BEACH VENDORS: BEACH VENDORS
As our resort was quite a ways from downtown Varadero, many BEACH VENDORSwere allowed to sell their wares along the beach. We usually had at least four to choose from. Their "cart" was very ingenius as their wares were displayed on shelves built on a bicycle so they could easily roll it along the beach. I watched as folks haggled with the vendors. Actually they all did quite well, especially the ladies bathing suit coverups which were selling like hot cakes.
What to buy: You could buy straw hats and beachbags, shell necklaces and bracelets, fans, bathing suit cover-ups and sarongs, carved wood crafts and statues, bongo drums.
Update: December 2010
Popular buys include Cuban Cigars, rum, liqueurs, arts and crafts. T-shirts, CD's of Cuban music.
Art objects, including paintings, purchased in Cuba must be accompanied by an export permit. Cigars not accompanied by an official receipt may be seized.
What to pay: The vendors are willing to haggle. It's all part of the fun!
- Family Travel
Don't buy your gifts in the hotel's gift shops. Go to 'downtown' Varadero. Gifts are much cheaper there.
There is a nice local craft market with lots of gift stands.
What to buy: Wooden carvings, jewelry like necklaces and bracelets made from wood and grain, T-shirts with Che.
What to pay: Never pay the price they ask, always try to bargain, although, it seems more difficult to bargain in Varadero than elsewhere in Cuba.
Hotel Souvenir Shops: A Little Bit of What Matters
I had heard that there was little to buy in Cuba, and this is perhaps true. There's a trade embargo against Cuba since the sixties that means luxury goods are few and far between.
However, when you're talking about suvenir shopping, Cuba has plenty of interest to offer. You don't really want to go on hols to Cuba to bring home a Burberry hat to your sister, do you?
So, while thre government run shops in your Hotel may not seem to carry a huge stock, they do have genuine Cuban suvenirs at truly good prices.
I would recommend shopping for the following:-
Cuban cigars (though these can be cheaper in the factory shop), leather voodoo type masks in bright colours and beautifully made, items of jewelry in black coral (especially lovely are the delicate Rosary beads), rum, and coffee. You can also buy beautifully carved wooden items, but they will be the subject of another tip as they are best purchased elsewhere.
Many of these items can be bought at the flea markets, but often the quality is not as good plus you have to bargain. For those who don't like to bargain, the government shops are reasonably priced and honest plus you know you're not buying fakes.
- Arts and Culture
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Hotel Solymar: Bring home different kinds of gifts
In the resort there are two gift shops. One is the main one and around the corner is a tiny little shop you could miss if you walked the other way. I found this small gift shop a great place to buy t-shirts and postcards. They had a very good selection. So buy up your Che shirts now!
What to buy: If you are lucky and happen to be on the beach when the beach vendors go by and they haven't run out, bring home a banana leaf hat. You can pick them up for around 2 or 3 dollars US and they are a very unique gift to bring home. They start off green and by the time they dry they will turn a nice shade of beige.
What to pay: T shirts run about 7 to 10 dollars US.
There is no much to buy in Varadero except the local crafts. We have bought some pictures £ 3 peso each, neckleses 1 peso each... In Varadero there is one American style shopping center. For me it was wasting a time, expensive and not a big choice. Cuba definately is not the best place for shopping
STREET MARKET: BUY HERE YOUR GIFTS
You can buy here gifts for your family or friends or that little thing that will remind you of your travel to Cuba. You could bargain, although not very much, and if the seller doesn't reduce the price, try to ask for a discount if you are interested in more than an object.
You can get here from your hotel by Coco Taxi. It will cost you 5 CUC. You can take also the touristic bus (5 CUC) or a "normal" taxi (the cost will depend on how far is your hotel from the market, you may ask it at reception desk).
I found it amusing.
What to buy: Puedes comprar aqui los regalos para tu familia y amigos, o esa cosita que te recordará tu viaje a Cuba. Puedes regatear, aunque no mucho, y si el vendedor no baja el precio, prueba a pedir un descuento si estas interesado en mas de una pieza.
Se puede llegar desde el hotel en Coco Taxi. Te costara 5 CUC. Tambien puede coger el autobus turistico (5 CUC) o un taxi "normal" (en ese caso, depende de lo lejos que este tu hotel del mercado, puedes preguntar en recepcion).
Lo encontre divertido.
- Spa and Resort
markets: lots og goodies at the markets
the market in havana may take a while to complete...there are many vendors selling the same stuff....i suggest not buying the first thing you see because you will see it again 5 vendors down for half the price.....and bargain, bragain, and bargain some more. The jewelry is lovely..some are poor quality, but some are great...i still wear my wooden bracelets.
Varadero beach: Beach vendors
What to buy: The authorised beach vendors sell trinkets like neklaces, bracelets and banana leaf hats. There are also people who approach tourists and try to sell cigars, but these cigars are almost always fake ones.
What to pay: Little
If you are a coffee lover- be sure to pick up a bag of coffee. The cofffee in Cuba is rich and smooth and unlike any cup you will find at any of the brand name corporate coffee houses around North America. Most resorts have a little specialty shop with cigars, rum and coffee onsite or the airport will have some, as will most tourist shops.
The More Things Change....
Basucally if you've seen one Varadero market, you've seen 'em all, as the saying goes. They all have the same goodies, you just have to find the ones who are willing to bargain. First off, never pay the price they ask. I once got a $75.00 carving for $5.00, 2 Barbie dolls, and 2 T-shirts. Try to find someone working a booth who's isolated, that way they don't have to worry. Then you can bargain. If you have a bag of items that you wish to trade that day, don't let them see it, have someone else hold it for you otherwise they'll want it all. Bring to the table only what you want to part with for a particular item. If you sense that you need a little more to close the deal, let him squirm for a minute then go grab another shirt or something, sometimes they'll think you're leaving altogether and then they'll change their mind.
What to buy: I like the handmade items, things that speak of Cuba. I could have bought this necklace anywhere in the world, but this motorcycle made out of a Cuban beer can could have only come from one place.
What to pay: Everything is cheap in Varadero, if not then you can make it cheap. Don't try to rip anybody off, afterall these people need a buck more than you, butdon't get ripped off yourself. Trading clothes is fair for both parties. T-shirts with any kind of writing on them are gold.
The mall in Varadero
Theres a mall in Varadero called Plaza America. Don´t expect too much if you go there. There´s a big supermarket and some other shops but they all sell the same things as you can buy all over in Varadero. They have a Benetton and Mango shop but I don´t think it´s the newest collection they have though I didn´t go to check it out :o)
Romeo Y Juliettas Havana: assorted cigars
Was encouraged to buy variety packs of seven cigars each for 40 pesos.
Good if you want to to give them away to different friends or try a variety of cigar types.
Not as good if you want to sell them for a profit when you get home.
Not good if they are stale or the containers are dented and not esthetically correct.
Educate yourself before buying.
one of the best cigars was produced was rolled on a farm in the countryside. but not legal for purchasing.
Payment with Visa were subject to an 11% surcharge at the store and then Visa hits you with the exchange rate for that day plus their 2% exchange fee.
If you have your CUCs at a decent rate, pay with them.
Banks had a decent rate of exchange.
What to buy: Prices in Veradera were comparable to those in Havana.
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Local craft market was a bit disappointing, t shirts were very expensive ( £15 each ), I'm sure if they cut their prices they'd sell loads more.
Lots of wood carvings but not much else.
Esculturas, Talabarteria..etc.: Artesania
Produtos Totalmente hechos en Cuba.
What to buy: Gifts, Souvenirs...etc.
What to pay: Siempre se llega a un acuerdo!!! deal with the sellersl!
Buy the cheapest gift and souvenir products forom the ambulant beach sellers
What to buy: Jewlery and souvenirs like shark teeh bracelets