Ecuador Shopping

Panama hats

One of the most commonly bought souvenirs in the country are the Panama hats.

Panama hats originated in Ecuador and can be found for a variety of prices in shops and markets, although their quality is hit and miss from the markets.

A good quality Panama hat can be rolled up and will return to its original shape, whereas a bad quality one will be ruined in your suitcase.

Other delights you can find in Ecuador's shopping include ornaments of bread dough, Tagua (vegetable ivory) and an array of handicrafts.

In Town

Like in many Latin American countries, shopping ranges from bargaining in the streets to modern shopping centres with haggling expected in the markets and fixed prices in shops.

Shops are usually open from 9am until 1.30pm and again from 3pm to 7pm, Monday to Saturday, unless their hours state otherwise. Markets are best to vist early in the morning if you are looking for something special, but they are open until lunch time.


Most towns in Ecuador have a market one or more days per week where you can pick up different goods at better prices or quality, depending on the region. The Otavalo market has an excellent reputation for its saturday shopping and is one of the largest indigenous markets in South America. Woven goods are a speciality at the market as well as wood carvings which feature among the main other offerings.

In Cuenca, the best place for souvenir shoppping is by Calle Gran Colombia where you can find a variety of goods from gold jewellery to clothing and texiles to ceramics.

Small Town Shopping

Also in the Imbabura province you should look out for the towns of Zuleta, known for its embroidery, Cotacachi for its selection of leather goods and San Antonio de Ibarra for its wood carvings.

Towns in other provinces to look out for are Calderón for tagua, llama and bread figurines (particularly xmas ones); Guayaquil for ceramics; Montechristi has the prettiest Panama hats in Ecuador as well as furniture; Guano for sheep wool carpets; Salasaca for Tibetan style sheep wool carpets; Pujilí for its ceramics, native paintings and wooden masks and Tigua for its indigenous paintings which use sheep skin as their canvas.

Mariscal craft Market

Although most people would agree that the best areas for souvenir shopping are outside of Quito, within the capital city, the shopping options are still very good. The Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal (Mariscal craft Market) is an immense market selling Ecuadorian handicrafts, located on the corners Jorge Washington and Reina Victoria. Most shopping centres in the city tend to be in the north, but along Amazonas there are 3 that you can walk between, along with plenty of other shops along the avenue.

Note: Coral is an endangered species often used in jewellery for tourists in Ecuador (black and red coral). For ecological reasons, visitors are urged not to purchase any items containing coral.