Shopping in Kenya

Kenya is home to various Shopping malls, open air Masai markets, streets with well stocked array of shops, nice hotels and restaurants, supermarkets, banks and ATMs, foreign exchange bureau and cinema halls. Below are some of the shopping tips and major places to shop in Kenya.

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Shopping in Kenya

Kenya has many regions with different traditions and cultures, each region have unique local products that they produce to earn them a living as well as to show case their rich historical background. One of the ways to keep memories of the rich African traditions as well as promote the region is to buy their traditional artifacts, jewelry, carvings, precious stones, furniture, traditional cloths, music, art work among others.

Wood Carvings

Carved souvenirs and gifts are the most popular items for tourist and visitors in Kenya; wood carving is popular in two regions (the Kamba people in eastern Kenya and the coast region). The Kambas produce animals and birds wood carvings for house decoration while the coast people prefer house hold furniture and fittings (doors, chairs, brass inlaid boxes, picture frames, small replica dhows among others).

Stone Carvings

Stone carving is popular in western Kenya by the Kisii people, they use the local soapstone to produce nice house hold decorations, souvenirs and gifts; the items would include animals carvings, chess pieces, egg cups, soap dishes, coasters, ash trays among others.

Jewelry and beadwork

The Masaai jewelry and bead-work has also become famous to visitors and tourist in Kenya, bead-work is very popular in Masaai, Samburu and Turkana region, the beaded jewelries are used for physical decoration and have significant traditional meaning within the communities. The beaded items include bracelets, belts, watchstraps, sandals, mobile phone covers, ceremonial adornments necklaces among others.

Sisal basket

Basket work can be found in most parts of Kenya but is most popular in Central Kenya, within the Kikuyu people; this are sisal weaved basket with a leather carrying strap locally known as kiondoo, they vary in sizes and are commonly used as handbags. Today the designs are more modern with different colors, zips, clip and buckles.

Traditional Clothing and Textiles

One of the popular fabrics or traditional cloth is the Masai Shuka, it’s a decorative fabric made of hand woven cotton, they are found in different colors and patterns but mostly in red/black and red/blue. Normally they were worn by both men and women within the Masai community but today they also used by tourist on safari as a blanket to protect themselves from cold and dust.

The other common fabrics is the Kanga and Kikoi, they are traditional garments worn by both men and women in the coastal region and the great lake region. The Kanga has a center part called mji in swahill; mji usually contains a strip with a riddle or proverb message on it.

Artifacts

Most regions have their own traditional artifacts, but regions in the northern parts of Kenya (Masai, Samburu and Turkana) have most outstanding artifacts. This includes Gourds, Neck Pillows, Shields, Spears, bow and arrows, wrist knives, traditional swords (simis) among others.

Music and Music Instruments

Every region have its own type of music and instruments, the most common one is the African drums; the drums comes in different sizes and shapes depending on the region, most drums are round and are covered with an animal skin, they can be flat based or three legged, they were used in traditional ceremonies or in passing sound messages. Other famous instruments are the string instruments; most popular one is the Nyatiti which is similar to the European Lyre from western Kenya and the other one is the Nyadede; it’s a single string instrument used by the Kikuyu people in central Kenya.

If you want to watch traditional music, you can visit Bomas of Kenya for a live traditional music concert or organize with the locals for a concert. If you want to buy Kenyan music; you can do so in any local music stall, shopping malls and shopping centers.

Shopping Tips

  •  Bargaining is a norm and part of doing business in most countries in Africa; so if you are planning to shop, then be prepared to bargain. Normally after the seller gives you his offer, you need to assess the item and respond with a counter offer that you feel is fair, it should be between 60% - 90% of the initial offer.

  •  Deforestation and environmental, if you are planning to buy wood carvings and you love the environment then you need to think about this issue, in order to sustain both industries we need to encourage carvings made from renewable trees such as the Jacaranda, Neem, Mango, Blue Gum, and Grevillea, and avoid carvings made from indigenous trees such as Ebony trees, Mahogany, Rosewood and Olive wood.

  •  Avoid illegal raw material; insist and avoid items made from illegal raw material such as ivory, rhinoceros horns, snake skin among others.

Shopping and Shopping places in Nairobi

Shopping in Nairobi

Nairobi City is the capital city of Kenya and probably the best place to shop for African souvenirs, gift and house decorations in East Africa, the City prides itself in having many diverse Shopping malls, open air Masai markets, array of shops, nice hotels and restaurants.

Shopping Malls

Nairobi has a good number of excellent shopping malls with modern supermarkets, medical centers, banks and ATMs, foreign exchange bureaus, bars and restaurants, cinema halls, cafés among other branded shops. The most popular shopping malls in Nairobi would include The Sarit center and Westgate Shopping mall in westlands, The Village market in Gigiri, Yaya Center in Hurlingham, Thika road mall(TRM) and Garden City along Thinka road, The Junction mall, Capital and Panari Center along Mombasa Road, Galleria Mall along Karen-Langata Road and Two River Shopping Complex.

Other lesser shopping centers would include Diamond Plaza in parklands, Karen Shopping Center, Maasai mall in Rongai, Prestige Plaza on Ngong road, Nakumatt Lifestyle, Mountain Mall on thika road, T-Mall at Nairobi West,Taj Shopping Mall in Embakasi,The Gift Mall, Greenspan Mall in Donholm and Ridgeways Mall.

Nairobi Markets

The open air markets in Nairobi offer shoppers a wide range of animal carvings and sculptures, souvenirs, traditional fabrics, beaded jewelry, pottery, woven baskets and paintings. There are several good local markets featuring products from Kenya and other parts of African; this include the famous Masai market that is dominated by African cultural souvenirs and decorations, The markets are opened on different days of the week; on Tuesday it's opened at Westgate Shopping Center on the upper car park, On Wednesdays it's at Capital Center along Mombasa road, On Friday at the Village Market on the upper car park, on Saturday and Sunday at the Nairobi High Court park area and the Yaya Center parking area on Sunday.

Restaurants

Nairobi offers a wide range of restaurants where guest can enjoy a choice of well prepared and beautifully presented dishes from different parts of the world, for a nice international cuisine you can visit the Brew Bistro restaurant along Ngong road, the Ole Sereni's Eagle's Steakhouse restaurant on Mombasa road, the Jiko restaurant at Tribe Hotel in Village Market, the Serena Mandhari Restaurant on Kenyatta Ave, Seven Seafood & Grill on Waiyaki Way, Sikia Fine Dining at Crown Plaza Hotel in Upper Hill, Tatu restaurant at Fairmont Norfolk hotel among many others.

For African cuisine, steaks and barbeques you can visit the Carnivore restaurant Off Langata road, the Flame Tree restaurant at Sarova Panafric, Fogo Gaucho restaurant at Viking House on Waiyaki Way, Pampa restaurants at Lavington and Mombasa road among many others.

Shopping and Shopping places in Mombasa

Shopping in Mombasa

Mombasa City is one of Kenya's top tourist destinations located along the Indian Ocean south of Kenya; the long stretches of white sandy beaches , friendly atmosphere, world class hotels, diverse marine life and beach activities is what makes it a popular destination in Africa.

Shopping

In Mombasa there are a couple of places you can shop for souvenirs, gift and personal items, if you are at the city center; there are array of shops on Nyerere Street and Moi Avenue that are branded with various Kenyan and international products. For local Kenyan fabrics and clothing, stroll down to the nearby Biashara Street.

In Diani, there are a couple of shops along the main street and nearby Chandarana and Nakumatt shopping centers. The shopping Centers have nice branded shops that include; a well-stocked modern supermarket, medical center, banks and ATMs, foreign exchange bureaus, bars, restaurants, gift shops, cafés among others. There are also well stocked gift shops in most of the top class hotels and lodges along the Diani beach.

City Mall is one of the main shopping malls in Mambasa, located next to Nakumatt Nyali complex in Nyali; the mall is well stocked with local and international products, Banks, ATM’s, restaurants, Bars, cafés, gift shops among others. Other lesser shopping centers include Nyali center, Cinemax Plaza, Nakumatt Likoni, Nakumatt Diani and Planet Bamburi.

Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Center

Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Center is a nonprofit organization working with men and women that are physically disabled, The center specializes in producing and selling products made from handmade leather, textile, wood carving and jewelry. It’s a nice place to shop for nice souvenirs as well as empower the artisans to overcome their physical limitations.

Restaurants

Mombasa is a multicultural City with diverse and delicious cuisines; this include the local Swahili cuisines, Indian cuisines, Chinese, Korean, Italian and other western cuisines. There are multitude restaurants and eating places in Mombasa, whether it’s a fine dining or a quick bite restaurant you are after, Mombasa has it all.

For a nice meal in Mombasa you can visit; Eataly Restaurant at Links Plaza in Nyali, Aqua Restaurant at Nyali Beach Hotel, Cocos Beach Bar at The Sarova Whitesands, Fishermans Cave Restaurant at Bamburi Beach Hotel, Fountain Lounge at Nyali Beach Hotel, Golden Chopsticks Chinese Restaurant at Babobab Holiday Resort, Il Covo Nyali Branch Opposite Nyali Cinemax, AfroChic Diani Beach in Ukunda, Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant in Diani, Forty Thieves Beach Bar in Ukunda, Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant in Diani and Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant in Diani among others.

Shopping and Shopping places in Malindi and Lamu

Shopping in Malindi

Malindi is the second famous town in the Kenyan coastal region, it is located about 115Km north of Mombasa. The beautiful beaches, historical attractions and the friendly environment; makes Malindi a major tourist destination.

Malindi is a small town, with just a short drive or a stroll through the main streets of the town; you will see a couple of supermarkets, Banks, ATM’s, open air markets, gift shops, medical centers, restaurants, cafes, curio shops among others.

For fine dining in Malindi you can visit the Che Shale Restaurant & Bar, Lorenzo's Restaurant at Mwembe Resort, Old Man & The sea, Shogun Sushi Bar at Casino Malindi, Tangeri Restaurant & Lounge Bar and Victoria Restaurant at Ocean Beach Resort & Spa.

Shopping in Lamu

Lamu is one of the oldest towns in Kenya, located about 260Km north of Mombasa and has a history that dates back to the 7th Century. Lamu is a small and remote town with outstanding secluded beaches and less populated areas.

There are no major shopping malls, but there are nice retail shops and open air markets that sell fresh foods, souvenirs, wood carvings, textiles among others. There are also a couple of Banks, ATM's, health centers, restaurants, bars, cafes among others.

For fine dining at Lamu you can visit the Peponi Bar & Restaurant at Shela, Lamu Palace Bar & Restaurant, Moonrise Bar & Restaurant at Lamu town, Jannat Bar & Restaurant at Lamu town, Diamond Bar & Restaurant at Manda, Kijani Restaurant at Shela and Fatuma’s Tower Restaurant at Lamu town.

Other Shopping places in Kenya

Other places to shop

Nakuru

Nakuru is the fourth largest town in Kenya, beside the lines of shops at the city center; the town also has wonderful places to do your shopping. For tourist wishing to buy souvenirs, gift and house decorations; many of the major Lodges and hotels have well stocked gift shops. Nakuru also has well established shopping malls. Among them is the Westside shopping Mall on Kenyatta Avenue, at the West Road Junction; the mall has over 30 branded shops, among them is a supermarket, restaurants, bar, cafes, ATM's, Banks, foreign exchange bureaus, medical centers among others. Other shopping centers would include Tuskys Hyrax Shopping Mall, Lams Shopping Mall, Naivas Malls among others.

For fine dinning and restaurants in Nakuru; you can visit Merica Hotel, Midlands’s hotel, Hotel Cathay, Bontana Hotel among others.

Kisumu

Kisumu is the third largest city in Kenya and the largest in Western Kenya. There are lots of wonderful small shops along the city’s main road. For tourist wishing to shop for souvenirs, gift and house decorations; Kisumu has a crafts market (Masai market) along Nairobi road, which is smaller than what is found in Nairobi but also less expensive. Shopping malls in Kisumu would include the Nakumatt City mall, the Nakumatt Mega plaza and the Eco Bank-United mall. Other major shops would include the Copom Enterprises and the Wilsop Handicraft.

For fine dinning and restaurants in Kisumu; you can visit Imperial Hotel, Impala Eco-Lodge, The Vic Hotel Kisumu, Kiboko Bay resort and Kisindi Lodge & Spa among others.

Laikipia

Laikipia County is one of the smallest counties in Kenya, located along the equator within the Great Rift Valley; the two main towns in Laikipia are Nanyuki and Nyahururu. Laikipia is well known for its top luxury hotels and lodges that have well stocked gift shops, for tourist wishing to shop for souvenirs, gift and house decorations; you can either buy from the hotels or visit either of the two major towns in Laikipia. There are many shops selling different products like carvings, jewelry and food products, the largest being Nakumatt Supermarket located in Nanyuki town. There are also roadside shops that sell everything from fresh fruits to camping material along the Nairobi-Nanyuki Road and the Gilgil-Nyahururu to Nanyuki roads.