Shop Like a Local in... Bali

In this Yahoo Travel column, we scout out what to buy around the globe. These are the places where insiders go to find their treasures — and the best deals. After all, who doesn’t want to know how to shop like a local?

They say Bali is a place of repetition, where all the days seem to blend together into a beautiful daydream. The Pacific Ocean air is filled with a salty breeze wafting across lush landscapes, and the weather is as sunny as the smiles of the native islanders. The key to unlocking the magic of this Indonesian island is to find unique and authentic experiences. So stay away from the standard souvenir stands and find original, one-of-a-kind, and fairly priced individual items. Here are some top all-around recommendations.

Wellness and goodness in Ubud


Follow your nose to Blue Stone Botanicals for all-natural bath and body products that are handmade and smell amazing. (Photo: Blue Stone Botanicals/Facebook)

The best-selling book and hit movie Eat, Pray, Love put Bali on the world-travel map and launched a thousand odysseys for wanderlusting women. Although there’s no beach in the town as the movie adaptation portrays, Ubud is a buzzing palm-tree-laden yoga haven. Bearded hippie types and free-spirited yogis wander along Hanoman Road, one of the main streets lined with activewear and indie fashion shops.

Grab natural and organic purchases intended for the revitalization of mind, body, and soul. For Balinese herbs and cacao oil, head to Nadi’s Herbal. BlueStone Botanicals is heaven for all things aromatherapy, like mists, essential oils, soaps, and mosquito relief balm (trust us, you’ll need it) and the natural bug spray from Radiantly Alive, a big yoga studio here, is a winner.

As for snack options, the Bali Buda shop outpost in Ubud is like a mini-Whole Foods, selling all things organic. Locals and expats alike enjoy the honey-coconut oat cookies.

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Food and souvenirs in Denpasar


A produce vendor at the Depensar market in Bali. (Photo: Hemis/Alamy)

If you’re really hungry, the markets will delight your senses. Some locals shop for groceries and run errands in the Western-style markets, but they still frequent the day and night markets around the island, must-stop destinations for spices and scarves. Put your senses on high alert at the multistory Denpasar market in central Bali for incense, fresh produce, and all sorts of meats. Look for sarongs and traditional light coverups at these smaller, stacked shops. You might also want to pick up a utilitarian plastic poncho if you’re traveling by motorbike. Closer to the mountains, the Tabanan market displays vintage-cool second-hand Japanese shirts during the day and aloha shirts at night. And even if you don’t surf, swimwear brands are popular here.

Locals know better than to buy the fake stuff sold on stands and instead get to the Quiksilver and Nike retail factory outlets around the beach town of Kuta for boardshorts and hats at wholesale prices. For anything digital, head to Rimo Trade Centre in Denpasar for tech products and cellphone accessories.

Bargaining is commonplace in most markets. Note that while the people are friendly, their English is limited.

Boutique love


Stop by My Cup of Love adorably chic home goods. (Photo: My Cup of Love)

Love seems to be everywhere in Bali — the four letters are rendered in block form and stitched into neon-colorful bags in shops around Seminyak Square on the west coast of the island, where many stylish longer-term expats who now call this island their home fill their shopping bags.

Favorites include the Press Ban boutique, which sells flower suspenders and hairpieces for the Coachella crowd. On an island where magazines are “inspired,” you wonder if the buyers of Anthropologie visit this side of the Pacific for creative vision. The pineapple and elephant hooks at My Cup of Love are adorably chic. Among the cluster of stores around Seminyak Square, Puravida retails bright mommy and mini-me braided sandals. Kiosk carries the L.A. laid-back “it” factor with items like cool wallets and belts for the guys. Various stores such as Paloma sell dresses to don for the beach bar or hotel lounge when the sun is setting and reggae music starts to fill the night.

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At Manik, the colorful Ikat fabrics are made by hand through an intricate multi-step dye process. (Photo: Manik Bali Ikat)

From wood carvings to art pieces, everything can be made to order here. Ikat is a light fabric that withstands humid weather. From Manik in Ubud, you can have your very own ikat dress or overalls made in a few weeks.

Jewelry may take a while longer, as Bali’s pace of working life is one of easeful focus. Head to Celuk Village, the center of gold and silver craft, if you want to shop for accessories. While you’re there, be sure to visit Bali Sari Silver. You can also stroll the galleries in the area and watch local craftspeople at work, knowing and seeing that what you’re getting is hand-crafted and made with love.

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