Pisac Market, Cusco
Like most of the market areas in Peru, bargainig is expected at Pisac Market. However, we added a different twist to it by introducing some American commodities into the equation. From a previous trip to Morocco where a pack of chewing gum sealed a carpet deal on favorable terms, Andrea realized that American clothes and school supplies might be valued in Peru. She bought some children's clothes on sale and brought them with her to Pisac and Aguas Calientes. Her instincts were proved right.
The predominantly female vendors were very eager to trade their wares for children's clothes -- after all, this would save them a long trip to Cusco. And when their children became fond of an item, the bargaining power swung toward Andrea. Hearing kids say "I want it! I want it!" made it hard for the mothers to resist. WE got some great deals in exchanging clothes for souvenirs.
We found that the vendors in Cusco's market didn't want to bargain. With clothes full of American goods so close, they preferred our cash.
What to buy: Alpaca goods (sweaters, blankets, rugs), plates, ches sets, jewelry.
Prices in Cusco can be very high since it's very touristy and the hub of all activities in the Sacred Valley, including Machu Pichu. Instead, if you are planning a daytrip(s) to the Sacred Valley sites to see Sacsayhuman, etc do your shopping at the Pisac market. The market is only on Sundays. You can hone your haggling skills and get some unbelieveable bargains!
Most bus tours of the Sacred Valley make a stop at the Pisac market if the tour is on a sunday. I would time my visit to the area for this, because you wouldnt want to miss the shopping action!
What to buy: Local crafts like peruvian dolls, alpaca wool sweaters, pottery, brass and iron crafts, beads, etc etc.
The Pisac Sunday market is for both tourists and locals. There are hundreds of booths with local crafts, food and supplies. Expect to bargin for what you buy unless you want to pay top price. Watch out for the young lady in the picture, she is good at negotiating and made me pay too much.
What to buy: Ceramics and weavings
What to pay: I spent about 65 soles (~$32) in a 45 minute stop
Pisac market is close to the Scared Valley and Sacsaywaman. Many tour buses which go to the Sacred Valley may make stops here as well. Remember that the markets are only open Sunday, Tuesday and Thursdays from 9 AM-5 PM.
The best day to visit is on Sunday. It is on Sundays that the locals set up a mercado de treque (trade market). This market dates back to the ancient Peruvian days where Peruvians in the highlands depended on trade. The natives trade vegetables, herbs and potatoes for other goods like matches, oranges and medicines. Excellent pictures can be taken of people in their native dress and of the colorful fruits, vegetables, dyes and spices.
Also, on Sundays there are masses held at San Pedro Apostol de Pisac at 6AM and 11AM. You can see Peruvian people walk out in their Sunday best after mass. When mass is not going on you can check out the church. You can see interesting colonial paintings inside.
On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, you can go to the Pisac artesian market. Here, you can haggle for goods such as carved gourds, carved chess sets, alpaca goods, weaved blankets and other goods. I have no haggling skills, it seems. For a statue I liked, I thought I got a good price of 60 sols for which 120 sols was being asked. However, other friends in my group were able to get the same statue for 40 sols. It would seem the sellers ask for 75% more for their goods. Another tip is that if you buy different goods at the same stall you can get more of a discount as well. Look for stalls that are not in a central area, the people here will give you more of a discount to buy their goods.
I would like to recommend especially the market of Pisaq to boy souvenirs or other hand crafts. In Cusco you also find a lot of offers, but the Pisaq market shall offer better quality and a bigger variety. Besides there are always some interesting events for tourists coming with the market as e.g. traditonal dances and music.
The market offers some of the best deals on jewelry, crafts, and musical instruments. Things are much more expensive in Lima and Cusco. So buy your souvenirs in Pisac.
What to buy: Chess set with Incans vs. Spaniards.
Peruvian musical instruments.