One thing that many visitors to new places have in common is buying handicrafts. Buying handicrafts in Ecuador is a fun and colorful experience. Many of the handicrafts you can buy are brightly colored and can cheer up any wall or room. They serve as a lovely reminder of your Ecuadorian experience. They can also make for lovely gifts to take home for loved ones or friends. There are plenty of places for buying souvenirs in Ecuador, including in many of the more touristy towns, so do not be worried if you are not planning to go to any of the places described in this article – you’ll be sure to come across other handicraft vendors on your journey, who will be delighted to sell you their wares. Here we focus on the more established places for buying handicrafts in Ecuador.
The shopping at Otavalo Market is probably the crème de la crème of the buying souvenirs in Ecuador experience. If you visit the market on Saturday, you’ll find it spilling out over many of the streets surrounding the main square. In fact, it is thought to be the largest market in South America on a Saturday. You can spend time buying handicrafts that include anything from crayons to hammocks, or even musical instruments. There is something for everyone at this very large market. Don’t worry if you can’t get there on a Saturday – the market is actually there every day. Buying souvenirs at Otavalo can sometimes be a calmer experience on other days of the week as the market is not so busy, and vendors might give you a better deal, due to fewer customers.
The Artisan Market in Quito is a good place for buying handicrafts in Ecuador. This market offers a significant selection of Ecuador souvenirs, but in a much smaller area than Otavalo Market. This means there is not the same range of goods to choose from, but there is still a very colorful and interesting selection of pictures, jewelry, fabric-based products and more to choose from. The whole experience may be less overwhelming than Otavalo Market on a Saturday, and some may prefer this.
Olga Fisch in Quito is a folklore shop that offers a range of different colorful products including rugs, placemat sets, cross body bags, home décor, tapestries and hats. The products are very authentic, and not necessarily cheap in some cases, but most items are very lovely, and good value for the money. Nothing here is mass produced, and the items are beautifully crafted. While you’re here you could also visit the museum at this site.
Near to Cuenca, more opportunities are available for buying handicrafts in Ecuador. Chordeleg in particular is known for its silver jewelry, and there are many lovely pieces to purchase here that may make a lovely souvenir. Meanwhile in Gualaceo you can find some very nice leather souvenirs, and particularly boots and shoes.
One other place to buy a very authentic souvenir is Cuenca, where you can buy Panama hats. You might not think that sounds very authentic, but Panama hats actually originate in Ecuador, not Panama. Another place for buying souvenirs in Ecuador is the Mitad del Mundo (Equator line), and there are a variety of souvenir shops here. Be warned that some of the prices might be a bit inflated here – the vendors here are used to seeing a lot of tourists, but there are still some very lovely handicrafts to buy. Also, don’t miss Cotacachi, a small town a little way north of Otavalo. Here you can find some very fine leather goods at a very affordable price that make excellent souvenirs.
Our Insider recommendation for buying handicrafts in Ecuador is to make sure to haggle. The vendors will set their prices high, so try starting out quite a lot lower and then you can meet in the middle. This will ensure you get a good deal, and they come away happy from the experience too. Remember that you may only be haggling over a very small amount of money though, so don’t get too hung up over 10 cents! Also, keep your bargaining light hearted and pleasant. Remember, what might seem like not much to you means a lot to Ecuadorians. If you want to make sure that you visit some of the best places for buying handicrafts in Ecuador on your trip, why not contact us to make sure this is included in your tour. As Ecuador and Galapagos Experts we can take you to places for buying souvenirs that are special and remind you of your Ecuadorian adventure.