Tourists staying in Greater
Banjul's main beach holiday resorts of The Gambia will
have plenty of souvenir shopping opportunities, as almost every one
tourist class hotels has in-house
boutiques or nearby a craft market,
stall holders or street hawkers. There are also a
few art galleries
with shops and cafes selling West African art. The often vibrant
local village fairs offer various produce like fruits
and vegetables, as well as household wares, imported
clothing at reasonable prices. General household goods,
and fashion shops abound in the Kombos. When shopping in Gambia
beware that while some stores stock high quality merchandise, many
stock low quality goods.
usually located inside or close to the main tourist
Cape Point, as well as further
east to the Banjul capital. They
vary in size from the large
Tourist Craft Market to the smaller
Market. These are locally known as 'bengdulas' and are often filled
with products custom made for tourists. Among these are
sarongs, sand paintings and wood figurines. If you take your time you can
often spot some good quality bargains among the mass produced carved
animals and cheap trade beads. You might also find locally made
jams, condiments and honey produced by enterprise
charities and local co-operatives.
ART GALLERIES & CAFES:
There are a few privately run art establishments such as the
Gaya Art Cafe in
Kololi and the
Africa Living Art Centre
in Bakau's Fajara
area which sells West African
curiosities such as
masks, as well as
These places aim to combine eating and drinking with an enjoyment of
local art, as well as offering visitors a chance to do some shopping for
various quality artworks, as opposed to those which can be purchased in the tourist
hang-outs around town. More...
FRUIT PRESSERS / SELLERS:
On the beaches of almost all the tourist hotels you will
find a row or more of Gambian women selling fruits or pressed fruit juices
as well as coconut from
stalls usually coloured bright blue. These stalls replaced the fruit ladies who used to wonder
along the beach unregulated and often pestering sunbathing visitors. They
tend to be more expensive than you might find at the local
village fairs but is more than made up for by the
convenience. If you are a little worried about the hygiene
conditions in which the fruit is prepared then consider
ordering just whole fruit. Many of the women, and some men,
depend on the income during the tourist season to help put
food on the family table, and cover things like their kid's
school fees and uniforms. This is a great way to help provide
income for families rather than spending all your money
within your hotel complex. Look at it like a form of
responsible tourism. More...
TOWN & VILLAGE MARKETS:
These can be found in all the peri-urban areas and many of
the major villages all the way from the Kombo district in the West
Coast Region up to Basse Santa Su in the easternmost sector of The
Gambia. They mostly have on sale an array of cheap household goods,
imported and locally produced groceries and various local produce
such as fresh vegetables, palm oil, dried fish, ground peanut paste,
fruits and dried herbs. They are also good places go shopping for
richly coloured rolls of fabric, shoes and clothing. In pre-colonial
times these places were characterized by the country 'fair' type
associated with the long distance trade of groundnuts, salt, slaves
and local subsistence food stalls.
The vast majority of merchandise imported into The Gambia
comes through the port of Banjul.
From here some of the goods find their way into the
city's shops, while the rest is trucked off to other
parts of the country as well as to other West African
Albert Market, on
Liberation Avenue, is the main urban market. A colourful,
bustling centre to browse, brimming with a large selection of
household products, colourfully patterned fabrics, familiar
and unfamiliar foods,
household wares, wooden masks and
traditional musical instruments.
KOLOLI VILLAGE COMPLEX:
This is a modern place located on the Bertil Harding Highway.
It is basically an open-air shopping arcade
whose building is similar in shape to a
horseshoe with twin minarets, one on each end. Within the open
air semi-enclosure of the
Village Complex is a garden area, a kids' playground, a fountain, and
seating areas in front of various shops and diners on the ground floor. There
are clothing stores, offices, an optician, a dentist,
car rentals and a supermarket. Among
El Sol Restaurant,
Trends Fashion Boutique.
sells fruits, meat, fish, vegetables and small, durable
consumer goods. It is mostly a corrugated roofed maze of tightly
arranged stalls and shops displaying all manner of household
products and foodstuffs such as rice, smoked bonga fish, packeted
and tinned foods, heaps of tomatoes, hot chilli peppers and
aubergines, sugar and lots more. You will also find flip flops,
pens, buckets, pocket radios, and other bric-a-brac. In front of the
market on the Atlantic Road
you will see the fruit and vegetables
section, a less stifling shopping experience. Opposite here is a
small shed which sells frozen and chilled shrimps at prices lower
than you will find in the local supermarkets. Just a stones throw
away to the north you will find the
community fishing centre
and landing jetty where you can buy catches such as butterfish and
shad. The busiest time is when the pirogues arrive to land their
catches. Suddenly the place bursts into frenzied activity as women
begin ferrying pan loads of fish on their heads from the boats to
the beach. There are also fish stalls, refrigeration blocks and fish
If you've never experienced urban Africa before then
shopping in Serrekunda Market
might come as a bit of a culture shock.
To prepare you first need to brush up on your
wear a money belt to guard against the ever present pickpockets,
where a hat, sunglasses, carry a bottle of water, maybe take along
an experienced guide. Then you are
set to go!
As you get closer to the main market building from Westfield
Junction and up the Sayer
are often bumper to bumper, hordes of pedestrian shoppers
and street stalls jam the pavements, diesel fumes waft in
the air, the heat - often oppressive, locally made and imported
goods of all kinds to your right and left. Most of the 'market'
is not in a building, but in the adjacent streets. At the
back of the main building is the pungent, fly infested produce
area selling smoked and fresh fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts,
cooking ingredients and various items which many visitors
might find unrecognisable.
The thoroughfare, also known as Pipeline Road, is The
Gambia's equivalent of the UK's Oxford Street in London. Stiflingly
hot in summer, more pleasant in winter, laterite, concrete and sandy
'pavements' line both sides of the 3 km stretch of road which is
often jammed with private cars and
taxis. The section of Kairaba Avenue
starting on the Atlantic Road, in
Fajara M Section, up to about 200
metres after the main traffic lights makes for the most pleasant
shopping and dining experience. Here you can find some of the
best restaurants in
Gambia, as well as well stocked supermarkets,
office stationery stores,
electronics and household wares outlets. Just south of the traffic
light junction you will see stalls of fruits and vegetables, and a
little further south you will see many small
horticultural gardens selling plants, small trees and seedlings, as
well as large clay plant pots.
most congested section of Kairaba Avenue is from Westfield Junction,
Serrekunda, going west for about 150
metres. This section is dominated by
electronics shops, and general
household goods outlets. Kairaba Avenue is well worth a visit where
you can get some good bargains at generally lower prices than in Europe.
HIGH STREET CONSUMER
kinds of stores are well worth a visit as good bargains can
be had. The only downside is that once you buy a product and
head off back to your country the guarantees and warranties
are virtually worthless. So do check that the product you
buy is in good working order or clothes are well stitched
Great buys can be had with regards to
stationery, small electronics products like memory sticks, DVD
movies, souvenirs from gift shops, fashion clothing and shoes. Ironically
many clothing items are imported from the UK and USA at wholesale
summer discount prices, so you're sure to find some bargains. Some
items however are overpriced such as laptops and
To compare prices with back home it is worthwhile knowing the
current exchange rate for your currency, and take along a pocket
calculator. Generally speaking the more upmarket the shopping area,
the better the quality of the goods. Tip: while shopping look out for genuine brand names or test
and check before buying.
are quite a number of medium to large supermarkets
and mini-markets dotted
around the Kombo Saint Mary District, especially along the
Kairaba Avenue and the coastal resorts. Maroun's
Supermarket, near the Palma Rima Hotel, is fairly compact
but offers a good shopping experience as it is well stocked
with many US and UK brand name foods and household products
such as jams, butter, marmalade, milk, cornflakes, cleaning
products, toilet paper and more. A couple of hundred metres
further south is the Adams Trading Supermarket which is modern,
a lot larger and filled to the brim with a good variety of
products. As you head further south towards the Senegambia
Strip area there are smaller grocery stores on the Bertil
Harding Highway. If you turn right at the junction of the
Strip there are several shops catering for tourists and
selling many essentials, which is particularly convenient
if you are staying in a self-catering
accommodation in Kololi. More...
LOCAL CORNER SHOPS:
There are a plethora of small 'corner' stores which generally cater to
their nearby residential location and passers-by.
These types of local shops usually stock soft
drinks, purified water, bread, butter, candles, flip-flops, sweets
and numerous other small items of food and disposable consumer
goods. They are handy for purchasing basic essentials such as
batteries, bottled water and toilet rolls after most of the major
mini-markets and supermarkets have closed, usually by 11pm. If you are staying in
one of the
lodges or guest houses in any of the resorts such as Kololi, Bijilo,
Fajara etc., there are usually several small booths within 100 metres
of your accommodation. More...
As a general rule the more expensive the product the better the
quality. The cost
of things can vary greatly and the final price you pay may well
depend on your bargaining and haggling skills. To discover the best
bargains however, it is better to move away from the tourist resorts
and go shopping further into town. Tip: side street stores in Gambia tend to pay lower
rents and these savings can often be passed onto the consumer in the
form of lower prices.
SHOP OPENING HOURS:
Monday to Thursday 9am - 5pm, Fri-Sat 9am - 12.30pm. Some
outlets may stay open until 10pm, some food stores stay open
up to 11pm and beyond.
Things To Do
Gambia Shopping Directory
COST OF THINGS
The prices of goods and services in Gambia varies from
place to place. The following is a general prices guide.
Learning some of the local bargaining skills is
essential if you want to buy items at reasonable prices.
Here are some tips.
This is the capital's main urban bazaar packed full of
housewares, clothes, food & crafts.
For a taste of urban Africa you can't get much better
than this. This is where people, traffic & goods merge.
There are some genuine batiks to be had if you know
where to go shopping & look out for. Ideal for sarongs &
Retailers of designer jewellery, fragrances, watches and
sunglasses from DKNY, Guess and Calvin Klein.
You can't visit Gambia without trying a succulent mango,
delicious papaya or one of our green oranges. Yummy!
From DVD players, mp3, smartphones & much larger white
goods, lower prices are plentiful. No guarantees though.
Sales of West African arts & crafts, jewelry, bags,
clothes and T-Shirts & gift items from other parts of
the world. More >>
A top quality household goods department store selling
bedroom & lounge suites, home decorations, fabrics,
gifts, toys, health store.
Travellers departing from Banjul Airport can buy from
the international duty free area the following products
without customs duty.
Get those holiday braids early from the professional
hair salons dotted around town. Or what about hair
There are many diners in & close to the resorts of
Kololi, Kotu & others serving Indian, Chinese, British &
other types of cuisine. More>>
If you are after something a little different from the
craft market offerings like wood masks then visit
a gift store selling various gifts & souvenirs.