Shopping in Nairobi
Shopping in Nairobi is an art form. Supermarkets and upmarket mall stores charge fixed prices but you'll have to haggle everywhere else. As the world over, sellers start high and buyers low, but with a bit of give and take you'll eventually reach a price that both sides find acceptable. The upper end of Moi Avenue is Nairobi's prime shopping strip, with plenty of mainstream stores, but handicrafts are better purchased in the city's bustling markets.
Markets and street vendors are found all over Nairobi, but more upmarket shopping opportunities are clustered around Moi and Koinange Avenues in the centre. The big city malls are also worth a visit, although don't expect too much from the fashion boutiques – some are great, others sell cheap knock-off versions of Western high street brands.
Gallery Watatu on Standard Street sells artworks by big African names, and the local clothiers that offer bespoke tailoring are often reliable, cheap and able to complete a safari suit commission in 24 hours.
If you're looking for a more serene shopping experience then The Hub Karen is a way out from central Nairobi, providing what you need without the bustle.
The City Market on Muindi Mbingu Road is jam-packed with vegetable stalls and souvenir vendors, but you'll find a more exciting selection of items on sale at the Westland Curio Market on Parkland Road or the roaming Masai Market. Good-value crafts can also be located at Embakasi Village Crafts Market, on the Mombasa Road.
The best shopping centres are out in the suburbs, catering to wealthy locals and expats. All have cafés, restaurants and upscale stores selling African and imported goods. Westlands has the posh Sarit Centre on Parklands Road and the Mall Shopping Centre on Waiyaki Way, while Karen Shopping Centre on Ngong Road is also worth a visit.
Opening hours are from 0800 to 1700 / 1800.
Elaborate beaded jewellery, paintings and hand-carved wooden crafts are all worth taking home and can be picked up for next to nothing in street markets. Gorgeous handmade leather sandals are also worth buying, although quality varies from place to place. Other highlights include colourful woven baskets, Masai beads and soapstone bowls and pots.
Goods bought outside of markets are subject to a 16 percent VAT.
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