Otavalo Market, the best acclaimed market in Ecuador. Almost a 2 hour bus ride from one of the stations in Quito to Otavalo, on a winding and scenic route. An old, overcrowded bus takes you to this bustling market town, packed with tourists and tourists alike. Food market? Animal market? Or handicrafts market? The choice is yours at Otavalo Market.
OTAVALO MARKET, ECUADOR
Otavalo Market lives up to any and all expectations. As far as markets go Otavalo is clean, safe and has an extremely organised and routine feel, compared to others in South America. Handicrafts are well made and good value, prices are justifiable as there is a lot less rubbish than we have experienced at other markets in Central and South America.
This type of value for money market shopping unsurprisingly attracts a large crowd. Depending on what you’re looking for we found the price tags around Otavalo Market to be very reasonable. Much to Jamie’s disappointment everything I wanted was under the $5 price mark and the day became a day of purchasing.
|Bracelets and dreams catchers – Literally my heaven|
For souvenir shopping most small items such as bags, bracelets and clothing will usually only cost between $1-10 USD, most items are under the $5 mark and haggling within reason is acceptable.
HOW TO GET TO OTAVALO MARKET FROM QUITO, ECUADOR
If the 4/5 hour round trip to Otavalo Market puts you off visiting make an exception for this long journey from Quito. You won’t be disappointed and the bus is great value for money as Ecuador bus travel generally is.
✓ Warning: I’d like to add about Otavalo Market is it is a very dangerous place for a person who likes to buy colourful, pretty, shiny, girly things. Money can suddenly disappear in seconds and it has zero to do with crime
|Meal options from the food market|
Types of Markets – Otavalo, Ecuador
Food market (fruit and veg)
Smaller artisan handicraft markets
THE CURRENCY ROUND UP THEORY
It’s more of a theory Jay and I have about ‘the US dollar effect’ that we’ve come to learn after spending some time in 3 non-US countries whose official currency is the US Dollar across Central and South America.
It’s basically this ’roundup theory’ on how everything is rounded up to a whole number no matter what its value is. $1 this, $2 that. Taxi drivers love the round up theory.
An item becomes $1 or $2 rather than the 60 cents or 95 cents it may actually be worth. I don’t know, but perhaps it’s something to do with the extreme lack of change in all of the Dollar using Central and South American countries we have visited. of these countries. I can understand how this theory of rounding up the dollar may be really negative for these countries with regards to economics and the circulation of money.
THE FOOD MARKETS – OTAVALO MARKET, ECUADOR
It’s $2 for a healthy sized meal at the food market in Otavalo, expect people fighting for your custom as often tourists prefer to sample the restaurants and bakeries in Otavalo rather than the food market.
We arrived to the food market as everything was closing up so our options were limited, but we had caught a glimpse the mad rush for food earlier in the day.
Get an early bus to Otavalo and visit the food market during early lunch time for maximum options and maximum atmosphere. If you do miss out though just pop outside for the fruit and veg market where fresh fruit is ready to be sold and consumed.
You’ll find plantains galore and all the serious vegetable contenders of South America but a serious lack of those giant avocados you find in Central America, (it’s disappointing no longer having them in my life).
If i’m brutally honest I wasn’t so fond of Quito. I found it less exciting than other major South American Cities we’ve visited. In my opinion Quito was a bit too steep, I heard the word altitude far too much and the temperature was less than desirable for a beach lover like myself. I think this is why Otavalo became my Quito highlight.
ETHICAL PURCHASING AT OTAVALO MARKET, ECUADOR
Lastly, it’s important for me to remember and mention that the people selling crafts, fruit, spices and the rest at Otavalo Market are usually those who are the closest to poverty. Often indigenous peoples or people who work in agriculture travel to sell their goods at Otavalo Market. Even though Otavalo Market is great fun and there’s a lot to see and do, try to remember the reason each person is sat there. For us this was as simple as buying 1/2 kilo of molding strawberries from a lady with a baby when no one else would. Remember your compassion when market shopping in South America, I believe its very important.