Plaza de Ponchos, the nucleus of the crafts market, is filled every day with vendors selling 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). But it metastasizes on Saturday, official market day, swelling into adjacent roads and around half of the town center.
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.