Tourists staying in Greater Banjul's main beach holiday
of The Gambia will have plenty of souvenir shopping
opportunities, as almost every one of the tourist class
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.
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
Galleries & Cafes:
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:
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
Town & Village Markets:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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
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.
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
High Street Consumer Stores:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.