When traveling in Quetzaltenango (Xela), I stumbled upon a lovely shop. After seeing the same types of artisan products throughout the artisan markets and shops in Guatemala, Y'abal Handicrafts was definitely a cut above the rest. All of their products are handmade using traditional back-strap weavings but with a contemporary twist in the color patterns and product designs. For instance, they now have Ipad covers and cute dragon stuff-animals! The products are beautifully made and even more, they are a fair trade business. Which means, they work with three indigenous communites of women weavers to whom they pay fair wages and invest in social programs such as micro-credits and a medical clinic. Its great to find great qualtiy products that are also helping to contribute to the economic well-being of women in Guatmala
What to buy: Their whimsical stuffed animals are adorable as well as their hand-woven computer cases with leather detailing are a unique find. They also have lovely purses, scarves, and other home accessories.
What to pay: costs between $6-$60
Guatemala is a shopper’s delight! I’m not some who likes to spend large amounts of time shopping while on holiday, but I do like to bring home a few mementoes of a trip, and presents for family too.
What to buy: Here you will find colourful handicrafts at prices to suit all budgets, from a few pennies (really! though of course the quality is not so great ...) to works of genuine craftsmanship. Most popular, and most to my taste, are the woven items – scarves, shawls, traditional blouses known as huipiles, small items such as hats and wallets, and more. There are also brightly coloured paintings, although these I passed on as this rather gaudy naive style doesn’t appeal to me. In Santiago Atitlàn we also saw lots of wood carvings – animals, saints, practical items for the home and eye-catching masks. Small decorative items made from glass beads are also popular – we bought some Christmas tree ornaments as gifts. You will see quirkier objects too – model chicken buses fashioned out of old drinks cans, for instance.
What to pay: As in so many places, haggling is the order of the day. It’s part of the culture, so do join in, but don’t overdo it. Remember that the income from these items is the only source of income for some families, and a small amount saved by you can be a significant amount for them.
Some typical prices that we paid:
woven scarf (large) = 50 Quetzales (about £5), haggled down from 100
two smaller scarves = 90 Quetzales, down from 130
beaded key ring = 5 Quetzales (didn’t haggle at that price!)
two Christmas ornaments = 90 Quetzales, down from 50 each
woven glasses case = 20 Quetzales, down from 30
So you can see that prices are indeed reasonable, although for a larger hand-made item such as a huipile you will be looking at quite a lot more – maybe £30-£100, depending on the amount of work. We also saw some great “antique” ones in shops in Antigua if you would rather buy guaranteed quality than haggle on the streets for an item that prove disappointing when you look more closely after purchase.
It was an online shop I visited because I got a handout in central park. They delivered the product after purchase the day after I purchased it online. I payed cashed to the delivery guy the next day in Guatemalan Quetzales. The shirt has survivied 10+ washes and still looks as good as new. I went to the market and found nothing similar. Plus, no bargaining or risking getting pick pocketed.
What to buy: T-Shirts, Silver, Clothes
What to pay: Q100 por t-shirt or piece of silver
The most strriking thing to buy inGuatemala is the indigenous colourfull cloth. You will find them at every market, but also at the public beach at the lake Atitlan in Panajachel women came by to offer the clothes.
What to buy: I bought several pieces of the colourfull cloth, not only in red colours, but also blue, green,purple and other colours. At home I made a jacket of one of the pieces. They are also nice as bedcover or as cover for cushions.
At the Chichicastenango market just opposite the Iglesia de santo Tomas I saw this streetstall with many masks. Almost every mask looked different. I don´t know if the masks ahve a meaning. There are of wood. So you can easily take them as souvenir.
I am a pottery addict and yes at the markets of Guatemala I saw lots of pottery like here close to the steps of the Iglesis de Santo Tomas in Chichicastenango. Because we travelled by public bus and had still weeks to go before going back home I didn´t buy anything.
What to buy:
+ Hand-carved Saints, Virgins, or Angels that are then painted or left in their natural wood-colors: This is Totonicapán's speciality but they are available throughout the country.
+ Wooden masks are the speciality of the highland towns of Totonicapán, Chichicastenango, and Quiché.
+ Guatemala's national instrument the Marimba is also available for purchase.
+ Paletas and wooden tablespoons of all sizes, wooden cutting-boards, mortar-and-pestles, and intensely Cajetas (candy boxes).
+ Furniture - Hand carvde kitchen pieces, dining room tables, and storage chests, coffee tables, hanging shelves, decorative mirror surrounds, etc.
Baskets of all sizes woven from natural fibers, like palm, jarcia, wicker, zibaque, straw, and bamboo.
The marketplace is definitely a significant component of Guatemalan culture. Chichicastenango, dubbed “The most colorful native market in the Americas” was an enormous disappointment. Yes, it is probably the largest market in Guatemala, but the bartering is a little trickier because of the vast array of potential consumers. Market days are Sundays and Thursdays, if you are so inclined to go.
I strongly suggest that anyone who is planning on making some market purchases should travel to the markets in Antigua and Panajachel. They are most noteworthy for exceptionally beautiful and quality artwork at bargain basement prices.
What to buy: Other items of interest are handmade traditional Mayan clothing Men’s and women’s attire is vividly vibrant and lively.
Inexpensive hand carved masks are specifically made for local Mayans to keep in their homes and help deliver their prayers to God. These colorful wooden masks consist of various depictions of animals. Additionally, on the unfamiliar side of their indigenous religion, Satan is alive and well and is also uniquely depicted in an array of carvings.
I myself found hand carved wooden flutes to also be rather alluring; one in particular had Guatemala’s national bird, the Quetzal carved into it. I purchased it for a couple $US.
What to pay: Please be advised that you can barter any merchant down by at least 50% at any market.
people watchers paradise. the market at chichi is hoppin. lots of food, crafts, and all those other market-y things. i had many good experiences here and can only hope the vibe gets picked up by others. sunday and thursday!! oh, and if you arent alone, try not to lose your buddy.
What to buy: if you are like me, mostly clothes and food. i bought some great quilt like blankets and lots of scarves and skirts. there were crafts available, but im always on a budget, so i cant really say on the higher priced items. but food is yummy and super cheap! also a great place to take pictures.
What to pay: use your bartering skills to try to get a price that, above everything else, seems fair to buyer and seller.
Initially this shop just seemed special because they had a Marimba and offered to sell it at a very good price. After I explained that it was for an elementary school and I wanted it to show that it was from Guatemala without being flashy they offered to wood burn some decoration. Later they decided on their own that this would not be nice enough and called the carver you see in the picture to make the decorations. When I arrived to pickup my purchase he was there to affix his work to my marimba. The people of the store then helped me pack it so I could actually carry it by myself and even drove me to the bus station.
What to buy: "Artesania tipica y de todo lo relacionado a imagines" was the speciality of this shop.
What to pay: I paid a fair $100 plus a little extra I gave to the artesan.
There are three main markets for hand-made goods in Antigua. The biggest is on the north end of town, adjacent to the bus station. It is HUGE and would take a good 4 hours or so to see every store. The second is just two blocks north of the Main square. The third is two blocks west and two blocks south of the main square. All are worth going to have a look at. Remember to bargain with the merchants. You can usually get items for around half of what they are asking!
Markets in Antigua are good but the best and cheapest are around Lake Atitlan I would save your money.
What to buy: Handmade textiles, scarves, blankets, purses -- all in traditional Guatemalan colours! Beautiful!
What to pay: It will all depend on your bargaining skills. I usually start at about 60% of the asking price.
Guatemalan shops in any of the tourist destinations sell some excellent woven cotton fabrics and clothes, among other things. The embroidered fabrics for women's clothes are the highest achievement and are worth bargaining a high price for.
What to buy: I was concerned about whether the colors would bleed or fade in the cotton shirts I bought. But, they have survived the test of the washing machine numerous times, and really, the shrinkage isn't that bad either. I have a long body, so the main problem is the shrinkage that way, so I bought shirts slightly larger and longer than normal anticipating that since they are 100% cotton, some shrinkage is inevitable. These are the traditional style handwoven cotton fabrics. I didn't see much advantage of buying the discounted factory made shirts. Most of what one finds in the men's and fashion shops are second quality, lower thread count rejects from the world market of shirts. While T-shirts can be bought at any tourist trap, I suppose, I think the best souvenir from Guatemala is a handmade garment. I also bought a cotton fabric jacket that has survived the washing machine and dryer.
What to pay: Shirts are typically seven to twelve dollars. The jacket was a steal at twenty five bucks. These are excellent prices given the quality. Heavily hand embroidered fabrics, having pictures of birds or other objects, for women still sell for under $100- but are worth much more in the USA.
tikal futura could be the best mall in town, but spensed, try a KOREAN mall just in front of tikal futura...you will find the same item but cheaper. located at Miraflores.
Another colorfull option is the Mercado de artesanias, where is lots of souvenirs and tipical clothes. it is located at zona 13, near the airport
What to buy: SOUVENIRS
This is a blend of tourist- and local market with everything from food and households needs to nice indian crafts. As most things in Guatemala the crafts are also very colourfull.
What to buy: Among all the things you can find are blankets, ponchos, tablecloths, pottery and masks.
What to pay: You have to bargain, but it can be quite hard.
Guatemala is every shopper's dream comes true...
The textiles are especially gorgeous, and the little children selling dolls are irresistible .
Best places to shop are Antigua and Panajachel.
What to buy: Textiles - local tunics, tablecloths, bags and purses, headbands, miniatures buses, hippy style cloths.
What to pay: Always bargain in the markets.
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