Not packed in a bus. Not herded with a group. Self guided walk is the SAFEST way to sightsee while observing SOCIAL DISTANCING!

Souvenir Shopping Walk (Self Guided), Nairobi

It would be a pity to leave Nairobi without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Nairobi, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.
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Souvenir Shopping Walk Map

Guide Name: Souvenir Shopping Walk
Guide Location: Kenya » Nairobi (See other walking tours in Nairobi)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: Daniel
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Zanzibar Curio Shop
  • Atul’s General Merchants
  • Biashara Street
  • Batik Heritage store
  • City Market
  • Maasai Market
1
Zanzibar Curio Shop

1) Zanzibar Curio Shop

It is the oldest shop of curiosities in the city. The shop offers a great choice of local crafts. Africans have a very rich culture and are skilled craftsmen. You can take a look at their beautiful local clothes, wickers, soapstone figurines, local semi-precious stones, hand-made beads and many other nice things. The staff is always very friendly and helpful. Zanzibar Curio Shop is one the best places in the city with original artifacts, exclusive gifts and curiosities.

What to buy here: Soapstone carvings | Tribal Masks.

Carvings made from soapstone, or what the locals call Kisii stone, are available in a number of forms and designs, from vases and decorative art to dishes and other practical items you can use around the house. Kisii carvings are available all over the city, at markets, curio shops and souvenir shops. If you want something special, you can get yours from Undugu, a fair trade group that helps support street children and their families. Ungudu doesn’t have a set shop, but instead supports carvers who produce the figurines and art pieces in their own homes and yards and then sell them through the organization. If you contact Ungudu, they will direct you to the village of Tabaka, where workshops line up the streets and you can choose a piece before it’s even finished. If you don’t want to get out of the city, the Zanzibar Curio Shop on the ground floor of the York House in Moi Avenue sells all types of soapstone carvings, as well as copper-ware and semi-precious stones. Prices vary widely depending on what you want to take home. A small basic figure of 10 inches or less can sell for as little as U$25, while more intricate pieces can sell for hundreds of dollars. Keep in mind that soapstone is heavy, so you might end up paying for extra weight in your luggage.
2
Atul’s General Merchants

2) Atul’s General Merchants

What to buy here: Kikois and Khangas.

These sarong-like wraps (in male and female form, respectively) are made of colorful woven cotton and can be worn on the beach or used as a throw or curtain at home. Usually made with striped cloth, khangas are traditionally used as skirts or by women to carry their babies as they work. Khangas often have a Swahili proverb printed on them. They make great gifts and they won’t break the bank. The best place to shop for kikois and tangas is either Biashara Street or Ngara Road. Rows upon rows of textile shops line up the streets, offering a sea of vibrant colors and patterns that can’t be beat. Shopping at stores located here will ensure that you’re getting handwoven material with an authentic flavor, rather than the machine-produced stuff you would find at tourist shops. Atul’s General Merchants is an old-fashioned textile supplier on Biashara that sells cut-to-size kikois and khangas, as well as textiles by the yard. On Ngara Road, try Mansi’s Collections, which sells not only kikois and khangas, but also anything you would want to decorate your clothing, including ribbons, beads, wooden buttons and other items. When walking down either street, keep your eyes open for the sidewalk vendors --They sometimes carry the most unusual and beautiful textiles.
3
Biashara Street

3) Biashara Street

What to buy here: Kikois and Khangas | Maasai blankets.

-Traditional Maasai blankets (also known as “Shukkas”) are made of either cotton or wool and are perfect for cozying up on the couch back home or as bed covers or even picnic blankets. To the Maasai, the blankets constitute a very important piece of clothing, worn draped across the shoulders. Buying a blanket at a local Maasai market is probably the best idea, as you’ll get something more authentic and probably not mass produced. A traditional Maasai blanket is red blended with one other color, usually blue or black. Biashara Street is the place to go to for shukkas at bargain prices. A basic blanket should not cost more than U$4, but prices can go up if you’re buying a blanket with a special design, batik applications or an extra-large size. The Karina Emporium Limited on the first floor of the Yaya Centre also has blankets, but these are machine-produced, which means better quality and softer materials, but also less authenticity.
4
Batik Heritage store

4) Batik Heritage store

What to buy here: Batiks.

Batik is a hand-painted cloth that has been covered with a mixture of paraffin and beeswax. Originally, batiks were only used to decorate clothing but can now be found on wall hangings, paintings and even throws. Traditional Kenyan batiks often have tribal designs and pictures of animals or the countryside. Batiks are made using different techniques, including stencils, etching and brush painting. The more intricate the design, the more you can expect to pay for it. A single yard of batik should set you back no more than U$20, though, especially if you’re willing to bargain for it. One of the best places to get batiks in Nairobi is the Batik Heritage store on Muindi Mbingu Street. They sell batik by the yard, as well as a large number of batik products, including skirts, kikoys and wall hangings. The Zanzibar Curio Shop is also a great place to shop for batik, as well as safari wear, baskets and clothing.

Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
5
City Market

5) City Market

City Market is a covered market located in the Central Business District. This place is a favorite both with local people and tourists. Here, you will find everything you need - fresh fruit, vegetables and verdure, beautiful flowers, newspapers, clothes, accessories, and fascinating local handicraft such as pretty Masai jewelry, woodcarving, national musical instruments, colored wraps and bright fabrics. And all this at bargain prices.

What to buy here: Tribal Masks.

A warrior mask is usually large in size and painted in bright colors. Or you can go for something smaller, such as an animal-inspired mask. Masks make a great addition to any décor, especially as wall hangings or table pieces. The most common material (and the cheapest) is wood, but if you’re willing to spend more you can get metal, light stone or clay pottery masks. Keep in mind that the more intricate the design gets, the more you’ll paid for it. Painted masks are cheaper than those with added decoration, which can be anything from seeds to horns to sea shells. Masks made especially to be sold as souvenirs can be found for less than U$15, but masks that were used in actual ceremonies are more costly. To tell the difference, look at the inside of the mask and search for signs of wear and discoloration, which indicates the mask was worn before. Try the City Market on Muindi Mbingu Street for the best prices and variety. The Zanzibar Curio Shop on Tom Mboya Street offers more variety, though prices might be a bit higher and you won’t be able to bargain.
6
Maasai Market

6) Maasai Market

A wonderful place that impresses mainly with its brightness and colors. Every Tuesday art works of the Maasai tribe are sold here. Charming bead work, colored Maasai wraps, jewelry, African statuettes made of black wood and many other fascinating things you can buy as a gift or souvenir. But you should remember that Maasai goods are usually overpriced and that you should bargain with the sellers.

What to buy here: Spears.

A Maasai spear has a major role in the social and religious standing of a warrior. They are handcrafted using wood and adorned with colorful charms, leather thongs and carved wood accessories. The traditional Maasai spear is made up of three sections: the grip, the spear head and the metal butt of the head. All three pieces are held together by hardened wax. If you’re checking yours into your luggage, you can get a spear that comes without the added wax, so it can broken down into 2-3 pieces for easy carrying. Depending on the material, quality and whether the spear was made for a warrior (which makes it more expensive) or directly to sell to tourists, spears can go for anywhere between U$30 and over U$500. Traditional spears made by the Maasai people are sold at a number of markets, including the large Maasai Market on Slip Road. Smaller Maasai markets are mobile, which means they can be found in different areas of the city depending on the day you go shopping. On Saturdays and Sundays, there’s a market on the High Court Parking at the City Square Down Town. On Sundays there’s also a market at the car park outside the Yaya Shopping Centre. The upper car park at the Village Market in Gigiri hosts a market on Fridays.

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