Every place is characterized by its local markets. Giving a quick overview of the people and their unique way of living, these traditional markets represent the culture, art, lifestyle and tradition of a place. Filled with different merchandise, artwork and food items, it seems like a miniature country portraying the true colour of its motherland.
When you are going to the traditional markets, you need to bring your local mindset to the game. This means bargain. These markets are based on the concept of bargaining. You also need to be smart by knowing the items to purchase is worth the money you have spent.
Badung Traditional Market in Denpasar strongly depicts Balinese culture and traditions by beautifully encapsulating Balinese lifestyle in all its shops. This market invites you with street carts, busy food stalls and people selling snacks right off the back of their motorbikes. Exotic and enticing in its own way, the market atmosphere draws in locals by the hundreds, ready to examine through a stockpile of market goods for a fraction of their retail price.
This enormous shopping place consists of a large main building that houses stalls and shops of all varieties, including hardware, slow-moving items and daily necessities from clothing, homeware, kitchen utensils and ceremonial goods such as ornamental baskets and incense. It offers a perfect picture of Balinese tools and items that the locals use almost every day. Some have fixed prices, while others can be well negotiated. Outside the building is the 24-hour-open-air market counterpart, where fast-moving items and groceries are sold. You can feast your eyes on colourful tropical fruits and bargain hard. This market becomes quite cramped up before big holidays like Galungan, Kuningan, or Nyepi.
Kedonganan Fish Market in Jimbaran is very famous for its fresh and big catch among the seafood lovers. Bustling with either tourists or locals, this market is one of the hottest culinary destinations on the island. Located one street back from Jimbaran Beach, you will find stalls with small compartments to categorise the different catch. A line of fish is laying with eyes gleaming and squids in a Styrofoam box of black ink, while the sellers swat swarms of flies away from it. There’s something about getting fresh fish that makes people excited to shop here, regardless of the annoying flies and the strong smell of fish. For the tourist, wandering around the market and choosing the fish yourself allows you to see how the locals live and shop.
Merta Nadi Art Market in Legian is normally packed with tourist (not during the pandemic situation). Located on Legian’s pedestrian-friendly street of Jalan Melasti, this traditional market is close to the beach with series of shops creating a compact shopping destination for visitors. It has a large number of souvenir and boutique shops with goods are made locally. This market also provides refreshment avenues with cafes and restaurants nearby to help you relax in between your shopping escapade.
The night market in Sanur is hidden behind the posh and luxury charm of the area. Located within a walking distance from Sindhu Beach, Sanur Night Market is a window into the local culture that is often hard to access in tourist areas. Here, you will get the chance to blend with the locals and gain a better understanding of how they live. Everything in this market is relatively cheap, even for the locals. So, bargaining is not really necessary. Since you are in a traditional market, most of the communication is in the Indonesian language. But, worry not, the stallers understand enough English to know what you want to order. Alternatively, you can simply point at the items that you want.
Groceries aren’t as overpriced as it is the case with some other spots that have purposely been established to extort the foreign tourists. Sanur Market ideally operates throughout the day with the mornings being dedicated to the selling of groceries, fresh vegetables, dried fish, pungent spices and various household goods. Slightly after midday, departments shift from grocery stalls to food stalls, and the market suddenly transforms itself into a place of sensory delights. So, you are free to go according to your fancies and whims. If you are a food lover and want to have it locally, the best time to arrive would be after 6 PM.
Pasar Seni Sukawati or Sukawati Art Market is quite famous among the locals. Located on Jalan Raya Sukawati, about 30 minutes before reaching central Ubud, this market is still existing since the ’80s. Walking around this market can be confusing as there are so many alleys and hidden shops behind them. Shopping with a local guide is recommended to avoid getting lost. When it comes to the price, there is no fixed price for everything. Your bargaining skill is needed here.
Ubud Art Market or ‘Pasar Seni Ubud’ is a handicraft market dedicated to tourist. Located at Jalan Raya Ubud, right in the centre of Ubud, this market is open every day from 7 AM to 6 PM, and sometimes some of the stalls are open until late at night. All of the goods sold at this market is created by local Balinese people, and most of them are made in the neighbouring villages. To avoid the crowds, it is recommended to go in the morning. Shopping at Ubud Art Market is not about an actual purchase. Window shopping from one stall to another is an interesting highlight. However, if you know exactly what to buy, afternoon visit is recommended to get a better deal. Most likely, you will get it cheaper in the afternoon than in the morning. NOTE: This market is currently under renovation.