What would be your dream job if you could do anything? For me it would be travelling around the world exploring the best markets – from Chatuchak in Bangkok, The Souks of Marrakech and Puces De Vanves in Paris…. The list goes on and needless to say I would never get bored, annnnnd never have enough excess luggage.
So, in the second in what is a very small series about the best markets in the world, I wanted to share with you another of my favourite markets, The Ubud Art Market. So many of you have emailed me and asked more about them after a brief mention in the Ubud Travel Guide, where they are, which shops to get the basket bags and how to stop your boyfriend rushing you through them (true story!). So, I thought I would share all I know.
Ubud Art Markets
The Ubud Art Market, referred to by locals as ‘Pasar Seni Ubud‘ is an artisan/handicraft/tourist market in the centre of Ubud Town. It’s open every day roughly from 6am to 6pm and is an absolute must when you’re in Ubud. Our lovely driver told me that a lot of the goods found at the Ubud Market are made in the neighbouring villages of Pengosekan, Tegallalang, Payangan and Peliatan. You’ll find lots of different handicrafts, a fair bit of tourist tat, and here and there an absolute gem that makes it all worth it. Read on for more details.
The markets are located opposite the the Royal Ubud Palace, at Jalan Raya Ubud No.35. The street of Jalan Karna is actually a pedestrianised street that makes up a large part of the market, so if you aim for that you’ll be in the heart of it. There are also a number of smaller buildings scattered around those streets that house sections of the markets.
When to Go
As with most travels in Asia, I recommend you go early in the morning when it opens. One reason for this is that there will always be less crowds, but another is that you will often find sellers are willing to give you a better price earlier in the day. From what I have been told there’s a local superstition in Bali (and all over Asia) that it’s good luck to sell something first thing in the morning (also, just good business too?). To get the best prices, hit the markets as early as physically possible, and ask for “harga” (price) “pagi”, (morning) i.e. the morning price. You might notice that if you’re the first sale the seller will go around and tap your money all over the shop. I suggest at most 2 hours for the markets, as they aren’t that big.
What to Buy
There’s so much on offer at these markets, but (IMHO) what you want to do is hone in on the beautiful handicrafts and things that are Balinese specialities, and avoid other touristy items that you can no doubt find in tourist markets the world over.
Stackable Storage Boxes – Bali does great wicker basket boxes that work really well in your wardrobe to store scarves and other small items. Buy a few and stack them inside each other to get them home.
Basket Bags – OK so these are a given, and you’d be safe to buy a few more than you think you need… Nothing worse than regretting not buying something at a market you’ll only visit once a decade! These bags are obviously pretty trendy at the moment, and the prices have started to reflect that… But still they’re worth it.
Ikat & Batik – Indonesia is famous for its Ikat and Batik patterns, where wax is used to create negative space patterns on fabric which is then dyed (more coming on this v soon!). I found that there were some lovely prints that would integrate well into a modern wardrobe if you looked for the more minimalist colours and designs.
Gold and silver jewellery – Simple bangles and chains abound in the jewellery shops, once again if you’re looking for styles to wear at home go for ones that are pared back and not too decorative. But then that’s just me and it’s totally up to your own style!
Crochet – You’ll find a huge number of different crochet designs, and it wouldn’t be a trip to Bali if you didn’t add one of these to your wardrobe. I love a good crochet bikini but note it’s always wise to go for the bigger size than you think you need.
Cotton Sarongs – Once again, you’ll be overwhelmed by the colours and patterns on offer, but you’ll also find some simple minimalist designs if you search for them.
Straw Hats – Would it really be a trip without me buying a straw hat? Although a lot of the hats you will find are cheap woven plastic styles, if you look closely you’ll discover some natural woven palm frond ones that are traditionally worn in the rice fields. Perfect for keeping the midday sun off!
Good to know
Make sure you negotiate. It’s pretty much a national past time and not something to be scared of. Ask the seller a price, and then start at about 30% of that figure, working your way up in increments until you meet. But know that if the seller agrees to the price you quote, it’s not very nice to change your mind…. Approach it with a smile and a laugh and you’ll be fine (I feel like this subject needs a whole post!).
One final word… Shopping at local markets can be a bit like vintage shopping, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the colour and noise and think there’s nothing you like, but if you take your time and visualise the things you’re seeing in a less hectic context you’re sure to find some amazing gems!
Head to Ubud Art Cafe, a five minute walk away after you’re done for coffee and smoothies!
In demand! The bag of the summer.
Heaven is a place in Ubud….
Ok let’s play a little game… which ones would you buy? Personally I’m into the round baskets down the bottom and also the cylinerial ones that almost look like round lunch boxes. Obviously the ones in the top right too! Now you go.
Colour, people, noise. Everything I love about a market experience.
This shop is actually on Jalan Ubud just outside the markets, the prices here were steeper than inside the market. But so pretty!