Shopping

There is an excellent variety of handicrafts: woodwork, pottery, copperware, leather- work, indigenous woven goods including rugs and ponchos. However, many of the goods sold in main handicraft markets are from elsewhere in South America, in some cases with the country of origin labels cut off; if going on a wider South American tour, these goods are almost always cheaper in the northern Andean countries. Among the most interesting purchases will be
jewellery made with the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone. There are also less well known stones unique to Chile (such as the
combarbalita
, found around Combarbalá, near Illapel), and many fine jewels and knick-knacks (such as paperweights) made with stones such as onyx. People returning home may want to buy typical Chilean foods or drinks:
pisco
,
ají chileno
or
manjar
, for instance.

Bargaining is rare in Chile, and often seen as impolite. You can't try the usual 'offer a half, go up to two thirds' formula, and asking for a
descuento
may be seen as implying that the goods you want to buy are defective. Instead you should ask for 'una atención', and you will often do well to knock more than 5% off the asking price. If you want to get the cheapest possible price your best bet is to go directly to the area where the object you have in mind is made, since craft specialities tend to be specific to particular places in Chile ; once there, do not go to the first craft shop you find (those nearest to the entry to the town), but look for those that are tucked away. The past decade has seen the growth of mall culture, especially in parts of Santiago, such as Las Condes.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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