Bolivia has never had a reputation as a shopping destination so if you’re looking for western-style malls, you’ll be disappointed. However, Bolivia has some of the most fascinating markets in the region with the most reputable in La Paz.
Outside the capital, markets are just as popular among locals as they are travelers. In Santa Cruz, the nation’s agricultural capital, stalls tend to have a much wider variety of fresh produce than anywhere else in the country, and food items are brought from other areas of the country almost daily.
The king of markets must be Mercado Negro, which sprawls through a large area of La Paz between the Witches’ Market and El Cementario. Shoppers will find a comprehensive (and somewhat bizarre) range of goods from traditional handicrafts and handmade clothing to electrical equipment and fruits and vegetables. Although the market can seem chaotic, order reigns, with every item carefully assigned to its own section.
Llama wool textiles are particularly popular souvenirs and gifts when visiting Bolivia. Items such as sweaters, ponchos, scarves, and gloves can be found in a bewildering display of designs and colors. Leather goods, gold and silver jewelry, and home decorations are also commonly available, and sometimes a good value for the money if you’re willing to barter, which can knock up to 30 percent off the asking price.