23 September 2016

A Guide to Shopping in Bogotá, Colombia

Posted in Blog

You might consider yourself to be a shopping expert in your home country – your lightning-fast hands whipping out that debit card from your pocket like a sheriff whipping out his gun from the holster during an old Western movie. But as a tourist in Colombia, you’re probably out of your element.

Shopping in Colombia

The following tips will help you find that perfect souvenir or trinket while shopping in Bogotá, Colombia.

Where to Go

Modern and traditional shopping destinations sometimes sit side-by-side in Bogotá. For people who want to forgo the massive malls for something a little more unique, various flea markets are located around this capital city. Get lost in the maze of produce stalls and take in the delicious smells and sounds wafting through these traditional markets.

Usaquen Street Market is a popular flea market located in the northern part of the city. Plan to spend some time poking around outside the market as well, since the Usaquen area itself is charming.

Paloquemao Market is also a great option for anyone looking to sink their teeth into one of Colombia’s many exotic fruits. Fresh produce and flowers are sold here, as well as traditional Colombian food like arepas and empanadas.
Sunday is the best day to visit one of these markets. Just make sure you arrive on an empty stomach because you’ll surely want to taste all the food for sale.

Read more about flea markets in Bogotá here.

What to Buy

Woven Satchel Bags – These colorful bags can be found in many parts of Bogotá. You will be able to actually use it during the rest of your trip in Colombia and when you return home. Plus, you can use it as a carry-on during your return flight.

Fruits – Colombia is the perfect country to stock up on exotic fruits you may not have even known existed. Take your time at produce stands and taste all the delicious varieties. You might not be able to take these fruits back home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them while staying in Bogotá.

Coffee – Yes, you probably have coffee at home, but nothing makes for a better souvenir than a bag of Colombian coffee. The country is known for producing some of the finest coffee in the world.

How to Pay

It’s important to carry cash while shopping in Colombia, as not all vendors accept plastic. ATMs can be found in many stores and gas stations around Bogotá, but make sure you alert your bank that you will be using your credit or debit card abroad.

Figuring out prices can seem a little complicated because even a cheap item can cost thousands of Colombian Pesos, but it doesn’t mean the item is expensive.

For example, say it costs 3,000 pesos for an empanada and a cup of fruit on the street. When trying to convert COP to USD in your head, forget about the last three zeros in the price and divide the remaining number by three. So you will pay about a dollar for the fruit and empanada because 3 divided by 3 equals 1. This system won’t give you an exact conversion price, but it’s pretty close and dividing by three is a whole lot better than fumbling with your phone’s calculator in a busy flea market.

Do you have any more questions about shopping in Colombia? Ask us in the comment section below.

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shopping colombia

The Uncover Colombia Team