Tanzania Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Tanzania

Pick up African crafts and curios at most popular tourist centres. Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Stone Town on Zanzibar are dotted with curio shops, markets and bazaars, and main roads near parks and reserves, and the coast roads behind beach resorts, all have plenty of roadside stalls. Items to buy include African drums, batiks, basket-ware, soapstone knick-knacks, handmade chess sets, paintings of Masai tribes and Serengeti landscapes in the popular Tingatinga style, and large wooden carvings of animals or salad bowls fashioned from a single piece of teak, mninga or ebony.

Masai items such as beaded jewellery, decorated gourds and the distinctive red-checked blankets worn by all Masai men make good souvenirs. Kangas and kikois are sarongs worn by women and men respectively and are often in bright colours and patterns. These are made into other items including clothes, cushion covers and bags. In Zanzibar, find old tiles, antique bowls and the famous carved wooden Zanzibar chests (once used by the Sultans to store their possessions, but today ornate replicas), and pick up packets of Zanzibar's famous spices in Stone Town, as well as on a spice tour.

A Tanzanian speciality is the semi-precious stone called tanzanite, which ranges from deep blue to light purple and is only found around Arusha. Tanzanite jewellery can be seen in upmarket curio and jewellers shops in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar's Stone Town.

Whilst most prices in shops are set, the exception are curio shops where a little good-natured bargaining is possible, especially if it’s quiet or you are buying a number of things. Bargaining is very much expected in the street markets.

Shopping hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1730; Sat 0830-1230. Some tourist shops open on Sunday, while some Muslim-owned supermarkets and other businesses close on Friday afternoons but may also be open on Sunday. On Zanzibar, some shops close for a siesta from around 1200-1500 but stay open later until around 1900. In the larger cities markets are open daily 0800-1800.

Note

CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) was established to prevent trade in endangered species. Attempts to smuggle controlled products can result in confiscation, fines and even imprisonment. International trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn, sea turtle products and the skins of wild cats, such as leopard, is illegal.

Nightlife in Tanzania

Nightlife is limited in Tanzania, but Dar es Salaam does have several nightclubs, cabaret venues and cinemas. Generally, nightlife is centred on the top tourist hotels and restaurants. All along the coast, and particularly on Zanzibar, hotels and beach bars often feature bands at the weekends and dance floors right on the beach. Quite often, traditional tribal dancing and drumming is performed in the safari lodges and beach resorts. Rowdy full moon parties have become popular on Zanzibar's backpacker-focused northern beaches.

Edited by Jane Duru
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