Bring a half empty suitcase and go large with some island retail therapy. Exquisite jewellery, uniquely Bali homewares, local art and unique designer clothes will not only fill up the rest, but soothe your shopping-loving soul. And yes, haggling is a part of the experience. Like anywhere, remain firm and friendly, and you’ll walk away with a good deal.
1. Seminyak & Legian
Wear comfy shoes and grab a water bottle. Find yourself a bargain by walking the streets, stopping in at whatever takes your fancy. The majority of shops are tiny, locally run nooks, some even without a shopfront, where you can find bargain clothing, handcrafted bags, and some questionable, but funny array of stickers and cheap souvenirs.
2. Upmarket streetside
Amongst the scattered, smaller shops, especially in Seminyak (Jl Kunti, Jl Drupadi, Jl Petitenget and Jl Raya Seminyak) you’ll find small boutiques with contemporary originals from local designers. Fresh and feminine beach kaftans, originally crafted fabrics, great sarongs and bikinis, ranging from good value to high-end.
Not nearly as vast as our shopping malls, there are a couple worth checking out. Beachwalk on Kuta Beach, an open-air mall featuring Asian and international outlets such as Zara, Pull and Bear, H&M and more. The four-storey Discovery Mall in south Kuta is also popular, housing fashion outlets, traditional batik and local art.
When it comes to pasars (markets) its best to run for the hills. Ubud’s market, renowned as Bali’s artistic hub, sells handcrafts, clothing, souvenirs, vegetables and spices, and buzzes with visitors and locals. On Monkey Forest Road, which circles Ubud’s town centre, follow the one way street and pop into some fascinating little shops selling a selection of homewares, art, jewellery and all manner of unique curios. Lots of cafes and restaurants along the way where you can recharge your walking batteries.
Sukawati’s art market is the most interesting and best value markets in Bali. With a diverse range of local products, including handcrafts, beautiful textiles from both Bali and other Indonesian regions, paintings, baskets and Balinese umbrellas. Best place to buy handwoven sarongs, batik shirts and kebayas (traditional ceremonial dress for women). Have one made to order selecting your own fabric.
6. Metal masters
Bali’s reputation for its talented silver and goldsmiths has grown significantly. Its long history can be traced back generations. Known as ‘Pande’ (master of metal), craftsmen specialise in intricate filigree work, and silver spots (jawan), and almost always handmade. Celuk village, between Denpasar and Ubud, is the centre of silver production. Explore some of the smaller workshops to see the artisans at work.
7. Nusa Dua
If you’re staying down in Nusa Dua, the Bali Collection is a high-end collection of international retailers, mixed with local markets. It’s a rather polished example of local shopping excursions, with restaurants and shops in a large open square.
8. Strolling in Sanur
Sanur is an unhurried, quiet urban village, in comparison to its west coast neighbours in Kuta and Seminyak. Its main street, Jl Tamblingan is intermingled with boutiques, local art and craft stores, all manner of restaurants, bars and cafes. Walk the main road, or wander beachside to the path that runs adjacently with its own small market areas, in a chilled and relaxed atmosphere.
9. Drive & explore
Historically, each village on the island specialises in one craft. It’s worth hiring a driver and exploring. For instance, Batubulan is where you’ll find stone sculptures, statues and ornaments and in Klungkung, you’ll find wood, bone carvings and fine silk, along with Chinese porcelain.
10. Made to order
The Balinese are accomplished artists and there’s no shortage of fairly reasonably priced creative to choose from. They’ll also create paintings to order so if you have a favourite photo of the family, or want to discuss one of your favourite Bali scenes, they’ll produce it for you.