5 of the Best Bali Souvenirs

2 May 2016

The incredible skills of Balinese craftspeople have been world-renowned for centuries. Delicate silver jewellery, intricate wooden carvings, superb locally-grown coffee and more: here's what to buy on your Bali trip, and where to get it. 

Traditional batik fabrics Traditional batik fabrics

 

Batik

Batik dying is a process by which complicated designs are created on fabric with dye-resistant waxes. It's most strongly associated with the Indonesian islands and you'll find batik sarongs, shirts and homewares, along with shops selling bolts of raw fabric, all over Bali.

Where to buy it: Popiler Batik II in Tohpati, east of Denpasar City, has been producing exquisite handmade batik since the early 1960s. If you're interested in learning more about this ancient art, Popiler also offers workroom tours and introductory courses.

A cup of Balinese coffee in the Kintamani highlands. Photo: Ken Eckert / Creative Commons. A cup of Balinese coffee in the Kintamani highlands. Photo: Ken Eckert / Creative Commons.

 

Coffee

The rich volcanic soil of the Kintamani region in the north-eastern Bali produces excellent, high-caffeine coffee beans. Traditionally, Bali coffee is “wet processed”, an unusual method in which the fruit surrounding the coffee bean is removed before drying. Bali is also home to Kopi Luwak coffee, which is brewed with beans that have travelled through the digestive system of civet cats. While Kopi Luwak is available in cafes and shops all over Bali, its production is controversial; it's a good idea to do some research to make an informed decision before purchasing.

Where to buy it: Balinese coffee can be found in most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Traditional wood carving, Bali. Photo: Aaron Shumaker / Flickr.com Traditional wood carving, Bali. Photo: Aaron Shumaker / Flickr.com

 

Wood carving

Balinese wood carving has long been recognised as among the best in the world. Traditional barong masks, wooden figurines and simple wooden bowls made from local hardwood are for sale in stores and stalls across the island, but the best of the best comes from the villages around Ubud, the historic centre of Balinese arts and crafts.

Where to buy it: Mas Village in the Ubud District is an entire village dedicated to wood carving, where you can watch master craftsmen at work, and learn about their artistic themes inspired by nature and religion. Also try the village of Tegalalang, where stalls sell brightly coloured carved animal figurines, along with a huge range of other crafts.

Silver making in Celuk, Bali. Photo: Eugene / Flickr.com Silver making in Celuk, Bali. Photo: Eugene / Flickr.com

 

 

Gold and silver jewellery

Balinese people have been crafting exquisite metalwork for thousands of years, and the island been known for its exceptionally high quality gold and silver work since at least the 16th century. If you're planning on buying a valuable piece during your trip, it's a good idea to spend some time learning to tell the difference between sterling silver and silver-plated, and between casted beads and those with hand-applied decoration, as what you are sold may not always be what you get.

Where to buy it: If you're serious about jewellery, a visit to the gold and silversmithing village of Celuk, near Denpasar, is a must. Most of the work sold here is traditional – what some might call old-fashioned – so if your tastes are more contemporary, you may need to seek out retailers specialising in modern designs. Try Prapen, a large design house and retailer owned and run by members of the Pande Mas, an ancient clan of skilled smiths.

Sekar Jagat Lulur. Sekar Jagat Lulur.

 

Lulur Body Scrub

Looking an unusual and affordable souvenir from your Bali trip? Forget the sarong (be honest with yourself – it'll be stuffed in a drawer as soon as you get home, never to re-emerge) and stock up on sachets of lulur body scrub instead. A traditional mix of ground sandalwood, turmeric, nuts, rice and scented wood, it's most commonly sold as a powder, which is mixed with warm water to create a paste. Scrub it all over, leave for a few minutes, then rinse. Voila! Amazingly soft, smooth and scented skin. Lulur is also sold pre-mixed, in a tub; one of the best brands is Sekar Jagat.

Where to buy it: In Denpasar and Kuta, Krisna department stores sell Sekar Jagat lulur, along with a huge variety of fun souvenirs at non-touristy prices.