Lompoul Desert by Gabriel de Castelaze via Flickr Creative Commons

Senegal’s most unique shopping items and best bargains are found behind the stalls of the country’s colorful outdoor markets. The vast majority of Senegalese communities have their own vibrant markets, from its biggest cities to its tiniest of villages. Most handmade Senegalese crafts are made from wood, copper, or batik. Underglass and sand painting are Senegal’s most unique visual art forms.

Dakar’s main market is the sprawling three-level Sandaga Madness, which seems to live up to its name by its number of aggressive vendors, pickpockets, and counterfeit electronics. Visitors can get fittings by tailors for their own unique Senegalese outfits at the smaller and less chaotic HLM market, which specializes in fabric. Bartering is the norm at Dakar’s evening Soumbedioune fish market and nearby artisanal village where visitors can buy handmade glass jewelry, pottery, and wooden crafts. Older masks are worth more than new ones, so some of the masks sold near Dakar’s port are left under the sun for long time periods to make them look older. Dakar’s national art gallery and Gorée Island are the best places in Senegal’s capital to buy original artwork and even meet the artists themselves.

The main daily market in St Louis sells produce and clothing along General de Gaulle Avenue, but many of the city’s most unique items are sold in the boutiques, tailors, and fabric shops on smaller side streets. Guet N’Dar is a smaller and less crowded market in Senegal’s second city. Keur Fall is a fair trade shop whose items were made in one of 15 Diourbel villages belonging to the Ndem association. The artisanal village in St Louis, where bartering is expected, is located along its corniche. DSK and Exotica are the main supermarkets in St Louis.

Senegal’s most interesting shopping outside of its two major cities is found at the Soumbe-dionne craft village, where visitors can watch the artisans carve, sew, and make their products before buying them, and the Tambacounda street market, whose specialty items are handpicked tropical fruit and scarves with meticulously created Senegalese designs. The main street of the border town of Velingara, near the Gambian border, is lined with handmade ceramic pots and shops filled with other authentic Senegalese crafts.

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