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Markets in Ecuador - Shopping Ecuador

Otavalo Market

Colorful and buzzing, Otavalo market is the biggest indigenous market in South America. It is held daily, but the most important day is Saturday. The market is based in Plaza de los Ponchos and extends far into the local streets on a Saturday. During the rest of the week, the market is pretty much confined to the Plaza, but you’ll still find a variety of fine products, fewer stalls and foreigners to contend with, and a more relaxed atmosphere. It is often possible to barter for better prices on days other than Saturday due to the smaller number of buyers.

For a unique cultural experience visit the animal market held in a field on the outskirts of Otavalo. It starts in the wee hours on Saturday mornings. This is not for late-risers—if you get there after 9:30 a.m. there will be little left to see. For a few hours the field is a throng of pigs, sheep, goats, cows, chicken and bartering, along with a rather unsavory-looking selection of food stalls. It you want to visit the animal market it is probably best to stay overnight in one of the many Otavalo hotels.

Cotacachi Leather Town

The leather-making town of Cotacachi, about 11 (6 mi) km from Otavalo, is worth a stop. Market day is Sunday, but if you can’t get there on a Sunday it's not a big deal because on Calle 10 de Agosto, which is at the center of the Sunday market, it is possible to pick up all variety of good quality leather items all week long. Products available include jackets, shoes and boots, bags, wallets and belts.

San Antonio de Ibarra

Also near Otavalo is the small town of San Antonio de Ibarra. This village, located about mid-way between Otavalo and Ibarra, is known for woodcarvings. There is no market per se, but several shops sell a variety of intricately carved wooden items, such as bowls, religious figures, boxes, chess sets and flowers. The gallery of LuĂ­s PotosĂ­ is located on the main square and in general probably has the best items, although there are little treasures to be found in each of the shops. As usual, bargaining is the norm: Never pay the first price offered, even in the fancier galleries. Check out hotels in Otavalo or Ibarra as an overnight stay is recommended.

SaquisilĂ­ Market

At SaquisilĂ­, about 2.5 hours from Quito the market kicks off at 7 a.m. on Thursday mornings and is pretty much over by 2 p.m. This is one of the largest markets in the Ecuadorian highlands and vendors travel from miles around to display their wares. It is possible to get a bus from Quito, or there are tours available. Alternatively, stay nearby overnight in one of the hotels in Latacunga. As well as food, there are a wide variety of arts and crafts on sale. There is also an animal market a short walk from the main market, best visited before 10 a.m.

Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal

In Quito, visit Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal at Reina Victoria y Jorge Washington to pick up arts and crafts. Panama hats can be purchased here, along with woodwork, weaving, jewelry and tagua items. In the center of the Mariscal, the market is very accessible and is open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

Parque El Ejido Market

In Quito’s Parque El Ejido, opposite the Hotel Hilton Colón, a small market is held on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Paintings are the main focus here, and if this is your interest, it is worth a visit. A number of stalls also sell sweaters and other crafts. Other hotels in Quito are nearby if the Hilton is out of budget.

Mercado Santa Clara

For a taste of the real Ecuador in Quito, stop at Mercado Santa Clara at Versalles and Ramírez Dávalos. This is just hopping distance from the conveniently-named "Santa Clara" trole stop on 10 de Agosto. On the ground floor, sellers vie for your attention to sell you a mysterious-looking selection of fruits and vegetables, many of which don’t have English translations. If your stomach can handle it, upstairs is the meat and fish market. It is better to visit before 2 p.m. as the market starts to wind down after that. You can also find some basic artesanía here, such as fine hand-made baskets.


Shopping Types:
, Market, Fine arts, Handcraft, Overview

Sucasa, Espiral Shopping, Quito Malls, Iñaquito, Magda, Nauti Diving, Santa Clara Market, Galería Latina, Cuenca Shopping and Mercado 10 de Agosto.

04 Sep 2012

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