The huge area around Old Taxi Park is the most pitoresque part of Kampala, especially during the day-lights. There are great number of molls and small shops together with green and fruit market. Every centimeter of a ground is used for a trade, even the pavements. The whole area is overcrowded by both, people and cars, struggling for own piece of turf. It looks chaotic and crazy.
What to buy: Here locals can buy everything they need, food, cloths or home needs. Since am in the clothing business, was in particularly interested to check for the cloths. What to say about, poor fabrics, bad styling and law quality of production, that is all I could see around.
The next what amazed me are great number of shops selling cell phones. All this shops are held by Indians who sell second hand phones which costs a fortune. Most of the cell phones are very old types but still, the price is much too high.
Garden City is a one-stop-shop sort of place. Protected by large dinosaurs, it offers everything from clothing stores to restaurants. It’s very easy to get here by shared taxi or motorcycle taxi and there is lots of free parking if you are driving. The massive complex includes:
Restaurants (Ranchers, Kyoto, Food Court)
Clothes & shoe shops
Small shop chock a block with antiques, old Africana books, jewellery, really old sepia postcards, Maps and engravings. What I find most interesting are the African banknotes from the year dot to the present day. They also stock old coins not just from Uganda or East Africa but also from all over the continent.
My friend and I each bought two dresses at Kyaligonza on Kibuli road in Kampala. The store is run by the ladies who made the dresses, and they altered them while we waited, and we got to chat with them about men & fashion ... one of the most authentic cultural experiences in Kampala!
What to buy: these dresses were gorgeous!
What to pay: $50-$70 USD for a full length dress
Its a shopping complex, and the last time I went, they were building a multi-storeyed parking lot. From Ipods to barbeques, Garden City is a city within a city. I went there with a friend to buy an mp3 player. We got a 1GB player (no name brand, but looked really cool) for almost USD 100. The food court serves Lebanese, Italian, Indian, and many other cuisines.
Another upscale supermarket store is Shoprite Checkers in Lugogo, on the Jinja road.
What to buy: Mostly upscale stuff, or things you would not find in a normal street-side store.
What to pay: Slightly more than normal.
I think its called the Owino market. This market is a maze of booths that go on and on. You can get everything from fake Sony/Sonny/Soney radios, homemade irons, and used clothes from US/Europe. This is a good place to also buy cheap arts and crafts and eat the local food. This market surrounds the taxi stand, where you can see more than a hundred matatus waiting for customers. It will take you atleast an hour to walk through the market.
Everything is cheap to begin with, and you can bring it down by atleast 20 percent. Please take care to be respectful and cheerful when you negotiate the price. Ugandans are friendly to begin with, and will give you a good price if they like you.
What to buy: I bought some bottle-openers at one of the crafts shop. The Ugandan bottle opener looks like a smoking pipe with a nail embedded in it, and is a cool souvenier. The crafts shops meant for tourists were charging me between USh 10000 to USh 15000 for a bottle-opener made of ebony wood.
Being on a tight budget, I just wanted one made of normal wood. Unfortunately none of the regular grocery stores or supermarkets carried them any longer. I could find one here for USh 3000, which came down to USh 2000 after a little bit of bargaining. Its tough to pinpoint the location of the store because the whole place is a maze of shops.
Owino marked is one of the biggest markeds in Africa with a lot of items. Even if you should not buy something, it's worth visit the place.
The marked for second hand and used clothing is famous due to its sice and the number of customers. Since most of the people in Uganda are poor they can not afford new clothes. Bargaining is the way to the business.
What to buy: I bought 2 used jeans for 35000 UGS (16 USD).
What to pay: Remember to bargain. Especially if you are a Mzungo (white man). The prices should be around 1/2 of the beginning price.
I think most visitors to Kampala will sometime end up at the craft market near the national theatre. A lot of the stalls are filled with tourist tat and if I do venture this way I usually only end up visiting stall 32 which is the only stall that sells Congolese masks which I am quite partial to.
What to buy: A well as masks the last time I was at the market I was well tempted to buy what they call "matumbo" which are used in Congo to aid fertility!!! One of these would have looked great on my wall a lack of funds stopped me buying the one I wanted.
Buy some odd curios and traditional stuff from this wonderfull woman. I bought some top plant pots from her. (she does open her eyes ocaisionaly).
I can spend hours walking around Owino looking at the second hand clothes, some of the bizzare hardware and buying the odd bag of mangoes.
What to buy: This year before leaving I bought myself a really nice leather jacket for the equivalent of what in the UK would be £12. Top bargain!
Out of all the FOREX bureau's in Kampala the best rates this time (May 2009) were at Dollar House. The next best rates I found were at Half East and they are conveneintly next to each other at King Fahad Plaza.
What to pay: It's worth asking if you get a better rate for changing large amounts. It has worked for me in the past.
What to buy:
Jaffery Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 3703,
Plot 68, Ben Kiwanuka Street
Alt. Phone +256-77-786020
Stanhope Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 24559,
Plot 4A, Crown House, Kampala Road
City Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 3841,
Plot 22, Luwum Street, Mukwano Arcade
Crane Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 22572,
Plot 20 Kampala Road
Alt. Phone 256-41-256-511
Gold Trust Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 70,
Plot 13 Kimathi Avenue
Alt. Phone 256-41-256-891
Money Point Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 2235,
Plot 35 Kampala Road
Speke Hotel Forex Bureau Ltd, Kampala
P.O Box 3673,
Plot 7/9 Shimoni Road
Alt. Phone 256-41-236-332
Express Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 1946,
Plot 40 Kampala Road
Metropolitan Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 8166 Kampala, Uganda,
Plot 8/10 Entebbe Road
Speed Bird Forex Bureau Ltd, Kampala
P.O Box 75007,
Allied Bank International Forex Bureau, Jinja
P.O Box 2095,
Plot 1 Main Street
Unique Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 5900,
Plot 9 Entebbe Road, Metropole House
Downtown Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 2801,
Plot 54 Kampala Road
Lloyds Forex Bureau Ltd, Kampala
P.O Box 6587,
Plot 1 Entebbe Road
Redforex Bureau De Change, Kampala
P.O Box 2397,
Plot 54 Kampala Road
Ugamark Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 7762,
Plot 10 Nile Avenue, Int. Conference Centre
Afex Forex Bureau Ltd, Kampala
P.O Box 180,
Plot 1 Nakivubo Road
Kristal Forex Bureau, Kampala
P.O Box 3877,
Plot 83/85 Kampala Road
Musicraft Forex Bureau Ltd, Kampala
P.O Box 197,
Plot 28 Kampala Road
What to pay: Rates change from day to day but are usually printed in the local papers.
There are some wild looking fruit for sale at Nakasero market. What I do recognise that might be worth buying that you might not find elsewhere would be vanilla and cocoa.
There are also a few persistent young scallies hanging around trying to sell you weed, that can be the only drawback about Nakasero market.
What to buy: Fruit, veg and grasshoppers (ssenene).
The National Theatre is an outdoor area of shops located in a semi-circle. There are approximately 40 of them. Each shop is a little different, owned by local people.
Crafts are not always from Kampala, or even Uganda.
Soapstone is almost always from Kenya.
Malachite items almost always comes from Congo.
What to buy: The ethnic group that is in the Kampala area is particularly well known for its drums, and in fact their drums are so well known
What to pay: Merchants are willing to bargain. Try to see how low you can get them to go.
Kampala seems to have a brand new shopping mall every time I arrive in the city. There are 1,000s of identical shops like the one in the photo that somehow manage to do enough business to keep going. A lot of them like this deal in cheaply made Chinese clothing or clothing made locally from bitenge or Indonesian printed fabrics or various other vikoi and kangas.
What to pay: I bought what was called a "free dress" complete with matching scarf for 22,000 UGX
In the depths of Owino market or as it is now called St. Balikuddembe market is a fine stall that over the last couple of years I have spent a fair bit of money.
Last year I bought a box leather jacket black made from real heavy leather it must have originated from the States by the look of the label. It was like nearly all clothes in Owino second hand but in really good nick only a small repair to the top left pocket was needed which can also be done in the market. the jacket after some haggling cost me 40,000, in Uganda quite a bit of money but a jacket like that back in the UK would have cost a lot more than the £12 I paid.
This February before coming home I checked the stall out again just incase. Wanting something different I picked up short brown French made leather zip jacket with very little sign of wear for 25,000. Absolute bargain!!!