Shopping in another country is not unlike other activities you would do in a destination, such as tasting the local cuisine or learning the lingo. Shopping in Bali can be an adventure in itself. For the best experience in markets, shops and boutiques, it certainly pays to be prepared. Here are 7 top tips for shopping on our favourite Indonesian island.
Pack your own bag
Single-use plastics are officially banned in Bali, which means no more plastic bags. Be prepared and be green by packing your favourite shopping bag, oversized beach bag, reusable and foldable grocery bag – basically, anything that will enable you to carry all of the things guilt-free.
Have your money sorted
Most shopping centres, boutiques, hotels and resorts in Bali will accept credit and debit cards. However, if you’re hitting up a local market, make sure you have cash and some notes in small denominations. I always recommend keeping some Indonesian rupiah on you during the day in Bali, whether it’s for the Blue Bird taxi home or a spontaneous Bintang on the beach.
Know what you want
In Bali, there’s a big range in price for goods, depending on where you’re shopping and what you’re shopping for. If you’re browsing in boutiques in Canggu or Seminyak, expect to pay a similar price as you would in Australia, UK or US. Markets are where you can get your haggle on and is where your money will stretch a little further, so shop at local markets if you’re after a bargain.
In Bali, bartering is expected, but it’s important to know that while it’s an accepted practice at markets, it’s not common in individual boutiques and shopping malls where items will have fixed prices. When you’re able to haggle, ensure you are respectful when settling on a fair price and show appreciation when your item is purchased.
Learn a handicraft
Get some local insight into how jewellery is made or what ingredients to look for at a local market. Alila Ubud offers guests plenty of unique hands-on experiences, including a local silversmith class where you can design and create your own piece of jewellery and a Balinese organic culinary masterclass where you can shop for ingredients before learning how to make some traditional dishes.
Don’t be afraid to ask shop attendants or stallholders about their products or produce. Questions such as: “What is this made from?”, “Where was this made?”, or “Did you create this?” can give you an indication of the quality of the product and where your money may be going. Homewares, intricate Batik fabric, handbags and silver jewellery are popular locally made choices.
Get your shopping home
Perhaps you bought an oversized item or went crazy at the markets, leaving you with an overflowing suitcase. Don’t worry! Most airlines will allow you to purchase extra baggage for your flight home and in order to save money, buy your extra luggage allowance in advance.