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Shopping in Dar es Salaam

With the modernisation of the city, the first air-conditioned shopping centres started to appear in Dar es Salaam from 2006. However, it is best to look beyond the regular shops here and dig out bargains in the city’s local markets instead.

Key areas

The local artists' cooperative Nyumba ya Sanaa (Nyerere Cultural Centre) on Ohio Street sells good-quality textiles and regional crafts. It also gives visitors the chance to watch the artisans at work. Wood-carvings and paintings can also be bought from the Mawazo Art Gallery in the YMCA grounds on Upanga Road.

Vibrantly colourful Tingatinga paintings, as first marketed by Edward Said Tingatinga, can be bought from the Tingatinga Centre on Haile Selassie Road. Artists can be seen working on projects here too.


The Kariakoo market district is arguably the real heart of Dar es Salaam. A sprawling collection of stalls and shops west of the city centre, it sells everything from fruit and spices to widescreen televisions. It’s invariably crowded, and visits here can be overwhelming, so ideally leave your valuables at home and come with a local or a guide.

The more intrigued traveller might also try visiting the Kivukoni fish market, located on the quayside in central Dar. The smell is intense, but the sheer volume and variety of fish and seafood is a sight in its own right.

For something calm and tourist-friendly, try the Weekend Craft Market at Slipway on the Msasani Peninsula, where the quality of goods is generally high. If you want to see crafts actually being made, ebony carvers still chisel in person at the Mwenge Craft Market, opposite the Village Museum on the Bagamoyo Road.

Shopping centres

Mlimani Shopping Centre (University of Dar es Salaam, Mwalimu Nyerere Campus) is Tanzania’s largest shopping centre and is located in northwest Dar es Salaam. It mainly contains outlets for South African brands. While there isn’t enough here to make the trip worthwhile on its own, as a hassle-free place to shop for clothes or swimwear, it’s worth considering.

Opening hours

Dar es Salaam opening hours are typically 0900 to 1730, though some shops stay open until 1800.


Traditional carving and handicrafts are perhaps the best gifts to bring back from Dar. The city has become one of the best places in Tanzania to find wooden masks and statues, with places like the Mwenge Craft Market allowing visitors to watch actual artists at work. The Dar region’s long history as a spice producer also makes the likes of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper good buys. For the best flavours, avoid ground spices in favour of whole ones, which keep their flavour longer.

Tax information

VAT in Tanzania is 18%. Duty free shopping is available at the airport.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Nikko Tower

Just a short walk to the ferry terminal, Hotel Nikko Tower is great for either a swift stay before heading to Zanzibar or for a longer budget break in Dar. Clean and colourful rooms have large TVs, free Wi-Fi and decent double beds and there is a simple fitness centre on the top floor. The on-site sports bar has a decent happy hour and shows live games on a large screen.

Hotel Sapphire

Centrally located, the Hotel Sapphire is a clean and pleasant budget option with 63 rooms to choose from. All come with either queen-size or twin beds as well as cable TV as standard. Marble floors help cool the sleeping quarters, while large bathrooms, Wi-Fi and coffee and tea making facilities ensure guests have everything they need. Best of all though are the extremely helpful staff and the rooftop bar, which gives great views across the city.

Tiffany Diamond Hotel & Spa

This clean and airy hotel in the centre of the city has much going for it. Spacious air-conditioned rooms come with complementary Wi-Fi satellite TV and great showers while suites have more room and large Jacuzzi baths. The Shaba Lounge on the 10th floor has views of the harbour and a small but fully-equipped gym sauna and spa are good for unwinding.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam, The Kilimanjaro

Providing a slice of serenity in this busy and bustling city, the 5-star oasis of The Kilimanjaro offer views over the open Indian Ocean as well as an affable, rooftop infinity pool if the beach seems a little too far away. The 180 large rooms mix African and European features and come with refreshing rain showers, king-size beds, satellite TVs and high speed internet. There are also two excellent restaurants on-site that dish up international fare and local specialties, as well as a lively lounge with an outdoor terrace. Its luxury wellness centre offers spa treatments, saunas, steam rooms and a gym.

DoubleTree by Hilton

In the chic Slipway section of the city, the DoubleTree by Hilton is a wonderful waterfront stay that overlooks Oyster Bay. Its spacious, regal-looking rooms are styled with African art and aristocratic furnishings, and all come with complementary internet, LCD TVs, refined bathrooms and the finest Egyptian cotton sheets. With a swimming pool and three restaurants on-site, the whim of every guest should be catered for.

Dar Es Salaam Serena Hotel

The Arabic touches and European elegance of this 5-star palace are just a few meandering minutes from the city centre. Its 230 rooms offer luxury in abundance with king-size beds, much needed air-conditioning, cable TV and separate sitting areas. The hotel also has enough bars, lounges and restaurants to form a break away village, but visitors are usually too busy relaxing in the swimming pool and wellness centre to worry about such fantasies.