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Shopping in Venezuela
 
 
 

Caracas

There are many handicrafts unique to Venezuela that are made by local Indian tribes. Good purchases are gems and jewellery, cacique coins, gold, pearls, pompom slippers, seed necklaces, shoes and handbags, Indian bows, arrows, mats, pipes and baskets, alpargatas (traditional local footwear of the Campesinos), chinchorros (local hammocks) and many other Indian goods.

Caraqueños are style-conscious, which accounts for the city's numerous modern shopping centres. Jewellery (especially gold) and leather goods (including shoes, handbags, and luggage) are some of the best bargains in Caracas, but don't expect a steal. Prices are often high in the wake of sobering inflation.

Venezuelans and most visitors tend to shop at one of the many modern malls that have been built around Caracas over the past 20 years. Of these, the Centro Comercial Sambil , Avenida Libertador (Metro: Chacao), is perhaps the most popular. Reputed to be the largest mall in South America, it features everything from a multiplex cinema to gourmet restaurants to a performing arts space to a mini-amusement park. Other prominent malls include the Centro Comercial Ciudad Tamanaco (CCCT), Autopista Francisco Fajardo and Calle La Estancia (no metro); and the Centro Lido, Avenida Francisco de Miranda, El Rosal (Metro: Chacaito).

Las Mercedes is an upscale district of restaurants, shops, nightclubs and art galleries, which makes it the choice spot for a leisurely afternoon of browsing and buying.

If you're looking for arts and crafts, you can head to the Mercado Guajiro, Paseo Las Flores near the western end of Plaza Chacaito, a collection of 30 shops featuring indigenous and other arts and crafts. However, perhaps the best shopping for Venezuelan arts and crafts is to be found in El Hatillo at the Hannsi Centro Artesanal, Calle Bolívar 12 (tel. 0212/963-7184; www.hannsi.com.ve). This huge indoor bazaar has everything from indigenous masks to ceramic wares to woven baskets. The selection is broad and covers everything from trinkets to major pieces of fine craftsmanship. Masks are particularly attractive and varied. Keep an eye out for the local hammocks, called chinchorros, which are an intricate weave of thin strands of rough natural fibers.


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