A Guide for Shopping in Ecuador
Shopping is a mixed experience in Ecuador. From dusty, noisy animal markets and craft markets to sterile, glossy malls, there is something for everyone here. Ecuador offers an interesting collection of products that can be purchased as souvenirs and gifts. Arts and crafts such as weavings, wood carvings, carpets, toys and clothing can be bought all over Ecuador.
Bargaining is a way of life in Ecuador and is totally acceptable in markets and in small shops, but tourist stores usually have fixed prices. Many places and towns in Ecuador usually have a special market day at least once a week. The best place to find a great bargain is in the Province of Azuay in the cities of Cuenca and Gualaceo where vendors offer a wide variety of handicrafts at very reasonable prices. Quito is generally the best place to buy silver, native woodcarvings, varnished and painted ornaments made of bread dough, Indian tiles, woolen and orlon rugs, blankets, baskets, leather goods, indigenous art and native weapons.
Some interesting goods that are indigenous to Ecuador are the so-called 'Panama' hats, vegetable items, Tagua items and colorful bread dough ornaments. Interested persons should note that good quality Panama hats can be rolled up and spring back into shape. Beware of cheap hats in the markets - the fact that it's cheap doesn’t always mean that it’s a bargain. The Otavalo region is famous for its excellent quality textiles which are sold daily. Good quality cheap leather goods are also a good buy in Ecuador.
Remember that it is not possible to export animal products out of Ecuador and into other countries either. So avoid buying products manufactured from animals. Note that antiques are also difficult sometimes to export.
Shopping hours for shopping malls are Monday – Friday 10:00 – 20:00 and Saturdays 08:00 – 21:00. Local stores may have shorter opening hours.