The city of Cali in Colombia is a rich multi-cultural center and this is reflected in many of its handicrafts. Cali is great for tourist attractions and equally great for shopping! There are several large malls, especially in Avenida Sexta – Sixth Avenue- in the north of the city. As well as great shopping, the malls offer family entertainment and good dining opportunities too. Interestingly, several of the malls also feature health centers, spas and even clinics for cosmetic surgery!
Chipichape Shopping Centre has 500 shops which include trendy stores selling the top international brands and shops selling a myriad of colorful local crafts. The center also has restaurants, a play park, and theatre – something for all the family!
Negotiating to get a good price for goods is an art in Cali. It is a real ‘no-no’ to speak English as this is likely to increase the price dramatically! Far better to speak in Spanish, or get someone to do so on your behalf. You must spend a few moments chatting first and exchanging pleasantries. Show no interest in the item you like until you are ready to ask the price! Offer 60-70% of the asking price and you should be able to settle at 80 – 90% which is good!
1. Pack some specialty coffee
Colombia is known for its fine coffee, so what better souvenir to take home! There are several specialty shops in the city and there are excursions to a coffee farm available, but if you pop in one of the supermarkets, you will have plenty of choices. The most popular brand is Amor Perfecto.
2. Buy two tins of choco café
These chocolate-covered coffee beans are sold in a distinctive red tin by OMA and believe me, they taste so good, that you will definitely need two tins if you intend to pass them around the office when you get back!
3. Invest in a stunning emerald
Colombia is one of the top producers of the world’s finest emeralds. If you do decide you would like to buy an emerald, seek advice as to which of the jewelers in the city you should visit. Please perfect your negotiating skills before you go there so that you get a good price.
4. Or a beautiful piece of gold jewelry
Visit any of the country’s museums and you will see amazing displays of old gold jewelry. A number of gold craftsmen in Cali specialize in making accurate reproductions of all the famous pieces. Having said that, if you would prefer a more contemporary piece, they will be happy
5. Enjoy some Colombian rum!
There are a number of labels to look out for if you would like to relax with some Colombian rum – but be warned, it is quite a powerful drink! The first popular label is Ron Caldas and the other, Aguardiente Antioqueno. If you can, choose a bottle that is sugar-free – sin azucar – as it is said that you will suffer from less of a hangover!
6. Choose some lovely leather goods
There is a really good selection of wallets, purses, belts, and bags that are well made in lovely soft leather and available in a rainbow of colors.
7. Or opt for the ‘green’ alternative
Cyclus is a dynamic Colombian company that was started by two university students studying industrial design, who wanted to make good use of the scores of discarded inner tubes. The stylish hand made bags made entirely from the old tubes soon became really popular and wallets, purses, belts, and laptop bags were added to the range. Cyclus products are widely available in Cali and to their designers’ delight, they have started exporting to the United States and Europe.
8. Treat yourself to some truly fine chocolate
Columbia is a major producer of chocolate and Nacional de Chocolates Santander is the label to watch out for as it is one of the best chocolates in the world. Its most popular bar is the one made with 75% pure cocoa, but its 75% cocoa plus pieces of coffee is a real connoisseur’s delight. As well as elegantly wrapped bars of chocolate, there are some attractive gift boxes to buy including some with chocolates with exotic tasting fillings.
9. Choose some Chamba pottery
This stylish pottery is made from black clay in the village of Tolima. Simple and rustic in design, the pottery has huge appeal and can be bought in coffee sets or sets of small dishes. The plates and serving dishes look good too, but it is probably best to ship these to your home as they are quite weighty.
10. Admire the colorful Wayuu mochila
These distinctive bags must be one of the country’s best-known exports and certainly, in recent years they have become very popular in the world’s fashion stage and sell for amazing prices. These brightly colored bags are made in the desert area of the Guajira Peninsula. There are various excursions to the area where you will be able to choose a bag and meet the person who made it, but if time is not on your side, there are plenty of shops selling them in Cali.