Shopping in Indonesia
Shopping is akin to an Olympic sport for some, for others it’s just another tourist activity in a foreign land. Either way, it is an essential part of your trip to Indonesia. It is a country that is known the world over for their markets, where tourists flock to try their hand at haggling for the best rates. There are literally hundreds of places you can go shopping in Indonesia to find antiques, woodcarvings, crafts, textiles, paintings and jewellery. Here’s a short description of the shopping scene in two of the most popular Indonesian cities: Jakarta and Bali.
Jakarta is a really lively city, full of hustle-bustle and a surprise around every corner. Although it might not have the best tourist attractions, being the nation’s capital it definitely has the best shopping venues!
The Ancol Arts Market sells local artefacts such as paintings, woodcarvings, and seashell creations. This vibrant space was created in the Ancol Dreamland recreational park (Ancol Bay City, North Jakarta) to provide local artists with the space and infrastructure to grow and showcase their art. You can watch and interact with the artisans directly here.
Jakarta’s famous Jalan Surabaya flea market in Menteng is where you can find curios, jewellery, old vinyl records, and many other oddities. The “antiques” here might be of spurious origin, but you can indulge your inner bargain-bug to your heart’s content!
There are also many malls scattered around Indonesia, such as Pondok Indah Mall, Pacific Place, and the largest mall in the country: Grand Indonesia. Although these all house a similar selection of boutiques and brands, they provide a comfortable place for some lazy window-shopping.
The excellent beaches in South Bali have evolved a thriving tourist infrastructure around them. Bali undoubtedly lies on the most visitor-friendly island of Indonesia, and the Balinese have ensured a memorable shopping experience for tourists, with ample markets and malls near the beaches.
Kuta Art Market in Kuta is a great beachside flea-market bazaar of sorts. It has dozens of stall and some really great bargains as well. You can find sarongs, Bali print shirts, souvenirs and cheap masks here, similar to the wares you find in the art markets of Ubud and Sukawati elsewhere in Bali.
Right next to Kuta Art Market is Jalan Legian, a road lined with surf shops and boutiques that have been steadily rising in affluence. It has plenty of lanes feeding into it with similar stand-alone shops and stalls, and these further branch out into even narrower alleys. This area is great to devote half a day to explore it thoroughly.
Denpasar, the less touristy area of Bali, has two traditional markets lying on either side of the Badung River. Pasar Kumbasari and Pasar Badung hold a wide variety of handicrafts, colourful fabrics with batik prints, wooden figurines and bags as well as a lot of things like groceries, spices and daily garments that cater to the local Balinese people. These traditional markets are quite colourful and lively compared to the tourist shops that become rather trite after a while. And remember the one rule of shopping in Indonesia: Haggling is a must!