Marketplaces and roadside curios are the most common shopping experiences in Senegal. There are various types of markets some selling fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh fish, and others selling everything from the latest electrical equipment to traditional wood carvings. As bargaining is a way of life in Senegal you can put your skills to the test to negotiate the best possible price.
This Senegal Shopping Guide lists a number of items that you may wish to purchase on a trip to Senegal, mostly these will be handmade items sold at various stalls, stands and street peddlers. More detailed information about shopping in Dakar & Saint Louis and Petite Cote & Saly, including shops or markets that we recommend as interesting places to browse, can be found in our Dakar & Saint Louis Shopping Guide and Petite Cote & Saly Shopping Guide.
Music is an integral part of life in Senegal and most of Africa, and as such they like to share this joy of music with the masses. Each tribe has their own style of instruments. The most popular instrument amongst tourists is the djembé, a traditional drum hollowed out of a single piece of wood, covered with stretched goatskin and braided cord. Other traditional instruments for sale include the Kora, Dioundioug and Balafon.
Colourful paintings and beautiful artwork are available all over Senegal. Other popular items include the wooden ritual masks, woodcarvings, weaved baskets, leather goods, clay pottery, handmade local clothing and fabric, beautiful batiks and jewellery.
Bargaining for your goods is an essential part of purchasing in Senegal, and you quickly learn it is an art form. The trick to good bargaining is not to go straight into negotiating the price, but to take an interest in your vendor. Bargaining is a like an intimate dance, a friendly banter back and forth. The initial price offered up is often laughable, and deemed the most that you, the buyer, will spend, you will respond with an equally laughable low price, and so the dance begins, offers and counter offers flit back and forth, until an acceptable price is reached between the two parties. Though this can be quite time consuming, with the right attitude, you will have a wonderful time and grab some bargains along the way.
Without a doubt the best way to get to know a city and its people is to head out to the local marketplace. Lose yourself in the narrow passage ways and back alleys of Senegals markets, immersing your self in the cities ambiance. An unfortunate downside to the local marketplaces is the large number of pickpockets operating; keep this in mind when venturing out and protect yourself as best you can.