Shopping as a Contact Sport
There was a craft/artisans mall between the resorts of Majestic Colonial and Gran Paradise Bavaro. There are probably 20 or more shops there. As I understand it from other vacationers and what I've read, as well as my own experience, I can tell you that shopping is not for the faint of heart. Be ready to haggle, don't show your money, and be ready to walk - or run - away when you've had enough.
There are lots of paintings to be purchased for good prices, hammocks, jewelry, and other tourist fare. It's fun for awhile but the merchants further down the street from where you enter the shopping area literally try to drag you to their stores. The pressure to buy gets old after a little while. Still, I think it's worth doing.
If you don't feel like 'running the gauntlet' just hang out at your resort and there's a really good chance that the merchants will come to you. Most of the resorts have an evening set aside for the merchants to come and set up displays from which you can purchase. Obviously, the selection will not be as extensive as if you go to their stores.
CAMELEON: POPULAR ITEMS TO BUY
As we mostly stayed on the resort grounds, I didn't have much opportunity to shop. Usually there were a few tables set up near the Buffet Restaurant. There was lovely jewellery and wonderful, colourful paintings. In the resort complex there was a little boutique called CAMELEON. They carried the usual souvenirs, beach clothes, etc.
Popular buys in Punta Cana include jewellery of the national gemstones of Amber and Larimar (the rare Dominican turquoise), colourful local handicrafts and CD's of merengue and latin music. Dominican coffee is another popular buy as are cigars and rum. Bargaining is a normal practice but not in proper stores or boutiques.
Marketplace or anywhere else: Mamajuana and Paintings
There was a nice little market place right outside the entrance to our resort (Barcelo Premium Punta Cana), but there are market places everywhere. This one is particularly nice and bargaining is good. The shop owners can be very annoying though.
What to buy: Mamajuana.....they will try to sell it to you for around $20 a bottle. Don't pay more than $10. I actually paid $8.
Paintings.....you can get a HUGE one (poster size or more) for $35 if you know how to bargain right. Smaller ones for $10-$20
What to pay: Just know that whatever they offer you is CRAZY. Sometimes 10 or more times what they will actually sell it to you for
Dominican Cigars are some ot the best and you'll probably be able to find a Cigar shop in every hotel! I bought some quite good ones for $8 each, but there are still cheaper and of course more expensive ones!
What to pay: some in between $ 5 and $ 20
Tiendas: Let's make a deal!!!!
If you walk along to the end of the beach, there are a bunch of tiendas and shops located for the tourists. You can get everything from cigars and rum to jewellery and paintings. Make sure you are willing to spend some time bartering unless you want to pay alot of money. They usually start out at about 500% of what they will end up taking, and if you speak the language and keep a positive banter going, you will end up getting a pretty good price.
What to buy: Rum, cigars, coffee, art, jewellery
What to pay: Depends on how good you are at wheeling and dealing....
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Beach Flea Market: Barganing
What to pay: Nothing has a price tag, when you ask the price, you will be quoted about 2X what they expect you to pay. Make a low offer and when it is rejected, start to walk away. Usually they stop you with their best price.
Plaza Bavaro: The Main Plaza
This is the main shopping plaza in the area. You can find the Western Union there where they offer the best exchange rate. It was a five minute bike from my resort.
What to buy: Pick up cigars, Mamajuana or Brugal rum (local liquors) and paintings. Larimar & Amber are the stones native to the Dominican.
In the beach: Local Craft
What to buy: In the resort’s beach you will find people selling:
. colourful paintings of local customs (or not). Watch out for the vendors. They will try to persuade you that they are canvas with oil paintings and to demonstrate they will throw water at it without damaging. Not true in most cases. They use some kind of fabric and use water paintings, then apply varnish on it so it looks like oil paintings.
. fossilized wood: looks like stone, not too heavy and not cold, looking closer you can still see the wooden designs. Usually you can find statues of people and animals in this material.
. stones: there are numerous objects made of varied stones, mostly statues of people and animals.
. wooden statues: there are lots of wooden goods, mainly some sculptures (Taino Indians’ replicas) that represent fertility, happiness and other "wishes". They all have a handmade look. There are also animals carved on wood, as well as people. Some of them are just plain wood, some other are painted in some bright colours.
What to pay: It is recommended to barter, especially if it's a street vendor. Sometimes you can pay part in currency and then offer the vendor something - like a t-shirt, some merchandising, ... just in case take with you some pens, or airbrushes or watches or t-shirts that contain adds, ... Sometimes you get to pay just 1/3 or 1/2 of the price initially asked by the vendor.
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
inside all inclusive resorts there' s always a few shops and this one is no exception.
4 or 5 colourfull shacks and all kinds of items can be bought from clothing to handycraft.
REsort Shops: Shop at the resort-not market
We went to the market on the beach before the shops on the resort, thinking it will be cheaper on the beach.Not. After we bought what we wanted, we went to the resort stores(Caribbean Street)-the prices were either the same or cheaper, plus you don't have to haggle, it is really clean-and you can buy anything!! Bikinis, shoes, dresses etc It is no Gap or Old Navy, but you can get some pretty decent stuff. I bought an awesome bikini and sarong for 80$usd-not cheap-but cheaper than in Canada, and nicer!! Their sandals are really inexpensive, and the cigars are great and cheap at the RESORT!!!
My hubby bought a box of cigars for $30(25 in box)-in Calgary-same cigars-$15 each!
Rum-at the resort-only 3-5$usd/26er!! Coffee$1/lb(dominican coffee-yummy)
What to buy: Coffee, cigars, rum, shoes, white flowy caribbean dress/pants/shirt, purses, shot glass, coconut scented candles, pictures, t-shirts, CD's.
One cool thing to do - go to the flea market-buy a Cerveca at one of the stands-sit and drink with the vendors-they love to dance!!
They will show you how to salsa on the beach-we showed them how to polka to latin music!!mucho fun!:)
local market: Market Mayham!
there is a market on bavaro beach which had many cute things - souvenirs, paintings, etc BUT the vendors will drive you to drink. They are very aggressive and can be too forceful. Be stern and direct and they should back off.
My girlfriend bought two bottles of rum which, beleive it or not, we could have gotten cheaper ON the resort!
What to buy: gorgeous paintings
did i mention RUM
What to pay: How much do you want to spend?
Vendor Markets on the Beach: Dominican Art is the Best
Typically, there will be an ourdoor Vendor market close to any resort in the Dominican. They are very basic, and constructed of blue tarps over wooden frames, but they certainly do the trick!
You'll definitely need to barter, but if you're not used that that, like me, trust me, it gets easier. Start by offering 1/2 of their price, and go from there. Decide in your mind how much you're willing to pay for the item, and bear in mind that the Dominican is a very poor country. If you have to go a couple of dollars higher, so be it - it's only a couple of bucks to you, but could mean an extra meal for the Vendor's family. After you do the deal, don't be surprised if the Vendor seems grumpy, like you ripped him off - it's part of the game, just to let you think you got the better of him!!
I wouldn't recommend buying anything at the resort without checking the Market first. They will probably have the same thing, and you will definitely pay less. And it's fun!!
And everything is "cheapie, cheapie"!!
What to buy: The bright, colourful paintings are everywhere. There are usually 3 types. Beach scenes, which can range from beautiful, to the Elvis-on-black-velvet variety with gaudy orange sunsets. 'Crowd' scenes, which consist of a very similar person replicated over and over in the same painting. I find the most interesting is the Taino art. Taino are the aboriginal people of the Dominican, and these types of paintings are usually stick figures inside geometric patterns. Sounds weird, but they are very beautiful. You'll know what I mean when you see them.
Beyond the paintings, you'll find wood carvings, jewellery, cigars, rum, and lots of trinkets. Be careful with the cigars - they are usually dried out, from what I heard.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
Mostly the name of the owner: Beach Shops
Walking along the beach...you think your alone...everything is peaceful...and there they are! After a long walk we came across lots of beach shops selling all kinds of local craft. The shop owners are nice but they will do everything for you to buy in their shop and not on their neighbours shop. They will show you pictures of their children, and of course they will offer you a "regalito" so you feel impeled to buy him stuff. Always offer 1/3 from the original price or you'll feel riped off. I bought lots of things, including 2 beautiful paintings. They rub water on their paintings to show you the paint has good quality. They are very sweet.
What to buy: Ambar, local paintings (they use beautiful colours), all kids of artisan bracelets and necklaces, cigars "cohibas" (be careful with the fake ones)
What to pay: Depends on how much you love that kind of craft. But you can buy almost everything cheap. They ask a lot for the paintings, you have to be strong and "battle" with the man for a nice price.
See tourist trap =P
There's a mall across the street from the resort. There's also a strip of shops down the beach...great stuff, don't forget to BARGIN!
What to buy: Laramar, torquoise....
What to pay: Not TOO much. But keep in mind it is a relatively poor country, give them a few extra bucks, it won't kill you =P
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Market on the beach: Buy with fun
The itinerant sellers are not abmitted to the private beach of the hotels. You can walk to the end of these beaches and here you find a little open air market full of stalls. Sellers are very persistent but they are likeable and cheerful.
What to buy: Here you can buy t-shirts, wood carvings, paintings and jewels made with amber or larimar, which is a light blue stone you can find only in the Dominican Republic.
What to pay: If you want to buy something, you have to bargain over the price anyway. You hurt them if you don't do it!!
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