Real everyday interactions in local dialects, unpretentious wares and traditional buildings (or boats!) – Indonesia’s markets are more than just a place where the most authentic goods change hands.
The vast and dynamic country of Indonesia tends to offer two sides of everything: traditional and modern, cheap and expensive, native and innovative. If you’re up for traditional and affordable shopping, walking around its best local markets can be an experience you’ll cherish. From art stalls in Bali to grocery shopping at Borneo’s floating markets, discover the best markets in Indonesia.
As a global tourist paradise, Bali isn’t short of modern stores and shopping malls. But for those seeking authentic local-made products, Sukawati Art Market is the place to go. The market is a beautiful jumble of handmade bags, traditional statues, silk fabrics, paintings, and more. You may find similar crafts across the island, but this market has a relatively cheaper prices and sometimes better quality than the vendors in Kuta or Seminyak. Instead, this market is strategically located in the main road near Ubud, nearer to Bali’s capital of art and culture itself.
Located at the heart of Yogyakarta, this traditional market is almost as old as the city. A centre of trade since 1758, the market is now a historical landmark, tourism icon, and popular destination to shop for batik. The traditional fabric is ubiquitous across the market in different patterns and forms sold by hundreds of vendors. Beyond that, locals and tourists also head to this market to hunt for antique goods, from old currency to typewriters and cassettes. Most prices are negotiable, and it may help if you go out on a limb and try some Javanese phrases lsuch as “Niki pinten?” (how much is this?) or Saged kirang? (can I buy it for less?). Even if you’re not looking for a slashed price, try to say it anyway – it’s fun, and shows respect.
In Kalimantan (Borneo), a pristine land with well-reserved natural features, it comes naturally for locals to use the rivers as centers for trade. It makes quite a wonderful sight as sellers load their goods onto traditional boats, bumping and buzzing against dozens other boats as they make their way through to nowhere in particular. Here, you can find traditional goods, groceries, accessories and souvenirs sold in different boats. The vibe and sight, topped with the affordable prices, make these floating markets especially popular among tourists.
Despite being established back in 1939 and selling antique goods that are much older, this traditional market in Solo is surprisingly well-managed. It has a website detailing vendors and products in English, making it much easier for foreign tourists to navigate their way through the market. But that’s not the only thing that makes this market so well-loved in the first place. Pasar Triwindu holds a plethora of antique goods, from home décor to old motorcycle parts, as well as heritage items like Javanese traditional dagger of keris, batik stamps, and old currencies.
Due to its historical and cultural value, this market in Solo, Central Java, is preserved as a cultural heritage. It reflects a unique combination of European architecture, Javanese adornments, and Chinese environment, because it was built during the colonial era on Javanese land and located in Solo’s Chinatown area. To sum it up, it’s a product of beautiful fusion of cultures and a productive place to shop, too. The market is also known as a culinary centre, where locals and tourists come to find traditional food and high-quality groceries.
In contrast to its name (which means new market), Pasar Baru is one of the oldest markets in the capital Jakarta, established in the 1800s. Even so, this market is as alive as it was a century ago. Every day, people come to purchase textiles, clothes, accessories, antiques, or electronics. Many of the shop owners are Indonesians of Indian descent, giving the place a certain cultural characteristic that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. The market complex is comprised of pedestrian streets lined with stores, making the place airy and spacious, comfortable for shopping at any time of day.
This street market takes up almost the whole neighbourhood of Cibaduyut, Bandung. Famed for its passion for shoes and leather goods, the vendors deliver both good quality and bargain prices – a combo no one would want to miss. But the best thing about this street market is the impeccable craftsmanship. Most products are handcrafted with careful detail, and you can ask the shoemakers directly to create something special for you and finally see your ‘dream shoes’ idea realised.
Solo is one of Indonesia’s most prized centres for batik and Javanese civilisation in general. Pasar Klewer, then, represents the town’s best cultural beat, selling everything from authentic batik to traditional meals. As one of the biggest batik markets in the country, Pasar Klewer gathers different patterns and styles from different localities across the island. Beyond batik, many crafts sold in this market are export-grade, sought by collectors across the globe. Conclude your shopping spree with a bowl of traditional dessert like es dawet or a hearty plate of pecel. Throughout the years, this market has become an icon of the city and a tourist destination as well.
This expansive traditional market in Jakarta is notorious for its vivacious trade activities and overflowing crowd. Tourists and resellers swarm this market for the myriad of clothing products sold with affordable and negotiable prices, especially when bought in wholesale. Many products sold across the city or even online are sourced from this market. Tanah Abang is also one of the oldest and largest markets in town, surviving decades of modernisation.
Pasar Santa, also known as the Santa Modern Market, used to be an old and dingy Jakarta market selling groceries and everyday households goods. While such items can still be found in this market, Pasar Santa has put on a younger and more modern face, with renewed building, enhanced interiors, and new vendors. There are even cafés, indie bookshop and modern food vendors in the new space. That change has attracted new crowds, mostly youngsters and hipsters, who enjoy spending time in the vintage building, now with a modern twist.