Souvenir shopping is one of the true joys of traveling. It’s part of the fun of exploring a new place, and finding that perfect gem to remind you of a cherished city or experience. Here are some picks of Nairobi’s top specialty and souvenir shops.
Utamaduni Crafts Centre
Utamaduni is a Swahili word which means cultural heritage. Created by British Anthropologist, Richard Leakey, Utamaduni is a collection of local artisans who have come together in one place to sell their items. Utamaduni crafts center is a converted Kikuyu house containing about 18 arts and crafts shops. The unique selection of shops has a vast collection of items for sale. The craft center is a treasure trove of African crafts, antiques and art, with friendly staff to assist and help pack or ship if needed. The shops include those selling:
- antique jewelry
- Khangas, Kikoys and clothing made from both
- beaded plates, glasses, coaster, jewelry, wall hanging
- Kiondos (Kenyan baskets)
- leather bags & belts
- Kisii Soapstone
- African book & map shop
- local foodstuff
- wooden bowls and figurines
- kids clothing, toys and books
The Maasai Market is a cutting-edge show of an indigenous people’s culture and way of life. The Maasai market, like most places in Africa, is a very vivacious space and can be a bit overwhelming for newbies. Kenyans are very entrepreneurial and the artisans, who come from a variety of communities, naturally want your business. Expect to be called and coaxed with promises of the ‘best price’ or ‘best quality’
For the ultimate breath of culture and color, the Masai Market gives you the opportunity to buy authentic African art, handcrafted beaded jewelry and clothing as souvenirs, gifts and even decorating material you could use for your home back in your country. At very affordable prices, you can purchase as many products as possible and at the same time promote local handicraft businesses.
Here you can buy:
- Maasai Sandals
- Maasai market Jewelry ranging from brass to beads, and you can find some really cool stuff
- Kenyan bracelets beaded in the Kenyan national colors, which locals also wear
- Maasai Shukas
- Kiondos (Kenyan baskets) and bags
- Artwork & Carvings
Nairobi City Market
City Market is a shrouded market situated in the Central Business District. This spot is a most loved 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, a warrior mask or an animal-inspired mask and bright fabrics. And all this at bargain prices.
Zanzibar Curio Shop
This hidden gem offers a great choice of local crafts. 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. You can also shop for wickers, soapstone figurines, local semi-precious stones, hand-made beads.
Batik Heritage Store
This fascinating art gallery has an impressive array of colorful batiks, many of which are available to buy. The eye-catching designs are made by applying wax and dyes to the textile. 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.
Biashara Street means business street in Swahili. The street is the home of Nairobi textiles a hodge podge of fabric stores, and baby wear shops located in the centre of town, in the Central Business District. Here you can shop for brightly patterned kanga cloth, colorfully striped kikoys and bold wax fabrics of Western Africa.