So now we are getting to the good stuff about Bali. The really, really important stuff. The stuff I know you really want to know about … the shopping in Bali!!! I guess when most people think of shopping in Bali they think of knock off T-Shirts, “designer” handbags, fake watches and cheap sunglasses. While Bali is all of that, there are other options and if you stick with me, I’ll steer you through the tie dye, wooden penises and tacky fridge magnets to discover some of the hidden gems on this beautiful island. Read on for all the details …
Let’s Get Social!
Shopping In Bali
Shopping in Bali in the Kuta/Legian/Seminyak region consists of malls, markets type stalls, street hawkers and boutiques. Each have their place to round out your shopping experience and you will no doubt visit most while you are here. To cover each of these in the detail they deserve would make for a very lengthy post so I’m going to split it. Part I will cover the Malls and Stalls. Part II will cover off on the Hawkers and Boutiques.
Shopping malls are pretty similar all over the globe. This is where you go to find the well known brands you know and trust. While not a bad way to while away an hour or two in air-conditioned comfort, prices are quite similar to what you would expect at home so if you are looking for a bargain you are in the wrong place. Prices are fixed so this is not the time to put your haggling stills to the test. If you really have to hit up the malls, arm yourself with the trusty Visa and try Beachwalk, Seminyak Square or Discovery.
Beachwalk as the name suggests is directly opposite Kuta beach, just up from the Hard Rock Cafe and is the more glamorous of the three. Stores include Victoria’s Secret (don’t go getting all excited it is not a full store and only stocks beauty, accessories and a few panties just like the Aussie stores), Topshop, Tommy Hilfiger, Pandora, Zara, Swarovski, Furla, Hugo Boss, Armani Jeans, Versace Jeans, Gap, La Senza, Quicksilver, Miss Selfridge and Aldo.
Discovery is located in the Southern end of Kuta near the water park. Well known stores include Billabong, Converse, Crocs, Esprit, Guess, Hurley, La Senza, Nautica, Nike, Nine West, Polo Ralph Lauren, Puma, Roxy and Sketchers. Unlike your typical Australian mall they also have a beach club at the rear so if the shopping gets all too much you can take a break for a swim and a well earned bevvy.
Seminyak Square is the smallest of the three and not really what I would class as a mall. Possibly the only stores you will recognise here are Billabong and DC. I did spend quite a bit of time pottering around a home wares store called Vinotti Living where I picked up a couple of cushion covers to take home. I fell in love with a sparkly silver table runner but at $30 I thought it was a bit steep. Great furniture and mirrors but sadly a little big to fit in the suitcase. If you are catching a taxi to Seminyak this is a great place to ask your driver to drop you off and while it’s definitely not a destination in itself the surrounding streets make for great browsing.
The quintessential Bali shopping experience. Stalls litter the main roads, side streets and every conceivable space in between. Owners will sit on the foot path and try to entice you to have a look with offers of “cheap cheap” wares inside. Tourist tat abounds and the vast majority of them sell exactly the same thing. There is however a use for these given almost everyone must take a trinket or two home for friends and co-workers. Expect to haggle for a deal and as a rule of thumb aim to pay half what they quote as the initial price. Be respectful of the culture and don’t enter price negotiations if you don’t intend to buy. The Balinese consider it insulting if they meet your price and you then don’t buy. While haggling can be fun and is all part of the process don’t push too hard to get that last 5,000 Rupiah off. Keep things in perspective, trust me that 50c you are trying to shave off will mean much more to them than it will to you. Cash is king here so leave the Amex at home. So what is worth buying and what isn’t?
Cheap T-Shirts abound and depending on your bartering skills you can pay as little as $1 or as much as $5 each. While the price is tempting (and Mr SFH has purchased in the past) be aware that you get what you pay for. If you don’t mind them shrinking, stretching and fading in the wash go for it. It seems it is almost a right of passage for every Aussie male to purchase a black Bintang singlet. If you are going to buy at least stand out from the crowd and be a little original. Sunglasses are often sold in the same stall. I wouldn’t risk my eyes but if your keen expect to pay around $4.
Most ladies clothes stalls stock T-Shirts, summer dresses and sarongs. Colours are vibrant and tie dye is plentiful. While your purchases might be useful during your stay, I can’t see you rocking them on the streets on down town Sydney. Stall owners will often have a little glass case of jewellery out the front. I prefer to buy my jewellery from the boutiques (see Part II) but feel free to have a browse.
If shoes are on your list while shopping in Bali, your choices are limited at the stalls (for more options see boutiques under Part II). You are never going to find high end pumps here but if your are looking for a pretty pair of sandals for the beach you might just be in luck. Handbags are readily available but just know that what is labelled Jimmy Choo or Luis Vitton is not the real deal. I personally do not do knock off’s. If I can’t afford the real thing I would rather go without but to each their own I guess because I see plenty of people buying. Besides the fakes there are plenty of colourful options. Just remember straw will need to be declared on your return to Australia.
If you have no issues infringing copyright laws, DVD’s can be picked up for $1 each and if you buy 10 you get 5 free. Try Softcomp Centre at the top end of Poppies II near the Bali bombing memorial. It’s not strictly a stall and you will appreciate the an air conditioning and non aggressive staff while you browse. Always ask if it is a “good” copy or a “cinema” copy. This store will let you test before you buy.
Wooden carvings and bling signs can make nice souvenirs and are custom made to your specifications. Be aware that you will need to declare wooden items on the way back in Australia. Art stalls are everywhere and generally not to my taste but if your are looking for a painting of Heath Ledger’s joker then every stall will have one.
For something quite unique there is a little stall selling lights on Jl Legian (between Jl Padma and Jl Melasti). You have to build them your self but this makes packing them so much easier. I can totally see these dotted around a tropical back yard. Homewares are ever present while shopping in Bali, with bowls, platters and strange ornaments seemingly the norm. Not my style but each to his own.
Tailor made leather is a specialty in Bali and given that this will likely be one of your more substantial purchases it pays to shop around. I have personally used Joey 47 (Jl Pantal #47 Kuta – right down the back in the right hand corner) to make two leather jackets and a leather coat and am thrilled with the results. Ensure you look at a samples of the leather that is actually going to be used for your item as quality and colour can vary dramatically. Tailored made takes time so plan to order early in your stay. Miracles can happen and Joey made me one in 24 hours once but to ensure you are not disappointed allow 4 days . Expect to pay around $100 – $150 for a jacket depending on the colour and style. Basic black is always the cheapest.
Something you might not expect to see while shopping in Bali is beanbags. We bought six of the chair type ones on our last visit from Jaya Pillow I (Jl Padma Utara Legian) for $14 each in the outdoor fabric. Prices seem to have gone up dramatically since August as I couldn’t get them to go under $30 a piece this time around. Great choice of colours and styles. While they have a few in stock they are mostly made to order so allow at lease three days.
Until next time …