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Introduction:
Tourists staying in Greater Banjul's main beach holiday resorts of The Gambia will have plenty of souvenir shopping opportunities, as almost every one of the tourist class hotels has in-house boutiques or nearby a craft market, grocery stores, stall holders or street hawkers. There are also a few art galleries with shops & cafes selling West African art. The often vibrant local village fairs offer various produce like fruits & vegetables, as well as household wares, imported fabrics & clothing at reasonable prices. General household goods, electronics & fashion shops abound in the Kombos. When shopping in Gambia beware that while some stores stock high quality merchandise, many stock low quality goods.

Craft Markets:
These are usually located inside or close to the main tourist hotels between Kololi to Cape Point, as well as further east to the Banjul capital. They vary in size from the large Kotu Tourist Craft Market to the smaller Bakau Craft Market. These are locally known as 'bengdulas' and are often filled with products custom made for tourists. Among these are batiks, 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 'silver' jewellery and textiles. 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.

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.

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.






Banjul Capital:
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 countries. The 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, restaurants, cafes, car rentals and a supermarket.

Bakau Town Market:
Market fruit stallThe place 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 Bakau 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 Bakau 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 smoking houses.

Serrekunda Market:
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 haggling skills, 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 Jobe Avenue cars 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.

Kairaba Avenue:
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, banks, 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.

The most congested section of Kairaba Avenue is from Westfield Junction, in 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 Stores:
These 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 and comfortable.

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 Android smartphones. 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.

Supermarkets:
There 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 Senegambia 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.

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.

Prices:
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.

 
More Shopping Information:
 
 
Albert Market Fruits
   
Arts & Crafts Local Corner Shops
   
Batiks & Waxes Opening Hours
   
Duty Free Responsible Tourism
   
Craft Markets Serrekunda Market
   
Credit / Debit Cards Souvenirs
   
Drinks Shopping Directory
   
 
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