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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Senegal

Senegal Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Senegal

Most shopping in Senegal takes place on the street and in colourful markets. Most markets sell a wide range of items – food, musical instruments, traditional fabrics, electronics, as well as fresh produce.

In Dakar, Marché HLM is the place to buy fabric and made-to-measure clothes. This market sells some of the most colourful and exquisite West African style fabrics you could hope for. Just pick a fabric that you like, bargain the price down to what you can afford, and then take it a local tailor who can make the shirt or dress for you on demand. There are also a few places here where you can sit down and drinkataya, the local mint tea, and watch the world go by.

Marché Kermel is frequented by expats and tourists. The products here tend to be of higher quality and more expensive. Located behind Avenue Albert Sarraut, this kiln-shaped hall, originally built in 1860, sells a mix of foodstuffs as well as masks and baskets.

In Soumbédioune (a fishing village within Dakar), you will find a lively fish market as well as a craft market selling everything from small woven baskets to cheap souvenirs.

Music is big in Senegal. If you're interested in local recordings, head to Boulevard de la Libération.

Shopping Note

Like anywhere in the world, it is advisable to be streetwise when walking through the markets of Dakar. Pay careful attention to your money to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

In Senegal, bargaining is part and parcel of the culture. It is a fun way to interact with the traders and can get you a good deal if you are patient and insistent enough. The general rule for bargaining is to wait until the trader suggests a price, halve it and suggest that price, and then gradually increase the price, back and forth with the vendor until you reach a price that is agreeable for both parties.

Shopping hours

Generally, Mon-Thu 0900-1800 and Sat 0900-1300. Most shops are closed on Sunday.

Nightlife in Senegal

Dakar is one of the best cities to witness the most colourful and energetic live music available in the region. There are several nightclubs and music venues playing mbalax (the local modern music). Youssou N’dour, the world-renowned king of mbalax and international celebrity, even has a nightclub in Dakar called Le Thiossane known for having the most packed dancefloor in town.

But Dakar is not the only place where you can find good music. The Senegalese have music in their blood, and wherever and whenever you will find music, dance, laughter and good times.

Along the beaches on most Saturdays, groups of youngsters carry their sound systems and play a selection of the best mbalax and reggae sounds, which you can enjoy with a glass of rum, under the stars, with the sound of waves and African beats in the background.

In most villages around the country, at least one person has a djembe, a traditional drum, or a balafon, a bit like a wooden xylophone, to jam with. With a bit of encouragement, a party will be started in no time. The Senegalese do not need any excuses to let loose and enjoy the best life has to offer.

There are many cinemas showing the latest French films. In Dakar, the Daniel Sorano National Theatre in the Boulevard de la Republique is a popular venue for theatre, concerts and other cultural performances. The Institut Français (tel: +221 33 8230 320;www.institutfrancais-senegal.com) is another hotspot for events, films, art displays and theatre productions. Although it's a little bit on the expat side of the fence, it is still a place that should be visited if you are into modern art and independent films.