Built next door to the main marketplace is this building which houses vendors of the varieties of Guatemalan-produced arts and crafts. You'll find all of the familiar Mayan handicrafts. The hand-woven textiles (blouses, pillow cases, place mats, napkins, etc.) are a highlight as are ceramics, jade, hammocks, etc. Be sure to take your time and check out all of the stalls as many have similar items and prices can vary. Then be sure to bargain hard for what catches your fancy. Prices may be better at the Mayan craft market outside the ruins of Iglesia El Carmen but there is a much larger variety of items here.
What to buy: Guatamalan arts and crafts
What to pay: Depends on how well you bargain!
One of the most colourful markets I've ever seen in my life, is the big market in Antigua. In the very west point of the city, close to the busstations, you will find this labyrinth of small stalls, where the colourful Maya's sell their even colourful goods.
The front of the market is a roofed parts in which it is cool enough so shop around a bit. Most of the goods are fruits and vegetables: big baskets, tubs and piles full of bananas, peppers, pineapples, mango's and lots, lots of other stuff. Another part is full of clothes and shoes and in the back of the market, in an open-air area, you can find lots of beautiful flowers and many different kinds of other stuff like toys, electronical products, kitchen gear and many more.
Another good thing: for a few "quetzales" you can use the phones you find everywhere around the market. Definitely cheaper then using a foreign cell-phone.
The Maya-people at the stalls normally don't mind if you take pictures of them and their stalls, and are too shy to be pushing you to buy their goods. So it is perfect to walk and look around here and enjoy the local culture.
A nice place to buy your souvenirs in Antigua is the little craftmarket in front of the Iglesia de San Francisco. This church is located one block south and three blocks east from the Central Square and is really easy to find.
The church is surrounded by high walls, and inside these walls you'll find about 10 little stalls where they sell all kinds of souvenirs. Wooden handicraft, the very typical colourful clothes, bags and blankets, jewelry and lots of other things. To Western standards the prices are quite low, but still you can see that you are in touristical area, because they are higher then normal for the region.
Note that bargaining is not something usual in the area: you can get small discounts but don't expect a 40% discount by hard bargaining.
What to buy: Woolen bags, clothes, wallets, blankets, puppets...
Wooden boxes, statues, masks...
Necklaces, bracelets, rings...
There are beautiful paintings available of local scenes of Antigua. There is a row of artists against the wall near the Arco de Santa Catalina. They each work on their interpetation of the beautiful area in which they live .
The paintings are also available in many of the shops.
What to buy: The paintings are , like so many things in Guatemala , a very good price and they are a nice way to capture some of the memories of this beautiful city.
There is a whole section on these wooden masks at this market. At first we thought they were a liitle creepy . They looked like a weird version of folkart . Later we learned they are a part of the belief of the after life. ...still a little creepy for me. Some are actual antiques.
Our favorite nmarket was Carmen Market. It has quite a few venders crowded in narrow rooms indoors . On weekends it expands outside as more crafts people arrive. The woven cloths are fantastic and very inexpensive .
What to buy: I bought a gorgeus green with colourful border designs , table runner , and six place mats for about $25.00. Its hard to choose. I went back twice and bought so much ...great for gifts.
Bartering is expected..
What to pay: Start at about half the asking price...and negoiate.
If you want to buy some jade, don't be scared to go into the market and have a look. There is a lot there and it's much cheaper than the shops and factories.
You can check whether or not it's real jade by taking a sharp knife and trying to scratch it, true jade is really hard and can't be scratched. The stall owners will be happy to do this in most cases to prove their merchandise is real.
Oh and if you're going in to the market, it should go with out saying but watch your bag, wallet, personal items VERY closely!!!!
The Mayan weavers of Guatemala are world famous for their distinctive wares. It was fascinating to see women using a lap loom, one end tied to a tree and the other, around their waist. The articles woven are sold very reasonably. You are expected to bargain, but please, not too hard.
What to buy:
Earings, rings, bracelets, necklaces, masks, vases.
Find your Mayan sign according to your birthday and you can buy a pendant or a key chain, they give you a card with the sign description from the Mayan calendar.
The largest, most-complete selection of Guatemalan arts, crafts, and souvenirs in all of Antigua can be found in the warehouse-like Nim Po't Centro de Textiles Tradicionales, which is located on 5ta Ave. Norte, next door to Frida's Mexican restaurant. One of the more amusing items we found there was the "retablo" shown in this photo, representing the acts of one "María Reyes" (which just happens to be the name of my mother-in-law). The message says, “thank you, Divine Face of Acapulco, because I killed my husband and they didn't do anything to me.”
La Casa del Tejido Antiguo (The House of Old Weaving) is store and museum all rolled into one. For a small fee you can visit the museum section, where there are maybe a half-dozen exhibits of mannequins all dressed in the traditional outfits of certain villages. That doesn’t seem particularly necessary, however, since the store’s selection of hand-woven goods, including indigenous dress, is ample.
Antigua Guatemala is probably the most expensive place in the country to purchase Guatemalan arts and crafts, but it also might very well be the place with the greatest selection of gifts and souvenirs. If you'll be in the country for a while and will have time to do some comparison shopping elsewhere (in Panajachel, or at the Mercado de Artesanías in Guatemala City), you could probably save yourself a bundle of quetzales by not buying everything that strikes your fancy on your first trip through Antigua's many gift shops. That said, a few of Antigua's stores merit a visit even if you aren't looking for gifts or souvenirs.
Aromatic products imported from Egypt, Morocco, India, Tunisia and other countries from the old continent.
What to buy: Pure perfume essences for personal use, essential oils, massage oils etc. as well as more than fifty aromas in incense, aromatic wax and accessories.
What to pay: Whatever you want to ... they accept Visa-Master Card as well as Diners Club and American Express
Most of the local goods sold are Mayan weavings. The colors will liven up any room and the weavings are very intricate. Furthermore they are very inexpensive.
What to buy: You can shop for jade, artwork and other things Guatemalan but the locals make fine textile goods.
What to pay: Depends, anywhere from ten dollars and higher.
Antigua's mercado is far better for touristy purchases than anything I found in Guatemala city (I have heard that Chichicastenango is also the bomb). Thanks to my bargaining hero boyfriend I got 90% of my souvenirs here for what I believe were fair prices. This is also a great place for a snack and/or a cheap meal.
What to buy: Local crafts- wood, textiles, stone, food, etc.
What to pay: Everything sounds cheap, but you can bargain the prices lower.