What to buy:
Kwanza is the local currency but US dollars are generally accepted everywhere.
It's also pretty well accepted to make any payment in dollars and then get the given change in Kwanzas.
The national currency is available in banknotes only. Coins are out of circulation. And 1 USD = approx 80 Kwanzas.
Since right now 1 Euro = approx 100 Kwanzas, Europeans used to the Euro currency, which is my case, find pretty simply converting local prices into Euros.
The banknotes' pictured on this tip are 5 Kwanzas (= 5 Euro Cents) and 10 Kwanzas (=10 Euro Cents).
While living the country visitors should be aware that local authorities are not pleased to learn that Kwanza currency is also living the country. So, at the airport on the way out one should expect to be inquired by the Fiscal Police whether any money is being taken outside the country. The only bad news is that if Kwanza money is found, it is likely to be confiscated right there. No bigger deal will be raised caused by the issue.
Note: at Luanda's airport there's no use to spend the last few Kwanzas on shopping since only US dollars are accepted at those shops.
In the middle of what seems like nowhere, there are flea market type stalls covered with garbage bags to protect from the sun, and filled with every kind of african carving you can imagine. Walk thru all the stalls prior to selecting, they all have basically the same items, but some are more refined, some different sizes. All people bargain--they all speak some english--as well as several other languages (at least enough to bargain).
What to buy: Be careful about buying old items, because you can't take them out of the country. All things purchased must be stamped prior to leaving, at some local customs shop, for a small fee. The larger wooden items are used to the climate, and may crack when brought into a dry-or climate controlled home. The smaller items are less likely to crack. They are all polished with shoe polish, so be careful handling them--and wipe them down good after purchasing.
What to pay: You can negotiate the price down by one third usually. There is lots of ivory--remember to be careful about importing that depending on where you live.
One of the largest handicraft markets in Angola is the Futungo market, just south of Luanda. It is the main hub of the handicraft trade. The market is open only on Sunday. Most of the handicraft traders are Kikongo, although the craftsmen themselves hail from many different ethno-linguistic groups. Futungo also has the added advantage of being near the beautiful beaches to the south of Luanda, where many of Luanda's residents spend their weekends enjoying the sun and sand of Mussulo bay.
Angolan artisans work in wood, bronze, ivory, malachite or ceramic mediums. Each ethno-linguistic group in Angola has its own unique artistic traits. Perhaps the single most famous piece of Angolan art is the Cokwe thinker, a masterpiece of harmony and symmetry of line. The Lunda-Cokwe in the north eastern part of Angola are also known for their superior arts.
What to buy: Other signature pieces of Angolan art include:
the female mask Mwnaa-Pwo worn by male dancers in their puberty rituals.
polychromatic Kalelwa masks used during circumcision ceremonies
Cikungu and Cihongo masks which conjure up the images of the Lunda-Cokwe mythology. Two key figures in this pantheon are princess Lweji and the civilizing prince
the black ceramic art of Moxico of central/eastern Angola
What to pay: well about $20.56
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