Gambia Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Gambia

Hunt down souvenirs and local handicrafts in the various bengdulas (craft markets), dotted around Banjul and the resort areas. Banjul's Albert Market and the sprawling commercial heart of the busy town of Serrekunda are particularly colourful places to browse. Popular purchases include colourful batik wall hangings, handmade clothing, woodcarvings, bead jewellery and traditional djembé drums. Beaded belts and ladies' handbags are also popular, as are books and albums made from recycled paper and West African handicrafts using straw, beads, leather, cloth or metal. Fajara, Kololi, Serrekunda and Brikama have a few shops and market stalls which supply African tribal curios such as masks and textiles.

Shopping hours

Mon-Thurs 0900-1200 and 1430-1800, Fri-Sat 0900-1200. Some shops may stay open until 2200.

Note

Haggling is part and parcel of shopping in the markets in The Gambia. Be prepared to barter for the best price. If you don’t want to pay the asking price simply walk away. However, if you agree a price, it is very bad manners to change your mind.

Nightlife in Gambia

Gambian nightlife is fairly subdued, and is concentrated in the coastal resorts and in Serrekunda, the largest city. The resort hotels put on regular performances of Gambian drumming, dancing and fire-eating for their guests; the best of these are highly energetic, and audience participation is encouraged. Hotels and restaurants also organise more tranquil musical evenings featuring traditional music played on the kora, a type of 21-stringed West African lute, and the balafon, a xylophone-style instrument.

Most of the country's nightclubs and bars are found in the tourist hubs of Bakau and the Senegambia area of Kololi, with a few close to the Kotu and Cape Point hotels. Many feature live or recorded Mbalax music, the region’s contribution to world music. Jokor, Serrekunda's long-running garden club, and Wow Night Club in Kololi, both draw large crowds of locals and tourists, and are good places to catch West African bands and DJs. Major concerts featuring rap, reggae and African music stars from Senegal and beyond are held at Dream Park in Kololi, and the Independence Stadium in Bakau. Further inland, the small town of Brikama has a low-key but significant music scene.

Edited by Jane Duru
Newsletter