Your bags are packed and you’re ready to fly out to Bali. Hold on a moment…I hope your bags are not fully packed. As Bali is tropical all year round, there are not many items you really need to pack for your holiday. A few swimsuits, some light clothes and toiletries should be enough. I am not saying you shouldn’t still bring a big suitcase with you, quite the opposite. There are so many things to buy in Bali, ranging from toiletries to souvenirs and furnishings. I recommend you read on to find out which bargains to stock up on here and fill your suitcase with.
n Bali you can find a lot of chemist items for really cheap. Things to stock up on include toothpaste, Bokashi oil (can be used to stop the itching on bites, for sprains, bruises, headache, stomach ache, as anti fungal treatment etc.), Tiger balm (for muscle pains, sore throat and colds, headache, allergies and bug bites), Minyak Sereh Sitronela mosquito repellant, Salon Pas for muscle pains and Panadol Extra painkiller with caffeine. Some of these items you can even find in normal minimarkets like Circle K.
One of my favorite things in the whole world, Extra Joss is an energy powder that comes in small yellow sachets and is the equivalent of 2 Red Bulls. Whether you need to stay up late for school or work, regain your energy after a rough night or are just in need of a little pick-me up, all you need to do is pop one in your mouth, have a sip of water and feel the difference in 30 minutes. Extra Joss is usually sold in a packet of 6-12 sachets and can be found in most minimarkets and local shops.
First of all, I would recommend taking part in a Balinese cooking class to learn how to use some of the not so common but nonetheless amazing and fragrant spices. Then wander into a farmer’s market, which can be found in almost every area of Bali, and start bargaining for the goodies. Go for saffron (the flowers or threads, not ground one), vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, cumin seeds, cardamom and different kinds of peppers. Many say Candikuning and Bedugul markets are the best. While you’re at it, buy a mortar and pestle too. It’s the essential piece of a Balinese kitchen, and one of the most loved souvenirs for cooking fanatics.
No matter where you go in Bali, the fragrant aroma of incense sticks will follow you. Used daily in Hindu offerings, they are quintessential Bali. You can find dozens of varieties ranging from fresh, flowery scents to deep eastern notes. Some of the most popular ones are vanilla, jasmine, lavender, frangipani, patchouli and sandalwood. Try to stick to the branded ones made with natural ingredients, those will burn and smell better. It’s best to shop for incense sticks at a market, such as Sukawati market, and buy in bulk to get the best deal.
Sometimes difficult to find or quite expensive at home, these are items everyone should stock up on when in Bali. You can buy basic ones with lovely colours and patterns for ridiculously cheap prices at the beach or in the street stalls. The more you buy the cheaper the price per piece. Some of the most beautiful ones are the traditional batik sarongs and scarves. Batik refers to a resist dye technique using wax. For those you have to fork out a bit more, but they are durable and exquisite.
In Balinese culture, woodcarvings have the honour of holding the most sacred of offerings, and also the bodies of Balinese as they are cremated. Wooden carvings also adorn the Balinese home and are often placed near the gate in welcome. You should not return home without at least one piece of Balinese craftsmanship, and if you prefer the smaller items, you can fit many in your bag. You can find woodcarvings in most street stalls, but for something unique I suggest visiting the more professional shops, such as Bali Parcel nearby Ubud.
If you have an eye for art and are looking for nice new pieces for your house or office, I definitely recommend buying canvas art. There are so many talented artists in Bali trying to make a living out of it, so you’ll not only be investing in something beautiful but also doing good for the community. Most artists walking around the beach or in street stalls sell the same prints, but you could always ask them to design you a unique piece according to your wishes. Ubud is the area where you have the best chance of finding something to take your breath away. Canvas art is easy to take home, as the artists will usually roll up your painting so it will take up almost no space in your suitcase.
Leather is big in Bali, and you can find awesome bags, shoes and jackets for bargain prices. I recommend checking out the shoe shops close to the jail in Kerobokan for beautiful sandals and the leather tailors around Kuta or Oberoi for custom-made pieces. Leather handbags can be found everywhere, just make sure the leather they use is high quality. In case you wish to have your leather items custom-made, please bring some photos with you to best explain what it is you’re after.
Bali is highly regarded as having some the world’s best silversmiths. The level of workmanship and pure artistry is second to none anywhere in the world. The majority of the best silversmiths can be found in and around Celuk village, around 10 km directly south of Ubud. As with all the villages in Bali that are famous for one or another art creation, the craftsmen and artisans are not to be found on the main road, but rather they are nestled in the heart of the villages off the main roads. For cheaper silver pieces to bring home as souvenirs, visit Silverberry shops in Kuta and Seminyak. You could also join a silversmithing workshop to be able to produce a unique piece of jewelry with your own hands.
Last but not least, bring home some decorational pieces for your home. You can find nice cushion covers and beanbags in most street stalls, but if you want a unique piece, best to find a manufacturer around Kerobokan/Denpasar area and have yours custom-made. The items are very cheap compared to prices back at home, and the fabrics they use are of high quality. Just give them the measurements and choose fabrics and prints, and you should have your pieces ready in few days to a week.