Chichi market is maybe the best place in Guatemala for buying handicrafts, with good prices and a lot of local art shops. But is also a good place to see traditional religious practices in the higlands, like the Pascual Abaj.
The market in ChiChi is the largest in Guatemala, although you can get many of the same items elsewhere. I noticed many of the same things on sale in Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. However, no other place has the depth of selection and makes for quite the spectacle as does the ChiChi market. As you wander through the maze of makeshift portable stalls, you'll see a colorful assortment of traditional Mayan clothes, handicrafts and cheap souvenirs. The Mayan women are well known for their weaving and purchasing a huipile is a good gift idea. While it may appear that the market is a disorganized jumble of merchandise, it's actually very orderly with similar items grouped in various areas of the square. Throughout the day, you'll here the bombas (firecrackers) going off and will smell the incense from the steps of the main church of Santo Tomas. I bought a few gifts and a very nice traditional mask that sits on a shelf on my bookshelf as I write this now. Be sure to bargain as it is expected.
In the large building on the north side of the main square, you'll find a big fruit and vegetable market that had very few tourists wandering about when we visited. If you're having trouble finding a decent restaurant in town, you might consider buying some ingredients for a do-it-yourself picnic. Everything looked good and the prices were low.
You won't escape them, the sellers of plan flutes.
Well, I wanted one because I work in the Music Section of a Library and secondly, it looked like a nice souvenir for my little daughter.
But, don't presume I got one good note out of this instrument... No
What to buy:
Two ladies in my travel group are getting ready to buy some of the beautiful textiles. I bought table cloth that is 144 inches by 60 inches for 150 quezales or about $21USD. The quality is incredible and if I could find one in the US of comparable color, size and quality, it would cost $300USD.
What to pay: Expect to pay one quarter of the asking price. Start real low and negotiate. Do not negotiate on items that you are not really interested in.
The bananas don't look very fresh but that's how they are to be eaten. They's lovely.
So are the water melons
These many coloured bracelets are good, very cheap souvenirs to give away back home.
Especially when you can buy them from a nice, local girl
What to pay: nearly next to nothing