Shopping in Ghana is a unique experience, whether you are in a village or an urban market. The choices are unlimited, often leaving shoppers in a pleasant fix. Ghana is a beautiful country with numerous sightseeing options. It is a shoppers' paradise as well. As such, it is a good idea to combine shopping and a Ghana tour.
Visit the famous Makola Market to see what life in Ghana is all about!
Shopping in Ghana is a fun and exciting way to meet the locals while picking up the perfect sourvenir of your Ghana vacation. Our Ghana Shopping Guide introduces you to the wide range of available shopping opportunities and the great Ghana souvenirs that can be purchased, along with bargaining tips for how to get the best price possible! Take a bite to eat in a Ghana restaraunt to ease your weary feet after pounding the shopping pavement!
Treasures such as animal art, batiks, jewels, local cloths, masks, wooden statues, and various other items can be found in abundance all over Ghana. Local artists and art shops in Ghana can be found near the major Ghana attractions, on the coastline, in the national parks, and in the big cities like Accra as well.
Ghana's local fashion is well known all over the world, and Ghana's popular Kente cloth is a well-known fabric. There are a variety of shops in the main towns of Ghana. They sell articles such as basket ware, leather goods, and jewellery as well. Beautifully crafted local handicrafts are available in the Ghana markets. Ashanti stools, traditional masks, drums, and many other items make for wonderful souvenirs. Ghana's gold articles are very popular too.
Ghana shops and markets sell all kinds of things, including luxury items. Stunning pieces of handmade gold and silver jewellery can be bought alongside artefacts from northern Ghana and the Ashanti region. Highly priced old and modern African art pieces are available too. Ashanti stools and brass weights that were used to measure gold in earlier times are worth a special mention. The northern markets are filled with treasures such as Bolgatanga baskets woven out of multi-hued raffia, earthenware pots, leather articles, and shirts that have been woven locally. For more thorough introductions to the culture that surrounds these products, check out a local Ghana tour.
Both the big and small markets in the big cities such as Accra are usually open every day. However, for an experience that is truly Ghanaian, the best markets to go to are the village markets. They are also open every day. Although most of the items sold here are raw, they do sell articles such as CDs, brightly coloured beads, cloth, musical instruments, and many kinds of bags. Ghana's markets can satisfy every kind of shopper. Almost everyone is sure to find a few items to his or her taste. Another very enjoyable aspect of shopping in Ghana is the opportunity to test and hone your bargaining skills.
Cedi is the currency of Ghana. It is best to carry cash with you while shopping in Ghana as very few shops accept credit cards. British pounds, Euros, and US dollars are the best currencies to exchange here. They get you the best rates at the foreign exchange bureaus and banks. ATM machines can be found in all the major cities but they do not always function. Traveller's cheques are sometimes not exchanged in the small towns so it is best to exchange them in the main cities. It is wise not to exchange large amounts of money at one time so as to avoid having to carry around large bundles of cash. In recent times, large cedi notes have been brought into circulation but even too many of them are difficult to fit into a wallet or money belt.
Travellers from western countries often find the Ghanaian methods of doing business rather unusual. The most bewildering aspect is probably that most items being sold in the markets have no fixed or marked price.
What then is the best way to go about negotiating the best deal? The range of merchandise being sold is very wide and the personalities selling the wares even wider, so it is impossible to settle upon a few universal guidelines. However, here are a few pointers.
The first thing that a Ghanaian merchant will usually do is ‘size up' the customer. He will gauge the limit of the customer's pocketbook and quote a price accordingly! This is the very reason why prices are not marked. Newcomers are often intimidated by this practice and in fact, it is an illegal practice in many nations. However, it is a way of life here and travellers have to accept it.
Never be embarrassed to bargain actively. Every salesperson is sure to try and get as much out of you as possible, but if you try to get the better of a seller, you are sure to lose their respect. Finally, it is important not to make the seller feel like he or she has been taken advantage of. Of course, in the case of newcomers, that is unlikely to happen!
There is a lot of competition among sellers selling everyday items. If your offered price is too low, the seller is unlikely to sell the item to you. Walk away. The seller might follow you with a better price. If not, offer a slightly higher price to a competitor. You may have to repeat the process a few times to set the baseline.
Travellers sometimes feel that if they send a local person to shop for them or if they get a local person to accompany them and do the bargaining, they will get a better deal. However, this method does not work very often as the seller immediately realises that the Ghanaian is spending someone else's money.
There are many who find the process of bargaining in Ghana before every purchase rather difficult and tiresome. However, like any activity, the more effort you put in, the more success you are likely to have or, in this case, the better price you are likely to get. The idea is to find what is comfortable for you. The process takes less time than you may think.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind while shopping in Ghana:
- Market hours vary quite a bit in different areas but most shops are usually open between 8 am and 6 pm, Monday to Friday. A few operate from 8 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Most stores are closed on Sundays.
- If you find a store closed, try going back at another time - the attendant may have just stepped out for a while.
- It is very likely that you will have to visit more than a couple of stores to find everything on your list.
- In Ghana, no merchandise should be out of date. It is illegal to sell such items.
Where to shop in Accra
The main areas for shopping in Accra are Makola Market, Osu, and a market by the Arts Centre.
The most popular of the markets in Accra is the Makola Market, where you will find stores, makeshift stalls, and vendors on foot. Almost every type of merchandise can be found here, especially fabrics. Other markets of interest are the Kaneshie Market and Kamasi Central Market, which is the largest market in West Africa.
The market by the National Museum is best for art and craft items, and you will find prints and paintings here by local artists. For a greater selection of arts and craft items in leather, wood, metal and textiles, visit the Centre of National Culture or the Arts Centre.
The Ghana Export Promotion Council's Handicraft Emporium has a good display for baskets, wood carvings, pottery, beads, clothes and leather at its Republic House central office.
Some of the good shops in Accra to visit - where you will not have to deal with any haggling - are Wild Gecko (often called the best shop in Accra), which is located near the Tetteh Quarshie exchange; Suntrade (good for beads), located in Asylum Down; Hakim's (Former US President Bill Clinton shopped here for jewellery), located in Osu; Loom (an art lovers paradise), located near Circle; and Herschell Gallery, located in East Cantonments.