If you want to buy some duty free alcohol for Vanuatu or to bring home then don't buy it at the airport duty free...wait until you get to Vanuatu and buy it at the duty free shops in Port Vila. The prices are WAY cheaper!!!!!
We bought duty free alcohol in Sydney before leaving but once we got to Vanuatu we found some prices to be even half what we paid in Sydney!
When you come by cruiseship to Vila you will find hundreds of souvenir-stands along the road to the town of Vila. I did not buy anything there, as my cruise ended in Australia and you are not allowed to take anything made of organic products into Australia, as they are afraid that micro-organisms might get into their country as well that way...
What to buy: Sea-shells, wooden products and great woodcarvings, fridge-magnets etc.
What to pay: Prices there were some of the cheapest on this cruise.
The markets in Port Vila are fantastic. They sell fresh fruit and vegetables, jewellery, clothes, wood carvings, trinkets and so much more. The prices are fairly good for most things too - you will find the markets much cheaper than the shops...except maybe on cruise ship days...
What to buy: Jewellery, wood carvings, woven baskets...all of it... :)
What to pay: A necklace could cost anywhere between 200 vatu and 1500 vatu. A carving could be between 500 vatu and 12000 vatu...
Port Vila Market comes alive on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 6.00am to 1.30pm.
What to buy: Wander through rows of tropical fruits, vegetables, flowers, shells, artifacts, coconut crabs and souvenir stalls. Savour the aroma of brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries tinged with the scent of blooming frangipani.
What to pay: No bargaining pay what's asked!!
It's theyr culture do not spoil it.
The supermarkets in Port Vila sell a lot of things that you'll find in the supermarkets at home. The use by dates and prices may not be so good though... A 2.25 litre bottle of Coke costed around 550 vatu (A$6.50)!! But a packet of BBQ Shapes costed similar to what it would in Australia.
What to buy: It's still cheaper to buy some bread and cheese/meat than to buy a meal at a cafe - just like at home - but don't expect really low prices...
I really loved the Marketplace. It's in the main street of Port Vila and sells a lot of handicrafts and similar things to the markets. The prices are fairly similar (maybe a little more) but they had some different things to what was at the markets. The ladies were very chatty there but maybe also a little pushy (although not too bad)...
What to buy: Sarongs, island shirts, jewellery, woven baskets/hats...
What to pay: A sarong will cost around 1000 to 2000 vatu and an island shirt will cost around 1500 vatu.
Support local communities in need from the remote areas of Vanuatu! If you look closely at the products on sale at the outdoor handicrafts market and the Hebrida Market in Port Vila you will see that most of these items have been imported from China! Necklaces, purses, clothing, you name it...
It is worthwhile to visit the "World Of Wonders" store located in the Olympic Building on Lini Highway (across the street from BRED Bank) which sells locally made handicrafts and processed food sourced through the local fair trade association, ACTIV.
If you look at ACTIV's website for their full range (www.activ.com.vu) you will see that all the baskets, clothing, fashion accessories, art, homewares and jam have been bought from remote communities around Vanuatu (83 islands) who have no source of income.
Don't support China, support the Ni-Vanuatu while you are here!
What to buy: Traditional art, woven baskets, handsewn bags, placemats, table runners, mats, jewellery, fashion accessories, traditional wooden carvings, jams, nuts and treatment oils...
What to pay: Anywhere between AU $1 to AU$50 depending on size and the time taken to make it ... A fair price for a fair deal for producers...
I'd read it elsewhere, but now I know for myself, this is the best range & cheapest duty free, in Port Vila. Large shop at the end of the main street.
What to buy: Duty free cigarettes & alcohol and if you're into 'copy' designer items, this place is the cheapest to buy them, trust me! (Other shops were charging over $100 or $200 (AU) & you could pick up the same thing for $30 (AU) here!) Free delivery to your cruise ship, if you shop before 1.30 p.m. Saves carting it all around:)
What to pay: Popular spirits $18 AU per litre, approx.
Cigarettes $18 AU per carton.
On a recent visit to Vanuatu we hired a car and found this hidden gem at a place called Paradise Cove about 15 minutes from port vila. It is the boutique and studio of a fashion designer. I had a lovely chat with Jojo about visits to Paris and got to see the works in progress in the studio. I even got to see some of the silk collection and vintage beads and buttons from the paris button factory.
The boutique is not open every day but you can make an appointment for a private opening. I was blown away by being able to visit a genuine designer studio, the reception we received, how we felt that we had literally stumbled across it, and the range of beautiful things available.
It just goes to prove the saying that you need to get off the beaten tourist track to find the real gems.
What to buy: I didn't find much i wanted in the main town, as Im not interested in fakes from china so i was very excited to find this place. I'm going to be a regular online customer as I have finally found a designer who 1. does not have things made in a factory 2. designs things that suit me and fit me.
Im coming back with reinforcements ( girlfriends) to do the Jojo galavanting goddess experience!
What to pay: I purchased several gorgeous unique hand dyed silk dress for under $200, and some lovely things for gifts including make up purses, dolls and even a designer vanuatu peg bag, all made in Vanuatu, I was thrilled as I like to buy souveneirs and momento's that are made in the country I am visiting.