Bringing Bali Home: 6 things to tuck into your suitcase for under $10

Instead of buying things that will live in your “why did I ever buy that” cupboard, why not look for some useful items that will make the transition into your lifestyle…at a price that will cheer you!


This essential piece of equipment for every Balinese kitchen can be found in just about every food market on the island. The grinding of spices is a necessary ritual for the preparation of delicious Balinese food. Even at “tourist” price, a beautiful natural stone mortar and pestle is a steal compared to the price you might pay in a kitchen shop in the US, Europe or Australia. The lovely volcanic stone set that I bought on the second floor of the market in Denpasir fit into my suitcase and made the transition to my Western kitchen nicely.



While you are at the market, have a look at the spices. The mind will boggle at the length of the cinnamon sticks and the freshness of the vanilla pods. Star anise, pepper, cloves….you are right near the infamous “spice island” that fueled the Dutch empire. But…beware of the self appointed “tour guides” who offer to take you to “their” stall. These women will steer you through the market and take a commission on all you buy. You will get a much better price without their “help”. It’s not easy to shake them loose – a polite ” no thank you” or firmer “go away” sometimes works.

On the other hand, the ladies with the baskets on their heads who offer to carry your purchases deserve a break. The price for following you all around as you shop and carrying all you buy is about 50 cents US – maybe a bit more, but it’s a tough way to make a living, so I would recommend you accept their service with a smile.


The streets of Seminyak are lined with shops selling an array of beads, bangles belts and more. After seating any male members of the party firmly in a coffee shop, have a good rummage. In amongst the unspeakably garish colors and odd designs you will find some interesting “ethnic” offerings. Shell and mother of pearl necklaces are perfect for that “tropical resort” look to wear on the spot. Wooden bangles are a conservative sure thing and many of the beaded necklaces are headed for shops abroad to be sold at much higher prices. For a few US dollars you can accessorize for every day of the week.



Unique and handmade (in a good way), Batik scarves can be found in a variety colors, sizes and fabrics. It is easy to incorporate them into a western look for a flash of something unique and special. Batik refers to a resist dye technique using wax and a batik sarong forms the bottom half of Indonesian national dress. The scarves are a nice way to add just a touch. Wander around Monkey Forest Road in Ubud for about 10 minutes and the scarves will make themselves known!

FLASH: My friend Monica just recommended a great place for scarves. I went and she is right – excellent selection and price.

Hani at Jln Sulawesi No 66 in Denpasir- Right near the market. Charming and helpful staff will assist. Do be cautious in this area when walking down the street or wandering in the market. People can be a bit agressive and mind your wallet.



Yes…soap. Republic of Soap has their factory in Bali and makes the most delicious soap I’ve ever used. Chock full of natural ingredients,  the soap boasts scents like Frangipani, Island Spice, Mint, Sandlewood and even Chocolate and Kretek (the smell of the ubiquitous Indonesian clove cigarettes). You can find it for sale in shops around the island – I most recently saw it in Gourmet Garage in Jimbaran and Delilghting lamp shop in Seminyak.

Republic of Soap makes body lotion, candles, shampoo and other products that it supplies to top hotels both in Bali and further afield. It even custom makes soap for a few well known designers (wish I could name drop, but don’t want to get ROS into trouble!) who package it as their own. If you need larger quantities or want to purchase on a commercial basis, check out the website and give them a call. For the odd few bars – just keep your eyes open and you will find it!



Every time I go to Bali, I never fail to bring home at least 7 bags of Kopi Bali. You can go to the main store for the famous Butterlfly and Globe brand at Jl Pulau Moyo No 5, Br Ambengan Pesanggaran, Denpasir (phone 062 361 720589) where they will grind it for you if you wish. Stop at any supermarket or food store and you will find many types of coffee for sale, but our favourite (we did a taste and smell test) is the one in the photograph.

Kopi Bali has a plantation in Tuban and gives tours. Go on a tour and learn about the most expensive coffee in the world worth more than its weight in gold….I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise, but you will be in for a shock!

Now I am a tea drinker myself, but I no longer have company since I have been bringing Bali Coffee back to the UK. My former green tea buddies have switched sides.



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