08 February 2013 by Denise Slabbert

Best places to buy souvenirs…

So, you want to buy some souvenirs and curios for friends and family back home, but you want something super-cool, original and authentic (or just downright daft). Here’s where to do your shopping and some handy tips for fun South African gifts.

The Art Africa shops in Parkview and Knysna offer a great selection of items from the continent

Here's a quick guide on where to shop for souvenirs and crafts when visiting South Africa:

Street sellers: On many a corner you'll find street sellers selling a variety of wares, including grassware, basketry, beaded objects, wood sculptures and items made out of garbage (old tin cans, polish lids, plastic bags, etc). You'll be amazed at how unique these items are and we bet nobody back home has anything like them. Generally, you can bargain with these streetwise entrepreneurs ...

Street seller in Melville Street seller in Melville

Markets: South Africa has many outdoor craft markets where you can buy great souvenirs.

Art galleries and studios: For authentic artwork there are numerous art galleries where you can buy art off the walls. Some art galleries will also ship your artworks back home for a fee – making your purchase hassle-free.

You’ll be amazed at how unique these items are and we bet nobody back home has anything like them.

Commemorative coins: If you're after a Mandela commemorative coin or a Krugerrand (a bit more upmarket a souvenir), then try the South African Gold Coin Exchange for your purchase.

Wine: Taking a delicious bottle of South African wine home for friends or family is a good idea. If you're in the Western Cape, buy straight from the wine estates and have it sent back home. Even if you're not in the Western Cape, in the major cities you'll find choice outlets to buy decent wine.

Cultural villages: You'll find a variety of items on offer at the various cultural villages, depicting various traditions and cultures. While not every cultural village will have a commercial 'shop', there are bound to be places in the vicinity where you can buy traditional items.

Zebra made out of wire, sold on the side of the streets in Johannesburg Zebra made out of wire, sold on the side of the streets in Johannesburg

Community projects: There are numerous community projects based on arts and crafts, and you can buy wonderfully creative items at various community outreach centres and projects around the country. For inspiration, take a look at the Monkeybiz Bead Project website.

Commercial shops: Shops like Big Blue (there are branches nationwide) offer a range of fun memorabilia items to take back home, including T-shirts that depict a modern take on life in South Africa. Art Africa is another shop where you can find authentic African goods with a flair for the creative. Mr Price Home stores (located in most shopping malls) have fun decor items with a definite South African touch.

Airport shops:  Also an option, and you will find good quality merchandise at these shops. The problem is that prices are high and generally the items are largely commercial.

List of souvenirs worth considering:

  • A makarapa hat (hand-cut and -painted hard hat. Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates will do)
  • A Springbok jersey
  • A bottle of the Cape's fine wine
  • Mandela anything - tea coasters, wall hangings, T-shirts
  • A vuvuzela (plastic horn synonymous with South African sports fans)
  • A Carrol Boyes item (her silverware is sought after the world over)
  • Toys made out of garbage
  • A wire radio, trumpet or zebra
  • South African flag
  • Gold jewellery (if not on a budget)
  • At least one bad-taste animal sculpture!

Happy shopping...

Creative crocodile. Images by Darling Lama Productions Creative crocodile. Images by Darling Lama Productions

Category: Attractions

comments powered by Disqus