Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. When you are standing in front of its pristine beaches and its lovely temples, you want to take back a piece of it with you. Well, you can not really pick up either beaches or temples or just the vibe of Bali. You can pick some quintessentially Bali Souvenirs, that would remind you of your time spent on this lovely island.
Shopping In Bali, Indonesia
Honestly, there are so many souvenirs that you can pick in Bali that I had to spend some time putting together this list in a way that it can help you.
Textiles – Sarongs & Wrap Around
Wherever you go in Bali, you will see shops selling Sarongs that come in traditional prints like Batik & Ikkat for women and Black & White checks with the border for men.
Most tourists end up using them as beach sarongs or Lungis. It is roughly 2 meters of un-stiched cloth and you can do whatever you want to do with. I think it is a perfect gift for women back home – they can feel a bit of Bali when they wear this cloth.
Music from Bali
In many gift shops, I saw colorful musical instruments that anyone can play. Some can be played using thumbs while others are just wooden balls with seeds inside them. At a music shop in Ubud, I had my rendezvous with a musician who runs the shop. It was early morning, and I entered the shops following the music. She played for a good 10 mins before turning around and talking to me. Her name was Ami & she said it is her morning meditation. She opens the shop with music. She then played a couple of instruments for me, we had a small chat about India & Indonesia. I picked up a couple of small instruments that I think I can play with my little knowledge.
If the musical instruments intrigue you, go for the wind chimes that you can find in most markets like Sukawati or Ubud or just about anywhere.
Most wind chimes I saw in Bali are made of Bamboo, unlike the metallic ones you find elsewhere.
Like all ancient civilizations, Bali also has a great tradition of woodcraft. Here are some of my recommendation of wood carved items to buy from Bali
I think masks are the best known Bali souvenirs. You can get them in different shapes and sizes. Buddha masks remain the most popular. I like the ones that carry an impression on Batik.
There are fridge magnets in the shape of masks.
For curious minds, this is a perfect souvenir. These wooden balls are actually wooden puzzles. You can dismantle them and then it is a task to reassemble them in the form of a ball.
In an upmarket restaurant in Ubud, I saw these remarkable pieces of carved driftwood. A bit of inquiry revealed that this is one of the favorite art forms in Bali. This is something I would love to pick up. Driftwood art is beautiful amalgamation dynamics of nature and creativity of man.
Wooden toys can again be found in all markets in Bali. However, in Ubud, I saw a few designer stores that sell some real funky wooden toys that can even serve as lovely home décor items.
Wooden utility Items
If you believe in buying utility items, there are wood carved bowls and trays.
Paintings as Bali Souvenirs
Every place has its own style that lends itself most prominently in its paintings and its architecture. Thankfully, you can carry paintings with you as souvenirs. There are a few types of paintings that you can buy, but I would recommend these two varieties:
- Describing the mythological scenes in traditional style.
- Painting of Balinese dancers.
Carved Skulls as Bali Souvenirs
Yes, you read it right – carved skulls. When I first saw the large bullheads carved intricately, I assumed it is an artist’s creation. I never thought these are actual skulls that have been carved. Once the shock was over, I started seeing carved skulls and horns everywhere.
At a shop I even saw monkey skulls carved – I was told No Photography. There were, of course, many horns carved. There was jewelry made of animal bones. It reminded me of Old Delhi streets where bone jewelry is made.
I can not really recommend these to you as souvenirs from Bali, but when you are there, please do have a look at them.
The version of these I can recommend are:
- Carved coconut shells
- Carved Sea Shells
Both these are beautiful & would not scare the people you show them to.
You can find nice handmade cane bags and boxes. They look lovely hanging at the shops. Boxes can be used to keep knick-knacks things.
I saw the first kite flying in the sky at Kuta beach – it was shaped like a ship. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was a kite that someone was flying with a string.
A couple of days later at Ubud Market, I saw many such kites on sale, even in vibrant colors. Other kites were also interesting. I am not sure how you pack a kite for a flight as most of these are huge.
I would later learn that flying kites in Bali is considered a harbinger of prosperity. Like an agrarian society, Balinese believe in pleasing Lord Indra by flying kites.
If you are way too conventional in your choice of souvenirs – go for the funky T-Shirts. There are always ‘I Love Bali’ T-Shirts but try the ones that make you stand out.
In Vogue – Dream-catcher
At this point in time, a favorite Bali Souvenir seems to be Dream Catcher. For the uninitiated, it is a ring with a web and lots of feathers around it. It is supposed to make your dreams come true by catching them for you.
I think it is one of those Bali souvenirs that young people with dreams in their eyes would appreciate a lot.
Coffee in Indonesia is different. The one you get on the roadside is thick, creamy and grainy in texture. So, coffee beans may be a good idea to buy – especially if you are a coffee person. This is one of those things that you can even pick up at the Bali Airport – well wrapped in a gift pack.
Best Markets for Souvenir Shopping in Bali
- Ubud Market – This is a bit upmarket market, but this is a place where you would love shopping the most. This is your best bet to find affordable designer stuff.
- Seminyak Market – If you like nice custom designed designer stuff, the market at Seminyak is perfect for you.
- Sukawati Market – This is one of those junta markets where you find everything that you can easily afford. Bargaining is the name of the game here and you can play it to your heart’s content. This market is particularly famous for cheap garments.
- Market outside Pura Tirtha Empul – This was a surprise discovery for me. After visiting the temple, the exit path goes through a well-laid out the marketplace. This is where I spotted almost everything mentioned in this blog post. The place was well organized, clean and not too crowded.
So, which of these Bali Souvenirs is your favorite pick?
Recommend you read following travel blog on Indonesia Tourist attractions.
Visiting Wonderful Indonesia – First Impressions
Borobudur Temple – Heritage Jewel of Indonesia
Arborek – Glimpse of heaven called Raja Ampat in Indonesia
Storytelling ruins of Prambanan temple, Java, Indonesia
Kota Gede – Walking through the charming old town of Yogyakarta
Souvenir items usually come at higher prices. But don’t know how much those Bali souvenirs are priced. Indeed they look intricately and artistically wonderful.
I would love to own few carved shells and skulls. You could spot carved monkey skull. Did you find any carved human skull? Just curious. BTW, totally love that tagline on the t-shirt.
In Bali, I did not see human skulls, like I mentioned I saw them in Bhutan.
Bali has souvenirs for every price range – in fact I tries covering souvenirs across price ranges.
In Bhutan, human skull is also often used as a container to keep blessed water during ritualistic ceremonies.
Oh, is it? I thought it was used in tantric rituals. I saw it in a souvenir shop though.
Many travelers don’t like to shop, but I love to collect a souvenir from everywhere I visit. Need not be big and pricy. From that point, Bali markets seem to be quiet promising. I particularly liked the paintings, cane souvenirs and carved shells. Thanks for compiling this, will really help me shop when I go there.
Neha, I am myself not a big shopper. I just buy things that are usable or consumable. Over years, have totally run out of space at home for more souvenirs. Having said that, I do enjoy markets – they are a representation of culture in more than one ways. Like at Bali – those carved skulls freaked me out initially but then I started looking at them as part of their culture.
So true.. Every culture has something unique to it and part of it gets reflected in it’s art and crafts. That reminds me I have a couple of beautiful clay masks on one of my walls which I bought from one of the villages in Tamil Nadu near Kodaikanal. My little daughter was initially scared of it, now she refers her home as “the home of mask”
Right. I have gone through phases, where I have collected mugs, bookmarks, fridge magnets and masks. I am still to display all of them, so kind of gave up buying most ornamental things.