If it's shopping in Bali you're after, the scene in South Bali is the busiest there is on the island - no surprise, as Kuta, Legian, and Nusa Dua have Bali's most developed tourist infrastructure, centered around the excellent surfing beaches in these parts.
It stands to reason that the area's shopping areas aren't far from the beach, sometimes right up on the sand itself: you can go straight from swimming in the surf to a shopping spree at the air-conditioned Discovery Shopping Mall in Tuban, or to the new Beachwalk Mall along Jalan Pantai Kuta.
What you can get depends entirely on your budget. You can score some shirts, sarongs, and cheap masks from the Kuta Art Market or Denpasar's Kumbasari Market. If you have money to burn, then visit Matahari Department Store at Kuta Square, or visit one of South Bali's upscale malls to get items of real quality (no cheap knockoffs) - fashionable jewelry, colorful batiks, and conversation-piece home accessories.
Or if you have plenty of time to kill, just wander around Jalan Legian and explore its mix of upscale boutiques and inexpensive outlets.
Shopping in Kuta
The shopping scene in Kuta is wonderfully eclectic. The area's backpacker heritage is still apparent in the street shopping along Jalan Legian and in areas like Kuta Square and the Kuta Art Market, but as tourists have increased in affluence, so has the merchandise, and the shops that sell them (see Jalan Legian's brigade of boutiques and surf shops, or the many air-conditioned shopping malls in South Bali that have become just as much a part of the landscape as the candi bentar, or split gate).
Kuta Square. This shopping district is located at a major throughway for tourists commuting between Kuta and Legian, and has become a crowded meeting place for Bali shoppers and fixed-price boutiques and shops.
Most of Kuta Square's shops are along a 200-yard long lane stretching from south to north.
Beginning at Kuta Art Market at the southern end, proceed north while you check out the area's fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, surf shops, and jewelers. At Kuta Square's northern end, you'll find the Hard Rock Hotel (compare rates) sitting across the road.
Matahari Department Store's four-storey building dwarfs everything else on Kuta Square, and hawks a wide range of high-quality, Indonesian-made merchandise, from snacks to houseware to clothing. The fourth floor has a foodcourt where you can have a break above it all.
- Location of Kuta Square: 8° 45'37.51" S, 115° 10' 9.28" E (Google Maps)
Kuta Art Market on Kuta Square's southern entryway hawks plenty of cheap but artsy Balinese souvenirs - masks, shirts, shells, sarongs, and assorted carved creatures. Unlike the rest of Kuta Square, the shops in the Kuta Art Market encourage you to bargain hard for the goods. For tips on getting the best price in Kuta Art Market (and anywhere bargaining is allowed), read: How to Haggle in Southeast Asia.
- Location of Kuta Art Market: 8°43'28.9769''S, 115°10'15.996''E (Google Maps)
Shopping malls. The mallification of the world continues even in tropical Bali, and Kuta boasts its fair share of air-conditioned shopping centers filled with Western brands.
Balinese high-quality fashion brands also hold their own quite well in Kuta's malls, too, so don't count the malls out. It goes without saying - the shops in these malls are strictly fixed-price.
Some of Kuta's most popular shopping malls include Discovery Shopping Mall, Mal Bali Galeria, and Beachwalk Mall.
- Read our list of shopping malls in Bali.
Specialty stores & warehouse outlets. Bali possesses a flourishing export industry for houseware, handicrafts, and assorted luxury items – and tourists can sample the island’s prodigious output through a network of specialty shops and warehouse outlets.
Five-star designer pottery? Bali-themed T-shirts in bulk? Bundles of batiks? Topeng masks? Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find it quite close by to your hotel – the most popular stores are located in Kuta or no more than 30 minutes’ drive away from it.
- Check out our rundown of Bali’s most popular shopping outlets.
Shopping along Jalan Legian
The road known as Jalan Legian crosses over between Kuta and Legian. Along this two-lane avenue and beyond, into feeder streets like Jalan Sahadewa (Garlic Lane), Jalan Melasti and Jalan Padma and narrow gang (alleys) in between, visitors will find plenty of stand-alone shops, markets, and stalls, alongside transportation services, restaurants and budget hotels.
Some of the stores permit bargaining; many others are strictly fixed-price, and no bargaining allowed.
Start your Legian shopping spree at the corner of Jalan Legian and Jalan Melasti, and explore the area on foot. Jalan Legian itself contains plenty of high-end stores catering to affluent active types: surf shops and sportswear stores seem to predominate, although there are a fair number of jewelry and houseware stores along the stretch.
Cheaper souvenir stalls and knick-knack counters are located mainly in the side streets running perpendicular from Jalan Legian to Legian Beach to the west. Down Jalan Melasti east of Jalan Legian, you'll find an art market near the beach selling inexpensive artsy tchotchkes. North of Jalan Melasti, you'll find Jalan Padma - its stores sell a good number of cheap bangles, trinkets, and shell products.
Running parallel to Jalan Legian, between Jalan Melasti and Jalan Padma, you'll find Jalan Sahadewa (Garlic Lane), another hotspot for bargain hunters. The side streets full of shops stretch north through Jalan Padma Utara, Jalan Werkudara to Jalan Arjuna (commonly known as Jalan Double Six). The latter two lanes are particularly well-known for their fabrics and clothes stores, where you can sample local batiks and other textiles.
If stamina isn't your strong suit, you can limit your shopping to the small rectangle between Jalan Legian, Jalan Padma, Jalan Melasti, and Jalan Sahadewa.
- Location of Jalan Melasti corner Jalan Legian: 8°43'28.9769''S, 115°10'15.996''E (Google Maps)
Proceed to the next page for an overview of the shopping around Denpasar, Nusa Dua, Jalan Bypass (Ngurah Rai), and elsewhere in South Bali.
In the previous page, we covered shopping in South Bali's most well-worn retail trails: Kuta Square and Jalan Legian. In the next few chapters, we'll cover the Bali shopping scene out in Denpasar, Nusa Dua and elsewhere.
Shopping in Denpasar
The capital of Bali doesn’t get as much tourist traffic as Kuta and Legian – after all, this is where the ordinary Balinese live, as opposed to the tourist districts of Legian, Kuta and Seminyak.
But that’s no reason to cross Denpasar off your shopping list: its two traditional markets, Pasar Kumbasari and Pasar Badung, are located right next to each other, separated only by the Badung River.
Pasar Kumbasari is a sprawling traditional market stacked three floors up. If you’re in the market for cheap arts and crafts, go up to the third floor of the market and get your bargaining game on. There’s even a shop that sells costumes for traditional Balinese dances. (Source)
Across the river, Pasar Badung offers more bargains for the tourists who like to go local. On its eastern flank you’ll find Jalan Sulawesi, a famous fabrics depot lined with shops selling batik, songket, and a variety of fabrics, traditional and modern alike.
Jalan Gajah Mada intersects with Jalan Sulawesi a little to the north – the shops on this street sell handicrafts and shoes. Go south to Jalan Hasanuddin to encounter Denpasar’s famous gold trade – the gold craftsmen along this street cater mainly to locals, but you’re free to try your luck.
- Location of Kumbasari Market: 8°39'22.4363"S, 115°12'42.583"E (Google Maps)
Other Shopping Areas in South Bali
In Sanur, visit Jalan Danau Tamblingan, the district’s main road, where you can buy the same stuff available in Kuta, without swimming in Kuta-size crowds. A number of cafes and restaurants are interspersed amidst the shops on the avenue, so you can take an occasional break between purchases.
In Seminyak, the shops along Jalan Raya Kerobokan cater to kids, with shop windows bursting with dollhouses, kids’ books, and juvenile fashions.
- Read Samantha Brown’s rundown of kids’ shops on Jalan Raya Kerobokan at Travelfish.org (offsite)
The broad highway between Sanur and Nusa Dua is known as the “Bypass”, and is lined with stores selling pottery, stoneware, furniture, and assorted antiques. Drive by in your hired car, stop at any stores that interest you and bargain away.
Two high-end malls also stand along the Bypass – DFS Galleria Bali (dfsgalleria.com) and Bali Mal Galeria.
In Nusa Dua, the retail scene is dominated by the Bali Collection shopping center, an open mall with a number of upmarket international labels and a Japanese department store. Behind the mall, a number of restaurants and bars serve patrons in an al fresco setting. A free shuttle bus commutes between the Bali Collection shopping center and about 20 nearby resorts. Bali Collection, Komplek BTDC Nusa Dua, Bali; tel: +62 361 771662; bali-collection.com
- Location of Bali Collection: 8°48'4.0126''S, 115°13'56.0262''E (Google Maps)