Pasar seni, or art market is a term used in Bali to loosely describe a collection of market stalls selling, nick-nacks, Balinese handicrafts and knock-off gear. One of the most visible is located next to the beach in Kuta.
Located between Jl. Kartika Plaza and Kuta Beach, the pasar seni stocks tried and tested favourites, including Bintang t-shirts, surfer wear and sarongs. Virtually all of the merchandize is mass produced and can even come from Java and China, prices are never posted and the whole thing is an example of ‘law of the jungle economics’. Visitors, fresh off the plane have no idea what stuff costs and may feel they are getting a deal, when comparing prices back home. One time I wanted a Real Madrid shirt and was offered one for 300,000rp. I got him down to 70,000rp and later found I could buy them in Denpasar for 30,000rp.
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Strolling through a pasar seni is low stress, low commitment and an education, for us lazy ‘bules’, used to having everything packaged and labelled. I find my bargaining power goes up, the items I pile up. For people staying on Jl. Kartika Plaza, at the Bali dynasty, Discovery or Ramada Bintang, you might enjoy a wander through pasar seni.