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Tunisia is a shopper’s paradise.  Colorful markets packed full of all sorts of locally made goods line the streets; shady and narrow side alleys burst with a tempting variety of places to relax with a glass of mint tea; and rich, exotic colors and scents of spices flood crowded marketplaces.

From high quality, brightly designed rugs and carpets, to jewellery, ceramics, perfumes, henna and gold, the medinas and souks of Tunisia are full of endless possibilities.  And, in a country where the price is never fixed and haggling is expected, shopping is a thrilling and exhilarating experience, and has never been closer to a sport!

Shopping in Tunisia

High quality brightly designed rugs and carpets are on display throughout Tunisia. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

Africa’s northernmost country, modern day shopkeepers are becoming more and more influenced by the lavish offerings of Morocco. Tunisia is seeing an increasing number of fashionable and affordable outlets, offering travelers a range of atmospheric alternatives to chain monoliths and tourist souks. From carpets, leather and antiques, to traditional woodwork, silver and gold; it’s all available, and all ready to be haggled over.

An important part of the shopping culture in Tunisia, haggling is both expected and encouraged. Ensuring enough time is set aside for the bargaining and tea-drinking process is necessary to a successful shop. Travelers who can play along with aggressive sellers and enjoy the experience are in for a lot of fun, and will undoubtedly walk away with the best bargains.

Begin by offering only a quarter of the asking price.  Prices start out ridiculously inflated, but shopkeepers know they are asking too much. Sellers will always moan and complain about how your offer is too little, however this is almost always a show, and where the real haggling begins!

Tunisia Shop

Tunisia Shopfront. Let the haggling begin! Photo by Tony Hisgett.

Aware that tourists now aim for a quarter of the asking price, some shopkeepers deliberately inflate the price even further.  For those serious hagglers who believe the price could be reduced even more, the best strategy (and one which works every time) is to just walk away.

Don’t attempt to say you found similar goods for cheaper somewhere else, as sellers will dismiss this as the other product having been of lesser quality. It is also incredibly helpful to understand a little of the Arabic language before you travel; hearing which prices the locals paid, and which prices were offered to them, will give an indication of how much an item is truly worth.

There is never any shortage of authentic local goods in Tunisia.  Traditional handicrafts include pottery and ceramics, and travelers can pick up exquisite articles of copper cutlery – metal trays, teapots, cups, plates of all sizes and coffee sets are common items for sale.

Tunisia Pottery

Traditional handicrafts include pottery and ceramics. Photo by Andrew Skudder.

Unique basketwork, distinctive carpets made from local fabrics, gold and silver jewellery, and attractive leather products which include handbags, briefcases, shoes and much more, shoppers are offered a gluttony of choice.

Marketplaces overflow with spices –pepper, saffron, clove, bay leaf, cumin and other Middle Eastern specialties like henna and khol (eye makeup). Scents of jasmine cling to the air, and the aroma of thousands of foreign blends washes over shoppers, flooding their senses as they explore each ancient medina.

Tunisia Spices

Marketplaces overflow with spices. Photo by Katina Rogers.

It’s difficult not to be seduced by the atmosphere, and between the culture of haggling and affordable Tunisia flights, travelers should have plenty of money to dedicate to days full of shopping here!

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    20 Comments

  1. I have never been in Tunisia but would love to go and I think I wouldn’t have problems with bargain. When I was in Istanbul couple of weeks ago they guy from the jewellery shop told me I should be a seller and if he would be a rich man ha ha ha

    • Wow maybe we should start traveling together and you can do all of my haggling for me!!

  2. Is there any where you aint been Mega? Holy dang crap! Tunisia? I thought you spelled that wrong, so when I was reading out loud, Moonshine was like, “Bless you!” In Pablo’s words, “I’m yealous!”

    • I definitely encourage you to go!

  3. Great tips! I am horrible at haggling–I will have to give it another shot now though. This market looks great!

    • Practice makes perfect!! I’m very competitive so I love it!!

  4. I’ve become quite good at haggling after I learnt few important words in a local language, when attempting to reduce the price! 😉 It often works, but if not, by walking away they realize you’re not going to back up and they’ll call you back 🙂

    • It’s definitely a huge help to know a little of the local language – even if it’s only numbers. Although Ive been in the situation where I started out with the few words I knew, and then they took that to mean I was fluent so started on a rant which I just could not understand!!!

      Walking away is another great one! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. I love shopping… and I love trying to haggle with people! I think it makes it so much more fun, and often you may get a funny story to tell to go along with your souvenir!

    • It really does make for so much more fun! And definitely an icebreaker when someone is admiring your purchases!

  6. I love haggling! Sometimes I just do it for sport but it definitely takes a little practicing and some talent. 😉

    • Like sport, practice makes perfect :D! Although Tunisia is a pretty good training ground!!

  7. Man, I LOVE shopping in the Middle East! I love the haggling, of course, because all Cancers love a good, thrifty bargain. But I also love the stuff that they sell– the tapestries and rugs, the lamps and teapots, the teas and spices… Never been to Tunisia (only Jordan), but it looks like my kind of place!

    • Definitely a refreshing change from our Western malls – there’s something truly exotic and exciting about shopping in the middle East! Loved it! Dubai was also phenomenal, although did have it’s fair share of very Western malls thrown in there with the traditional souks and medinas 🙂

  8. I’ve never been to Tunisia but I’ve always thought shopping is the national sport of France – especially, during the nationwide sales.

    • I think it’s similar here in the States – I swear almost died from participation in Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving – it gets nasty lol claws and nails come out!! Will have to spend some time in France during shopping holidays!

  9. We loved Tunisia! So great to see a post about it! It’s often overlooked as a destination, but it’s a wonderful country (Greg has a SLIGHT obsession with Star Wars and since it was filmed partly there… well ya know). 😉 One thing to be aware of as it happened to me a couple times, is you can sometimes get physically grabbed in the markets. I don’t think anything is really meant by it, it’s just the intense haggling culture of the markets. Even with that, we still loved it. 🙂 OH! And beware you can’t take the currency in/out of Tunisia. Thanks for sharing one of our favourite places. 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences in Tunisia, and tips from your time in the markets. So glad you had a fantastic trip too!

      We’re hoping to get back to Africa to have more time to explore soon 🙂

  10. Hi Megan.
    Pleasure to meet you here. 🙂

    Really, Tunisia is a wonderful place for shopping. I wish to go Tunisia for shopping many things. I was really unaware about but reading your post I have learnt many things about to shop in Tunisia. It looks like their is a huge collection of everything which a person need to have. I’m sure that to go there.

    The pics which you have shared here is really looking very nice. I have just tweeted this to my twitter account for my friend. I appreciate you for sharing this post. Have a great day.

    – Ravi.

    • Hi Ravi

      Thanks for sharing the post over twitter, we appreciate it! So glad you enjoyed reading about Tunisia – I hope you have the chance to visit soon 🙂

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