Downtown Dar es Salaam is where the best shopping is at in Tanzania, with many glitzy malls and intriguing craft stores. African goodies include drums, baskets, batik, soapstone, handmade toys, Tinga Tinga art, and Maasai blankets. Haggling at markets is a must.
All the main tourist centers—Dar es Salaam, Stone Town (Zanzibar) and Arusha—have shopping at malls, markets and curios shops. The souks in Stone Town are fun to wander around, while the Mwenge Carvers Market outside Dar es Salaam is great for souvenirs en masse. Beach resorts also have stalls for Tanzanian gifts.
The distinctive, deep-red checked Maasai blankets make for the perfect souvenir and are useful if heading up Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Meru. Beaded jewelry is also hugely popular, along with tribal paintings.
Tinga Tinga Paintings
Tinga Tinga paintings depicting the wildlife of the Serengeti make for excellent gifts, especially for kids back home. They are rich in coloring and on sale all over the place. Head to the school of Tinga Tinga in Tanzania’s capital to buy directly from the artists.
Masks are not as ubiquitous as in other African nations and will often be imported from the West. Ebony wood carvings may also not be locally made, with the exception of the stout Makonde mask that you find in southeast Tanzania.
Shops often close for lunch (between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.), with morning hours on Saturday’s and closed on Sunday’s. Malls and touristy shops in main areas are typically open all day, as are the markets.