Suggestions: Souvenir Shopping !
There are plenty of opportunities to shop for nice souvenirs in Ecuador, just a few places I liked best:
Jorge Washington Street in Quito (between Mariscal and Parque Ejido) has a couple of well-stocked market stands with virtually everything, leather jackets, t-shirts, woolen lama-hoodies, panama hats, wooden toucan-statues, naive indigenous paintings etc. etc. A good place to do shopping and open on Sundays, too.
The market stands in Parque Ejido have similar goods in stock and seem to be slightly cheaper; haggling was easier in general.
Close to the Plaza Foch is an Ecuador artesania & food store with a good selection of local food and beautiful pottery. Great chocolate !
Ecuadorian chocolate is delicious - expensive, but worth the price !
The Saquisili Market (only thursdays) ist not specifically targeting tourists, but has nice souvenirs at great prices nonetheless. In my opinion the best place to do shopping in Ecuador and less touristic than the better-known Otavalo market.
What to buy: woolen hoodies with a lama design - perfect for cuddling up on rainy autumn/winter with a good book and a hot chocolate
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Arte con Sabor a cafe-CUENCA: best combination for coffee and shopping
A wonderfully decorated place where you can have a cup of coffe in a very artistic environment with excellent taste. All the items seem really unique, and beautiful in their imaginative simplicity. I almost liked everything! The prices are very good and I think even if you just go for coffee, you will finally give in and buy something. There are also many little inexpensive things which make a nice gift. Bags, decoration ..delights, paintings, jewelry of good quality silver made by the best ecuadorian designers, and many tasteful items for as cheap as 2$-5$. There is also a permanent exhibition and sale of a famous local painter.
Click on the pictureRelated to:
- Arts and Culture
El Cade: Banos : Tagua, vegetal ivory-Tagua, ivoire vegetal
The shop is also the "factory" of Alberto. A small factory, but great products, mainly in Tagua (this white vegetal ivory), or also in colourful grains... You may ask him whatever you want to be built in Tagua, he will do it for you !
Cette petite boutique est aussi l'"usine" d'Alberto. Une petite usine, certes, mais avec un gros debit de produits de Tagua, ce fruit blanc dur comme de l'ivoire, ou des colliers a base de graines multicolores... Vous pouvez aussi lui demander de vous confectionner vos fantaisies, il se fera un plaisir de le faire !
What to buy: Tagua products !
Des trucs en tagua !!
What to pay: Between 0.5 and 12 USD.
Entre 0.5 et 12 USD.Related to:
What to pay: Prices are generally not labeled on products in the local markets. You have to ask the owner. Usually you don't have to pay the starting price. You can usually get a discount of 25%-50% if you try. Never look to excited about anything. If you show on your face that you really want it, you won't get the price down very far, if at all. Go to a few different shops and ask about prices before buying something. Sometimes one shop charges much more for nearly identical items. Also, don't feel bad if you begin bargaining with someone and then decide not to buy the item. The owners will try to tell you how long they spent making it, what good quality and price it is or that they really need the money. Remember, no matter how low the price is, you're wasting your money if you're not going to use the item.
Panama hats are made of “paha toquilla”, which is the toquilla straw plant growing in the north coast of Ecuador. So their origin is Ecuadorian but they took the name because they were first shipped in Panama, before being sold to the markets of Asia, and Europe.
The peak trade of this popular hat is traced back in 1850 when the material of the toquilla plant was used to weave a handsome, breathable, light hat very elegant and suitable for the tropicals. Since then millions of people have made one of them an everyday accessory. The quality depends on the density of the weaves and of course the way it is woven. The plant is hand-split into fibers thin as thread and woven very finely. It has to be smooth, soft, with no visible fibers coming out, and not lose its shape when you fold it and you roll it into its box. A really fine hat appears to be made of linen.
Prices differ greatly and you can spend even hundreds of dollars on a really authentic one. But you can usually get a decent one for as little as 20$US.
They are sold everywhere in Ecuador but the best ones are said to be made in Montecristi where there is a long time tradition of their production.
panama hats Montecristi
Maybe Derk Bogart...helped its popularity a lot, wearing one in the film Casablanca!
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Artes J . G - CUENCA: exclusive gifts..
In Cuenca you will surely spend one morning at least strolling down Calle Larga. Just next to the museum of the Aboriginal Cultures, there is a small but very interesting shop with a treasure of beautiful items. There are necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets. The owner is the artist and designer of the jewelry and most of the decorative pieces made of gold and silver, beautiful semi-precious stones, bone, clay, tagua ( a kind of coconut) and coral - also on black coral which is very rare. The designs are exclusive and very imaginative.
There are artifacts and antiquities. The prices are very good and you won't have to negotiate.
He also repairs watches. It's the perfect place to get special gifts for your friends and family.
Above the originally shaped door you will see the artist's initial J. G which stands for Jorge Gonzales
Click on the photo
Artes J.G. Al lado del Museo de Culturas Aboriginas un tresor de joyas de disenos exclusivos. Collares, anillos, manillas, gargantillas, aretes en coco, coral, tagua, oro y plata, y piedras semipreciosas. Artesanias, antiquedades. Todo en buenos precios. Ademas arreglo de relojes. El disenador es Jorge Gonzales. El mejor lugar para regalos especiales!Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
QUITO: CENTRO COMERICAL EL JARDIN
For very modern and hip shopping, go to the New New City that is even further north of Mariscal Sucre.
Centro Comerical El Jardin is a thoroughly gigantic and modern shopping mall, complete with hypermarket and many lovely chic cafes and restaurants. Once in here, you would forget that colonial Quito (which is merely half an hour away by Trole) exists.
I certainly recommend this interesting shop located under the San Francisco church.
Once you enter, you feel like you are in some sort of dungeonsor catacombs. The things on display are artworks including ceramics, metallic pieces, masks, etc... inspired by pre-Columbian style, but many done with a modern twist. Indeed, the artworks are fantastic.
I understand this is run by a nonprofit organization that supports indigenous and mestizo artisan groups. While the prices are not souvenir-cheap, the pieces are certainly of higher quality and more unique. Do make some purchases support the local people.
Even if you do not or are unable to buy anything, you should still drop by for a meander around the ancient catacombs.
QUITO: MERCADO ARTESANIA LA MARISCAL
Just like Mexico City has La Ciudadela Artisan Market, Quito's equivalent... albeit less lively, atmospheric, smaller and memorable... is La Mariscal Artisan Market.
In northern Ecuador, Otavalo is certainly THE place to satisfy all your woolly needs. But if you want to get souvenirs of other kinds or if you are not heading to Otavalo, then La Mariscal Artisan Market is a great place to make your purchases.
While you will certainly find woolly sweaters, hats, etc..., you will also find other crafts made from wood, bags, paintings, etc... The reproductions of Guayasamin's paintings are certainly found in abundance here.
QUITO: INDIGENOUS MARKET AREA
From Plaza de Santo Domingo, walk along Rocafuerte in the north-westernly direction for about 3 or 4 blocks and turn left.
Here is the indigenous market area where all sort of exotic herbs, barks, leaves, seeds… are sold to be used as whatever form of medication used by the indigenous people.
We even passed a shop where shamans dispense treatments for Mal Aire (Bad Air), Ojeada (the Evil Eye), or Baño para la Suerte (Lucky Bath), etc…
Try these local treatments, if you are game for it. *gulp*
Zumbahua is just one: no shortage of great markets
When it comes to indigenous markets, Ecuador takes a backseat to none. Though Otavalo gets all the fame there are many more authentic markets where you are likely to be one of very few tourists. These are mostly for locals who come to barter and trade for their daily necessities.
What to buy: Even if there is little that a tourist can use aside from fruits and snacks which are plentiful and inexpensive, they are colorful and provide a priceless glimpse into local life which seems to have remained relatively unchanged. Look for individual write ups on these markets on coming pages.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Food and Dining
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This is a less touristy market compered to Otavalo. It's more of a food and merchandise market for the local people but it still has a "tourist corner". Most fun is "people watching".
What to buy: Local craft, fruits.
What to pay: Bargain on everything.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
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Otavalo market: Souvenir mecca
This market counts as South Americas most famous indigius market. A lot of different tribe people visit it every sathurday and makes it interesting not only for the merchandises.
What to buy: Colourfull textiles like ponchos, tablecloths, weavings, gloves, hats.
Masks made from wood as well as cheramics.
Panama hats (wich originally is from Ecuador, not Panama).
- Arts and Culture
Many towns and villages in the andes hold picturesque and colourful markets one or several days of the week. People come from the surroundings villages and hamlets to sell their goods and it is a good chance to buy, see and sense.
Everywhere: Clothes in alpaca
You can fin in the markets (especially in Saquisili) and everywhere in Ecuador clothes (pull overs, gloves, etc.) made of alpaca.
They are nice and very hot! Much better than my Gap sweat shirts to protect you from the freezing Andes.
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