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Top Ecuador

Shopping in Ecuador - Shopping Ecuador

Shopping is a varied experience in Ecuador. From dusty, noisy animal markets to craft markets to sterile, glossy malls, there is something for everyone here. Ecuador produces an interesting array of products that can be purchased as souvenirs. Arts and crafts (in Spanish, artesanía) such as weavings, wood carvings, rugs, toys and clothes can be picked up all over Ecuador. Prices are reasonable and bargaining is encouraged.

What to buy?

Special to Ecuador and of note is the so-called "Panama" hats. Despite their name, their origin is Montecristi, Ecuador. Good quality hats can be rolled up and will spring back into shape. Beware of the hats available in Otavalo market, cheap does not equate to a bargain. Vegetable ivory (tagua) items are a nice buy and can be both cheap and small–helpful for getting them home. An unusual and colorful purchase is a bread dough ornament. It is possible to buy bread dough fridge magnets, nativity and Christmas decorations (available year-round) and other figures such as llamas for a cheap price in Calderón, just north of Quito. The Otavalo region is known for its excellent quality textiles which are sold daily in its famous market. Good quality, cheap leather goods are also a good bet in Ecuador. If you plan on picking up some souvenirs in the Enchanted Islands, it's a good idea to choose carefully: avoid purchasing items that appear to have been made from endangered plant or animal species.

What not to buy?

It is not possible to export animal products out of Ecuador, and in fact it is not usually permissible to import them to most countries, either. Thus avoid products manufactured from animals, endangered or otherwise. This includes insects and feathers. Take care with antiques; it is difficult to export these too. The export of archaeological artifacts is also prohibited.

Where to buy?

For artesanía, Otavalo is the most famous and possibly the best place to bargain for good quality products, such as weavings, woodwork and jewelry. It is possible to pick up Panama hats all over Ecuador, but Montecristi and Cuenca arguably hold the best stock. For bread dough ornaments, head to the small town of Calderón, located just to the north of Quito.

How to buy?

Bargaining is the name of the game in Ecuadorian markets and often in the craft shops too. Indeed, in the markets no prices are displayed. You need to bargain prices with the stall holder. Wait until the seller suggests a price, and then offer to pay half to two-thirds of that price and take it from there. To find out the lowest price that a vendor will accept, ask “el último?” It is worth checking out prices on a few different stalls with similar products before entering into bargaining, to get a good idea of value. Also recommended is to buy a lot of things at the same stall. Sellers will often discount prices for those buying in bulk. Stalls away from the main arteries of markets will often have better bargains than those near strategic corners. Most importantly, don’t pass up that unique sweater for the sake of a dollar. That dollar will mean more to the stall holder than to you, and you will surely regret it when you get home.



The Book Market, El Salinerito , Nauti Diving, Markets in Ecuador, Tianguez Gift Shop, Shopping In The Centro Histórico, Libri Mundi, Maps, Mercado 10 de Agosto and Almacenes Japon.

04 Sep 2012

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