Planning on getting your shopping fix in Bali? Forgo the touristy toot and tat, bypass the knockoff watches, Bintang singlets and phallic-shaped bottle openers, and instead make a beeline for quality traditional souvenirs that will last a lifetime.
From woodcarving and handcrafted silverware, to beautiful textiles and bliss-inducing spa supplies - these are six souvenirs that you’ll want to leave room in your suitcase for.
Wooden carvings and dance masks
From Hindu deities and wild animals to traditional masks and tropical fruits - woodcarving is one of the most identifiable crafts in Bali. And while you can get (almost) anything carved out of local wood, one of the most culturally representative items are dance masks. With origins stretching back to pre-Hindu times, these masks depict story characters and mythological spirits and demons.
To see them being made firsthand, head to Ubud, which is widely regarded as the handicrafts capital of the island. Here, different villages specialise in different local crafts - stone or wood carving, paintings, batik, silver work and mask-making, to name a few. By visiting these traditional craftspeople in their homes, not only will you be able to see them at work, but chances are you’ll also save a bundle on any purchases you make.
In the village of Mas, 15 kilometres from Ubud, you’ll find some of the best quality masks around. And for something even more off-the-beaten-path, craftsmen in the village of Tegallalang specialise solely in making states of the mythical Hindu bird, Garuda. Prices are bargainous and there won’t be another tourist in sight.
You may be tempted by the multicoloured sarongs sold by hawkers on every beach and beside every temple on the island, but for something authentic - and infinitely more durable - skip the low-quality, China made textiles and instead seek out authentic batik.
Made by dyeing over wax covered areas of fabric (to create patterns) batik is an art from that dates back centuries. It’s the most recognisable fabric design in Indonesia and Bali is home to some of its most accomplished makers.
In the Batubulan area there are a range of manufacturers and showrooms, each offering an array of intricate patterned and geometric designed fabrics. You can even enrol on a batik course to learn the ancient craft and make your very own designs.
The island of the gods is a veritable paradise for kitting out kitchens and, best of all, your buck will go seriously far here.
Wooden bowls, serving trays and kitchen utensils made out of teak and rosewood; bowls smoothly shaped from jackfruit wood, teakwood roots or coconut shells; and coasters and placemats made out of reed. Bali’s creative ceramic producers also mean that there are high quality bowls, plates and dishes in every conceivable design and colour.
Looking for more of the real deal?: Pure and Authentic Bali
For when you're ready to start shopping: Luxury Bali Holiday Packages
Considered harbingers of prosperity, kites - and kite flying - in Bali is part-devotional and part-fun. Beloved by locals, villagers will spend hundreds of hours building and flying meticulously crafted giant kites decorated in a rainbow of colours. And while these mammoth creations are too large to take home (unless you’re willing to pay some serious excess baggage fees) there are smaller, handcrafted versions that are more luggage-friendly.
Vibrantly painted giant butterflies with steaming tails, 3D ships complete with sails and masts, and papier-mâché, giant-winged birds - you can purchase the best from the kite-makers in the village of Sanur, south of Denpasar. Come in July and you’ll be able to watch the stunning Kite Festival, which takes place right on the beach.
Bali is one of the world’s top destinations for buying silver, both thanks to its population of skilled silversmiths and the cheap prices.
Traditional designs incorporate repeated curves and silver beads and most include the use of local gem stones and corals. Pieces range from simple to highly elaborate. Head to the village of Celuk, which is the silver showroom and workshop hotspot of Bali.
Bali and spas go hand-in-hand, so it stands to reason that the beautifully smelling, organic, locally produced products used in massages, facials and scrubs are available to take home too.
A one-stop-shop is Ubud’s Utama Spice store. Oils, aromatherapy soaps, body moisturisers, facial masks and skin creams are all made using 100 per cent natural ingredients, everything stocked is produced locally and sourced from small, nearby farms.
It may not be as good as a treatment in a five-star hotel, but recreating your Bali spa experience at home is better than nothing, right?
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