Within the vicinity of most of the major tourist hotels you will find small craft markets called bengdulas made up of a number of stalls offering a selection of items such as tribal masks, wooden carvings, batiks, tie dye fabric prints, beads, gold and silver jewellery and locally made hand woven baskets. There are larger markets at Serrekunda, Bakau and, the most famous of all, Banjul’s Albert Market.
Despite the influence of tourism in creating mass production of such art, there are some really beautiful original good quality handmade items, such as leather hand bags and shoes, hand woven cloths or solid silver jewellery but you will have to search for them. Special items will be made to order for you in two or three days but they are worth the wait. Watch out for dipped silver bangles! Mostly these can be found being peddled on the beach or by street vendors. You have to be prepared for the hassle in the markets and also be prepared to do a lot of hard bargaining, the price is always negotiable! So it depend on “your luck” as to the price you pay for any item … Our advice is to start with about 1/3 of the asking price then, depend-ing on your bargaining skills and your common sense, it is up to you how much you pay!
DON‘T TAKE OFFENCE AT AN EXTORTIONATE PRICE the starting price is not meant to offend or to “rip you off”! Bargaining is part of the way of life, and is meant to be part of the fun! It‘s part of the culture and should be treated light-heartedly. In the same vein the Vendor will not really take offence at your low offer even if he/she make out they are, if you cannot agree and you walk away “9 times out of 10” they will call you back … if they are not interested in your offer … then your offer was TOO LOW! If you can‘t cope with the bargaining most hotels and gift shops will have fixed price items for sale. You will expect to pay a little more for the convenience but sometimes you may find a better selection and quality items than the local market.