way to much. On markets 25% of the asking price is a good start for a negotiation, and 35%-40% a good settlement.
Shops are carrying large ranges of swim wear, summer wear clothing and textiles, leather goods, local fabrics and sarongs, jewelry from sea shells and silver with stones, artworks, woodcarvings and handicrafts from all around the island. Staff often does not have the authority to negotiate the price here, you have to talk to the manager or owner.
And there are of course such things as duty free items and CD's for sale, here you have to carefully compare the prices if they actually provide savings or not in comparison to discounters at home.
One thing you should ask while purchasing a nice bottle of duty free wine for the small celebration tonight on your
hotel's verandah: "Can I take away this bottle straight away, or will I have to collect it on departure at the airport?" Since the last case happened to us, you want to make sure before going through the Australian Chardonnays.
All areas in Bali have supermarkets, so typical household and bathroom items are available as well, you do not actually have to bring anything. Especially clothing sold in Bali is unexpensive and suitable for the local climate, therefore there is no use to carry around heavy suitcases from home.
The more interesting boutique style textile shops are in Legian and Seminyak, Kuta and Legian have lots of surf wear
and a few good leather shops that tailor custom sized jackets in one or two days. If you look at the best leather quality available, savings over a similar jacket bought at home can be substantial.
Department stores around Kuta Square carry a well organized collection of shoes and textiles. The general rule goes
something like that: If the available sizes includes XL it has been made for the export market and prices go along with that. If the largest size is somewhat smaller than you might expect, it's local for locals, and if it still fits, great - buy it, or a few of them because of the low price.
Good buys are also Balinese lace, as this type of handmade artistic cloth is very expensive outside of Bali. As well as silver jewelry, if you can distinguish between good and bad quality you can really save a lot of money to buy these here in Bali. Gold jewelry is sold mainly in Denpasar.
Smaller items made from wood such as carvings are cheap and toys are also unexpensive. Interesting is the furniture market however more suitable for the professional buyer, because the shipping cost for only one or two pieces might be too high and erase the savings. If you are buying enough furniture to fill a complete container however, you would pay several times the price for a similar furniture collection at home.
Good furniture shops are in Kerobokan, along the road between Kuta and Sanur and in the Ubud area. Also in the Ubud area on the way to Tegalalang you will find countless shops for everything around the "woodcarving" theme, usually cheaper than in Kuta. Ceramics are also available in roadside shops. And don't forget, everything can also be "made to order" so your 6 foot tall smiling dolphin statue for your entrance hall might finally come into realization.
Ubud of course is a great source of artistic and decorative paintings in all styles and tastes. Since they can rolled and carried they make great souvenirs that catches and preserves something unique Balinese.
Worth wile objects to carry home are also Batiks and Ikat, a handwoven cloth for decoration and collection. Woven grass baskets, bags and household items are really cute and keep the "natural touch of Bali" alive back home.
Collector items such as antiques are for sale everywhere in the larger Kuta area, but again this requires experience to buy because there is an equal large industry that produces "made to coder antiques" that look just as real.
Most of the larger hotels have their galleries and shopping areas. They have two advantages, one is they already pre-selected a few high quality items for you, and secondly therefore save you lots of time locating them yourself. This can be of help because not everybody has the time and the determination to dig through "tons of average quality" in the villages to find one nice piece.
There are really nice things to buy in Bali as a souvenir and you might find actually many more not mentioned here in the shops, new items are being created overnight by creative product artists and new shops are being build all the times.
If you are coming to Bali for a holiday, remember that you don't have to bring suitcases full of textiles and things. Everything is available here at low cost, you only have to care about 3 things on the way to the airport: passport, ticket, money. Everything else is secondary and can be bought later in Bali. Now the half-empty suitcase you came with starts making even more sense, and sure enough will bepacked with all sorts of colorful things on your way home.