While Sierra Leone is not exactly a place to ‘shop until you drop’, there are a few options for travelers who would like to take some souvenirs home. The best places to shop are at local markets, located in every city, town, and village All are packed with souvenirs and handicrafts from all over the country.
Freetown, the country’s capital, has one of the larger shopping scenes in the country, although there are good markets everywhere. The largest markets in Freetown, and perhaps the ones most frequented by tourists, are those located in Victoria Park and at the Aberdeen and Lumley Beach areas. In these areas, patrons will find everything from handmade arts, crafts, and clothing in the markets, to small retail stores, and minor strip malls.
There are a few items that are simply ‘must-haves’ for those shopping for souvenirs in Sierra Leone. These include grass and reed baskets, hand-carved wooden masks, cutlery and crockery, and hand-woven, traditionally printed material called gara.
One important thing to remember when shopping is that Sierra Leone has developed a reputation as the ‘Land of Bargaining’. Not only is bargaining and haggling common practice, it is expected. That said, most traders in the country are not intent on ripping customers off and, even more importantly, are probably just trying to make ends meet. It is essential that patrons bargain respectively and fairly, and, more often than not, this method leads to more positive results than the alternative.