A fun part of many people’s trip is thinking about what to bring home for those who you left behind. While it’s nice to send a postcard, there’s also a certain satisfaction in bringing out a souvenir you picked up on the road, and tell the story behind it. Where you bought it, who sold it to you, and how it’s used are all conversations you might have surrounding what you buy.
In Chile, several types of souvenirs are commonly purchased. There is copper, either in its raw or enameled state, woolen items (often from the south), whether they be hats or sweaters or socks. Then there’s lapis lazuli, a blue stone that is only found in Chile and Afghanistan, and here in Chile, it is crafted into jewelry, cufflinks and even small statues. Another item people often buy is fused glass in the form of wall art, colorful earrings and rings and even ashtrays. Wooden items are also popular, such as carved spoons and bowls.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, here are three places you can go to get them.
This is probably the most central of all the locations, a few blocks from the Baquedano metro in the neighborhood Bellavista. It’s a small open-air mall, with loads of stalls and shops selling all of the above, as well as t-shirts, shoes and ceramics. The area also has several nice restaurants if you’d like to grab a bite.
At the south exit of the Santa Lucía metro on the red line, is a warrenlike fleamarket where they sell most of the items listed above, at slightly better prices (though you’ll have to examine your goods carefully) than Patio Bellavista. The market has more of a home-grown feeling to it, with juice stalls and places to get your ears (or nose, or navel) pierced interspersed throughout. It’s worth a look, but you might have to hunt for a treasure.
This is the creme de la creme of handicrafts markets, a fake village set into an old cloister beside a church that appears on the old 2,000 peso bill. Prices and quality are both high here, and they can package anything well to take it to where you’re going. There’s a larger than average collection of greda (terracotta) bowls, pigs and casseroles here. Take the red line metro to the last stop (Los Dominicos) and walk towards the church. The entrance to the crafts area is to the right.