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Shopping in Guatemala

The vivid colours and unusual textures of Guatemalan arts, crafts and fabrics have made shopping a major activity for visitors. Guatemala presents a mind-boggling selection of traditional handicrafts at remarkably low prices. The country's craftspeople spread out their wares on blankets and over kiosks along many roads and at most intersections.

Guatemala's public markets are a wonderful way to witness the everyday lives of the population. The two largest markets are the daily Central Market in Guatemala City and the Sunday and Thursday market in Chichicastenango. Vendors line a jumble of narrow, warrenlike passages and hawk fruits and vegetables, flowers, meat, nuts, candles, incense, toiletries, and gaudy, US-made T-shirts.

The work of local artisans and weavers is usually called típica, roughly translated as "typical goods." Compared to those in smaller towns, the típica shops in Guatemala City tend to have finer quality, more expensive wares, often refashioned for contemporary tastes and uses.

If you're looking for a good deal, stick to the street. Bargaining is the modus operandi of street vendors and is also common in the markets and shops; asking prices are sometimes rather high, so be patient.

If you missed something in the highlands, don't worry; the market in Guatemala City's Zona 1 has a little bit of everything, at prices as low as you'll find anywhere else.

With the exception of the big market downtown, in the Old City, shop hours are weekdays 10am-1pm and 3pm-7pm, Saturday 10am-1pm.

In Antigua, you'll find beautiful and unusual jewellery in the Jades factory. You can also shop for paintings that depict the traditions, customs, daily life and scenery of small communities in which the artists live.

It's illegal to take pre-Columbian and colonial artifacts or antiques out of Guatemala. Only postcolonial works – anything made after 1820 – can be exported.





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