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Shopping in Mexico

Whether You're Shopping for a Souvenir or an Experience, Find It in Mexico

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Shopping in Mexico

Shopping in Cozumel.

What will lure you to Mexico on your next vacation?

The prospect of spending sunny days on a beach beside clear, warm waters? A passion for art and archeology? The chance to experience a lively mix of cultures at picturesque festivals? Or the idea of taking a sybarite’s journey through spas, night clubs, and restaurants?

Regardless of what attracts you to Mexico, you’re more than likely to spend time shopping.

First-time visitors to Mexico are often struck by two things: Its kaleidoscopic colors and the wide range of things to buy. Honeymoon couples can uncover a wide selection of affordable decorative items to enliven a new home. Return guests often focus on specific items to enhance their collections. All can take care of holiday shopping in one visit.

Whether you’re planning your first trip or your fiftieth to Mexico, these shopping tips can help you locate items to treasure.

Choice Shopping Locations in Mexico

In the major cities of Mexico, an array of upscale designer boutiques, galleries, and American-style shopping malls all vie for your pesos. Government-operated Fonart shops deal in quality crafts for those who appreciate paying fixed prices when shopping rather than bargaining for handmade items. And better hotels in resort areas feature shops with well-edited collections of local goods.

Dedicated crafts centers, such as Mexico City’s Mercado de Artesanías, are convenient places to survey what’s widely available. It’s fine to haggle with vendors by counter-offering with a price 50 percent of what they initially propose — and then settle somewhere in between.

Shopping Bargains
The best bargains are likely to be found at roadside stalls and in rustic markets that dazzle the senses with sights, sounds, and smells. Every town (and most neighborhoods) has at least one indoor market, as well as a fresh-air component on the street. Exceptional ones are located in areas with major Indian populations, such as Oaxaca, Puebla, and Chiapas.

When’s the ideal time to go shopping? Before major holiday times, street markets reflect the coming excitement. You’ll know it’s closing on Easter with the appearance of decorative toys, masks, and figures. Skulls and skeletons emerge before Days of the Dead. Pre-Christmas, countless versions of the Nativity are proudly put on display.

Objects of Desire

Shopping for Pottery in Mexico
From humble earthenware pots to items used in ceremonial rituals, Mexican pottery reflects ancient techniques and modern skills. Connoisseurs of collectible blue-and-white Talavera tiles and ceramics head for Uriarte for the largest selection.

Shopping for Silver in Mexico
While Taxco alone has some 200 shops selling silver, the shiny metal is ubiquitous throughout the country. Quality-conscious buyers look for the .925 stamp indicating that an item is sterling. Lower-priced articles are made from plated or alpaca alloy silver.

Shopping for Textiles in Mexico
Traditional embroidered garments include sashes, shawls, blouses, and dresses. Complete an outfit with a leather bag, belt, and huarache sandals. To decorate a home, consider shopping for brightly colored hand-woven rugs and blankets.

Shopping for Fun in Mexico
What child wouldn’t love a birthday piñata? Spice up an adult party with salsa and merengue CDs. And don’t forget to tote home the tequila (añejo is best).

Mexico Shopping Tips

Stores are open 9:30 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. But go early to street markets, which close around 2 or 3 pm. Sunday shopping is generally limited to tourist areas and malls.

Independent sellers deal in cash; large ones take well-known credit cards. Some may charge a percentage for the convenience of using plastic, so use cash to save on purchases. Also, ask if VAT tax has been added to your bill. If so, save receipts to get money back when you leave.

Whether you plan ahead and bring an extra piece of luggage or pick up one south of the border, you’re likely to come home from Mexico with an armful of souvenirs — as well as a heart full of memories.

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