Art. La Carrsona Tipica: Mercado Artesania
We walked around the Central Market, and went into an arcade ( Art. La Carrsona Tipica) with a lot of little shops to get souveniers. We looked around and priced things (it took a long time to figure out how to ask for a nativity scene), and went back at the end of our trip to get gifts for people that we hadn't gotten anything for and also some extras. However we did most of our shopping in Sarchi.
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
Mercado Central – Central Market
Established in 1881, this hall has an entrance at each corner of the block. Essentially, the market contains street vendors that have moved indoors so that you can browse more leisurely if it rains. As with all markets, watch your valuables at all times. Other markets nearby are the Borbón, a block north, at Avenidas 3-5 - Calle 8, and the Coca-Cola bus terminal and market, Avenidas 1-3 - Calle 16.
- Budget Travel
Central Market: Mercado Central
There is everything at the Mercado Central - including local customers.... but don't get lost inside!!!
What to buy: The Central Market in San Jose has inexpensive t-shirts, fresh meats, fish, poultry, vegatables, spices, flowers, some souvenir shops and lots of places to eat!
What to pay: way less than the tourist shops
Wait to Buy
San Jose is not the best spot to buy your suvenirs. If this is your first stop and you see lots of things you would love to have, just know that most everywhere you go in Costa Rica will have the same stuff. Take time at first to learn the market to gauge what prices are good and which are not. Wait and see several shops until you decide on what you really like. I found San Jose to be a bit pricier, and selection in other cities to be better (like La Fortuna). Always know that if you buy more from one person, the bigger deal you will get
Mercado Artisanal: A nice souvenir market
At the eastern part of the citycentre of San José there is a very good souvenir market called "Mercado Artisanal". It is a narrow corridor that is built on the Plaza de la Democratia: the corridor is completely surrounded by small stalls and is about 100 metres long. It might not be a huge market, but it is a very good and pleasant way to do your shopping.
In this market you'll find everything that you can possibly look for: clothes, hammocks, statues, pens, jewelry, musical instruments, games, kitchen gear, and so on. The bargaining is pretty good here compared to other places in Central America: never pay more then 70% of the price they ask you.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Mercado Nacional de Artesanías: Handicrafts and Art
We walked into the centre of San Jose for a bit a shopping and a nose around and I was quite disappointed by the shops... There were millions of shoe shops, but nothing really startling. We had a good walk around and found a good place to have lunch and wandered back to the Hostel to get changed for the night time. On the way back, just a couple of blocks from where we were staying, we found The Mercado Nacional de Artesanías. This shop/market holds a fantastic display of Local handicrafts and artwork at bargin prices - it really is worth a look. I can't believe we nearly missed it!
What to buy: Woodwork is really big here - particularly rosewood boxes set with tiny handpainted tiles - I should have taken a picture of mine for these pages - it's really beautiful.
- Arts and Culture
El Gran Cacique: Fine Local Crafts
El Gran Cacique is gift shop in Moravia (a San Jose suburb) which specializes in local hand made crafts of leather and wood. Here we found a beautiful wooden bowl with a lid which was just what we had been looking for to store packets of artificial sweetener on our kitchen counter at home.
Our house is already so full of trinkets from our travels that we no longer buy souvenirs from countries we visit unless it is some item we can put to practical use, so we were especially happy to find just the wooden bowl that Karen had in mind.
El Gran Cacique is next door to La Rueda, in our previous shopping tip.
La Rueda: Souvenirs of Costa Rica
La Rueda is one of many gift shops to be found in Moravia, a suburb of San Jose. Here we found a very wide selection of unique local craft items as well as cheaper souvenirs.
Karen and I bought a mounted and framed "Morpho Helenor," which is a large iridescent blue butterfly indigenous to Costa Rica. The specimen we bought was labeled as being raised in captivity by government permit, and not taken from the wild. We were fortunate to see a couple of these beautiful tropical butterflies on the wing while in Costa Rica.
At La Rueda we also found a refrigerator magnet and postcards for our collection.
Centro Comercial Multiplaza: "The" Mall in San José
Located in the Centro Empresarial Forum, it is the place for shopping. You can find anything of the highest quality in there, from goods (like clothes, sport outfits, jewelry, groceries, souvenirs) to services (beauty saloons, restaurants, cinemas, etc.). Their prices range from less expensive than average to really expensive, but that depends on the item and the store.
- Family Travel
outdoor market san jose: buyer beware again
the shops are very quaint but be aware that the keeper know very well how to overcome the tourist with their crafts. I mean their crafty ideas. Sure, you can dicker the price and come up with deals but they can still scam you..
Fuerte Bellevista: Flea Market
There isn’t much to buy in Costa Rica that you couldn’t buy cheaper somewhere else but its fun to rummage through a market even if you don’t buy anything. The are some markets on the west end of downtown, but the area always feels disreputable. On the east end of downtown is a nicer market that has a better feel to it.
- Budget Travel
Great Outdoor Markets
There are great markets near downtown San Jose. Just ask someone to point you in the direction. There are so many things to choose from - clothing, arts and crafts, etc. Prices are higher than I expected but still some unique finds.
This company sells Chocolate covered coffee beans. I found mine at a Pali supermarket, but they are also sold at the airport's gift shop. They offer free samples at the airport, but you pay $1.00 more per bag. Excellent quality of chocolate. Enjoy!!!
I found this block of chocolate at a Pali supermarket and brought it home to Canada with me. It is really delicious. You melt it and can use it on ice cream or for dipping fruit into it. The package shows a banana dipped in chocolate (chocobananos). The company's name is Melher. Look around and see if you can find some. I suggest you have some chocolate covered strawberries!
Costa Rican Coffee is just exceptional, especially after weeks of watery American brew...
Cafe Britt is the big name brand you'll see almost anywhere, and they also have a nice plantation with tour, restaurant etc. just outside San Jose. Try the Tarrazu and Tres Ríos Valdivia for something different. They have also recently brought out a range of Pervian coffees which are pretty good.
Other brands to look out for are Oro and Rey, all of which you can generally find in supermarkets.
What to buy: If you're planning on buying a lot of coffee, Cafe Britt has an online site which is cheaper and much more convenient to the US & Canada than lugging it back from Costa Rica. www. cafebritt.com
What to pay: $7.95 per bag, mostly with free delivery. Buying a case of 20 and splitting with friends makes for a great price.