Jardin, Colombia Photo by Pedro Szekely via Flickr Creative Commons

Colombia is a good place to find unusual, high quality handicrafts, particularly textiles or jewelry. Colombians have been working gold for centuries and they are one of the leading producers of emeralds. Pre-Columbian gold or silver pieces incorporating semi-precious stones are popular with tourists at the markets or on street corners –particularly those willing to try some good-humored bartering. It is not a good idea to buy emeralds off the street so seek out a reputable dealer and insist on a certificate of authenticity. The Emerald Trade Center (Av. Jiménez, La Candelaria, Bogota) and Intercontinental Tequendama Hotel jewelry store (Carrera 10, San Diego, Bogota) in Bogota both have good reputations. The Mompox region is particularly noted for its silver filigree jewelry.

Handwoven backpacks known as mochilas are an indigenous handicraft from the La Guajira region which are available in shopping malls and markets around Santa Marta. Chinchorros are another popular souvenir, which are Wayuu hand-woven hammocks. Gold replicas of the legendary El Dorado raft on display at the Bogota Gold Museum are a uniquely Colombian memento.

Bogota city has lots of souvenir shops and art galleries, particularly along Carrera 7, which is also the location for the Sunday Mercado de San Alejo flea market. The Hacienda Santa Barbara at Usaquen is a good place for gifts, as is the outdoor craft market held on Sundays a block away. Typical items include art, baskets, musical instruments, and tablecloths. While cheap, it is best to avoid pirated CDs and DVDs as they may be confiscated at customs.

Another craft market across from the Gold Museum, in a small shopping center, has affordable Indian pottery and gold to kitsch Colombian multicolored chivas - painted rural buses - or statues of donkeys bearing coffee. Coffee is one of Colombia’s main exports and is of exceptionally high quality that can be purchased from almost any farmers’ market.

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