Crafts Market

Lonely Planet review

Every day, vendors hawk an astounding array of goods in the Plaza de Ponchos, the nucleus of the crafts market. But the real action happens on Saturday, official market day, when the market swells into adjacent roads and around half of the town center is a sea of brightly dyed carpets, clothing and other trinkets. The aptly named Plaza de Ponchos offers mostly artisan crafts – in particular, woolen goods, such as rugs, tapestries, blankets, ponchos, sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats – as well as embroidered blouses, hammocks, carvings, beads, paintings, woven mats and jewelry made from tagua nut (also known as vegetable ivory).

The options can be dizzying, similar and yet different all at once. Take your time. Browse the tables and check out pricing at a few stalls. Bargaining is expected, especially with multiple purchases. Don’t be shy about asking for a deal, but don’t be ruthless either.

Food stalls set up at the northern end proffer vats of chicken or tripe soup boiling on portable stove tops; crispy whole fried fish; scraps of flop-eared suckling pigs served with mote (hominy); and scoops of chicha (a fermented corn or yuca drink) from plastic buckets.

Between June and August, arrive on Fridays to shop before tour groups choke the passageways.

The markets are not free of pickpockets. While shopping, leave valuables at the hotel and keep your money in a safe spot.