Shopping in Salar de Uyuni
The little town of Uyuni in Bolivia has become a hub for tours and activities that take travellers to the world famous salt flats and beyond into the wilderness. It is, therefore, only natural that the place offers a decent shopping experience, especially to those who want to take home some authentic gift items and souvenirs from Bolivia. Tourists will find all of the regular convenience goods at the numerous stores in town, including water, soft drinks, snacks and a good variety of alcohol. However, people who are looking for traditional items and handicrafts will have to visit the local markets.
No matter what one requires while in Uyuni, from drinking water for the hiking tours to traditional Bolivian handicrafts, travellers can be sure to find them within the town.
For some handy tips on the best places to shop in Uyuni, along with great souvenir ideas check out our Uyuni Shopping Guide below. Also make sure you take some time to relax before or after a trip through the salt desert in one of the Uyuni restaurants. Information about unique Bolivian items that you may wish to consider purchasing can be found by visiting our Bolivian shopping guide.
The street market in Uyuni, which is usually open every Thursday and Sunday, is a great place to purchase all of the daily use items tourists might require while in Uyuni as well as a variety of fabrics. It stretches for about two blocks on Av. Potosi from Hotel Kutimuy to nearly the clock tower. Wool is particularly popular in the region and tourists can be sure to come across some really good deals on clothes and blankets.
You should take some amount of time and explore the different areas of the market, as you can sometimes find similar items for a cheaper rate. Tourists could also try bargaining if they are good at it, although whatever price you pay, it is sure to be far lower than what you would pay in places like the USA or Europe. The best bargains are available in the street market - travellers just have to know where to look.
One popular and unique item that almost all tourists pick up while shopping in Uyuni is a salt carving. The local artisans are great at making salt sculptures of different creatures, such as the llamas and other animals. This piece of art is also the best way for tourists to take a piece of Uyuni back with them. It is without doubt a unique purchase and tourists might even consider picking up a few extra items for friends and family back home. Such a gift will be much appreciated by a loved one.
The area has thousands of shops packed to the gills with traditional items and local handicrafts. While the quality of the goods is rather mediocre, their uniqueness and variety are very impressive. Some of the popular goods purchased are hand woven sling bags, hand bags, leather bags, alpaca sweaters (usually about Bs 62 to Bs 77 or US $ 7.80 to US $ 9.70 each), belts, baskets, fabrics, wool hats and gloves.
The town area has numerous shops selling daily necessities to locals and also some luxury items for travellers passing by. Travellers will be able to purchase most things they are craving, such as pastries, chocolates, cookies, biscuits and, of course, wine and beer for the parties in the evening. Besides, these stores also offer a glimpse into local life in this harsh surrounding.
Tourists will be happy to know that every town in Bolivia has an interesting market area. Besides the regular requirement, these places also sell many exotic fruits, vegetables and local foods that one won't find anywhere else. Available for less than a dollar, the papayas are cheap and always good. Those who are good at bargaining can purchase some of these things at a very reasonable rate.