It seems like a distant dream but last week I was sitting poolside with a delicious juice cocktail in the tropical surroundings of Bali. For a place that never appealed to me previously it was amazing how at peace I felt there. I have no doubt that was in no small part to the surreal accommodation choice I made (but more on that later). One thing I had absolutely no intention of doing was shopping of any kind. I went to relax and as much as I love shopping I still had fears about shopping in a country where english wasn’t a first language. But alas, I failed to stick to my guns and I did go shopping.
I discovered some great places to shop. Some you probably have heard of from every person who ever stepped foot on the island but I think I have one or two you may have never heard of. Make sure you bookmark this post for your next trip to Bali!
If you are looking for souvenirs or gifts for your loved ones back home you MUST stop at Geneva at Jl. Raya Kerobokan No. 100, Kuta. In fact, don’t even bother buying the stuff anywhere else. Geneva is two floors of warehouse filled to the brim with everything you could possibly need from the handicraft trade. They have everything that Bali is known for, ranging from large scale woodwork and brass pieces down to paper hand fans. If I had a home that wasn’t already filled with crap I would be buying some of the incredibly detailed pieces they had on offer. Buddha, Krishna, Elephants and other animals …. interior designers would go mad here.
Geneva also stock lots of cheap homewares, handbags, luggage, fashion accessories, women’s dresses, t-shirts, kidswear, nik-naks and more. Prices are incredibly low and if you can’t find what you are looking for in this place it is probably safe to say Bali just doesn’t have it.
What I Bought: A set of wooden chopsticks in coloured sleeves and a couple of hand fans to get me through summer (I don’t have aircon at my house).
Definitely one of the most popular shopping spots for westerners is Seminyak Square. The small, 14-shop village with a selection of market stalls to catch your eye is conveniently located at the centre of 2 main shopping streets, at the corner of Jl. Kayu Aya and Jl. Kayu Cendana. Within the square itself you will find a mix of boutique stores and market stalls selling handicrafts, fashion items and food.
The prices vary between expensive and “slightly-cheaper-than-home” but at the dozen or so market stalls on the forecourt you can usually barter for a better deal. You will find most of the clothing market stalls selling the exact same clothing in both fabrics and design, so take a look around and see who is offering the best price before you try to haggle. The surrounding streets are filled with boutiques offering expensive jewellery, surf brands and adorable childrenswear. If you have a little girl aged under 10 in your life I warn you, it is easy to spend a small fortune.
What I bought: Two cute dresses for summer from the markets, each for approximately AUS $12 each.
Mal Bali Galeria
I love shopping malls but I love them even more in a foreign country. I think you can learn so much about a country based on a mall. I didn’t even know if Bali had one prior to my arrival but to and from the airport you will most likely pass Mal Bali Galeria, just like I did. It’s hard to miss because it is located at the Simpang Dewaruci landmark and roundabout in Kuta. I finally made it there on my final day in Bali and my only regret is that I didn’t go there on my first day. I’m not a big shopper when it comes to market stalls and budget fashion so Galeria ended up being exactly what I was hoping to find.
A great mix of big name international brands sit alongside local brands. Matahari Department Store is 4-floors of typical department store finds. The cosmetic counters include what many of us would refer to as “drugstore brands”, such as L’Oreal Paris, Revlon and Maybelline, but I was surprised to find they also had a dedicated counter for NYX. As an Australian this is a big deal because you just never see NYX in stores, especially a department store!
The centre has everything you would expect from a shopping mall. There is a supermarket, food court and a cinema complex but it was the fashion stores and pharmacies that captured my attention. The Indonesian fashion stores offering good quality, stylish designs (comparable to Ojay and Cue) for half the retail price of what you would find in Australia. Strangely a lot of the international brands, especially the surf and sports brands, were far more expensive in Bali than back home. In beauty you have The Body Shop and L’Occitane at fairly comparable prices, while the pharmacies offered a huge range of skin whitening products from some of western society’s biggest brands, such as Vaseline and Nivea.
Sarongs are a very popular item in Bali and I finally understood why after just one day in city – it is so hot it is all you can be bothered to wear. Having said that, sarongs are not just used as a form of clothing in Bali and it was during my stay at Bliss Sanctuaries that I realised how versatile they really are. Not only can you wear them but they can be used as table clothes, gift wrapping, bags, a baby sling (you know, because I really need one of those?) and for all kinds of things at the beach.
Bliss exclusively use Nuansa Harmonis hand stamp batik sarongs made from rayon, with every villa having at least 3 on standby at any time. Guests can wear them as they please during their stay and I had a lot of fun coming up with new ways to wear them. I became accustomed to donning a sarong around the villa and as I have no air con in my own home I thought it would be great for summertime lounging.
The store sells sarongs made from a variety of high quality materials, including satin silk, chiffon silk, rayon and cotton. They not only make sarongs but also a variety of items such as clothing, hand fans and accessories. Best of all is the colour and pattern variety. Oh my god, the range is just massive. Every bit of the shop is covered in beautiful colours and picking which ones to buy is a mammoth task.
You will find Nuansa Harmonis at JL. Raya Kerobokan Kelod No.22 Br.Taman, Kuta.
What I bought: I purchased 5 of the rayon sarongs in a range of bright colours. They are incredibly soft after the first wash and I have never been more comfortable in a piece of fabric.
This space is an incredibly strange clashing of beautiful Hindu spirituality mashed right into a commercialised mess. Pura Tanah Lot is a magnificent site – a temple juts out to sea from the rocky cliffs where heavy waves smash up against it. The colours that are created as the sun sets cannot be described …. but the magical moment is quickly hampered by the fact you have to weave through a commercial minefield. Locals and foreigners flock to Tanah Lot for the incredible sunset but I recommend you have a look around the markets if you are keen to find some interesting handmade gifts.
The majority of stores sell art work, especially wood creations, but you will also find a great selection of jewellery, cheap fashion and accessories. Strangely, you will also find the occasional designer brand housed in a typical western-style store. Ralph Lauren POLO was an obvious one, and it looked incredibly out of place amongst the market stalls and dodgy-looking shop buildings surrounding it. While some stores barely had electricity to run a light others were filled with a hundred down lights. If you are interested in seeing just how different a place can be you won’t be disappointed by heading over to Jl. Tanah Lot, Canggu, Bali. It does cost to enter but the prices are very cheap.
What I bought: These wooden necklaces for 25.000 each (approx AUS $2.50 each)
Have you been shopping in Bali? What do you think of my purchases? Let me know by commenting below!